Over the last couple of months I have fallen in love with a generous, intelligent man who knows his own emotional depth. Some of the fabulous aspects of romantic relationships are the opportunities to be seen and held in all your moods, wisdom, vulnerability and let’s face it at times – crazy. And that’s a good thing right?
Most of us did not have great relationship role models growing up. My first romantic relationships were probably a lot like yours, filled with excitement or more accurately what I would now call high drama! I showed up to relationships with a whole lot of unmet childhood needs, masquerading as high expectations of how romantic love could fill me up. I wanted the other person to embrace and love all the parts of myself I found difficult to bear. And they wanted me to do the same.
In the end life teaches us all, that our stuff… is actually OUR stuff!
Over the last decade I have learned to embrace and accept my own messiness. This includes my tender vulnerability, my longings, my impossible dreams and my frightened, determined inner critic. I have learned that the dark pockets of shame which urge me to stay quiet, small and not Speak Up are all desperately trying to keep me safe.
The thing about our messiness, is that it is actually our humanness. I do not believe we are all sinners. We are all magnificent in our complexity, imprinted through our personal history and the writers of our stories. And all of that is very messy.
I have learned that my capacity to be with my own messiness is the foundation of a healthy relationship with myself, and in turn my capacity to be in healthy relationships with others. When I tell myself the truth about what I want and how I feel, then I can also stay in integrity and share this truth with others. These are the pathways to authentic and meaningful relationships.
Entering the sacred fire of a new romantic relationship – I have been amazed at how deeply healing it can be when both people know and are responsible for their own issues and particular brand of crazy…
And by healing I don’t mean perfectly easy and comfortable. I do mean noticing where I want to control the other person’s behaviour and judging what they are doing when it makes me feel uncomfortable. It also means sharing the unsaid hurt and resentments as well as the expansive feelings of joy and love. It is a commitment between two people to share our assumptions about romantic relationships, the hidden trap doors of expectations and our longing to be seen in all our imperfect complexity.
Authentic connection happens between two human beings. Without revealing our human fragility and power, honest connection is not possible. Instead we are likely to fail somewhere between unrealistic expectations and letting shame determine which masks we wear.