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How many relationships have we been in that leave our hearts in some sort of tangled mess?
This may have launched us so far off center that we feel as if we need a telescope to look so far back through time to even catch a glimpse of what was once there.
Maybe you’re in that type of partnership or marriage right now.
You’re in it—logistically, pragmatically, perhaps legally, sexually or emotionally—but in a way that feels strained, forced, or exhausting.
Maybe you’re at the point where even exhaustion was the town you passed 100 miles ago and you’ve now sputtered down the road only to have taken residence in a gray place where your ability to feel has dulled or even stalled completely.
You could be either tuning out what sounds like noise from your partner, or you could be on the other end—the end where the noise is as loud as a fire alarm in your mind, in your heart, in every aspect of your being, and a sense of panic has taken over your life. On some level, you may know that the pain of this panic and this noise is just hindering everything that you know to be healthy and conducive to balance and love.
Don’t give up.
These situations can be grueling, but despite either the dulled or heightened places that your senses have landed, there is hope.
There is a lot of hope.
This is not the type of hope where you bank on the odds being in your favor and the dynamic to turn itself around on its own—far from that. This is the type of hope, rather, that stems from a mixture of desire and will for what we want.
We want to feel love.
We might think, especially during times of exhaustion, that we truly have been tackling things from a place of the sheerest of will.
Maybe you have read so many books on relationships, seen so many therapists as a couple, tried every single approach toward either re-establishing what once was a healthy connection, or finding something better than with what you began, that you are at a place of not even knowing where to direct your will anymore.
But, I urge you—allow yourself to hear the whisper.
Maybe you have completely drowned out the noise, or you have noise that is so loud that you cannot even seem to hear 90 percent of what is being said.
Stop for a moment, and allow yourself to just listen.
Listen to the subtle sound of your heart telling you to soften.
We can begin by softening to ourselves.
We can go inside of ourselves and feel that love that is there. Choose to see the beauty in the inner landscape that is you. Allow yourself to see all of the vibrant colors that make up this place, the unique characteristics of what only you have to offer to yourself, your partner and even the world.
When we begin practicing this, what we have come to believe to be our “needs” for both validation and love from a partner begin to erode and become alleviated.
Not all, but most of the real problems in relationships result from our not feeling loved and whole ourselves. We project expectations onto others based off of what we feel we need in order for them to “complete” something.
This does not ever work, because even if they did offer to us 100 percent of what we felt that we needed to feel complete, our perception of ourselves would still be lacking. We would become dependent on our partner for this, and that is not a healthy, nor is it a truthful way to live or to try to love.
The best-case scenario for this dependent dynamic is that things go relatively smoothly, all the while depending on each other for wholeness, but when the relationship ends for whatever reason (and they always do), we go right back to feeling incomplete and “lacking” once again.
A worse-case scenario is that the dependence leads to possessiveness, controlling, and possibly abuse.
Again, there is hope.
We can feel this love for ourselves once we soften. If you see an aspect of yourself that does not look to be all that beautiful at first glance, choose grace for yourself and embrace it.
Softly embrace it like you would a sobbing child who needs to feel that warmth in order to calm down.
Embrace it all, but not so tightly that you cannot let it go.
It is in allowing ourselves to love ourselves, that we can first begin to feel pure, real and true love for others.
This type of love is not dependent on receiving loving words or actions from anyone else. This is the type of love that flows so freely and unconditionally that those illusory wants and needs for validation are filled in like a soothing stream finding the easiest route through the valley that was once your deep despair.
Find this, and find it yourself.
Resist the temptation to try to force your partner to find this for you in any way.
From this place of inner love comes acceptance. From this place comes an allowing and understanding of past actions, and with that a spontaneous healing process begins.
Forgive your partner, but most importantly, forgive yourself. Forgive for your past, forgive in your present and choose to forgive and have grace for your future as well—time is all just about our perception and we do not want to become snagged by any future occurrences, even if they have only taken up form in our minds as anxiety.
When you have found this love within and for yourself, choose to feel love for your partner. See them for who they are under all of their layers of struggle.
Choose to be curious about their curiosity when they look outside of the window or at a new book, maybe even their love for the sunshine or the rain, the type of tea or coffee that they choose, choose to see those small moments in everyday life when they, themselves have softened enough to be themselves.
Give them the space to soften, and give yourself the benefit of seeing them.
Hear the whisper in those moments.
Those whispers gently nudge us to pay attention and allow ourselves to feel what is there—perhaps what has always been there, underneath it all.
And when we see and feel this softening, choose to feel the love that wells up inside you. This love for them can come from a place of recognition. We may be very different in ways on the surface, but underneath that we can see aspects of ourselves in those everyday joys, in vulnerabilities, in fears.
It is by having a recognition for our similarities, and having an appreciation and curiosity for our differences that we can both nurture and sustain love.
Allow yourself to feel love for them—expecting no return other than the pure joy of feeling the love that you have inside to flow freely through you.
Author: Katie Vessel
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Suzana Dordea/Pixoto