In relationships, it’s important we are open and honest about who we are, and what we want from our lives.
Given all the stereotypes attached to dating, exacerbated by social media, it’s really tough trying to be authentic with another person—especially when you’re still not sure who you are yourself.
Nobody had Tinder back in my day, yoga wasn’t trendy, and knowing what chakras were would automatically associate you with mothball-eaten tents, smelly old reprobates who smoked too much weed, and disillusioned Janis Joplin fans who didn’t have jobs because they were “free spirits.”
I’m not propagating this stereotype.
I have nothing against elderly reprobates. I’m just demonstrating the language normally used around me when growing up. Spirituality was reserved solely for the “older people,” and was only accessed in the back room of a hair salon, in a dusty cupboard with some chain-smoking woman named Selena, who told every single young girl she saw that they had a traumatic past and a penchant for bad men.
The blacker, darker elements of spirituality were mostly all we knew. My growing up life wasn’t any different. Films like The Cult and The Exorcist associated new age practices with satanic ritual. My small town, Irish Catholic background made me curious and questioning. I found energy healing and tarot reading kind of gothic and cool.
I wasn’t into the spiritual practices for the right reasons, but I was always willing to learn. Experiences were a private shame, as “divine exploration” wasn’t yet accessible via Instagram, and I didn’t know any hot celebrities who did Kundalini on their lunch hour.
Different world these days!
Nearly everyone throws the word “namaste” now. A lotus flower tattoo is a cliche and not a statement. Yoga is for wealthy middle class housewives and tarot is for millennial hipsters on the internet, who got bored of psychedelic drugs and spent their trust money on their gap year.
Excuse my cynicism, but I can’t help it.
I’ve had a bit of a struggle in the past when coming to terms with “who I am.”
When I say I’ve had a struggle, I basically mean I used to hide my interests and experiences, shutting my voice off unless frightened into speaking about it by my granny. What is it about grannies? They can smell our aversion to church life as bluntly, and offensively, as if we burped in their face.
She always said I was special, certainly, like every granny does, but the day I arrived home with my first nose piercing, she dug her tiny fingers in my arm and whispered, “Get that awful fish hook out of your face…pet!”
I was never more scared in my life.
Previous partners didn’t embrace my curiosities either. They stunted and slowed my progress—and I allowed them to. My ex used to call me a “moonbeam” every time I expressed even the slightest faith in the ethereal, and I remember my first boyfriend exclaiming, at the tender age of 16, that he imagined I’d grow up, get 20 piercings and dress like a “hippie” for attention.
“You’ll embarrass me,” he said. The sentiment wasn’t meant affectionately. He was religious and played Gaelic for the county. Not at all sympathetic to my leanings, with a scapular hanging off his neck like a talisman.
I’ve identified an approach that I think works with new relationships. There isn’t any reason for us to justify or excuse our belief systems, our curiosities or our life choices, at any stage of a relationship.
When I met my soulmate, I had moved out of “fashionably alternative” to seriously devotional spiritual practice.
My real experiences with the spiritual awakening happened during stages of depression; when I was alone, when I was afraid, when I had my heart broken or I walked away from a job. At my ugliest moments, my faith and my conscious actions to connect with myself came from studying the histories and interpreting a faith system entirely built of human experience.
I felt the spirit every time I needed. I didn’t ask for it, it happened. The tarot came after a solid, honest and genuine foundation of trust and love from the only power relevant enough to influence my voice in this life.
That power being apparent in the way the wind moved when I cried in a street. The way a moment of clarity arrived, just when I needed. When a friend expressed a truth so beautiful and poignant, a revelation so rich, that not even the most expensive psychologist in the country could fathom her sudden progress.
I found myself in my vulnerability. I found the right relationships in my strength.
When I met my fiancé, I made him leave a room so I could meditate on our fourth date. I lit incense every evening. I spoke about “growth” being above all things in my life. I showed him, through demonstration of my devotion, that this wasn’t a fashion accessory. It was part of me.
He had a choice not to love me.
He could walk away.
But without loving all of me, I wasn’t going to stick around. And he knew this.
I’m pretty sure I fell in love with him while he was wearing my harem pants, making the tea.
I’ve been lucky. He doesn’t freak out at me when I talk about energy in certain places. After readings, if I’m spooked or need to cleanse myself, he gets me my basket of crystals without question.
He now speaks in the same language as me—using words like love, like faith, like grounding and vibration—without batting an eyelid.
My guidance to everyone is: explain nothing.
Demonstrate in your loving action, your authenticity, and your willingness to be wrong, that you’re not some fad-follower with high ideas of grandeur.
Be the change you want to see in the world. And give him a smoky quartz skull when he’s not expecting it.
Your faith system is sort of like your superpower. Nothing tramples that, and if it seems to?
Author: S. Friel
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Sara Kärpänen