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My first intimate relationship was all about romance, hormones, and beginning my life.
As if I’d not been living before? Somehow, this man I’d set my eyes on, the one who would trust me with his heart and become the father of our children, was going to facilitate all my security and dreams while providing everything I’d read about perfect partnership.
No wonder our relationship came to a painful end 15 years later. Who can live up to such expectations? We had so much to discover about ourselves. The initial peek into our worth as reflected through each other’s eyes soon dimmed. When I look back, I realize how surreal it was and how boring it is to approach relationships in this way.
“Boring?” you ask. Boring because we don’t allow ourselves or partners to create something original or even inspiring when we follow the hollow love scripts dictated by literature and pop culture.
“A true partner or friend is one who encourages you to look deep inside for the beauty and love you’ve been seeking.”
This quote is everything. If there were no more Thích Nhất Hạnh wisdom, I think we could begin and end here.
Had I known my partner was awakening something inside me, something I already possessed, but overlooked in my search for external gold, I would have stopped looking to him for happiness. Having said that, I have plenty of compassion for my younger self, she simply didn’t know what she had and that’s a gift in ways I could not have imagined.
Inside ourselves, aside from the codependence we plant in the gardens of our relationships, lies the solid foundation to foster intimacy with a lover or friend.
In partnership, we create a life that is supportive of our individual and collective dreams. We choose partners who seem aligned with our philosophies and values, but past that, we must return to our own well of love.
“When you love someone, you have to have trust and confidence. Love without trust is not yet love. Of course, first you have to have trust, respect, and confidence in yourself. Trust that you have a good and compassionate nature. You are part of the universe; you are made of stars. When you look at your loved one, you see that he is also made of stars and carries eternity inside. Looking in this way, we naturally feel reverence. True love cannot be without trust and respect for oneself and for the other person.”
Reverence—the word which stands out for me here. At the beginning, it’s easy to feel this reverence, to see our partner and oneself in this way. What if each day we returned to this practice regularly?
“Every one of us is trying to find our true home. Some of us are still searching. Our true home is inside, but it’s also in our loved ones around us. When you’re in a loving relationship, you and the other person can be a true home for each other.”
Home. That is exactly the feeling many of us describe when we fall in love. The shore for the ship of our longing to feel whole. When another person feels like home, it means that their beingness reminds us of our own sacredness and wholeness. This is why love has become such a religion…it is literally a portal for the magic that runs the Universe (call it the divine, god, goddess, source, nature, what have you)
“When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love. That’s why to love means to learn the art of nourishing our happiness.”
My next, not so perfect, often tumultuous, supportive, deep, love relationship has been 28 years of unlearning what I thought I knew about love and owning my bullsh*t. That doesn’t sound that romantic, does it? But it has brought me so much joy to know myself better and to be in reverence of my partner’s heart and soul.
One day, I had eaten a rather tart apple just before bed. I got the worst heartburn. It was so bad, that I, who am pretty tolerant of pain and rarely suffer from such things, was literally crying on the floor. My partner, a sensitive, protective Leo soul, ran out of the house to the store to get me ginger ale in a manner of minutes (maybe two). It was so quick I have no idea how he got his car started, drove there and back in such short order…possibly by bending time? It was a miserable freezing night and he left without really dressing, and if you knew him you would be amazed because he is usually a frozen popsicle.
Anyway, the point being, this is a romantic thing he has done for me. We laugh about it, how he came crashing through the door like Kramer from “Seinfeld.” He is forever doing romantic (non-flower-getting) things like that. I, as a Scorpio, would have looked down upon his misery and asked if it could wait till the morning, haha, then tried some other love language like reading him poetry.
“Be a friend to yourself. If you are a true friend to yourself, you can be a true friend to a loved one. A romantic crush is short-lived, but friendship and loving-kindness can last very long and continue to grow.”
I could go on forever quoting our dear, departed teacher and ancestor, but perhaps his book, How to Love, may call to you and you can discover more for yourself.
Love well, love freely, love with love for yourself, my friends.