When I hear or feel something and it makes this resonance within me, like a musical tone that just keeps vibrating then I know that is the message to write at that time. This happened to me recently as a recurring theme through a lot of different channels and solidified last night in a very simple rhetorical question I heard spoken, “Why can’t I be loved at home?”
It would seem like a no-brainer that the easiest and most compassionate place we would feel loved would be within our own home. Yet, unfortunately, that is often not the case. I have not only seen this time and again in my friends and acquaintances, I have also experienced it myself more times than not. In my stories, I use myself as the example and will again try to convey my message through personal exposure.
I have had three significantly long intimate relationships in my life: five years, seven years and three years.
In each of those relationships, love was not entirely absent, but not manifest in a way that was healthy or fulfilling. When I had just entered adulthood I began a relationship that would last five years. Overall, he was a good man and good person. We shared just about everything people share in life: friends, family, activities, intimacy and for a time a home. But, it was not good. It was not joyful and expansive. It was the opposite, it caused anger, contraction, and resentment. As the years went by, we just got used to the routine, the holidays with family and the basics of the rhythm of the day and work schedules. It became the norm to be that way. He wanted to get married and I knew I could not do it and I brushed it aside when he would bring it up. As time went on, the volatility increased in the relationship, to a point that his anger got so explosive once that I had to lock him out of the house and he climbed up the balcony to get back in. It would still be quite a long time before I would feel good enough about myself to end the relationship. In retrospect, people often wonder why others stay in unfulfilling relationships. That’s a pretty easy question to answer actually. It’s because the unhappy norm is still easier than the change to an uncertain future.
I would then traverse life for about another seven years dating and not dating.
I went through college and still had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do with my life. I tried different ways of being in the world and never really felt at home in my own skin. When I approached thirty, I got married. I got married for all the wrong reasons and I married someone who I was not in love with. Oh, I tried really hard to be, I tried to talk myself into it, I crushed and squashed my higher self’s wisdom like an aluminum soda can until it wasn’t recognizable anymore. Then I took it and locked it away in the dark and closed the door and tried to forget it existed. I tried to conform to what I thought I was supposed to be, I tried to bend and twist and mutilate my own spirit into something that didn’t fit me. On the outside, I was marginally successful, except I never could quite keep my opinions to myself enough for the comfort of others. I went through life pretty fucking miserable for those years. My insides screamed for passion, joy, and expression. I felt like I was a zombie walking.
When my marriage ended I was so relieved.
The circumstances almost killed me, but the ending of the marriage was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.
As, I attempted to put my life back together again over the next few years, I didn’t date at all. I had too much on my plate and too much to sort out within myself. After about three years, I met someone who awakened that part of me again. I’d slowly regain the openness to letting others into my life, but it took time and a lot of personal work. I was blessed with a beautiful community of spiritual women at the time that allowed me to journey through all of that and they held my hand and supported me as I did it.
I would enter another long-term relationship. This time for three years. This relationship would challenge me more than all of the others. It was an ever-shifting path that morphed every time I thought I had gotten my footing. It was as if the rug was constantly pulled out from under me. Once I would think we were on track and aligned, it would shift again and I would find myself in unfamiliar territory. As time went on and I became more aware of myself in the dynamic, I began to feel what was going on with me. What I felt, I didn’t like. I was drained beyond measure, I had given up so much of what fed me because he did not like what I liked, I was tired and lost my desire to work at it anymore. I felt like the life was being sucked out of me and each day I walked a path littered with egg shells. Days were no longer times of looking for joy, they had become efforts to keep the peace and not disturb the status quo. I felt it was my duty as a loving person to create a loving atmosphere and I accepted and fulfilled that duty completely yet it didn’t work. For the longest time, I didn’t understand why I could give so much love and total support to someone, and yet they were never happy. I believed firmly in love conquers all and yet it doesn’t. But, I wasn’t going to give up, I knew that love could heal someone and I would continue to give until then. This continued for a long time until I finally realized it wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about love, it wasn’t about anything I could do. It was about the other person and what they were willing to embrace. In my case, he was not willing to embrace the same level of intimacy and joy that I was. He was firmly rooted in his own pain and chose to stay there, and nothing I could do would ever change that. It would be hard and arduous at times, but I finally reconnected with who I was inside and what I wanted and needed in a partner, and so I ended the relationship.
In our society, we have a belief in scarcity, that thing that makes us feel like there isn’t enough to go around.
It creates fear of endings and change. It makes us feel as if we might just keep sticking it out, just in case there isn’t something or someone else out there. We all fear being alone in some way and so we stay longer than we should. I’ve seen this time and again, not only in myself but in many friends.
We look at ourselves and think, we failed again another failed relationship to add to the books. But this is so wrong.
There was a time when I believed that since it hadn’t worked, then why try again? If I did try again, I only went in part way. I invested a little less of myself. Then I had a profound teaching from don Miguel Ruiz who illustrated why that was such a terrible mistake. He taught that we go in 100% the first time, then we get hurt, so we go in the next time with maybe 75% and then we get hurt again. So now we give even less of ourselves, we give only 50%, so if we get hurt it won’t be so bad. This repeats and repeats to the point where we really don’t give much of our heart, we keep most of it carefully protected. He taught that this was a recipe for not succeeding. How could we? How can we give only a portion of ourselves, only allow a piece of our heart and expect success in love? We are not failures and we do not fail in relationships. What we do is actually learn from them, we grow and each time we get a little bit closer to knowing what we truly need and not what we are willing to settle for. That isn’t failure, that is growth.
For some reason, we treat relationships differently than we treat other things. When a baby is learning a new skill and fails at mastering it repeatedly, they don’t just give up and say, “Oh well, I guess I’ll never learn to walk.” An athlete who tries a new and more complex skill doesn’t give up just because they didn’t get it right the first or second or even third time. They keep getting up, reassessing, seeing what needs to be altered and try again. They do this over and over and over until they get it right. This is the same with love, we cannot shut down and fear the risk of trying again. We must do the exact opposite of that.
We must open completely, expose our heart 100% and allow ourselves the gift of unguarded and transparent existence.
It is only if we are willing to go in with that 100% that we will call into our lives those who are also willing to give that open and exposed 100%. To most of us that goes against what we are taught and what we are comfortable with, but I say challenge that because the home is not the place you should be walking a path of eggshells and asking “Why can’t I be loved here?”