Who's ever experienced this mind-bending cycle, or some variation thereof? I'm raising my hand:
- New relationship Months/Weeks/Days 1-6: "Oh, my God! At last I've found my soul mate! This is it. S/he's perfect for me in every way! I totally want to marry/live with him/her. I can't stand to be away from him/her for even a minute!"
- Months/Weeks/Days 7-12: "Wow, this is still really great. I still see myself spending the rest of my life with him/her. It's probably good we didn't rush into something permanent, though. We just have a few little bugs to work out, and it's going to be awesome. He/she's awesome."
- Months/Weeks/Days 13-24: "[Sigh.] Man, I just really wish s/he wasn't such a ____ and always ____ and never _____. It was so good in the beginning. Maybe we just need some time apart? Bring back the magic or something."
- Months/Weeks/Days 25+: "Oh, my God! What a total fucking idiot! I can't believe s/he did _____ and then totally _____. I'm SO over this. I actually kind of hate him/her now. I don't know why this always happens! It's so frustrating and confusing. I'd rather just stay home and masturbate; it's easier." (Don't laugh--I heard a guy say this after one more horrible breakup.)
Yeah. So that happens, right? Many of us know couples who've been together for decades, but how many of them are really thriving in their relationships? Helping each other in the upward spiral of mutual growth and understanding that leads to becoming a Human Being?
Look, here's the thing: if you're not present in your life, your strong tendency will be attraction to a close copy of the parent who caused the most trauma to you as a child. (Note: There was emotional if not physical trauma during your childhood. It's at the root of all your anger, which you have whether you acknowledge it or not. Just being born into a largely unconscious world as a completely conscious being is traumatic.)
When one relationship blows up, if you still haven't figured it out, you'll take up with the same energetic replica again. And again. Until you understand. You might even swear off "relationships" and shift to a series of casual encounters with (wait for it) replicas of the trauma-causing parent. Until you figure out this lesson: no one but you can complete you. That hole in your heart can't be filled by anything other than love for yourself. Until then, you can't properly love anyone else anyway.
Sounds exhausting, right? This cycle is so common that we call it "normal." We've come up with brilliant aphorisms like:
"Relationships are really hard work."
"Marriage is all about sacrifice, duty, and compromise."
"Women/men suck you dry and then leave you anyway."
"No one ever gets what they want. Don't be such a dreamer! Life is hard and then you die."
"What would happen if we all did what we wanted?!? Don't be so selfish."
Each of these little phrases that we sprinkle into our daily conversations and blindly accept as truth only reinforce our practice of doing it all wrong. It's lazy thinking born of the terror of taking charge of ourselves--of seeing that each of us is already perfect, already whole.
I've been referring exclusively to romantic attachments until now, but these same principles apply to all of our relationships. Coworkers, friends, children, parents--anyone with whom we have more than a passing acquaintance.
And that's a shitty thing. Because our relationships are such a Way In. They are the very fastest way to burn through old stuff that's holding you back in a big way.
These are really, really old truths. One modern guy who explains them in a wonderfully easy and gentle way is Eckart Tolle. I especially love him among all of our current teachers. He's like a mischievous little garden gnome with a German accent. Here's a video of his ("Perfect Definition of Love") that I watched recently. It reminded me I've been wanting to write this post for a while, because I see good people (including myself) making this mistake over and over and suffering unnecessarily. And, because we're often unaware of the opportunity, we miss out on the powerful lessons we could be working through to become Human Beings.
Well, there you have it, my friends. So simple. At the heart of this lesson is the most important human adventure of all: the discovery that your relationship with yourself, your love for yourself, is the key to the peace that surpasses all understanding. It's not selfish. It's self-less to move toward this realization with everything you've got. It's only with this knowledge firmly in place as individuals that we can move forward as a species to become what we're meant to be.
Make it so.