FIRST BITE: The Challenge of Relationship

A transmission for a young couple embarking on the deep journey of relationship…

All of us
born as children upon the Earth
spend much of our lives
attempting to return to the place 
of bliss
of innocence
of safety
that we seem to have left behind
This is natural and human
yet our fears hinder our joy
and it is a new discovery of trust
that will lead us toward the peace
that allows our true power
and purpose
to emerge in our lives
One of the most common avenues
of expression of this search
may be found in our intimate relationships
for as we first begin to adore one another
instead of realizing that we open
to our own love
in this way
we think that we have found an answer
to our essential fears
in the presence of the other
which is of course
and so in due time
our safety becomes even more threatened
than before we dreamt of love
and entered its domain
when this unsettling awakening begins between two
each looks to the other
as the cause of their pain
or one may take on guilt
and desire to run
Yet while these times are not easy
they are a great blessing to all
for without such awareness
our personal mistrust
would remain hidden
far from the opportunity for healing
that now is potentially found
Between you two

there is much commonality

and much similarity
You are in some ways like cousins
brother and sister
and you recognize and know 
one another
as kindred souls
This was the pull 
that drew you together
You became two against the world
in common understanding
finding shelter 
under the same umbrella
hiding together
from the same rain
Each looked at the other and thought
here I will not encounter
the foolishness
of the rest of the world
here I will find
what makes me comfortable
makes me feel right
in the face of so much that is unacceptable
all around me
and so I can continue
being what I have always been
but with a partner
to bolster my commitment
to these ways
But slowly
fallibility crept in
human failings could not be hidden
and so when one observes inadequacy in the other
then the inner child fears
to see the same wound in the self
and it is easier
far easier
to distance this discomfort
by feeling alienation
and blame
You and I against the world
you are not what I thought
you are just like the rest of the world
so I am now me alone
and this betrayal
stirs deep fear
that hinders intimacy
and in this way
the walls get higher and higher
until it seems
there is no way up
from the spiral that pulls you both down
While this experience springs from
the same essential wound
it manifests differently in the two of you
each according to quite common
feminine and masculine models of defense
against pain
In the feminine
she retreats into questioning the self
She tries to please
and then is angry at herself for doing so
She feels she has denied herself pleasures
but has not been appreciated for this
and so quiet bitterness builds
and inner anger lies atop of despair
as she feels trapped
inside a world she has helped create
and yet
where she does not belong
In the masculine
he takes a stand of being the one who is right
of closing his heart
into a coolness that implies he is not touched
as much as she
and yet nothing could be further from the truth
He walks in self righteousness
as if he is beyond such things
and yet his inner voices are raised in terror
that his own vulnerability will be discovered
and his fragile comfort
In both
there is a habit of containment
of propriety
of not permitting excess
or anything that would be perceived
as lack of control
In him
because it would be dangerous
in her
because it would be judged
and so it is as if
the two of you are trying to have
a conversation
while both of your mouths are bound shut
trying to make love
while standing in separate rooms
The depth of this distance
may not yet be apparent
as part of the defense
is to believe that everything is fine
so long as it looks fine
to the rest of the world
like a beautiful cloth
placed over a table scarred by heat and rage
The dinner can take place
and no one will ever know
but how can the meal be digested
how can honesty be found
Where is the joy in gathering at such a table
when all is false
no matter how pretty the dishes
how carefully the napkins are arranged?
You are asked
as individuals
quite apart from your work as a couple
in relationship
to begin with a new process of truth seeking
of spending time each of you alone
going within
always within
rather than the old habit of focusing on
what the other is doing wrong
All healing must begin
with individual responsibility
for your own pain and joy
It is never the task of another
to make you happy
and never your job to control the behaviour
of a partner
either for your own benefit
or because you have convinced yourself
that it is for their own good
This cycle of blame and guilt
victimization and recrimination
must be broken
in order for each of you to observe
your own fears
for this is the place that will initiate change
and help you see
that you have been searching in error
from the very beginning
Once you discover your own beauty
and your own weaknesses
you can no longer believe
that hiding in companionship
with someone else’s beauty and weaknesses
will help your fear
And the truth is
you are safe
you are safe
you are safe
Each of you
and both of you
as One
For her
it is not your job to measure up
to anyone else’s desires
not a partner or parents
not your perception of the rules
of your community
or your world
It is not safer to hide
from the judgement of others
for in this
you simply perpetuate
your own feelings of unworthiness
No one can judge you
except you
and as you realize this
you will set yourself free
as never before
For him
Discovering your vulnerability
will be the greatest gift you can ever
give yourself
To admit to feelings of weakness
fears of losing love
feelings of inadequacy
these expressions will shatter lifetimes
of defenses that you now carry
like smashing the case of glass
in which you have hidden
your true heart
You have so much more love
within you
than you have dreamt
and when you perceive love
or perfection lacking
in others around you
it is only your own limitations
that you sense
because you have hidden
your love away
for so very long

It is as if the two of you

sit hungry
before a great feast
and neither can eat
because each one waits
for the other to take the first bite
Even if one has the courage
to lead the way
by opening to the realization
that you cannot hurt one another
and that you only limit yourselves
this awareness will immediately guide you
toward the trust and safety
that each of you have been seeking
from the start
Follow the trail
of your own individual stories
to learn as much as you can
about where your woundings began
Speak these stories to one another
as if you told them for the first time
and without blame
I feel this
I want that
I am afraid of this
I would love that…
Simply listening to one another
without attempting to fix
or provide the answer
will initiate a new kind of communication
that will open your hearts
Viewing one another
simply as fellow soul travelers
not as rescuer
or comforter
may first bring up fears that you are alone
and yet
it is through this truth
that you will discover that in our aloneness
we are all one
there are no more enemies
no more opposites
and no more need to be better than
or separate from
the rest of the world
Put an end to war
by daring to open 
your individual hearts
and you will never look back
Trust that you hold all answers
to your own safety
and you have nothing to fear
and with whomever you walk
Love begins and ends
in the Self
that is one
with All
© Cynthia Long

Couple Mandala by Jacques Bergeron

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