When I grew out of my consumeristic view of life, where I was just getting by and numbing the pain by spending money on glittery numbing-devices, I craved something beyond numbness.
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My friends and I were drifting through life, spending money on dancing, drinking, the latest technology, brandnames, dinner and movies, and holidays. We were self-medicating our inner pain and doubts away, telling ourselves we were having fun (and we were having fun, and we were also fleeing from pain, personally and collectively). I craved a more heartful approach to life. I craved living in a way that took into account wider humanity and the planet. I craved more authenticity in self and others - I wanted to find out how to stop numbing and come back to life.
I couldn’t put a name on what I was seeking, but I faced up to it and felt its longing. I tried to find it. I left my hometown, and all my friends and family behind, to find it. I had a persistent instinct that living alone in a big city (that would support my human diversity) was my next needed step, though I shook with fear and wept when I thought of doing so. It took me two years and a series of painful circumstances to develop the courage necessary to take action. However I knew I could make it because I had lost everything when I left Christianity, and eventually I gained more than all I had left behind.
I intuitively sensed that gain would happen again, perhaps much more easily. The world would burn down but then it would be reborn from the ashes. My ‘world’ was essentially fake in some mysterious way; any world that could burn down, was fake. And rebirth only came from embracing death, from walking willingly into the fire.
her that was constantly
knowing peace because of
self-love from pain
and rebirth from the
stars that had died
along her journey." ~e. corona
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
When I was alone in a new state I took the time to be alone. I craved my aloneness. I wanted to discover the flavour of my soul, was desperate to find my ‘true self’. I wanted to become this true self no matter what it took. I was greatly inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story, ‘Solitude’ about an alien culture who lived much more in solitude than in togetherness – and in this way, ‘discovered their souls’.1 I spent time with myself – walking in nature, thinking, daydreaming, doing the ‘timewasters’ I enjoyed (reading, playing computer games, surfing Pinterest, sleeping in).
I went on ‘Sair Adventures’ every weekend where I explored new inner-city suburbs and gawked at beautiful old buildings and deciduous trees changing colour. I went to parks and lay under trees and gazed at the moon, weeping. I explored café culture, and journaled my heart out, writing what was in me without censorship. I went to the cinema and saw whatever was playing, letting it inspire or bore me. I did psychological processes to grieve my past and get more in touch with my heart and body (I started off living only in my head, dissociated from anything going on inside). I continued receiving loving attunement via counselling.
Eventually I felt lonely, and craved people and relationships. The pendulum swung the other way. I went on dates – a lot of dates. I spent a year going on first (and occasionally second) dates. I had the same conversation a hundred times; it almost became an elevator pitch. I saw myself in a hundred other people, and I didn’t want to date any of them. I went to meetups – I joined about fifty meetup.com groups. There were only a few meetups where I became a consistent member such as a lesbian bookclub. I met a woman who had a strong personality, like coffee with four shots. She was ballsy, and direct, a natural leader, and intimidating as hell. She knew what she wanted and went after it. She had a successful high-powered career, but she used her powers for ‘evil’ and was just starting to feel guilty about it. Her hard heart that liked to fuck lots of women and fuck-up her business competition was just starting to soften. I suppose she was a lot like Xena, Warrior Princess, at the start of her redemption journey.
Oh how I wanted to be her sidekick, Gabrielle!
We were powerfully drawn to each other (because we both embodied what the other lacked) but she wasn’t into me sexually or romantically. So we became close friends. I craved her like crack, and I did my best to hide my craving. I took the friendship she offered, and I masochistically fed on my hidden heartbreak.
Eventually I discovered she was lying to me (pattern, anyone?). I wrote her a long accusatory letter (in-person conflict was very hard for me. I often shied away). I told her that I needed to know she wouldn’t lie to me again, so that I could trust her enough to remain close. She got massively offended. She ghosted me but not before sending a vitriolic return letter. She told me off (with skill, and a way with words to rival my own) for the gall of telling someone else the way they should be. In summary: She’d be how she fucking wanted to be, and I was a terrible person.
Looking back, I don’t think either of us was terrible. She had a point. I was trying to change her by telling her that lying was wrong (according to my value system). I was attempting to impose my will on her for my own sake, and to keep myself feeling safe. And I had a point too. Intimacy thrives on trust, and telling the truth supports this. I was pointing out that she wasn’t being authentic despite claiming to value authenticity the most. I was asking her to grow, and she chose not to. We were both wrong AND we both had insight that could help the other grow, if they chose to.
I’ve realised that’s usually the case in all intimate relationships. It doesn’t matter how right my feedback is to a loved one – their return feedback (almost always) has golden nuggets for me buried in the shit. Even if their return feedback is about them resisting feedback, there’s still gold for me. There’s valuable information about how that person views feedback, and how open they are to growth and another’s influence. And there’s valuable information about the mode of my feedback, the spirit of it, and just why I feel the desire to change others … what it is I’m trying to get.
I gained clarity that I wanted to grow in my intimate relationships, and use the joys and challenges of intimacy as a support system for personal growth. I wanted to grow my love-capacity in particular, which I saw as the deeper purpose of relating. That’s just a cherished belief I held: Maybe it’s right, maybe it’s wrong. But it was my choice to pursue ‘growth in love’, and it became my choice to choose partners who aligned naturally rather than resisted fiercely.
My choice. My co-creation of a relational world.
There have been many intimate relationships since then, and an (exciting and mega challenging) journey from monogamy into non-hierarchical polyamory. There has been huge deepening in my love capacity: it’s grown from a puddle to an inland sea. I want to go all the way to the ocean - which is where I intuitively sense that we all end up, no matter which route or how long we delay.
There has been sexual expansion, and explorations around my sexual orientation and gender identity. My feelings flow much more freely. My body has opened up and softened. I can progressively sense energy fields in myself and others (I used to derisively consider that made-up). There have been explosions of personal growth that would take an article six times the length of this to outline. Life has become very big, very fast, and it keeps expanding at an exponential rate. Sometimes I feel like I’m the universe expanding forever, into the unknown. Sometimes I sense that we all are.
Life is now beautiful, heaven instead of hell, even when hell is happening. As Martika sings in one of my all-time favourite songs, the 80s hit ‘Love Thy Will Be Done’:
“Even thought there’s no peace outside my window there’s peace inside.
And that’s why I no longer run
Love, thy will be done.”
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Now we come to the point and culmination of this article: The Death of Relationships.
All that growth, all that personal becoming, all those beautiful beloveds, sexual ecstasy and tragedy, kinky fumbling, fear and trembling, joy and childlike wonder, regaining my voice and power, learning to feel my heart, be in my body, experience energy fields, opening into spirituality much deeper and truer than my fundamentalist beginnings …
Nothing. Useless. Garbage.
I was blind. I thought, deep deep down, in my deepest heart, that relationships could make me happy. More specifically that intimacy - developing my capacity for it - and sharing it with others, could give me bliss. Make life worth living. Those moments of shared love felt like everything to me, and I wanted more.
I had an unconscious agenda that I put on every relationship, that it should be that way. That other people should also crave intimacy, and do the personal work and becomings that intimacy expansion seemingly demands. That if they didn’t have the skills and/or desire, well, they SHOULD learn it. They SHOULD be more like me. I was better than them, more evolved. I was more loving, more how a human should be.
Should they? Why? What for? Who cares!
I’ll tell you who cares. My ego. My ego-construction is built around a childhood of unlove, and has a (natural, human) craving for love. It wants to make up for my childhood. It has a host of strategies and beliefs and cravings and emotions and values designed to backup my secret agenda. My agenda has never actually worked so far to make me consistently happy, but my ego keeps trying. I often update my ego through self-development or spirituality or relationships and learn some new skills which I tell myself will get me the intimacy I long for. Sometimes I even get it. There are moments of such beauty that I cry with joy.
Baloney baloney, I smell a phoney … my ego-identity.
My ego has gotten confused. Even though I experience moments of transcendent joy through intimacy with others, those are not caused by intimacy. Those don’t come from relationship itself. Or from any of the people I relate with.
Some people experience those moments of transcendence through surfing. Some through a sunset over the ocean. Some through a luminous full moon in the forest. Some through psychedelic drugs. Some through kinky sex. Some through tantra. Some through rock-climbing. Some through intense exercise. Some through business success. Some through flow state. Some through meditation. Some through personal growth breakthroughs. Some through falling in love. Some through finally achieving a longed-for goal … for about five minutes.
The moments are real but they aren’t caused by these things. Knock me sideways!
We can make these things our secret agenda, believing that they will make us happy or at peace or blissed out or ‘who we really are’. That they will fill the mysterious longing, the craving that nags at our everyday reality.
The moments are connected to:
Another way of saying it is that these moments that we live for, that make life worth the living, ARE life. They’re life when we’re fully IN IT.
So I give up on relationships, and on my secret agenda around increasing intimacy. I realise that relationships can’t give me fulfillment, no matter what.
Not the most perfect chosen family of polyamorous lovers, not committed marriage growing old together, not children, not family, not a community of lovingly supportive friends, no tribe. Not a guru, a leader, a mentor, a counsellor, a father who is proud of me, a mother who nurtures me. Not siblings who have my back, or a best friend that chooses me only. Not self-love, not a loyal dog, not a charismatic dominatrix who is just so into controlling me, not a lowly submissive who lives to worship me. Not the perfect lover or partner or Disney-fairytale-come-true. Not my prince or princess or being that for someone else. Not singleness or empowered-independence or not-needing-anyone.
Nothing, no-one, not me.
Fulfilment is already here, already now, already embracing me if I only embrace it back. Each time I do – if only for a moment – I return to the love that blesses my heart in the deepest moments of shared intimacy with another. I return to the love that I feel when I first fall in love, when on the cocktail of my open heart supported by hormones, the other person is the most gorgeous creature in existence. I return to the love that opens in me in response to the sunset and moonrise, and soft love shining in an intimate’s eyes.
It’s accessible here, now, always.
Nothing needs to happen to make it so.
I don’t need to go on holiday, to take a self-discovery journey, to get a new and better partner, or to get rid of the partner who is ‘causing me such pain’. It’s possible to sink into Life’s embrace, now.
Photo by Taylor on Unsplash
Who will I be now that I don’t pursue intimate relationships or deepening intimacy? I’m not saying I don’t care about those things (I do, obviously, I’ve built my ‘life’ around them). I greatly relish intimacy. I’ve become (relatively speaking) skilled at it. It’s always been a big part of my life up until now. My most cherished egoic desires (and fears) revolve around it.
Yet there’s a distinction between enjoying something and being driven by it. Giving up my intimacy agenda, means that the outcome no longer matters. If the outcome is singleness (seasonally or forever), that’s fine. If the outcome is a partner freezing me out for whatever reason, that’s fine. If the outcome is a partner welcoming me with open arms for whatever reason, that’s fine. If the outcome is multiple partners making love with me simultaneously … also very fine!
I openly receive what there is in each moment, with each person. Or no person. Or just me. This includes strangers and everyday life: There is such intimacy to be had with babies, dogs, trees, and the ever-changing sky. Often much harder to receive is the intimacy mischievously hiding in unfriendly customer service, traffic fumes, a spilled drink, someone saying no, and an ever-changing life.
I find if I open my heart in these everyday moments I start to access the same in-loveness that exists in cherished moments of intimacy with a dearly beloved. The intimacy doesn’t come from my dearly beloved. It doesn’t come from the person or circumstance. I just find it easier to access it in some people and circumstances (we all do, depending on the dictates of our particular conditioning). I can learn to access it always because it is always available.
Am I emotionally available to Life’s intimacy?
Or instead, do I do whatever I can to limit it? Do I turn away, ignore moments of love, make excuses, make long lists of requirements, set up hoops to jump through, and see everything filtered through my current (always limited and thus faulty) belief system? Do I turn away from certain experiences, certain painful or joyful emotions that my ego says should not happen - are not allowed to happen to me? When Love comes (and it’s ALL Love), do I show up and receive it? Am I open?
What would it take to open more? Right now, to open more? Just a little more than before?
For me, it takes giving up on relationships. It takes letting every relational dream die. It takes letting every partner (and ex) go free to be themselves, and to love or not love me in each moment. It takes fully accepting what is, without conditions – a full and ongoing surrender. It’s relaxing into unconditional living, unconditional loving.
I never knew it would come to this. Colour me shocked. Colour me a brand new colour that I’ve never even seen before. Rub me off the page so that blank newness fills me up with possibility.
So I die.
In this moment of death, Love is.