“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” Cynthia Occelli
I have written this post so many times, in different forms, with different words. Each time not doing it justice - if that's even a real thing. It can be challenging to put this experience into words or a manmade language because it was and is so much more than is possible with my limited human vocabulary. Dylan and I were laughing over this the other day, because we could probably write a book or two on this experience alone and still not even touch what it was really like. However, I feel a strong desire to share this because I look around me and see so many suffering in "relationships". I think many people don't know there are different ways to experience connection or be with one another. Or like me, have been brainwashed by how things have always been done and they think they need to follow everyone else blindly. In short, this is an attempt to share my story. It feels necessary to emphasise the "MY story" part because I am not at all saying anyway of doing something is right or wrong or better or worse, this is just an attempt to share my experience. I understand that this blog is "supposed to be" a teaching resource, but I don't really care what I'm supposed to do or write about anymore.
I hold this experience so dearly to me because I think perhaps it was the most difficult thing I've ever had to endure. At the time it was just SO challenging and I didn't see any way through it. And now, I look back and all I can see is the beauty. It was terrible and challenging and destructing and consuming and growing and absolutely beautiful in every way. I've called this a love story because it is essentially this, it is how Dylan and I came to be what we are today, how I found the meaning of true love (not romantic love) but real love in its purest form. I have so much love for Dylan and am so eternally grateful to him and this experience that we continue to share together.
I recently went to a Yin Yoga workshop with Meghan Currie. Despite it being a 3 hour workshop in my least favourite style of yoga I couldn't pass off the opportunity since I had been following Meghan for years and was finally in Bali. I say least favourite because Yin Yoga is the most challenging for me, holding poses for around 5 minutes is not only physically uncomfortable but it really tests your "mind body". In this workshop Meghan described the uncomfortableness as an opening because in your body, with your muscles, this is essentially what is happening and why you are experiencing discomfort in a particular area. Now although the discomfort is often associated with something negative, to see it as opening has a different meaning entirely. Yin Yoga is so powerful because you can relate so much of the physical with real life, and this workshop spoke so much truth for me. It almost prepared the foundation for me to actually write this post. The transformation that happened within my "marriage" or "relationship" was essentially this: opening. And boy, was there a lot of discomfort that came along with it. What tends to happen when we are experiencing discomfort or something we don't like, is that we resist it or run away from it. In Yin, you instead face it head on and run towards it. You focus on it and feel it in its totality and this is where the transformation happens.
Because of society and media and what I had always been exposed to, I had a "good idea" of what marriage and relationships should look like. My parents have been together since they were teenagers and I thought the only way I could make my relationship last was to mimic their behaviour. What I'm trying to say is that I had a lot of expectation, of myself and of Dylan and of what our relationship should look like. I really thought we had to spend a lot of time together and if we wanted to be alone, if I enjoyed being alone, that something was wrong in our relationship. I had ideas about not being able to speak with other people because it lead to unfaithfulness or that we needed to be constantly infatuated with each other. I would get really frustrated when things didn't play out the way I envisioned them, or when Dylan didn't behave in a way that aligned with my expectations. When he would go away for work it caused so much tension because I resisted being alone, and he felt guilty for doing things that truly just made him happy. These sound like simply things or little problems but I cannot express the conflict it created. I mean, we weren't fighting or screaming with each other because thats just not how we are but it was like this silent tension that was always there.
Dylan saw things very differently. I don't want to speak for him because its his own experience, but I think he knew things like being away from someone you love or connecting with another person about life couldn't be something wrong. There was conflict between us and conflict within him because he was the only person that felt this way. I mean, our friends and family all seem perfectly fine being together 24/7 and not having close friends with others. It got to a point where we just weren't relating well to each other any longer, for me it was almost as if I shut myself off to him completely. There was just so much resistance within me. I remember it like that: that it was a fight trying to understand. I could understand how he was feeling and he would attempt to explain himself to me over and over again, but I just couldn't imagine how it could work - to give total freedom. If I gave total freedom, Dylan wouldn't be mine any longer. I couldn't let go of this attachment. You either have freedom in your relationship or you don't. You can't have a little bit of freedom. Is your "relationship" free or not? I'm also putting the words "relationship" and "marriage" in quotation marks because these concepts are essentially made up by us, they aren't even real. I don't even know what Dylan and I have anymore, because it extends beyond the word marriage.
I remember us discussing, or rather me suggesting, divorce. And talking about working through difficult times. I remember saying "what if we're still working through this for another year?". Needless to say it continued for another year and a half, and got to a point that was almost unbearable. I went back to my home country for some time, not knowing if I would return to Dylan or not, but in the end did. And back-to-back Dylan left for home when I returned. This extended alone time did something, a small shift began to happen. I don't think it was necessarily the alone time but more a surrendering. Our discomfort had reached a peak I didn't know possible, I would often cry solely from frustration, and there was honestly nothing left to do but let go. Perhaps I only let go out of pure exhaustion, I can't really place the turning point. But I do know I couldn't keep fighting against this giant gushing river, so I just went with it instead. And no, I didn't "let go" and give up and end the connection with Dylan, I just let go of trying and ran towards the discomfort and just experienced it.
It didn't happen overnight, but slowly things just got lighter. We began relating well with each other again after the longest time. The biggest transformation happened after Dylan read the book, Freedom: The courage to be yourself by Osho. Dylan describes it as finally realising he wasn't alone in the way he was thinking and feeling. We read it together every day after that, taking turns to read aloud to each other. This was by far the most eye-opening book and experience I've ever had. It was exactly what Dylan had been trying to express to me for years, but someone Osho's words related to me in a way that I could finally see. It broke down every idea and expectation I've ever had about relationships. I would recommend everyone to read it.
Through the reading of this book, I came to realise how attached to the idea of love and being in love I was, how attached to Dylan I was. This caused all of the resistance. I don't want you to think that we have an "open-relationship" or something like that, because it isn't that at all. I mean, if we wanted to do that we could because there aren't any boundaries. But we don't really see those ways of being as acting consciously, by just doing whatever we want without consequence. I remember hearing the Bible verses throughout my childhood:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
Now although I don't actively practice Christianity, these words hold significant meaning. I want you to think of your relationships and the people you have in your life, and take time to reflect on the above. We use the term "I love you" so loosely, half of us not even knowing what true love is. And I don't mean "romantic love". Love is love is love. You cannot love in different ways and if you think the "love" you have for a romantic partner is different to the love you have for a friend, I'm not sure how this is possible. You can love your partner and be attracted to them physically, mentally even, but these are separate things to love. There is romance and there is love, but they are separate. It has taken me the longest time to realise the difference between love and attachment and how they really and truly aren't the same thing. If you think you can't live without your partner, husband, wife, boyfriend, know that it isn't coming from a place of love but rather a place of attachment. This comes from insecurity, fear of being alone, not being secure in yourself. I don't mean you don't want to spend time with them, I just mean that if they weren't there and off doing something they enjoyed you wouldn't die or be heart broken. You might even feel happy for them doing something they enjoy.
For me, the way society portrays relationships became too overbearing, so uncomfortable, that all of my ideas and expectations had no option but to shatter. And with it came the most liberating freedom.
And true love.