What happens if you’ve been experiencing some tension in an important relationship and the other person says “I can’t be with you right now, I need some space”? For most of us, even before we have words of response, there’s likely a clutching in our gut, or at least a sense of guardedness – an “uh-oh, something’s wrong here!”
The fairy tale notion of meeting Prince or Princess Charming and dancing off into the sunset happily ever after is deeply etched in our culture. Even in friendships and work relationships, we generally imagine that if things are going well, we should be able to stay close and handle things together.
|The Ebb and Flow Between Two Souls
We tend to ignore our differing natural rhythms or preferences, or our need (when we’re off-balance) to create spaces where we can come back home to ourselves and get grounded. Allowing for ebb and flow in our relationships without making it mean there’s something wrong with us, or with the relationship, is crucial. And because it’s something that’s easy to forget, Bruce and I included this poem as part of our wedding service.
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
When you love someone,
You do not love them all the time,
In exactly the same way,
From moment to moment.
It is an impossibility,
It is even a lie to pretend to.
And yet this is exactly what most of us demand.
We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life,
Of love, or relationships.
We leap at the flow of the tide
And resist in terror at its ebb.
We are afraid it will never return.
We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity;
When the only continuity possible in life,
As in love, is in growth, in fluidity, in freedom,
In the sense that the dancers are free,
Barely touching as they pass,
But partners in the same pattern.
What if when we found ourselves unable to resolve a challenge we chose to allow for that dance of growth, fluidity and freedom? What if rather than getting scared and stuck in our painful reactions and opting for our default responses of fight or flight we could surrender into trusting this moment too as part of the ebb and flow – as a friend of mine says “part of the path – come to awaken one of the qualities of love within me”?
Just this recognition might create enough internal space to allow for making the intentional, even if counterintuitive, choice to honour both of you by pausing, and stepping away.
|Intimacy – Choosing to Co-create the Dance
luigi diamanti – FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This ISN’T an angry stepping into the drama of the voices (either inside our heads or out loud) saying “this is too hard!” … “what have I done to deserve this?” … “it’s not supposed to look like this!” … “what happened to those warm loving feelings?” … “I don’t know how to do this!” … or “why can’t you see what I need and do that?!”
Instead, it’s a stand for the value with which we hold both ourselves and the relationship. It’s also a recognition that our first responsibility is to create a safe space inside ourselves. There we can pause, soothe and ground ourselves.
In holding ourselves with a fierce tenderness, a commitment to being curious about what Life has in store, and to becoming the fullest expression of ourselves we can be, we’ll be more clear about discerning the call of our lives. When we sense it’s time to come back together with the other, we can do so with undefended hearts, standing and speaking with clarity and power, open to co-creating a win-win, AND, honouring our humanity when we don’t yet do this gracefully.
I love the way Gay and Katie Hendricks speak about this part of being in relationship. I first worked with them back in 1999. If you’re curious about reading a bit more, I found an excerpt from their book The Conscious Heart here.
These old, deeply engrained patterns aren’t changed in an instant – that’s why I pointed to honouring our humanity as we’re learning! AND, if you’re thinking “that sounds good, but how do I do that?!” there are principles and practices that make being with the ebb and flow easier. You can find out more about the ways I partner with others on the Programs page of my website.