I bet you were thinking, “this is going to be a post about letting go of a past lover.” It’s not. It’s my ruminations about what happens as relationships evolve. When we meet someone, we fall in love with who they are and how we feel when we are with them. It’s delicious, delirious fun. And if you are anything like me, you think the bliss will go on forever. Or at least you hope it does. Isn’t that what the stories promise, happily ever after?
And then somebody or some thing changes. If you are polyamorous, it
could be the emergence of a new lover, with all the new relationship energy (NRE) that comes from that.
It could be a change in the state of one of the existing relationships. Many things affect both poly and monogamous relationships. Aging, stress, health issues, family or job responsibilities. Maybe your partner develops a new passion for a hobby, or religion, or kink. And you find yourself wondering where the person you originally fell in love with went.
When you stay stuck in love with the old guy or gal, you block awareness to what’s possible now. What is happening now could be even better than you imagined, but your vision is blocked by nostalgia. Oh, that dreaded word, change. How do we navigate this successfully? Especially if our pride is pricked, or we are feeling neglected by the person we used to count on for love and sustenance. And what about the fear of the unknown?
Navigating Change in Relationship Can Be Scary
Pema Chodron says we must lean into what scares us. Only then can we unlearn the fear of impermanence. Everything changes. Undergoing a change challenges me to look at my underlying beliefs and decide if they really suit me. When the person you are with changes, you have to be willing to admit, am I able to unconditionally love the real them, or just who I imagined them to be? When you find yourself changing, the question becomes, am I willing to take a stand for my Truth, and let my partner take responsibility for their reaction?
I’m not just talking from the ivory tower here. Trevor and I recently celebrated the second anniversary of the date that took us out of the friend zone and started our lovership. After a year and a half in one form of relationship, we have spent the last 6 months transitioning into something else. And we have been struggling to adapt, to figure out what the new paradigm is exactly. I keep wondering how what I wanted fits into how it is now. Many days I wish that we could just go back to how it was (or seemed to be). The demons I wrestle with are strange bedfellows. One is pride -“I deserve what I want, and if you don’t see that, we’re done.” And the other is low self-esteem. “See? We told you you were unlovable, and here’s proof.” And then there is perfectionism, “What if I throw away what’s working because I am too focused on what doesn’t feel good?”
Mostly, I have an over active brain. Can anyone relate? Along with the demons are the angels, who are my cheerleaders. They whisper, “This could be fantastic if you go with the flow.” “Everything that’s happening right now is in your own best interest. You are going to manifest even more than what you had before.” “There’s nothing to worry about. You are loved as much as ever!” Although I may look together on the outside, my experience of myself is like a swirling bundle of molecules that coalesce briefly before shattering into a cloud only to reform again.
Challenge is Opportunity
The truth is that everything presents us with opportunity. If you can let go of the past and live in the present with joy, you can intentionally create a future that you love. I could make this a “5 Ways to Let Go of Fear” post. But aren’t those all over the internet? Our brains know what to do. Our spirit might even crave it. Change, freedom, new rockets of desire! Spirit loves that. Our bodies and our hearts are slower to come along. They are more dense, and shift more slowly. And that’s okay. So I’m going to give one tip. Be wherever you are, for as long as you need to be there.
Okay, two tips. In every moment, choose pleasure. Be aware of the pleasure of grieving, of meditating, of reading something wise and inspirational, of railing with anger, of taking a break from your brain with Netflix. Work on yourself, don’t work on yourself. Attempt to micro-manage your partner, fail. Attempt to micro-manage yourself, fail again. Finally surrender and don’t do anything at all and pray that a Higher Power make it all work out. (which is what’s happening anyway, IMHO) Love the journey and love yourself.
Be present with all of it in a spirit of inquiry. Okay, I guess that’s three tips! I’ve been amazed as a feeling transforms into another one, and another one, and so on. And one day I woke up and realized I was grateful for the change, because I really love where I have ended up. I am a Spiritual Badass! I love my ability to process, and feel all my feelings, and maybe be a beacon of hope for others going through it, This is my experience, so it is true for me. How about you?
It seems really appropriate that this is coming up as we are preparing the curriculum for Partners in Paradise. That retreat is going to be all about co-creating a vision for how you BOTH want it to be right now AND in the future. We are going to be guiding our couples past their obstacles to discover fresh vitality and joy in their relationship. We’re going to discover paradise in the partnership right now, and learn the skills that will help us remain resilient and ever co-creative in the future. Obviously, we have to go first. Which is exciting! Sometimes. Terrifying, sometimes. Infuriating. . . well, you get the drift.
Go Ahead and Stay in Love While Letting Go
As we let go of expectations, we actually can have more love, instead of less, but it takes consciousness. Relationships
do not have to be all black and white, either you’re in or your out. The real truth is, neither of you is the person you were yesterday. Navigating change is a skill that will serve you well throughout your life. Right now, we are very aware of the love we feel for each other. As with most couples, the question, or conflict, is all about how it gets expressed and received. What I’m seeing for us is amazing creativity and clarity emerging. Tell me in the comments what the experience is like for you.
Loving what is,