Desperate & confused about the volcanic conflict in her relationship, my client “C” recently wrote me for support. After working with her for over 2 years, she finally found her true love. But they were deep in the power struggle phase, fighting all the time. He was ready to give up, pushing hard for a break-up. She was terrified & losing faith. Here’s what I wrote back:
(btw, see my 10 Question Love Test to check if you/ your partner are really in love)
Hello C, so sorry you’re in agony.
But this is exactly what True Love looks like sometimes – messy, ugly & despairing.
Your relationship is building character right now. Matters of the heart are always complex & labyrinthine. Don’t worry about how far this seems from the fairytale. A love that has been to the edge of annihilation and back is wiser & more trustable.
True Love is the most painful education there is. Remember, it doesn’t take a lot to make love work…it takes everything. And in my research it’s worth each wince, quiver & heartbreak, if you stay with the “Initiation”.
The “Initiation” -which never ends- is learning to continuously generate faith in the success of your relationship even when you’re most scared, angry or upset. The faith comes not from your feelings, reasons, evidence or proofs, but is conjured de novo from the audacity of your imagination. It’s funded by a deep commitment to something you believe is good, true & beautiful -the partnership itself.
True Love is the strongest force I know of in the universe, but it has no power if you don’t believe in it.
I think your relationship can survive the current drama and I will help you get through. But this will take more courage, resilience and outrageous dedication than you have ever wielded before. Love can render the impossible possible, but it requires your faith.
Don’t listen to friends who encourage you to give up. Much of the world won’t support your being in love; it highlights where they may have settled. You have to be willing to walk some paths alone. It takes daring to stay in a game that others think you’re losing.
No one else can fight for your love, only you. And it’s always a private battle between your inner idealism and silent cynicism -two sides of the same coin (since all cynics are failed idealists). I’m here to reconnect you to your deep romantic dream -the part of you that believes in magic & destiny.
Here’s the deal, True Love doesn’t look any one way…just like a son or daughter doesn’t look any one way…each time love emerges between two people it looks different and is different. Yet, there are some unifying characteristics of True Love you can practice & cultivate:
1) Be willing to do whatever it takes to understand your partner’s emotions & perspective. Are you willing (like Orpheus for Eurydice), to descend into ‘hell’ & risk that horror in order to reconnect with your lover? What if you knew the development required to do that work would make you a more extraordinary human…
2) Feel all the feelings in the spectrum that arise in you -from the heights of ecstasy to the depths of despair. Learn to stay with your somatic awareness, breathe through each feeling that visits and interview it for its wisdom. Being able to stay with the intensity of anger or fear and not threaten the relationship or give up on the partnership is crucial.
True Love “is the white light of emotion” (says author D. Ackerman)…a glass prism shows light is comprised of every color in the rainbow, so too Love is comprised of every feeling in the psyche. We must learn to feel each of them in order to earn our place in the exclusive cult of True Love. All of this takes gladiator courage, plus a heart that is willing to break & heal, break & heal -over and over again.
3) No matter how bad it feels or looks right now…stay connected to the knowledge that being with your lover is a privilege and an exquisite gift worth fighting for, perhaps even dying for (ie: your protective, defended persona must die-into the raw authentic self that your partner is actually in love with)
4) Notice the parts in you that see perfection or catastrophe. Don’t trust either of them. Reality rarely falls at the extremes of ideal happiness or full on disaster, it happens mostly between, in the grey zone. You, my dear, tend to polarize and pendulum swing from one extreme to the other (happily-ever-after vs. we’re f*cked). Start tracking this ancient habit of projecting binary outcomes in black & white, good or bad and expect results in between. Reality is way more nuanced, subtle & complex…as are you.
5) Never ever give up, even when everything in you (or your partner, or the world) says so. When two people are actually in love (for real) break-up is not even an option. You know in your soul they were custom-made-by-the-universe for you and you for them, so there’s no where else to go. It’s a strange, inevitable trap.
I recommend you take some space to ground and calm yourself; use movement if you can. Dance, stretch, walk, hike. If you’re angry, scared, confused or overwhelmed with doubt it’s your job to regulate your nervous system when you’re triggered/ upset. Don’t fall into the victim-stance that expects him to rescue you from your pain & fear. It’s our responsibility as adult women (and future mothers) to practice generating safety for ourselves in our body & in our circumstances.
If your surroundings have you feeling physically unsafe, take action & change them. If you feel emotionally unsafe, use conscious breathing, meditation, stretching, yoga, visualization, dance, anything that gets you into your body & back to the present moment. Once you’re good at feeling your feelings (tuning into the physical sensations in your soma-scape) by staying connected to your breath, you’ll then become aware of your ancient wise-woman-wisdom, and it will be obvious what to do next.
When we internally regulate our emotional states first, our partner is then better able to regulate their nervous system. Remember, your man is unconsciously looking to you as a mother figure (all men do) and if mommy is not grounded, safe & calm, baby boy can’t feel safe & calm….so the woman has to lead.
You say he wants to break up. But break-ups should only ever occur when both parties are soft, loving and deeply intimate…never during a fight. If both people are in a place of mutual reverence and still aware they’re not a match as life partners then it may be appropriate to shift the dynamic. However, the fact that your historic “break-ups” have always been driven by anger/ conflict makes them untrustable.
Know this: True Love always wins. ALWAYS, that’s a fact…and if you really believe you & your man are soul mates, then no matter what it looks like now (happy, angry, sad, fighting, together, broken up, separated, in mutual simultaneous orgasm, panic…whatever) trust you both will eventually find your way back to each others’ hearts & end up together. Your ability to lean in and trust this truth will allow you to relax about how it all looks right now and let the process unfurl organically. Let go of any time limits you are placing on the “issue”. Each love has its own rhythm and pace, one cannot rush romance.
I believe in you & your love. But you’re the only one that can keep the flame of your dream alive. No matter how dim it gets, never, ever let it go out.
As for the pain…the heart is a muscle, every break makes it stronger. You have an epic love story in the making and it demands you keep standing for it regardless of your fleeting thoughts or feelings. True Love is a realm available only to those who believe & are willing to do the ego-transcending work it demands. This game is not for the fainthearted; it’s a gladiator sport. But, I know you can do it, you were made for this. And I’m right here at your side, clapping.
-With softness, Annie