We have been sent gurus, guides, angels, healers, provocateurs, allies and antagonists in all shapes and sizes. Our partners, our kids, friends and family members, lovers. Our therapists, our work colleagues, strangers on the subway.
Our true teachers are all around us. Because the true teachings of life are ancient and lie deep within us.
All the people in our lives right now have gifts to offer. Some gifts are obvious. Some gifts are only realised in hindsight.
Through some relationships we are taught how to listen. To receive someone else’s truth without rushing in to fix them, advise them or stop them feeling what they’re feeling. To take their world seriously. To get out of our own heads. To lose our self-absorption and narcissism and step into different shoes.
Some relationships teach us how to hear ourselves, connect with our own wants and needs. To share our authentic feelings honestly, speak what’s really going on in our inner world, even as our hearts pound and we worry how we’ll be received.
Some relationships teach us how to be loved, how to let love in. How to allow ourselves to be supported. To ask for help and not see that as a weakness. To be looked after. To be cared for. To receive loving attention. To be held in another’s compassionate gaze. To let that compassion in. To know that we are so deserving of that.
Some connections teach us how to give support, to pay attention to another person’s feelings and needs, to look after another. To take the lead and step in and step out of our own stuff. To give our time and attention, our emotional and physical strength. To offer the gift of our willing sacrifice. To discover our limits in the giving too. To give from a place of self-nourishment, not guilt.
Some relationships teach us the necessity of speaking up for ourselves. They force us to get honest about what’s not okay for us, what hurts, what feels wrong, what feels like ‘too much’ or ‘too little’. To become aware of when our boundaries have been crossed. To express our righteous anger, the part of us that feels unseen, unheard, not respected, abused. To respect ourselves enough to say “No”, despite the consequences.
Sometimes we learn through break ups, heartbreaks, the death and transformation of relationships. We find the courage to take a step out of something that’s unhealthy for us, step out of the old and into the unknown, step into aliveness, step into heartbreak and feelings of loneliness maybe, step into our power and honour our precious hearts as they close and open and close and open and...
Sometimes we grow by staying in relationship when we feel like leaving and stepping away. Staying present during conflict and misunderstanding, feeling our feelings of anger, fear, grief and exasperation, shame and guilt, expressing our painful or blissful truth. Finding power in the staying. Slowing down and looking together at the mess. Finding a place of reconnection, maybe. Making amends, maybe. Saying sorry, maybe. Owning our wounds and actions.
Sometimes relationship teaches us how to be with another and sometimes it teaches us how to be with ourselves. How to stop running from our precious aloneness. To find the joy in silence, stillness, solitude.
To be One. To be two.
To unify. To separate.
To sense when we are out of balance.
To sense when we feel neglected.
To take seriously our need to be alone.
To take seriously our need for companionship.
To know when we are hiding, afraid of being seen, avoiding connection.
To know when we are addictively abandoning ourselves for another, running from ourselves to meet another in codependency, expecting to be saved, fixed, mended, made whole.
Sometimes relationship is bliss.
Sometimes it is confusing, agonising.
We are called to touch the heights of intimacy.
We are called to touch the depths of our existential loneliness and deepest longings.
We are called to know ourselves.
All experiences on the path of relationship can teach us, change us, heal us.
Even in the struggle, we can find blessings and insights.
If we are willing to slow down and look.
If we are willing to stay curious and do the courageous work of softening into our embodied experience.
If we are willing to feel into the pains and pleasures of relating.
Deep in the tantric mud, we may strike gold.
~ Jeff Foster