Let Love Expose You

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”

― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

My first thought when I read Gilbert’s quote here made me think, “Well, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.”

Yet, I get it.  I’ve had enough relationships to get that the fundamental design of relationships can be used as a stepping stone toward our personal and spiritual growth. Or, we can simply settle as bored spectators, point fingers at each other, hurl our insults, and get the heck out.

I know quite a few single people that are seeking their “soul mate”. Some of them are waiting patiently, some are eager and anxious, dating like crazy, some are angry, tired, hurt, and self-medicating with alcohol and/or drugs, and others are visualizing and affirming their sexy, soulicious mate each day expecting the universe to manifest him/her any day.

Me? I’m in observation and contemplation mode, feeling happy each day enjoying my life. Trying new things. Meeting new people. 

Are you surprised when intimate relationships go south? Have you ever wondered how one person can be so love with another, and how something so beautiful and real can turn into “ugliness” and hate?

It doesn’t surprise me anymore. In fact, I can almost guarantee in MOST relationships it’s just a matter of time before “love falls apart”. I don’t want to believe that, but it’s reality. I’ve witnessed it and experienced it more than I’ve wanted. 

Authentic Love is an Art

The act of loving is an art that gets neglected in our fast-paced society of instant gratification. We want it (whatever “it” is) NOW! No time for simmering, marinating, even salivating….slowly building up the kind of energy that will keep the lights on even in the darkest of nights. No time for appreciating, investigating, or like fine wine, just waiting a bit longer before you pop that lid to quench your thirst.

To find one that is hell bent on slowing down, reverencing introspect, and cultivating a depth of love through an inward (and sometimes painstaking) soul-journey is I must say….

Rare.

I know, right? Are we screwed?

I love falling in love. It’s intoxicating. Exciting. Hypnotic. Beautiful.

Physically, we’ve got chemicals racing through our brain and body, like the adrenaline rush when we lean in close for a whiff of her perfume. The neurotransmitter dopamine is aroused, giving us an “intense rush” of pleasure much like a mind-blowing drug. Serotonin is the chemical that causes us to obsess with thoughts about our sexy babe. No matter what we do, you just can’t stop thinking about our object of attention!

Then there’s oxytocin, which is nick-named “the cuddle hormone”. You get a good rush of this released when you orgasm. Yes, it certainly causes some intense feelings and you just want to snuggle close and bask in the glorious moment.

But then….

Then, sometimes without a warning, the chemicals wane. It’s not as exciting. It wasn’t what we thought it was going to be. We get busy with life. We argue more often. We start checking out other babes. We start seeing our partner’s flaws and that old feeling of feeling unfulfilled arises.

Again.

It’s a familiar scenario and if you talk to relationship experts, they’ll tell you it’s not surprising at all because most people go into a relationship thinking that the other person is going to fulfill them. Essentially it’s like half a person seeking another half a person, thinking they will become whole. However, all you’ve really got is two half fulfilled people looking for self-love in all the wrong places.

shadow work journal

Go A More Conscious Path

There’s something called the “conscious relationship movement”, which I find quite interesting. It’s men and women who consider themselves walking the spiritual path with a broader perspective on life and relationships. It’s acknowledging and getting that we each have an ego with plenty of things thrown in the shadow side of ego.

Those shadows we can easily project onto a new partner and vice versa, maybe not in the beginning stage, but later. 

See, relationships are a mirror unto ourselves.  Most of us have unresolved issues and flaws that we’re blinded to that reside in the unconscious shadow.

Maybe we’ve stuffed our feelings for decades. Perhaps that shame that you’ve been repressing since you were a child is holding you back and that’s why you lie in bed at night feeling sad and unloved. Or maybe you’re way of coping through the years drinking and/or drugging has slowly suffocated your most brilliant, lovable, adorable self.

See, partners can be like a flashlight shining brightly into the caverns of the dark side of the ego…so we can explore and see just what we’ve relegated to the shadow over the years. That light we can allow to prompt us to do shadow work, or we may dismiss the light and run, in no way, shape, or form desiring to “deal with all that”.

However, if we go into a relationship a bit more conscious (awake), we’ll be more willing to look at the bigger picture. We’ll be less likely to point fingers when times get tough and instead, check to see first if the REAL issue is within us. Check our shadow side and embrace shadow work.

Is it REALLY your partner doing something causing you to be jealous or could it be your insecurity?  Are you REALLY mad at your partner because he’s busy working a lot or are you upset at yourself for having no social life outside of him?

It’s easy to fall in love.

It’s natural to see the best in another person when all those love drugs are vibrating in a frenzy in your body, but what about a year down the road? Are you going to lose it when he gets busier than normal at work? Are you going to be able to handle the “junk” that is hidden in the beginning? Can you work with it?

Are you willing to be responsible for your own happiness? To move toward integrating your own shadows, rather than project them onto your partner?

Why People Walk Away From Love

Ask those who are getting divorced or breaking up if they love each other and most will say yes. Sure, they love each other, but they just can’t work it out. They argue. They’re angry. So much damage has been done. One by one they’ve removed bricks from the foundation (if they had a foundation at all). I read something by Jeff Brown about why people walk away from love. It is profound and I’d like to share it here because he says this so beautifully:

“Sometimes people walk away from love because it is so beautiful that it terrifies them.

Sometimes they leave because the connection shines a bright light on their dark places and they are not ready to work them through.

Sometimes they run away because they are not developmentally prepared to merge with another- they have more individuation work to do first.

Sometimes they take off because love is not a priority in their lives- they have another path and purpose to walk first. 

Sometimes they end it because they prefer a relationship that is more practical than conscious, one that does not threaten the ways that they organize reality. Because so many of us carry shame, we have a tendency to personalize love’s leavings, triggered by the rejection and feelings of abandonment. But this is not always true.

Sometimes it has nothing to do with us. Sometimes the one who leaves is just not ready to hold it safe. Sometimes they know something we don’t- they know their limits at that moment in time.

Real love is no easy path- readiness is everything. May we grieve loss without personalizing it. May we learn to love ourselves in the absence of the lover.” (~an excerpt from ‘An Uncommon Bond’)

I really couldn’t agree more.  Can we really learn to discover all aspects of ourselves and love it in the absence of a lover?

Yes. I’m a firm example that the transformation from self-loathing to inner healing and self-love is absolutely possible with some inner work and/or shadow work.

There are many reasons people walk away from love or a relationship.  I’ve walked away for several of these reasons myself. Yet, I don’t want to walk away anymore our of fear or because my shadows are running my life.

This is why I am adopting a more conscious approach to dating and relationships.  I want to seek something at a deeper level- someone at a deeper level.  I want to foster relationships (friends and intimate) that will help me cultivate my authenticity and they cultivate theirs; not pointing fingers. Not looking at each other to fill a void.

Not settling for status quo.

Those closest to us tend to teach us the most about ourselves and life. They reflect back those aspects of us that are amazing and ones that aren’t so great. All that’s in the ego and shadow. Those areas that aren’t so great or in the shadow…we can illuminate, deal, feel, heal, and integrate into our psyche. 

But let’s not forget that when we’re feeling angry, sad, bitter, resentful, jealous, etc. at our partner, to check ourselves first. Become mindful of what our emotions are trying to tell us. Jealous?  Maybe it’s not your partner. Maybe insecurity within is beckoning you to revisit old wounds from your past, so you can finally heal and experience real happiness. Angry? Perhaps unforgiveness is acting as a poison within you, eating you up slowly, deliberately.

Make The Shadow Work Journey Within

shadow work journal

As I continue to journey within, I’m fully aware that a true partner will end up exposing those aspects of me that I’m hiding from. That she will at some point down the road crack me wide open to deeper truths about me and my shadows. And yes, that’s scary.

Oh, I will see my absolute radiant beauty reflected when I gaze into her eyes, but I may also feel vulnerable and anxious, as I know she will be instrumental in helping me become more conscious to my false and true nature; but ultimately, my awe-mazing essence of Love.

What about you? Are you willing to adopt a more conscious relationship perspective?

 

Dominica Applegate
Written by: Dominica Applegate

Dominica Applegate is an author, writer, and transpersonal spiritual teacher. Her teachings have helped millions of people experience emotional healing, relationship repair, and spiritual awakening. Earning her BA in Psychology and MA in Counseling, she worked 12 years in the mental health field before diving full-time into writing.

She runs Rediscovering Sacredness, an online portal that offers inspiration, essays, resources, and tools to help heal inner pain and experience more peace and joy.

Her books include:

Into The Wild Shadow Work Journal
Healing After a Breakup: A 50 Day Devotional & Guided Inner Work Journal
Goodbye Codependency: A 40-Day Devotional to Boost Self-Care
The Pain, It Shapes Her World {Poetry}