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In the movie Eat, Pray, Love when the main character, Liz, is on the beach and her amazing Brazilian lover is offering her an adventure, an opportunity to leap off the metaphorical cliff of faith and go with him, to take their relationship to the next level, she hesitates. She has lost her centre. She has invested so much in their relationship that she doesn’t know who she is anymore and is no longer connected to the divine. It’s a scary place to be and one many of us are familiar with. My recent experience with this was an important lesson in holding on and letting go. After meeting the most perfect partner in my life (let’s call him Gorgeous Sexy Man or GSM), I was engaging more and more of myself into him and not holding onto myself, I lost my balance and I fell. In my mind, I had messed up the potential of this amazing and most wonderful relationship because I was not only scared of the growing feelings developing on both sides, but also because I unconsciously sabotaged it by showing my worst side. On one hand I very much wanted this relationship, but the fear of how amazing it was, and could be, terrified me. I didn’t know how to be in a relationship. I didn’t know how to feel when I got what I wanted. I was petrified of intimacy and sex and I wanted someone to help me with that, but instead, I put up the walls; the walls that said that I wasn’t good enough, or attractive enough or experienced enough or adequate enough…just enough. This presented itself as a clingy, needy, desperate woman – all things that I thought that I’d mastered, yet there they were – triggered by his presence, my vulnerability and the growing energetic feeling between us.
There’s a good reason why the book Eat, Pray, Love and subsequent movie have struck a chord with women the world over, it’s because of the fundamental truths in it. We as women, continue in relationships long after they’ve reached their use-by date in some vain hope that he will come around, or rise to what we expect, then we bounce from unsatisfactory relationship to another and then, when we find one truly magical and perfect, we sabotage it with regressing back to the old patterns of behaviour that we are used to, because that’s a safe space, a space where we don’t have to show our vulnerabilities. Every woman sees themselves at some point in her journey – either in New York, Italy, India or in my case at the very end in Indonesia. I don’t think for a second that we all need to live the same experiences to experience Liz’s journey to growth, but I do think that learning from her and identifying yourself within her journey is extremely valuable. As is learning from other women and honouring their journey.
In my case, my saviour has been yoga. Within yoga, the pranayama practice settles the busy mind and brings me into my heart, the asanas make me focus on the present moment and savasana settles it into my bones. After my first intimate encounter with GSM, my energies were dynamic and erratic, I needed to find my centre, after the Vinyasa session I felt so much better, but still there was this erratic energy that lingered. What was it? How do I find a balance between joyful and wonderful connection and maintaining self? How did Liz do it? How did Liz find her balance? When standing on the beach and confronted with this experience, Liz wanted to hold her balance, she wanted to be fully in control. Wayan and Katut both give her advice and Katut says “To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.” So where is the middle ground between holding on and letting go? Where is that place where you can enter your own vortex but also be a part of a shared vortex between two souls joining in love but neither party loses themselves, where they are empowered and strengthened by the union. How can we let go and go with the flow of the energies between us without feeling like we are so out of control? And is losing control a bad thing?
This brings me to Trust. I’ve put it with a capital T, because in many ways it is personified in the sense that it is a challenge that comes up again and again for me. Trust in men, trust in my judgement, trust in my intuition that tells me again and again that this is the one for me, of him and of the universe and perfect timing. There’s a sense of learning to trust all of the above, but even more so, trusting in the feelings and the knowings I have about GSM. Our relationship has been unfolding slowly, and in many ways I asked for slowness, of taking time to know each other. My marriage was, shall we say, short of any courtship and that ended in disaster. I see in GSM fears of trust and of being hurt, and of fear of rushing into anything too quickly. I want to honour that. I want to honour where he is right now and allow it to unfold as naturally as a flower, yet, he takes up a lot of head and heart space in my body already and I’m certain I take up a portion of his thinking and heart space too. Patience is one of my lessons here, a part of me wants it now and can’t wait.
Relationships are like a partnered dance. I learned tango a few years ago and my biggest challenge was allowing the partner to lead. After a lifetime of being a strong, independent woman, learning to let go and trust my partner was a challenge. I found an excellent partner who taught me a lot about my own sexuality, but also began my journey in learning to trust men and the process. He was open and honest and we are still friends today. Recently, I started to learn swing dancing. Again, there is an element of trust with the lead. There’s a man in his 60s who is a dapper dancer and whenever it’s my turn to rotate to him, I’m excited. This is a man who knows what he’s doing, where he’s going and I trust that even if I mess up the steps, he will be there to recover. I think that’s what’s missing with GSM, he’s still in a space where he doesn’t really know what he’s doing, where he’s going or the direction of our relationship, or to quote author Jeff Brown, our “loveship”, or whatever it is that has brought us together. Surrendering to the lead doesn’t mean surrendering all control, but it does mean to trust in the lead to get you both to where you need to be. I suppose I really have to look at GSM as a man learning to lead a dance again after having his toes stepped on, and probably crushed. It will take time, patience and understanding while he learns the steps, he learns to trust me, all women and the universe and he learns to lead again.
At the end of Eat, Pray, Love, Liz ends the movie by returning to her lover and choosing a word in Italian which means “let’s cross over.” I’m not Liz Gilbert, but what I’ve gained from her story has empowered me to find my own place on the relationship rollercoaster. By no means is my relationship with GSM an “official” commitment to each other as yet, but it’s a journey and that wavering connection I have with Trust manifests for me as an intense desire to run away. Usually after we’ve spent intimate time together, GSM pulls away. This leads to me responding by having a greater desire to run away. It brings up insecurities and that “not enough” response. I am able to see the pattern now and the reality is, he’s probably not even pulling away, it’s probably just my imagination, but what’s not my imagination is how we connect with each other. When I use my yoga practice and drop into my heart centre, everything is sweet and okay, it’s the mind that creates the drama, the insecurities and the fears. I can call the running away response when it comes up and it’s having less and less power over me.
As a result, I’ve come up with a mantra which helps me to balance, to stay centred and to be aware of the fears. Trust represents the masculine, flow represents the feminine. So now, whenever I am worried or concerned I meditate on “Trust in flow; flow in trust” from my heart centre. It works for me and helps me back into the vortex of manifestation. I hope you in your journey to your loveship find a mantra and path that works for you. My loveship with GSM could all be an illusion, but isn’t it all? I’m still fabulous, no matter what is in store for me.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2015
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