So, where were we? Ah yes, our culture’s addiction to romantic love. Our religious commitment to the fantasy, and where it gets us. Read the last post if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about. To summarize and continue, I’ll go back to Judith Simmer-Brown: “There is such a theological commitment to romance that we will dump someone in a second if they challenge our fantasy.”
So, what’s the alternative? It’s infinitely harder than the next bauble in your match.com lineup, but infinitely more creative. You step out of the fantasy of romantic love and have a real relationship with your beloved—through your brokenheartedness. That’s right. You reach out through your vulnerability and meet your beloved on real terms. This is Simmer-Brown paraphrased, but it’s exactly my attitude toward love. For better or worse, though I adore romance, I have little trust in it. Maybe it’s because of loss early on my life, but I need my beloved to see the whole me and love her. With romantic love, especially the sort that grows too fast, I don’t feel seen at all. It feels inflated and unreal. Unsurprisingly, I’m not sure how my mean, ugly and needy parts will be tolerated. But there’s also an uneasy feeling that my sweet, beautiful, strong, and nurturing parts aren’t seen either. Instead, as the object of romantic infatuation, I just feel like a giant screen for another’s projection. It’s not a great feeling at all, though sure, the attention and roses sure are nice.
Simmer-Brown’s words were a relief to me because I ache for romantic love to crack open, for the real work and love to begin. Yes, it’s true I’ve tried to force it in the past. Not to hurt or to end the relationship, but to get into the creative work and real love of getting to know the beloved. It’s not for the faint of heart.
As Chögyam Trungpa, Simmer-Brown’s teacher, said (my paraphrase), “There’s not a lot of originality or creativity in the romantic story. Romantic love is a fantasy. Real relationships are infinitely more interesting.”
My word. Yes. I’m not saying I’m good at it. Not at all. In one relationship, my boyfriend complained I wasn’t going deep enough with him, sharing enough with him, and he needed that. “What does all your meditation and yoga give you, if not this?” he demanded. I didn’t tell him, because I couldn’t, that I was avoiding this depth, that I couldn’t share it, because if I was true to it (myself) I would end the relationship immediately. I needed a few more months to honor it, as the unhealthy attachment was strong. There were things I liked about the relationship even though it wasn’t meeting me on the deep level I wanted and needed. So, I get it. It’s hard. And I’m far from perfect myself.
“We have a fear of facing ourselves. That is the obstacle. Experiencing the innermost core of our existence is very embarrassing to a lot of people. A lot of people turn to something that they hope will liberate them without their having to face themselves. That is impossible. We can’t do that. We have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see our gut, our excrement, our most undesirable parts. We have to see them. That is the foundation of warriorship, basically speaking. Whatever is there, we have to face it, we have to look at it, study it, work with it and practice meditation with it.” —Chögyam Trungpa