Yesterday, I texted a few of my like-minded friends to share my most recent awareness. The importance of other people.
Relationships (with a partner, friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances) accelerate our growth and teach us more about ourselves than all the spiritual retreats, self-help books, and hours of meditation and counselling ever could.
Other people serve as mirrors. They reflect back to us how we feel about ourselves and the beliefs we’re holding about life.
Every single person who enters our lives is there for a reason – to show us all the barriers we’ve placed around ourselves. Once we become aware of these barriers, we can remove them and open ourselves to love.
In Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love, she writes about the two main emotions we experience – love and fear. Fear closes our hearts. Love opens us up to an easier, brighter, more wonderful world.
Up until recently, I had assumed that I preferred to be alone. I’d spend most evenings on my own, reading, writing, and watching TV. I walked alone, jogged alone, cycled alone. I meditated and did yoga alone. I took myself for coffee. I wandered alone in nature and took pictures. I holidayed in the west of Ireland. Alone.
I’m proud of my independence and I’m content in my own company but sometimes a stray pang of loneliness manages to slip through my carefully constructed armour. I realise now that I was confusing strength with a refusal to budge out of my comfort zone.
I really believed that I did better at life when I was single. Romantic relationships seemed to blaze into my world. They were quick and exciting and dangerous.
They were so out of my control that I feared I’d be engulfed in their flames. Then they died out, leaving me to tend to my burns.
I missed the warmth and beauty of relationships but I also felt blessedly relieved to be alone again. Alone, I was in control.
My longest romantic relationship was with my now ex-husband. Everything since then has never made it past the four-month mark.
I led what I thought was a balanced life. I had oceans of time to work on myself. I grow more when I’m single, I convinced myself.
And I’m glad of the time and space I’ve had to heal and to flourish. I agree that one must love oneself and have a full and happy life before one is ready to enter into a healthy relationship.
The thing is, I kept waiting for one (i.e. little old me) to become perfect, conscious and enlightened. I forgot that this life is a journey. And on this arduous yet rewarding adventure, we’re constantly learning, evolving and recalibrating.
It’s nice to share some of that journey with our fellow travellers who can also feel lost and who are also searching for meaning. And there’s more laughter and intimacy to be had on a path walked with more than one set of feet.
After living alone for four years, I now have two housemates. I’m also spending more time with my fabulous friends. And I love meeting new people. How different we are fascinates me. How similar we are humbles me.
I understand now that living involves other people. For what is a life without company, support, affection and passion?
Other people highlight the areas we need to work on so that we can peel off yet another bullet-proof layer. It’s so much lighter and freer to let go of these heavy burdens that weigh us down and close us off. But it’s scary to be so exposed, so vulnerable.
I know that I have difficulty letting people in. Asking for help and believing I deserve to have my needs met is a challenge. But it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.
Communication is also an area I’m working on. Recently, I detected a pattern of mine. When the going gets tough, my instinct is to bolt. To get out that door and never come back. But where’s the maturity in that? Where’s the learning, the growing, the compassion? Where is the love?
Other people have an amazingly frustrating knack of triggering the emotional reactions that I used to resist and get angry about. Now, when someone does or says something that provokes me to feel hurt, annoyed or defensive, I remember to breathe into it.
I feel grateful for this issue that I need to deal with. I look at my feelings about the incident, which leads to an understanding of why I’m feeling the way I do. Then, I let go and bring myself back to the present moment.
This is a very new practise for me, by the way, but it’s a revelation! I highly recommend it.
Today, I’m more open than ever before. This translates into a heightened enjoyment of life, a deeper appreciation of beauty, and more fun, peace and connection.
I am, thankfully and in Melody Beattie’s words, codependent no more. Nor am I locked in a distant land of me, myself and I.
I’m travelling on this awe-inspiring path called life. And it’s rich with billions of souls from whom I can learn so much, and with whom I can share a luminous journey.