“To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many, many beginnings — all in the same relationship.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Estes teaches that in love relationships, each partner “challenges, nourishes, and transforms the other.”
Let me begin by stating the obvious — the way we’ve been relating to each other in love and companionship since time immemorial isn’t working. It is often steeped in disempowering layers of co-dependence and patriarchy. I’m not the only one who has felt the heaviness of love — the distinct surrender to its angst. Poetry, prose, and song is a testament to love’s hope and eventual disenchantment under the wrong conditions.
When we look back through mythology, it is clear that love seeks to be the panacea for all manner of ills. We crave relationship. We seek genuine companionship.
It’s not a lack of enthusiasm or initial effort that shatters our heart. It’s the eventual decline into expectation…but more than that, deeper — it is our fundamental understanding of love.
In honest contemplation, how much challenging, nourishing, and transformation actually happens in relationships? That is the hope, isn’t it? We begin with great intentions. We do aspire to it, we believe in it. I think that the framework for love is the issue, not love itself. We’ve simply misunderstood it from the get-go.
I don’t blame us. There was survival to consider, financial and physical. There was food to gather, children to raise, wars to fight, floods to conquer, fires to put out — metaphorical and otherwise.
I resonate deeply with this quote by Red. K. Elders:
“I really like, respect, and appreciate who you are in all your realness and sovereignty, and if there is anything I can offer, without compromising my true nature, that will help you along your path, then it will be a gift to me, if you will allow me to give it.”
I hear selflessness and self-worth in that quote. I hear balance. I hear surrender and joy, and not one ounce of co-dependence.
My partner and I have gone through the hardest year of our union this past year. It’s been twenty-five years, to be exact, of beginnings and endings. It’s been the best teaching ground of what it means to love someone, and equally the sweetest and most bitter medicine.
We began with a traditional wedding, traditional vows. We meant every one of them. We did omit the ‘obey’ part though — that was never going to fly for a Scorpio and a Leo.
As time went on and we grew into ourselves, we decided to take off our wedding rings, performed a sacred ceremony to release ourselves from those vows, and promised to honor the truth in each other. We have always done this without fail, given rise to each other’s dreams and hopes. We would stay together not because of the vows (it was so freakin’ liberating!) but because we wanted to share in each other’s journey and inner beauty.
Fast forward a few years, many more endings and beginnings…we are nothing if not fiery…and my authenticity grew too loud to ignore.
My partner has always known and supported who I am at my core; a bisexual, polyamorous woman. I am a witch and an insatiable seeker. We have spent plenty of time apart while I went off on my own adventures, and recently, fell in love with a woman.
As always, I had complete freedom. Still firmly committed to my truth, this man, with the utmost of gentleness and integrity, saw me enter into another relationship, and for a while, we thrived. But as life and love are expected to do, it revealed the core wounds of our relationship. And it wasn’t jealousy, as one would think, or a withdrawal from the promise we had made each other. This new love was the light which shone beautifully upon where we needed to grow next. We were still very co-dependent, although we had thought not so much. We needed each other in the places where we should have loved each other. That one can be quite tricky — it wears many masks.
We set aside our lover status and began working on our friendship and the missing pieces of self-embodiment. We realized that even though we were diametrically opposed to any relationship based on patriarchal values of competition, authority, privilege, and exploitation, that there were still roots of it in our love agreement.
Did we have a right to each other’s bodies for instance? Could we expect one to provide what was missing in ourselves which extended to how we viewed money, chores, etc? What was our language towards each other? Were we nurturing the deep friendship that had always been our mainstay, or were we full of unrealistic demands?
This was deeper than we had the courage to define but we knew that if we did not grow we would end a very beautiful love affair. We said the D word. We slept in separate rooms. We worked on our shit. It was hard. We knew that after all was said and done, this was a portal for transformation and we could take it or turn away. It was what happens when you open to unconditional love and the Divine Feminine’s Codes for Relationships: Self, Sovereignty, Surrender.
During this period of soul growth, I was coaching clients and less formally, friends, who were working on their own love lives. Nothing makes you more accountable than teaching something you’re in the process of learning! But it was all a beautiful dance, and I was able to distill the medicine of these three codes inherent to Divine Feminine wisdom.
- Self means leaving spaces in our togetherness as Khalil Gibran so eloquently wrote.
- It means seeking joy, above happiness.
- It is an untiring dedication to the pursuit of one’s purpose.
- It is play-time and creativity through which Self hones its co-creative powers.
- Self recognizes that dying to the relationship is not the same as the positive life, death, re-birth cycles of one’s journey.
- Self seeks to embody its wildness and chaos.
- Self finds completion within.
- Self allows for all its emotions and does not play games but nurtures integrity.
- It values inner-nourishment, soul food, and partakes as often as it needs without guilt or explanation.
- Sovereignty leaves room for all of Self’s incarnations. We incarnate toward new expression of Self ad infinitum.
- Each lifetime is a continual shedding of skins. It is our becoming.
- Sovereignty means that we do not share our bodies unless we are in alignment with such a desire.
- It means that we walk an on-purpose life and that this purpose does not need to be attached to our partners to be considered valid.
- Sovereignty sees that its path supports all other paths in the tapestry of One-ness, and that fulfilling one’s purpose is vitally important in the scheme of things.
- Sovereignty honors the room one needs for their fullest expression and creates healthy boundaries in order for that to happen.
- Sovereignty respects either partner’s right to love more than one human being at once, in the understanding that the Divine Feminine heart is not a finite resource.
- Sovereignty values freedom but not at the cost of integrity.
- Sovereignty is Self-empowering.
- Surrender accepts the flow of life and love and does not try to alter the course of the river.
- Surrender is flexible but not boundary-less.
- It is the knowing of love’s complexity while embracing simplicity.
- Surrender understands that resistance manifests the exact thing we do not want, and so provides space for anger, grief, and disappointment but does not embrace it as a mantra for life.
- Surrender lets go, but is faithful to the processing of what no longer serves.
- Surrender blesses the endings and the beginnings and does not judge them as failure.
- Surrender is womb-time and works with the cycles of nature and our bodies.
In the way of the Divine Feminine, there is no pushing a relationship forward or demanding its success.
Vulnerability, receptivity, respect, and authenticity are Feminine Codes. They are equally valuable to the more assertive expression of the Masculine, the more mind-focused, right-hand path.
When in balance, these two energies create for expansive union, no matter our gender or orientation.
My partner and I have found a sweet spot in our relationship. We’re finding ways to not ignore the places we slip into complacency. It will always be our work of art.
I’m still madly in love with the woman who lit up my heart.
Love is an intentional masterpiece.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Heart Howl: Re-wilding the Soul Through Fearless Authenticity
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom.
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