“To refuse a gift is to spurn relationship. If gifts create bonds and widen the circle of self, then to refuse to give or receive a gift says, ‘I refuse to be connected to you. You are an other in my constellation of being.’” ~ Charles Eisenstein
Rejection stings. Period.
And here I was again. I let him go. Slowly. Reluctantly. Heartbreakingly. After two solid months of creating space to allow him to “process” his crumbling marriage and erratic behavior, he had taken up commiserating in the arms of another lover (also recently spurned) in the gap I had conveniently created.
Rebound relationships are like that. Drama. Misunderstandings. Totally messy.
Oh, I know messy! I’ve had my fair share of dark descents into the underworld of relationships where broken explicit or implicit agreements, betrayal of trust, plus uncorked and unarticulated desire lurk. Such is the experience of star-crossed lovers. And half-asleep relating.
But why was I here? The answer comes readily to mind. I choose relationships as a crucible for personal development and spiritual growth. And once I transcend the psychological spiel of concocted inner story and press toward viewing my experience through the ontological lens of my higher self, the fog and pain begin to lift.
What awakening bell was sounding? And what wanted to emerge for my understanding and deepening?
There was more to be mined from this interaction.
What was here for me to explore? Was I willing to see, hear and feel the lessons of this fleeting relationship? How might what I’m experiencing benefit the whole?
Here’s what surfaced for me:
The purpose of our lives is to give our gifts in service to something larger than ourselves. In conscious relationship and sexuality, I believe that something else is the third being we co-create. The physical manifestation of that is a child—it’s called procreation.
Infants have a basic way of communicating their needs through crying. In the beginning, a mother attunes to and interprets these pleas for attention and nurtures, in order for the co-created offspring to thrive. As the child grows, it slowly develops more and more autonomy and an expanded ability to communicate and articulate its desires with specificity.
By analogy, this third being is the relationship itself. It has a voice. What is it saying? It has a heartbeat. What is it feeling? It has a body. What is it sensing? Ultimately, what does this third being desire?
This third being co-created in relationship has a soul; it’s sovereign. Whole and complete in and of itself, just like a child. Yet, it’s not seen the full light of our awareness. It’s not been respected, honored or elevated to claim its full birthright in our lives.
In my doomed attempt to create connection with a man who was clearly on the rebound, I viscerally felt the budding third being lose its ground, its centeredness. I heard the voice of the relationship say, “Please create space for stabilization to occur, Jenny.” I listened and acted according to my experience of this nascent co-creation by requesting a short-term separation. Though agreed upon, my partner’s perception of this fragile voice and nuanced feeling was left unsure and unarticulated. Relationship fail.
In North American culture, we habitually dismiss and neglect this voice, these feelings, and these desires. We disregard the third being—the essence of the relationship itself.
Why? Because we have converted relationship to transaction, we have commodified it. We have reduced it to a transactional service, rather than a gift.
We’ve all been conditioned by transactional relating so that when someone comes along with a gift, we don’t believe it’s given freely. We don’t believe it comes without strings attached. We think it’s a bribe, meant to manipulate us or coerce us. It’s there to seduce us, just like the ubiquitous mass marketing that we’re bombarded with daily.
So we’re caught in a delusion; we think we’re hip to the hype. Yes, we’ve all grown up with it. We think we’re media literate. But are we? Without raising our awareness of this subtle and sly story, we are inextricably wound in the seductive narrative that casts a consumerist glow on our relationships, on our sex.
Do these storylines resonate?
In traditional heterosexual relationship, women think: “If I give him sex, he’ll love me. Maybe he’ll even marry me.”
This is the classic Disney delusion. An internal narrative that women weave into the fantasy of being rescued and living happily ever after—far from the everyday reality of roll-your-pants-up and wade through the quagmire of uncertainty, instability and deepest abandonment fears. In doing so, we never truly cultivate the courage to assert our voice and request 100 percent of our desire for love, intimacy, connection and—God forbid—sex. Why? So, we don’t have to fear jeopardizing our security and comfort, our personal or social worthiness, including the illusion of perfection.
Men think: “Oh, if I take her sex, she’ll want to hook me into a real-ationship. Maybe she’ll even rope me into marriage.” This is the story of the archetypal Marlboro Man who doesn’t own anyone and no one owns him. He never has to face his own fear of inadequacy. He refuses to be suffocated by the slow asphyxiation of co-creating specific agreements and heart-centered investments in mindful partnerships. Why? He doesn’t want to hurt her feelings —or feel his own. He’s free to ride off into the sunset, forever unencumbered. It taps deep into the psychic narrative of our rugged, emotionally detached individualistic culture in North America.
But we’ve completely forgotten the gift. We’ve grossly overlooked the simplicity of basic consideration for each other through respect and honoring the sacredness of our gifts. We’ve forgotten the exquisite value of gratitude and appreciation. Collectively, we’ve dulled the polish of urbane social interaction. We’ve guarded our hearts from fully expressing the healing power of universal caring and compassion.
“…people kind of get together and act nice, or maybe they consume together. But joint consumption doesn’t create intimacy. Only joint creativity and gifts create intimacy and connection.” ~ Charles Eisenstein
When we partake in the gift of sex, there’s absolutely nothing to do but say, thank you.
Thank you for being you.
Thank you for sharing your body with me.
Thank you for sharing your most intimate treasure.
Thank you for opening your heart to me.
Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for sharing the gift of yourself.
Collectively, we are being called to return to the gift culture of freely giving and receiving. We are waking up to the voice and feelings of the third being through conscious relationships. We are being called to write a new narrative in intimate relating that doesn’t pin human connection and sexuality to the neoliberal ideology of heartless transaction.
Jenny Ferry is an emerging leader in the field of conscious sexuality and author of the forthcoming book, Soul Sex: Creating the Conscious Connection You Crave (2013/2014). She facilitates public workshops and private client sessions throughout the U.S. and Canada. She’s passionate about human liberation, in every incarnation – especially sexual. An eclectic culture junkie, she loves erotic photography, traversing the Salish Sea (preferably by sailboat), and artisan goat cheese on a sturdy gluten-free cracker. For workshop or coaching inquiries, visit jennyferry.com. Friend her on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/jennyferry
Ed. Karla Rodas & Brianna Bemel
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