At a young age I fell madly in love with a boy who worshiped me like a goddess.
However much I enjoyed the passionate roller coaster ride that our relationship was, the pain of the lows became unbearable. The underlying problem was that we both carried different ideas of how our love had to be manifested, and looking back today, I am thankful to have had the courage to let go of it all in order to win back the most important of all: the pure love.
Most of us are programmed to believe that love—in an intimate relationship between two people—is worth saving at all cost, but it depends on what we mean by “saving.” The common idea is to augment the level of effort vis-à-vis the other person, which is not entirely wrong in itself but can derail once taken too far.
There is a limit as to how much effort is suitable in a love relationship. Why is that? Well, it becomes fairly obvious once we have gained enough perspective to understand the split between what is the love and what is the struggle between two people.
Love is intrinsically simple; it knows no struggle. Like a river flowing, it is unhindered by anything in its way. However, fear, anger and such ego-based emotions springing from unhealed wounds of childhood get in the way of the natural flow of love and create a strained tension in the relationship.
And so, with lack of better insight, we enter our adult relationships with a predisposition for struggle. Unconsciously we prepare for battle, gear up and bring our most advanced defense mechanisms into what we presume to be the battlefield of love. This way, what we fear we accidentally project onto reality.
What we think, we also create—and most times it is just that simple.
So why is that people tend to be afraid of letting go and allowing space for a harmonious relationship when it seems to be what we really want deep down?
First of all, we have a predetermined idea of what it should be like to be in such a harmonious relationship.
Second, we are all conditioned in one way or another, more or less distorted in our view of what love really is. It causes us to paradoxically begin to fear love, as it is unfamiliar to us in its pure form.
Third, such conditioning causes us to overlook the damaging effect of struggle. Before we know it, we have grown attached to the battle more than the partner and the love we exchange.
Any behavioral pattern that we create in relation to another coming from unresolved conflict within the self is going to inhibit the manifestation of unconditional love.
Though it is destructive to varying extents, the distorted conditioning that we carry within can be of benefit if we manage to acknowledge it. Just as love can be beautifully manifested in any relationship, all misconceptions that we hold in our minds also become manifested in relationships.
How is this a blessing? Because it is not until we can experience and see our destructive thought patterns manifested through action and consequence that we have the sacred opportunity to recognize and admit to our past demons. And it is not until we have faced them properly that we are offered the possibility to let those hurtful ideas of reality go, once and for all.
This brings us back to issue number one—that most have a predetermined idea of what it is be like to be in a harmonious love relationship. Thus the question remains, to what extent can we manage letting go while simultaneously upholding an idea of what the relationship should be like?
One of the hardest yet most important things to realize is that no relationship has a blueprint. There is no saying that two people that love each other deeply are required to live together, to call themselves husband and wife or whatever it is that we have previously learned is acceptable.
Letting go of destructive behavior and past hurt also requires a letting go of the perceived answer key of love relationships.
There is no such concept, at least not in accord with real love.
If there is no such thing, then what do we have to hold on to anymore? Nothing! However strange and hard that may feel in practice, it is the closest thing we’ll ever get to a relationship blueprint. As soon as we begin to cling to conceptions and ideas, we block the current of love.
Life is movement and movement requires change. Holding on is the struggle that freezes motion. Holding on is the effort that we often mistakenly praise. Holding on is the inhibition of life to express love through movement and transformation. Holding on is the fear of that natural transformation and the compulsion to control life.
When we are ready to learn from the pain in our relationships it means we are ready to open up the flow of true love—no matter what it looks or feels like. To experience love in its most unaltered form is to allow for all labels to drop off and all fears to fold away. It takes enormous courage and introspection to finally loosen the grip of all distortion our minds have held on to, but it is nothing compared to the effort that is required to hold on to old, damaging ideas and behavioral patterns.
Love and let go, they say, but since most of us struggle with the first step perhaps it is easier to start the other way around, knowing that one does not go without the other… now, let go and love!
Author: Antonia Rothschild
Volunteer Editor: Melissa Horton / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo by Camilla Danielson, used with permission