When I was young, an adult in my life explained the reasons she was leaving another adult in my life—she noted three qualities about him that made staying together feel impossible for her. The voices in my head (before I knew anything about them) noted that these were the three exact same qualities that made him attractive to her when they first fell in love.
She’d grown to loathe and resent him for what was once desirable.
I’ve been in and out of love enough times in the last 40 years to make sense of this—we are drawn to partners who embody that which we ache to have in our own lives. The one who doesn’t play picks a partner who is playful. The one who feels a little too carefree picks a partner with a strong work ethic who pays all of their bills on time. The one who holds back picks a partner who goes all in.
At first, it is exciting to be with someone who brings to the partnership that which we crave. We enjoy having a light shined onto whatever we’ve hidden away in the shadows. The fearful one finds out they are brave. The worker bee finds out that sometimes it’s really nice to just be. The talkative one learns to enjoy the sacredness of silence.
Our togetherness invites us to expand and grow.
In the early days, our togetherness is supported by the passion and excitement of falling in love. We lovingly explore one another. We patiently listen. As we bump into them, we joyfully embrace one another’s wounds. We respectfully analyze conflicts. We carefully hold our partner’s heart in our warm, gentle hands. We expose ourselves and protect one another. We are brave and united.
Love heals all things…until it doesn’t.
Time passes and things begins to get complicated. Our togetherness calls forward all of our old wounds, seducing us with illusions of our earliest heartbreaks, fun house mirrors projecting the qualities of those who hurt us decades ago onto the one we call beloved today.
We can allow our togetherness to heal us, or we can allow it to destroy us.
We can accept love’s Invitation, or we can close our hearts and alienate the one we treasure the most. We can celebrate our differences or we can make enemy of the very aspects that made us ache for our lover in the beginning. We can do our work or we can perpetuate against our partners the very violence we experienced when we were young.
Our togetherness invites us to expand and grow. Let us accept the invitation.
My partner and I have transitioned into this sacred place in our togetherness. We can remember the early wild, passionate moments and we don’t yet know the comfort after a few years of being us. We are here, in the tender middle of the beginning of our relationship.
I love it here. We both do. But I’d be lying if I said it is easy.
It’s hard to acknowledge that my old heartbreaks distort the words coming out the mouth of my beloved. It leaves me with these screwed up perceptions of her and her feelings about me. It’s hard to watch her pull away when she can feel fear build a temporary wall around my heart. It’s hard to keep looking in the mirror to find that I’ve, once again, done the thing that I said I’d never do again the last time I broke both of our hearts. It’s hard to be so damned human.
But we are bound by “the invitation” and that we choose one another. It means this must be a safe place to make mistakes.
Today, we chose one another. We said yes to our togetherness and tomorrow, as long as it still feels true, we will choose us again.
We choose to bring the truth with love, to seek connection, to support one another in all of the ways that feel true. We choose to play together, take responsibility for what we bring to the table, and to stay unless it feels true to leave. We laugh and cry. We learn one another, touch with gentle hands, and make mad passionate love. We try to remember what really matters and to do it together. We leave space for bullsh*ttery.
We watch the moon rise and tease about counting our freckles. We seek to nourish the heart, mind, and body, our own first and then one another’s. We choose tenderness, even if we don’t understand. We ask for forgiveness and give it. We dream and remember but know that this moment is the only one that really matters. We say yes. We are brave. We open our hearts again and again, as many times as it takes to invite one another to keep coming back to us. These are the stepping stones we lay so that we can choose to walk together again tomorrow.
Our togetherness is a choice we make every day. This is love’s invitation.
Author: Christy Diane Farr
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Jem Yoskioka/Flickr