Not only are society’s outdated beliefs changing about the “sanctity” of relationships, how we behave and define ourselves in them is also shifting. Whether you were the first one in your family to move in with your sweetheart prior to marriage, or you’ve been in a loving same-sex partnership for decades, or have elected to bow out of monogamous relationships all together, you are likely a completely different person than you were when you had your first date.
Over the course of our lives, and particularly during our cosmic shift, our maturity and spiritual evolution have expanded us beyond the parameters of who we thought we were or believed we should be. Not only can this be disconcerting inwardly, it can be strenuous on a relationship.
Though all healthy relationships grow and change as the individuals do, the more subtle and profound spiritual transformations we experience can leave us feeling indefinable and, therefore, incapable of upholding our previous roles in our ongoing relationships. Our expectations begin to shift as well, even though we may not be able to articulate our new perspectives to those we endear. Instead, we end up feeling lost and wondering how to relate in ways we barely understand – ways that honor who we are while keeping our loyalty and love intact.
Imagine telling your husband, “Honey, I love you dearly, but I need my space to do some deep inner searching. It may take me a year or two, and my intention is to continue to love you, but we’ll see what happens when I emerge. I’ll be sleeping in the room down the hall until then.” Ha! Can you imagine how well that would go over!? Yet, it may be the most honest and important sentence you utter to him as you discover your true self.
During this discovery period of “Who am I really?” we may realize that we have always identified ourselves in regards to each of our relationships – daughter or son, sister or brother, friend, companion, beloved, wife or husband, parent, grandparent and so on. What often happens after the dissolution of an important relationship is we redefine who we are. Yet, who we truly are has nothing to do with our relationships. Our true essence experiences our relationships as an exchange of energy and an opportunity to discover “other” and “self” and how the two seemingly separate beings relate. Our essence has no need to have our relationships define us. Our ego, on the other hand, uses relationships as the foundation of its structure.
Thus as we embark, consciously or not, on the journey to our essential self one of the most intense shifts we encounter happens in our relationships. At some point, the Universe seems to bring us face-to-face with our beliefs about our identity as reflected in our cherished relationships – not to mention how we behave in them.
For example, do you consider yourself a “good partner?” Those two words alone create such strong parameters which are fashioned from our beliefs; beliefs about what each word means individually, as well as when coupled together. Moreover, they are infused with all the stories associated with “good partner” from generations past. If you believe you are a good partner, or want to uphold that commitment, then anything you do that is outside of that structure of beliefs has the potential to shake the foundation of your identity as well as the relationship you want to be a “good partner” in.
Once shaken, we begin to question ourselves, our worth, our relationships and fear can set in. From fear the ego goes to fight or flight, right? Arguments erupt, blame flies, hurt happens, and retreats to safety become inevitable. But from what are we really seeking safety? Ironically, as we desperately desire love in each of our relationships, the tenderness its purity offers our hearts can be too intense for our fragile egoic selves. In our efforts to feel safe, we retreat from the love we crave.
Yet in our collective awakening, it is true love we are revealing and so begins a deliberate dissolving of the protective ego – a releasing of all the identities of who we thought we were that keep us from experiencing it.
So is it possible to release these identities and keep our beloved relationships? Absolutely.
Millions of people on the planet are experiencing great inner shifts at this time. If we understand this on a global scale, we realize that our inner currents are ebbing and flowing, to some degree, with the collective tide. Rather than retreating in isolation and fear, we can empower ourselves with self-compassion and make room for ourselves to grow.
By giving yourself permission to discover what’s beneath the masks of relationship-defined identities, you will likely need some space, both inwardly and in your relationships. For example, inner space would mean making room for a shift in your beliefs. “How does ‘good’ relate to my life, and what other definitions can it imply for me?” Space in your relationships may mean setting boundaries so you can evaluate how you relate to others and how you let them define you. “What if we choose not to have sex so I can practice retaining my own energy and not fall into the habit of pleasing you?”
And what about new relationships? Can they really form healthily in spite of all the changes we are going through? Of course, they can.
As each ego identity – or mask – releases, you change and become more of your authentic self.
For a moment, imagine yourself spinning round and round at a masquerade ball with a room full of potential partners who are also twirling. The music stops and you find yourself facing another dancer. The two of you instantly connect because you are each wearing similar masks. Perhaps you share a few dances together. Then, the spinning resumes and your mask flies off only to reveal another mask. When the music stops again, what is the likelihood of you facing or finding the same dance partner? It’s possible, but if you are seeking someone whose mask is no longer recognizable or has been lost altogether, it makes the “match game” quite difficult, doesn’t it? Yet, if we seek to connect with those without masks and have released our own, the relations we create are founded on authenticity, rather than superficial matches.