My Letter for Liberating Relationships
What kills relationships?
Guilt. Unspoken assumptions and judgments. Expectations. Fear. Stifling feelings. Resentment.
What brings relationships back to life?
Scary honesty. Empathy. Acceptance. Living in the present moment. Co-creating as you go along. Fluidity and non-attachment.
Why is it so challenging sometimes to sustain the aliveness?
So much social conditioning. So many assumptions to unravel. So much temptation to think about the past or the future. So much temptation not to speak up when something is bothering you. And then even if you speak up, how do you find the words? So much fear of hurting or offending or disappointing the other person. So much fear that something will go “wrong.”
My Letter of Liberation – Liberating Relationships
I wanted to write a letter that would allow a relationship to start from a whole new place. I’d like to send this letter to every friend, prospective romantic partner, colleague … well, I’d like to send it to everyone. So in a way I’m doing that right now:
Dear Person Who Matters to Me,
In any relationship that I care about (and I count my relationship with you as one of those, whatever form it ends up taking), there are a few things that seem important to clarify at the beginning.
So much of our social conditioning is destructive to relationships because it’s based on guilt. I live by a different creed. Whatever form our connection takes, I want for us to transcend social conditioning. I hope you are ok with me sharing this. I’d rather we talk about it openly than risk having one of those situations where things are not getting ventilated.
Here are some ways of living that I hope will liberate us both:
* We are never responsible for each other’s feelings. You are not the “cause” of my feelings. If I am sad or scared, it’s because of something in me, not anything you did. Always. I want for you to be 100% guilt-free, always and forever, no matter what happens with us.
* At the same time, sharing feelings and needs can be this amazing way to connect with each other. I have actually learned to “enjoy” other people’s pain because it’s showing what’s alive in them. If I hear that you are in pain during our text conversation, for example, I want to go deeper with that. I want to hear what’s going on for you, and I’d like to have a chance to clarify my intentions, too. If you can’t find the right words, I would like to sit with you and be with you until we find the words together.
As Marshall Rosenberg says, “until you learn how to enjoy pain, you can’t enjoy intimacy.”
* My happiness does not depend on you. I will be happy no matter what you do, no matter what form our relationship takes, etc. If we are considering intimacy, I want you to know that I will be happy if we have sex, even if it’s just once, and I will be happy if we are platonic. And although it’s not my preference because I want all my relationships to last forever, I promise you I will be exquisitely happy even if you never talk to me again.
How do I know this? Because no matter what happens in my life nowadays, I always quickly bounce right back to happy. If you’re gone from my life, I’ll be sad for five seconds. Well, maybe five minutes if I *really* liked you. And then I’ll move on. I’m revealing this to you in the hope it will set you and our relationship free to be whatever you/it wants to be.
“Nothing employed for healing represents an effort to do anything at all. It is a recognition that you have no needs which mean that something must be done.” – ACIM
* Taking space sometimes in relationships can be wonderful, and I very much honor the desire to enjoy space. Silence can be beautiful. At the same time, sometimes people look for space when they’re not feeling free to express what’s alive in them or they’re not getting enough empathy for what’s alive in them. I want you to take space if that’s what you need, and I also want you to know that I’m open to going deeper about whatever doubts you are feeling. It’s ok to share your doubts and fears with me (if you have them). I don’t want you to hold back because you are scared of hurting me. I trust the process of connection. If we fully connect, everything will work itself out for both of us.
Like I said above, if you can’t find the words, let’s find them together. I will happily take all the time in the world to follow your feelings and needs until we both get clear on what your heart is really yearning for. There is nothing more fulfilling in all the world for me than to participate in someone’s process of self-discovery.
* Be honest with me. I blog for fun and to make a contribution to other people. I enjoy writing about my relationship experiences. That said, my enjoyment of our time together doesn’t mean I have any expectations beyond the present moment. (If I’m appreciating you and your sexy ways, please don’t let what I write go to your head! I might change my mind tomorrow ;-) And if you get cocky with me, I will definitely change my mind.) What would be awesome is to talk honestly about whatever feelings get triggered by my writing, and have it be another way to go deeper with each other.
* It’s ok if you don’t know what you want. It’s ok to say you’re unsure or having mixed feelings. I much prefer that to cutting off a connection for fear of disappointing someone. It’s ok if part of you wants one thing and part of you wants something else. It’s ok if you’re scared that today you want to be with me and maybe tomorrow you won’t. It’s the journey of exploring all those feelings and needs that excites me. It’s exhilarating!
* Please communicate and be open to the possibility that what you thought I said is not what I really meant. It’s really easy to misunderstand each other if we don’t keep the circuit of communication going. There’s something really amazing and freeing about going back and forth and saying, “this is what I’m hearing, it’s creating this response in me — is that really what you intended?”
* I do also have a request. I prefer we stay with our feelings and needs instead of jumping straight to strategies. It feels way more connected to me. So, for example, instead of me saying “I don’t want to talk tonight,” I would say “I am feeling really tired and needing rest, how are you with it if we don’t talk tonight?” That way I am inviting communication, and if the other person is really feeling an urgency to talk, then maybe my empathy with that urgency will motivate me to connect right then and there.
* For a potentially intimate relationship: My intuition suggests that you are someone who has the capacity to go deeper with me, and that excites me. A lot. I’m not sure anything could be more exciting and liberating and alive than an intimate relationship with that kind of free-flowing communication. At the same time, I’m not attached to whether you are that person. I can feel myself flowering into that place. If it’s you I go there with, I’d be thrilled. If this doesn’t sound intriguing to you, I am confident someone will come along because I’m ready. The Universe doesn’t leave voids like that unfilled.
Ok, so that’s really just the tip of the iceberg of this new way of seeing relationships. I tried to express it, however imperfectly. What I would love now is a back-and-forth exchange to make sure we’re really “getting” each other. My intention is to remove all pressure from you, in every way. My intention is for you to feel free to express every aspect of yourself without guilt.
My intention is for our connection to have the same organic space to grow in that I’ve already created for my own life, and that you seem to have created for yours.
I am inviting you into my life because I feel a strong connection between us, but I promise you my happiness is assured no matter what you do. My happiness comes from God.
Peace and love,
Question: Why do I want to send this letter to everyone in my life?
Answer: “You have only one relationship, and it’s with God.” All of your other relationships are but reflections of that One Relationship. You may as well make it the best it can be :-).
No person left behind, or none of us make it to Heaven.
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About Erika Awakening
I found this post to be excellent. I’m familiar with most of the ideas (many of them I’ve had to learn the hard way), but I’ve never seen them all expressed so concisely in one place.
I’m a PUA coach who enjoys rambling on about relationship management sometimes to my students. Unfortunately, it usually falls on deaf ears. But next time I get a taker, I’ll point them here.
Lisa Natoli posted a great piece about love here:
“Opening your heart is 100% better than hiding behind a wall. I will not be afraid of love today.”