or Conscious Relationship, can only happen to the degree that each of the participants is conscious. By conscious, I don't mean that you're not in a coma. I mean that you have conscious awareness of what's driving you - your thoughts, reactions, and behaviors - and some awareness of what underlying emotions or unresolved issues might be getting triggered in your relationship.
If you're trying to achieve this awareness from the neck up, you're only going to get so far. Intellectual understanding can be helpful to a degree, but you'll soon discover that simply understanding why will not stop you from getting triggered the next time. It's automatic. When something your partner says or does triggers the pain-body, all bets are off, and you find yourself saying things and reacting in ways that you later regret.
The pain-body lives inside each of us to some degree, whether we are conscious of it or not. It's the accumulation of all kinds of past hurt that gets stored at the level of the bodymind. (Women share a collective pain-body, as do many ethnic groups, in response to a history of domination, subjugation, and repression). The pain-body informs our perspective and our orientation to the world and because it lives at the level of the bodymind, it can't be talk-therapied out of you.
The good news about this is that your intimate relationship is the perfect platform, and your beloved partner is the perfect person, to help both of you bring healing to your respective pain-bodies, since your partner is often the one who is triggering it and because they are often present when it happens. And when each of you agrees that you both have wounds, both have stuff to work on, you can decide to let your relationship be a safe, supportive container for pain-body healing to happen.
My partner Steve came to see me a few weeks ago. We are not married and live about two hours apart. He hadn't been here long before I noticed some tension in my body. My neck and shoulders felt kind of tight and as much as I didn't want to acknowledge it, he was getting on my nerves. He seemed a little distracted, forgetful, and absent-minded-professor-ish. This typically triggers something for me which I won't go into now, but in no time at all, I was suffering.
I felt so conflicted. I didn't want to ruin a fairly rare weekend together by talking about it, for fear it would turn into a fight. I didn't want to hurt his feelings and I felt like an A-1 bitch and a personal-growth-guru failure for not being able to accept him the way he was. All of this of course created more tension and conflict in me and so I finally decided that if I didn't find a way to release it, it would spill out into our interactions and ruin our weekend anyway.
So I took a deep breath and asked him for a dialogue. (We use the Imago Couples Dialogue for situations like this). Using clean, unarguable truth (Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks) language, I told him what was happening with me, including my perception of his forgetful, flaked-out weirdness (not the words I used).
Like an earnest student he mirrored each of my statements back to me, summarized what he had heard, and managed to empathize with my feelings - a pretty amazing feat in itself. But then, the real magic happened. He waited for a long time and with a light tremor in his voice and tears in his eyes he said, "Shelly, I'm scared."
Thump! There it was - the big truth that I could feel, that he could feel, that neither of us could name, that neither of us were conscious of and couldn't be, until a safe, responsible space was made for it.
Those three little words, "Shelly, I'm scared," changed everything. Not because of the words themselves, not because my man "admitted" he was scared, but because they resonated vibrationally with the deeper truth of our shared experience. Tears filled my eyes, my heart opened, and I looked at my fella, no longer as an irritating, forgetful old man who wasn't meeting my needs, but as my beloved.
Our communication had become communion and I listened with the heart of a flawed fellow human, a fellow traveler, as he described his recent level of stress and how it was impacting his health and his memory. Our raw, unfiltered presence with each other allowed big-P Presence to fill the space of our togetherness. We had entered into Enlightened Relationship. We had brought our unconscious weariness and woundedness to the Light of Awareness and it had transformed it, and us.
Steve and I are not special. Any of you can do this. All it takes is some good tools, some self-awareness, and a willingness to bring your pain-body and your projections up and out into the Light. When you do, Consciousness does the rest.
And when that happens, you will see the Truth of yourselves, each other, and your relationship . . . as divinely held, divinely made, and divinely purposed.
Much love to you and yours,