Holding Space for Love as Freedom

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Photo by Eric Francis.

Guilt is something we discovered we have in common: a long legacy of guilt. I learned that in the few days before our Thursday night adventure, she had been wracked with guilt about the potential for having to choose one of us; for having to hurt one of us. And some guilt for being able to have both of us – the strange guilt you feel when you love someone and then feel something for another person. That emotion needs a name, so we can identify it when we feel it.

This is the same guilt that makes it difficult to make a simple decision; the guilt we feel for enjoying life; for doing something for ourselves; though here, when we reach the branch of the road where we may choose to love, to actually love who we will, I think we’re pretty close to the core source of this emotion. Here, we are looking at one of the deepest divisions against ourselves.

Like any philosophy, guilt has a history: we can find its origins in the innovation of Judeo-Christian religion. I don’t believe that guilt as we experience it today existed prior to strict religious patriarchy. We see evidence today that this is one source of the problem, but we don’t generally identify it as the root of the problem.

It has occurred to her that she might not have to choose; that we could and would hold the space open for her to be free, as a shared commitment between us all. This is difficult to believe, because we know of no precedents. There are no pre-established pathways in the brain for this one, or not that we’re familiar with. What we have instead is a vast database, from our parents and history and movies and television and life, of jealous scenes; of manipulation and using power against one another; of love being used against us or using it against others; of the the pain of our relationships when there is even the hint of loving someone else. For most people this is the worst imaginable thing that could happen; it is the ultimate threat to our reality.

Most of us don’t feel worthy of love, despite how we may act or look; despite much in the way of external attractiveness, or charm or talent or whatever else we may show the world. If you go deeply into most and I do mean nearly all people, you can reach that space of unworthiness that expects perpetual separation. This space is often concealed but it has a way of running our lives: for a while, until we find something else, it is what sets our expectations of what is possible.

And now for her and in truth for all of us, something incredible has happened: we see the potential to see love as freedom, in particular, as her freedom to love the way she has always needed to. In a subtle moment during our last hours together for this visit, she expressed her doubts that she feels worthy of being loved this way, of being given the freedom to experience who and what she wants and being so fully in this choice. In this conversation, I witnessed her and humanity in a way that I never have, as so fragile and soft and beautiful: as worthy of only love.

From what she explained, I learned that she was carrying around so much fear, uncertain what to do, uncertain of the outcome, not wanting to hurt either of us or be hurt.

In terms of the circumstances, the main thing necessary is that the men around her be in harmony; that instead of competing for her attention or seeking to drive the other out of her life somehow, we respect one another’s places in her heart. The result of holding this space is to not divide her against herself; to embrace her as the whole person she is.

Loving two people can lead a person to feel split, confused, and can send off all kinds of loyalty warnings that trip the guilt alarms and make it impossible to enjoy the pleasure of being loved. It is necessary to be vigilant against guilt and these inner divisions; a relationship in this mode can call us to invest a lot of energy, though it’s energy devoted to healing an ancient injury.

I know she is keenly aware of the risk that I am taking; that is, the risk of being hurt. My own emotional patterning is such that (looked at one way) I need a situation that facilitates trust and a safe space to heal my trust; a safe space to let down my defenses, so that I can give and receive love safely, and heal and grow. Among other things this relates to my history of abandonment and all the issues connected to that. What we tend to forget, any time we love, is how deeply abandoned we tend to feel as a prevailing spiritual condition of life on the planet. Much of the dance we do in relationships is based on being terrified of this sense of abandonment but without giving it a name; it seems too horrific and too far out of reach of anything we have power over.

The fact of her having two lovers does not preclude creating a space where it will be possible for me to heal, and thus support the whole situation – but it raises the level of awareness necessary; there is a special commitment involved. My heart was speaking to me about what I could offer to that commitment, to her, to myself and to the circumstances. This, while the one demand I cannot make is to have her exclusively, as much as part of me is screaming for that attention.

Over and over again, I tune into something else, which is my awareness of how vital it is to give her this opportunity to be loved, to he held as worthy; and to share and to express her sexuality any way she wishes. Witnessing and helping a woman I care about deeply in her process does help me, it does set me free; it is not a sacrifice. Witnessing her as whole I begin to see and experience myself as whole. Witnessing her as worthy of love, I must reach a space where I understand that I am also worthy of love.

Wouldn’t it be beautiful to live in a world without betrayal? You can, but you have to hack into the code of a psychological pattern that’s in a blind spot of your awareness. You don’t need to take this personally: it’s a pattern in society, though it would appear that this thing we call society has a diversity of microcosms that reduce down to groups, families, couples and the people who interact with them, and finally the shape of an individual’s mind. If you believe the research of a therapy process called Internal Family Systems, our minds represent a model of our family of origin, which is based on a model of society; we carry around the whole thing. It may sound like a lot of responsibility, but the beauty of this condition is that we have access to the deepest levels of programming if we are willing to see the inner-outer connections, and go in and make the adjustments. You can afford to be daring now. You can take the risk of leading with love and seeing what happens when you allow yourself to feel in an expressive way. Your love is bigger than anything that it might encounter; it’s more powerful than any form of culturally engrained negativity, and can handle any potential other than love. Trusting this is your bridge to freedom.
—Planet Waves horoscope for Pisces, August 2009

(Posted at Book of Blue)

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