“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
In honor of the “day of love” that comes annually, I want to invite us to feel into how we can love the wounds we carry.
The breakups. The baggage. The failures. The fears. The anxieties. The all of it.
I want to make space for the ways that relationships are hard. The ways that LOVE is hard.
Love is a crucible sometimes. It’s walking through the fire and hoping you survive onto the other side.
Love is work.
I want to call in all the kinds of intimacies we have in our lives. The friendships, the colleagues, the sibling bonds, the family ties, as well as the long-term romantic relationships, monogamous and otherwise.
I tell my closest friends that they are as important to me as my spouse. It might sound wild to you — but I honor my friendships as I honor my marriage. When we are disconnected, I want to find ways to re-connect. When we are angry, I want to talk it through, honestly and with gentleness. When there is hurt, I do not want to throw in the towel. I am committed to working through the hardships and I want to see how we can come through to the other side.
At the core of loving partnership, there’s the work of loving ourselves. To heal our trauma, to be with our wounds. When I work with myself on this, I’m amazed at the resilience I discover. My capacity for love expands and I am able to be with all the parts of me and my partner. In many ways, I am the root of love in my life.
One of my spiritual teachers invites my partner and I to write to ourselves when our fears come up. To go and be with ourselves. To write to the anger or the sadness. To ask questions of the hurt. I remember the first time I did this, I felt like I was confronting a part of myself that was locked up in a dark basement — I had locked her up and thrown away the key. Now, I was bringing this wounded self to light and it was scary. But, it is when I bathe myself in self-adoration, inquiry and focused curiosity that I can be more present to the work of love in my life.
I’ve learned so much about what it means to honor intimacy in my life from non-monogamous souls — often queer — who practice a love beyond the ties of ownership. Folks who are present to their feelings of jealousy, fear, anger, or resentment. Although I don’t myself identify as polyamorous, I do believe in a web of interdependency in my life. My spouse cannot meet all of my needs. I rely on my friendships, my family, my biz partnerships, and my community to be with me on this journey of love.
Being in community is also the work of love. How do we show up for one another? Do we reach out? Do we answer the phone when a friend calls? Do we focus attention on being with one another in person — away from the computer screens that surround us? Do we prioritize connection, or not? How do we foster closeness with one another in a world that is increasingly isolated and disconnected?
My spouse and I leverage the resources that support us in the work of love. Perhaps our most powerful tool is couples’ counseling. Amidst all the hours we spend working, exercising, cooking, emailing and engaging with media, we’re also committed to one divine hour a week devoted to our partnership, being witnessed and guided by someone we trust. We do the work of being honest with one another. To say when our needs aren’t being met. To celebrate when we’re thriving. To connect. To be with our partnership: a dynamic entity that we artfully and intentionally co-create. To sit in Council with each other. To honor our vows: choosing one another, again and again, even when we don’t want to, even when we’re afraid, even when it’s hard.
When my beloved and I first started dating years ago, I felt a kind of impossibility of our existence as a long-term committed queer couple. I didn’t have any queer models of relationships, and I was thirsty for something I could look to to tell me our love was possible. I put a call out to long-term committed couples to interview about their relationships. One of those women said something that has stayed with me to this day: “When you’re in it for the long-term, there are not only hard days, or weeks — there are hard years.”
I also want to honor the relationships that transition from romantic partnership to something new. Break-ups can be the pits, and they can also be incredible opportunities for personal and relational growth. I applaud anyone and everyone who has made the choice this year to part with someone to make space for something new. I honor you.
I first published this piece for The Huffington Post here.