Oh, the tangled webs we weave when we pretend to not have expectations. Talk about setting yourself up for failure.
It’s a funny thing, really, to walk into a long-anticipated connection with an intimate partner and think that you’re both coming in with the same intentions and emotions. Last September, my lover Lila and I met in Mexico, after 2 months of being apart.
Instead of talking about our expectations and where we currently were, we just showed up, without too much communication over the previous month.
We tried to believe that all would go swimmingly, while secretly asking ourselves:
- Would we love each other the same?
- Would we still see the Goddess in one another?
- Would we be as hungry for each other as we were the last time?
- Would the changes in our other lovers change how we related? For better or worse?
We didn’t actually ask any of these questions aloud.
What we did do was show up with a whole truckload of unspoken expectations and fears. Seven days later, we parted ways again – me to Mexico for the fall and Lila back home to Sydney – having returned to the bliss of remembering our deep love for one another and the recognition of the Divine in our connection.
But it wasn’t fucking easy. Shit came up. Again and again.
And what did we do?
We remembered that conflict is actually part of a relationship. And we didn’t let each other walk away.
One of the agreements that Lila and I have in our relationship is holding ourselves and each other accountable for showing up and seeing past whatever’s in the way. On our last getaway to Orcas Island, I got – for the first time I think – that showing up is sooooo much more than just being with what is.
One piece of showing up is accepting what is right in front of you, whether it feels like love or pain or jealousy or ecstasy. The deeper piece is recognizing the lens that is behind that feeling, the lens which prevents the moment from being perfect as it is.
It’s actually being able to see the shit that’s standing in the way.
To see the parts of the ego that barricade and block to protect us from getting hurt, the parts that presume to ‘know the other person’ and project needs and wants just to have the same stories played out over and over again.
I found that I have a lot of healing to do around a previous female partner from 13 years ago.
Seeing that come up a few times during the 10 days with Lila earlier in the year, I recognized that I hadn’t actually been showing up for her – or for us. I had too much lurking in the way.
During our week in Mexico, one of the unspoken expectations we encountered was the thing that actually brings us closest together: sex. Lila and I are both sexuality and relationship coaches. So this came as a big surprise that we had so much fear around being able to “perform” as our lover wanted.
We had somehow developed this story that she wanted sex all the time (false) and that I never wanted sex (oh-so-false).
Over some amazing Mexican dinners and Mescal de Oaxaca, we dug around in this story for three long days and nights. And then we put things in real time.
Did we enjoy having sex? Yes. Did we satisfy each other? Over and beyond. To the moon and back. Were we having wonderful sex? Yes. Had we on our previous holidays together? Hell yes.
So where did this story come from? From a push/pull reaction to a conflict that had happened a few months earlier. We pretended that the trust had been rebuilt but realized that we were in a trust recession.
So we needed to do a few things:
1) Say the things we didn’t want to say. Did we trust each other fully? Maybe. Did we need to earn that trust back? Definitely.
2) Create some small building blocks and action steps to walk back into the land of trusting.
3) Put more than a little effort into refilling our love tanks.
She made some requests. I accepted. I made some requests. She accepted.
And with just that act of communication, we took a big step into being able to show up and offer each other the fearless love that we both wanted.
As strange as this may seem, a challenge we discovered around our (s)expectations is that we are incredible lovers together. We fuck each other to God. When we make love, we dissolve into infinite bliss and worship one another as the God/Goddess that we are.
We sometimes step into the Tantric roles of Shiva and Shakti, while other times we sit in adoration of the name and form of Divine Love in front of us and the infinite nameless formless Universe encompassing us.
Tantra is often called the path of non-rejection.
It’s also prided in Tantra that through relating with others, especially intimate relationships, we evolve the quickest if we can stay on the razor’s edge of comfort/discomfort and growth. That means practicing the Yogic virtues of nonviolence, truthfulness, non-attachment, non-possessiveness, contentment, discipline, self-study and spiritual aspiration equally in the yummy moments and the icky moments.
Lila and I chose to live those virtues in our trip to Mexico by showing up to conflict with the same playfulness, loving spirit, kindness, and willingness that we bring to swimming in the ocean, sunsets on the beach, long drives with our favorite playlists, Goddess rituals, and, yes, lovemaking.
Thus, our seven days in paradise were marked with a few longs days of conflict making and conflict resolution, and they are both welcome, accepted and loved with truly open arms.