Does anyone else remember being madly in love for the first time? (Well, or the second, or the third?) It feels so wonderful in the beginning-a rush of connection, interest and that feeling of specialness. You complete each other's sentences, find out that you love the same obscure song from the 70's and remember the same lines from the movies. You share stories of your lives, music, philosophy. The world opens up bright and open.
In the bubble of newness we believe in an endless future, we believe that our beloved is perfect for us and we are perfect for them. There doesn't really need to be a language for it all--so much is wordless and graceful. And then...something does change. It might be subtle at first, but something eventually rips us from the oblivion. The annoying song he sings over and over when he's brushing his teeth. Or the way she's always complaining about that one friend you don't think is so bad. The bubble begins to burst.
In relationship terms, this is when the real relationship begins. And it's all about how you actually navigate the emerging chaos. For the first time, you have to learn words to express your needs because your lover isn't reading your mind. And you have to start being able to look at what's an overreaction and what really needs to be talked about. Your perfect lover starts to become a mirror for growth, and a bit of self-consciousness.
I was thinking about this metaphor this week in talking with a client who went through a major trauma with her body, being diagnosed with a serious illness. She was moving from the 'honeymoon' period of taking her body for granted and sensing they were 'one' into a whole new world of tentativeness, questioning, and the need to develop a way of listening to and understanding her body like she'd never needed to before.
"What went wrong?" she was asking, in the way so many of us do about those early moments of love turned slightly less radiant. And yet without this turn of events, she might have ignored a real relationship with her body for years to come. Now, for the first time, she's thinking about what it has to teach her, what she might need to do differently to serve it, and how they may have needed to be communicating for some time. There's so much more to know and to connect with than she ever suspected.
That moment of things changing can happen in a moment through a trauma, illness or injury. But it can also happen gradually when you feel a loss of control every time your body puts on weight or doesn't respond the way you want it to when you're sick or tired. The question is what you do with that feeling of initial surprise, disconnection and change. As with any relationship, we have a choice to be scared and resentful or to be curious. "What do you need from me right now?" is a good question to ask the body and see if there's a response. Or give yourself a chance to work through difficult feelings of judgment and discomfort by asking what you might need to learn in order to be with this change in a more loving way.
Falling out of love is an opportunity, and certainly not the end. We can't always go back to the way things were, but would we really want to? Instead we get a chance to know ourselves and our partners in a deeper, richer way as they really are. It's not something to be afraid of as much as to explore.
I was so heart-broken when my first love ended and it took years to get over it; but what I learned from that relationship made me more available and open to every relationship after. What does falling out of love with your body have to teach you? And how can you compassionately move from here to the real stuff: a lifetime of relating to and listening to the uniqueness of your body and all you will move through together in the years ahead?