by Kara-Leah Grant
When I was twelve years old I started a long short story – more of a novellete – about a young woman snatched from her home who finds herself in this other-worldly detention centre for teenagers. She’s feisty as all hell, and makes a break for it with one of the other teenagers – a boy.
As she and the boy go on the run, most of the action revolves around their relationship, which is fiery as all hell. Their banter is antagonistic, she gets mad at him often and isn’t shy about speaking up at all times, he baits her, and back and forth it goes.
Later, I watched Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone and I was reminded of that relationship between my characters. I realised there was something about that dynamic I found deeply attractive. When two people call each other out, get angry at each – with love – and aren’t afraid to be themselves.
It’s a dynamic I’ve never experienced in relationship because I’ve always been afraid – afraid of being my passionate fiery self because I don’t believe the man will stay. Afraid of calling it like I see it. Afraid of saying what I really think and feel. Afraid.
I’ve know this for years, and have been “working on it” for years as well.
The end of my last long-term relationship was all about finally holding my boundaries and learning to do it with unconditional love.
I stepped into that space after doing a ten day teacher training with Shiva Rea in LA. It gave me a much needed break from a relationship that was strangling me. Going back into the relationship, I was clear on who I was and who I wanted to be. I stepped into that place of strong boundaries and unconditional love, and the relationship lasted barely another two months.
I had another chance to practice this in a short-term relationship I had in 2013, which I wrote about extensively. Again, despite my desire to break patterns, I found myself becoming passive and keeping silent. Again, once I started speaking up and being clear, the relationship ended quickly.
Seems my fear that if I am my passionate fiery straight-up self… I won’t be able to “keep a man” has some founding in reality.
Only it doesn’t.
In all of those examples, I didn’t go into the relationship from this space. I had to coax myself to step into that space from within the relationship – once a pattern of relating had already been established. And when you change a pattern, something always breaks. Which is not to say that the men in those examples couldn’t also have changed to match my change. This does happen too.
However, it makes way more sense to be who you are and therefore attract someone who appreciates and gets off on you as that.
Normally, when I desire something – like a man or a relationship – I do whatever it takes to make it happen. In the past, this has meant compromising myself. I’ve appeased and accommodated myself into all kinds of situations trying to get what I want.
It’s never worked.
So I’m done with that.
Instead, within the context of the relationships I’m currently having, I’m focusing on one thing and one thing only – my own liberation.
I decided earlier this year, and wrote up a vision for it, that the purpose of me stepping into romantic relationship is liberation – of the Self and the Other.
Paradoxically, I can see how this means that the men that cross my path – the ones I desire, whether or not we get involved – are likely to be men that trigger me and throw a spotlight on my inauthenticity. They give me opportunities to practice being more and more clear and real.
Shifting my intent from securing a romantic relationship at all costs to liberation of self is changing my patterns from the inside out.
Normally we’re unconscious of how all of this is playing out inside of us. We don’t realise that we’re trying desperately to hold on to a relationship because we’re afraid of being alone, or unloved, or rejected, or whatever. We don’t know or understand what’s motivating our behaviour. We think that’s just “who we are”.
Yet at core, there is no “who we are”, there are only desires, attachments and patterns (samskaras).
The more yoga I practice on and off the mat, the more conscious my life becomes. I follow self-inquiry – the process of yoga – on everything.
Why am I doing this? What’s motivating me? Is there fear under this? Through this process I’ve become aware of how often we have unconscious desires which are shaping our reality.
This means that if we want to shift our reality, we need to get clear and conscious about our desires. Once we’re clear about the desires, it reshapes the purpose of something. Like the way I’ve reshaped the purpose of romantic relationship from making me feel loved to liberating me.
Then step back and watch how your behaviour starts to align with that new desire, and how reality also starts to align with that new desire.
Of course, you also have to be vigilant about the old ways resurfacing.
I’m watching, like a hawk, my tendency to grasp and greedily hold on to any potential relating with a romantic interest. I’m watching how attachment to desire functions in me. I’m watching myself reply endless conversations in my head. I’m watching my tendency to seek control in order to feel safe.
Watching, watching, watching. This is the yoga. This is what being on the mat has trained me for. Endless witnessing of being in action.
When it all gets too crazy in my head though, one simple thing happens. I step back and ask myself;
What’s the point of all this?
And the point for me is no longer romantic relationship for the sake of it. To feel loved or needed or wanted or anything. I feel all of that already through my own love, need and desire for myself, and the amazing friends and family I have around me.
No, the point of romantic relationship is a vehicle for self-realisation. It’s to help me wake up, and wake up faster.
So when I get pissed off about a potential partner not acting the way I want him to so I get the experience I went… I notice that. And I ask myself how I can liberate myself in this moment from this attachment. Not the desire… but the attachment to the desire. Usually the answer revolves around truth. Being truthful, to myself and him.
It happened this morning. A message came through and it wasn’t what I wanted to read. I sat in meditation. I watched myself compose endless replies. I watched myself trying to come up with the perfect response so I could get what I wanted. That’s me trying to control and manipulate the situation. Normally, that’s the space I would operate out of.
Instead, I stripped myself back.
What’s my honest, heart-felt immediate response I asked?
And then I wrote that. The feeling responding in this way gave me was:
“Fuck this – here I am, take me or leave me.”
I’ve never gone into relating like this. And it felt liberating. Suddenly, I didn’t even care about the message or what it had been about. I felt liberated in my ability to cut to the chase while noticing my patterns.
That’s the shift – I’m no longer looking for romantic relationship to make me whole. I am whole. (On one level, I am already liberated too… but that’s another article).
What freedom, right there.
I’ve become the character in my novel, being upfront and clear with no fear of how it will be received.
I’ve written myself into my own story.
Now let’s see how that plays out. Because I never did finish that novellete… the last I saw of my two characters they were still bickering about the right way to go to find their way back to reality…