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The Complications of Love

“From the complications of loving you, I'm afraid there is no end, no coming out of it–which is the only way to love, isn’t it?” –Mary Oliver

A mountain sunset photo of Julian and Nai in Santa Fe

During the pandemic, I encountered a very beautiful woman, full of light and spark, brimming with brilliance and drive, who immediately loved me and made me feel almost famous. We fell in love in a hopeless place, and I fully admit I was terrified to trust it. I met Nai three years after my divorce, having dated extremely minimally before COVID made mid-life soul mate finding even worse. I quickly recognized in her a kindred spirit and a familiarity that was both welcoming and intense! Our relationship steadily grew and deepened, I realized I wanted to grow old with her, and around two and half years in, I asked her to marry me. Almost immediately after she said yes, we were slammed with an unaffordable rent increase that booted us out of our living situation, Nai ended up jobless, and we made an out-of-state move to try to get a fresh start. That plan backfired as we unknowingly landed in a town where we weren’t welcomed as a bi-racial gay couple. 

Then, I was diagnosed needing an urgent and complete hysterectomy, which sent me into medical menopause at 45. And Nai, a month later, found out she had some serious health concerns as well. We were exhausted and at a loss for what to do next. 

In my last post, Speaking Up After Being Silenced, I shared a little about my experience in an abusive marriage and the trauma I’ve been working on healing.

Even though Nai hadn’t repeated any of the behaviors from my ex, my body was still afraid of being dependent on someone, and so during this overwhelming period of stress, I responded with the ever-popular self-sabotaging move of pulling away. I share because this is so classic, they make movies and books about it. It’s the human condition, and I’m sure some of you can relate. 

Usually, when we lose our confidence in relationships, it's to do with our sense of inner love and acceptance.

Having been through years of hard transition and painful health challenges that made me feel co-dependent and clingy–my trauma response was to throw myself into the deep end of independence where I wouldn’t have to feel those uncomfortable feelings of needing someone. I think Nai and I genuinely required some space to stop reacting to life’s curve balls and get proactive about our own needs, and also I could've asked for it differently, had I been at my best. 

The Complications of Love

I found the quote above in a poem by Mary Oliver many years ago. I read it when I first fell in love with a woman and wasn’t in a reality where I could pursue that life. It felt so complicated, and I couldn’t come out of it. After a few years of sitting with the poem, I began to understand I was the one who was complicated for me to love, and there was no end to my need to keep at it. Some of the hardest inner work I’ve ever done was to forgive myself for ungracefully breaking a promise to Nai so I could witness myself remember my own heart, to watch her continue to be the calm, steady, faithful, kind, loving person she always was, while I asked myself the questions. 

My past trauma nearly robbed me of my future happiness.

Thankfully, forgiveness is one of Nai’s strengths, as is her ability to understand the shadow work we all must go through to evolve in the wisdom we’ve collected throughout our soul’s lifetimes. Recently, we’ve settled in a very welcoming community, with a loving group of friends and work that fills our tanks. Out of this spring of wealth, we’re renewing our intention to get married, and are grateful we have the right support and freedom to do so! 

Even though I could’ve executed expressing my needs better in hindsight, in our time apart, I got to understand more deeply how it feels to be loved when I’m the worst version of myself, as well as the best. Unconditionally. It’s a precious gift I’m committed to returning and one I’ll fall back on if my trauma body ever starts to panic again. 

Maybe you’re in a relationship where you’re stuck in a pattern of low vibration and repeating trauma cycles, or maybe you’re hoping this current relationship is a new result of some hard inner work and self-love that’ll turn out different results. Either way, I hope you love your complicated self well enough to ask the hard questions and have the courage to do what’s required for you to be in healthy relationship with yourself and others. 

Your past doesn’t need to dictate your future if you’re mindful of those unconscious beliefs that pop up when something really wonderful comes along.

You can alchemize and transform your painful experiences into wisdom and intuition for any future encounters. You deserve love. Let your trust be earned; let your past educate your intuition. Listen and go slow. Pause if necessary. And, once it feels safe, allow yourself to receive all of Love’s complicated wonder. After all, it’s the only way to live, isn’t it? 

Peace and Love,

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