I remember that weekend day in Spring of 2010 so vividly when I was down and disappointed over my last relationship which had not worked out. My dad who had been sick for a while but tried to go for daily walks asked me to go for a walk with him. As we slowly walked to his pace, he asked me why I was down. I normally didn’t like sharing my emotions with my parents especially my dad because there was always a lesson he would give me in it, but my dad had changed in the last years of his life. He had stopped preaching and started being more real. So I took a chance. I told him I was disappointed… why was it so easy for my friends to be with someone and I couldn’t?…. I remember how angry I got at his answer, when he said “well, maybe you don’t really want a relationship, subconsciously”… I interrupted him in frustration “what does that even mean? that my conscious wants something and yet my freaking subconscious is leading my life. That would seem like a cruel punishment”
I wish I could go back to that day and hug my dad and just listen to what he had to say. He died a few months after that and I was left to figure out all this on my own.
In later years I pondered my dad’s words over and over again. If my subconscious doesn’t want a marriage then what does it want and why does a part of me thinks she wants it…. I analyzed it in therapy and with myself….and I journaled and wrote and asked myself why did I want a man? why really? I started putting in to practice what I learned from that healer and lovely teacher I met in 2012, Siri Gian, who taught me how to ask questions, listen and differentiate between the voices of that Wise part of myself (Soul) and the other every day-self or ego and write down the answers.
And the answer was kind of mind blowing and kind of really obvious. I thought I wanted to have a relationship. I even thought maybe I wanted to get married but when I got honest with myself I saw that the desire wasn’t so much to find a partner in life. It was really to have someone whose love, affection and attention would make me feel good, someone that with him I would never feel lonely, someone who would be my arm-candy and life-candy. The candy that would take away any of life’s bitterness and replace it with only sweetness.
And really come to think of it, that’s what I thought love is. Someone who will sweep you off your feet and then love you every day. And any time you feel down, he will lift you up by his love. Just like all the books I had read growing up in Iran which all started with “he saw a glimpse of her and fell in love with her, not with one heart but with a hundred hearts” And the movies I had seen and the couples who seemed to have that at least from a distance and on the outside.
And yet all the marriages around me growing up seemed to not have that. Women close to me whose marriages seemed tumultuous and flawed. Women who always seemed not happy from what their husbands did or didn’t do.
To me it seemed either people are trying to tolerate a marriage that is unhappy and love-less or there is this perfect love where the imperfections are even cute and the girl will pull away and the guy always chases her…. always!
When those bits of my subconscious finally became conscious, my initial reaction was that of self-judgement but eventually with mindfulness and sitting with it all, the voice of that Wise-Self came to my rescue every time. and here is what I realized. That this kind of expectations of a man as a life-candy is exactly the recipe for bitterness. For disappointment and heartache when I’d inevitably come face to face with his insecurities, with the moments that he is in his own head, or in self-doubt.
At these exact moments, if I am in it for him to make me feel better when I feel insecure, to make me feel loved, then it will feel like a love-less marriage.
Yet, if I am able to hold space for my own insecurities, to be aware of all the human parts of me that want affection and attention and feel lonely at times, if I can hold them like little children, then even when my partner is in his own insecurities and unable to hold me in his love, I can just see it for what it is, not project more to it, not make it about me and go in that downward spiraling and reacting. And when he is feeling good about himself and can give love, then it is just the icing on the cake of my own self-love.
I still don’t know exactly what that healthy relationship would look like for me but I am starting to realize that a life with someone else, no matter how smart, kind, cool and confident, will be marred with the same highs and lows of feeling loved and cared for and then feeling unloved, insecure and lonely that paints the canvas of my single life.
And here is what I wish I could tell my Dad that I am even starting to understand that this subconscious mind of mine is not an unfair, cruel punishment keeping me away from that ultimate happy marriage but it is the mystery of me that unravels in this journey of my life, one experience at a time, one disappointment at a time, one reflection at a time, and one breath at a time.