Relationships with partners are one of the most powerful, crazy, intense, wild and emotional experiences people often have in their lives.
Love, hate, bliss, rage, jealousy, insecurity, fear.
Romeo and Juliet is one of my absolute favorites of all time for showing the insanity of all that happens between family, society and “falling in love.”
I got to play Juliet in college.
I must confess, it just seemed so natural. Gosh. Heh heh.
Could it be I shared some of the exact same thoughts as Juliet?
About mothers and fathers, social norms, young men, love relationships, and commitment or marriage?
I even fell in love with Romeo in rehearsals and performances.
(OK, that was weird. I just googled Romeo and saw the same face of that man I knew over thirty years ago in such an intimate way for a short time, playing opposite him on stage).
Isn’t it funny how you can not only bring to life past romantic moments with lovers or partners, you can instantly see pictures of them on your laptop?
And when there’s angst, heartbreak, loss, melancholy nostalgia or sadness…..
…..it’s a great time to explore, with inquiry, and see what it is you really thought, or still think, to be true.
In Year of Inquiry we look at romantic relationships during month 6.
Initially, some people might think “I’m fine in my relationship. Nothing upsetting. It’s not really that disturbing” or others might think “I don’t have a relationship at all, that’s the trouble!”
The thing is, it doesn’t matter what’s happening currently in your life around romance or love (or lack of it).
If something is stressful, even a memory, it’s worthy of inquiry.
Several years ago, a friend of mine was having a terrible time trying to decide about breaking up with her boyfriend of a couple of years.
I asked her, what’s the worst that could happen?
She replied that she might in the future feel regret, and lonely, and she would hurt her partner very badly (if she left).
Or….she could feel trapped, bored, and hurt by her partner (if she stayed).
One of the best things to do with either stressful scenario is to deeply inquire into each of these, one at a time.
Really picture that situation you’re anticipating in the future.
Alone and lost at sea, single, empty, calloused, having to date again.
Old and stuck, bored, tolerating, saying yes or no to things you don’t really want to say yes or no to.
You can also make it extremely easy on your process of inquiry, and simply go back in time to the one that got away, or the terrible commotion that happened in that moment in the past with that difficult relationship.
Like I just did….as I conjured up the memory again, so clear in my mind, enhanced by the google.
I’m back in college, my second month on campus as a freshman.
Even though I was frightened to leave home, when I arrived on campus something moved that aside. I redirected all that fear about parting from my family into trying everything completely different.
I auditioned for the play, and got the lead female role.
Now, I was at the man’s house who played Romeo.
He’s brilliant. So are his roommates. We’re all sitting around a big table set with plates, glasses, baskets of bread, a huge bowl of salad.
Several of them have cooked a fabulous pasta meal. There’s a big discussion happening about the political stance of a small foreign country, and I know absolutely nothing about it. I’m not even sure where the country is.
I feel like a dunce. Innocent, naive, my first 2 months away from home ever. I’m floundering in my new classes. I used to get A’s in high school without trying, I’m in shock by the work load of college. Every day I’m rehearsing the play. I love it so much, it’s better than any class.
Everyone’s drinking wine.
I feel so much younger than this crowd. Like there is an age difference of a decade, not 4 or 5 years.
Romeo is 24. He took a gap year. He’s so worldly and experienced and articulate…..I’m just so, so, so out of my familiar comfort zone.
If I had a comfort zone. Which is very debatable.
Fast forward to the day after the fabulous cast party after the final night of performances.
It was like a giddy “high” of joyful energy for months.
But something shifted for me after the show was over. I could already feel it change, beginning the very next day.
The realities of being here in college, having big papers to write, needing to concentrate and get my grades up, pull it together and get serious.
Romeo started to seem less…..well…..easy to be around.
I felt too shy, anxious, young by comparison. Like I just couldn’t be comfortable, I couldn’t really be me. And he was graduating and leaving in 5 months.
I just couldn’t be there, in a genuine “relationship”. It was easier on stage.
He left messages.
He dropped by and left notes at my dorm.
I avoided him.
I didn’t call back.
I remember that time as being so nervous. So full of the thoughts “I am not good enough” and “I am too young” and “he’s more advanced than me” or “if he really knew me, he’d ditch me in five seconds”.
Who would I be without the thought he was too brilliant for me, too old, too smart, too together, too hip and cool, too about-to-leave town?
I might have shared what I really felt rather than trying to hide it or alter it or smash it into a ball in the center of my gut.
I would have felt so much more comfortable, relaxed. I might have noticed my preference was to connect and have conversations with the other girls in my dorm, most of whom were 18, and take it easy with dating.
I might have been open to getting together but I would have said “no” to invitations I didn’t want and “yes” to others, instead of throwing away ALL the invitations.
Way back then, so many years ago, I can find turnarounds to the concepts which placed him as better, me as worse, him as someone to compare myself to at all.
Turning my feelings and thoughts around: We are two different people, who just had a fantastic time in the same play. I can speak up for what I really want, without being terrified of hurting him, or hurting myself.
I am good enough, I’m just the right age (and so is he), he’s not more advanced than me, maybe what’s actually happening is if I really knew myself in this moment, I’d ditch myself in 5 seconds.
Because that’s exactly what I was doing.
Thinking of myself as small, timid, failing, and “off”.
I can so see now, without the thought that I’m doing anything wrong, or that anything about me is not good enough, I’m free to be me and Romeo comes or goes….because he is free, too.
“How can you know that a particular relationship is good or not? When you are out of sync with goodness, you know it: You aren’t happy. And if a relationship is anything less than good, you need to question your thoughts. It’s your responsibility to find your own way back to a relationship with yourself that makes sense. When you have that sweet relationship with yourself, your partner is an added pleasure. It’s over-the-top grace. Romantic love is the story of how you need another person to complete you. It’s an absolutely insane story. My experience is that I need no one to complete me. As soon as I realize that, everyone completes me.” ~ Byron Katie
Back when I was 18, it seemed much easier to be alone than to have my human flaws and fears discovered by another person.
Fear of being criticized or abandoned kept me from being freely myself.
Fear of being rejected if I expressed the truth kept me from being freely myself.
Fear of being truly known by someone kept me from being freely myself.
Remembering that wonderful, short and fascinating little love affair and exciting leaving-home story….
….I feel compassion for my shy inner self, today.
After The Work today, on something so long ago, I feel a tender appreciation for the brief connection with a very kind, very intelligent and articulate, very handsome, very passionate young man, who I really knew very little about.
I notice he’s accomplished a great deal in his life, according to the internet, and married a famous actress.
But without the story that I am smaller, or not as much, or less than, or not so important….
….what a fun, fun, entertaining movie.
And if I want to live the turnaround…..
…..being an open, free, fearless, loving woman…..
…..I can practice what that might look like, keep connecting honestly with others, tell the truth, and keep doing The Work.
If you’re inspired to unravel old stories you may not even remember as stressful until you google, join us for a Year of Inquiry.
We dive into a new topic every month, considering our beliefs, investigating the situations that held up these beliefs, unraveling our proof of truth.