Many people choose to live their lives in a path that continuously includes a romantic relationship. Some others not. I am one of the latter.
It actually was my choice, an unconscious one, until about 5 years ago.
My late Dad said something so simple and profound to me in 2010. Kindly and with a smile, he said ” I don’t believe you have not met the right person to settle down with. You just don’t want to settle down, hopefully yet. You are a kind and wonderful person and you always achieve what you set for yourself. This is no different matter”.
I, of course, was taken aback by his statement and my reaction in such situation was “Really?” (btw, when I said “really” followed by a rather long silence usually means that I am processing something surprising). I remembered starring at him for sometime processing what he was saying. He then left me there. He knew he just opened up a door for me. And he did.
One year later, I told him that he was right. And as usual, he kindly smiled at me from his heart. I sensed he was happy he did his role as a father. He helped me, again, making my unconscious decision conscious. I love you, Papa! I’ve been using your simple sentence again and again in my life in regards to other topics and it always brought me back to the place of self-truth and self-honesty.
I can write several posts about the thoughts that came to me after this realisation. Now, I am sharing about one implication of this decision in my life.
Let’s start from the beginning. Being independent has always been of a paramount importance in my life, since I was a young child. Having and expressing my own opinion, owning my own feelings, making my own decision, financing my own life, having the freedom to do whatever I want, being my own person are some manifestations of what being independent means to me. Independence makes me feel empowered and free.
Such independence was written in all over my younger years’ diaries (that I gathered a few years back) starting in my teens (junior high school period). Honestly, I am actually quite surprised how vivid I wrote about it during that period. I actually laughed and said to myself, “well, well, at least I am focused :-)”.
Such decision has shaped how I live; how I relate to myself and how I relate to others.
These are my realisations:
1. I am indeed my most loyal life companion.
In my earlier years, I spoke to and with myself through my diaries. In my 20s, I read a lot of self-help books and did a lot of inner conversations, and at times, record myself on a tape, in addition to my diary.
Also in my 20s, I got to know vulnerability much more. This was when I moved to Rotterdam in 1998. Being in an uncomfortable zone, vulnerability showed up big time. Because of it, I learned to open myself up to the people around me. Fortunately, the group of people who I was with was going through the same process. We all welcome strong and intimate friendships, that turned into one of a life time. Vulnerability opens me up to lifelong friendships that I cherish with all my heart. I know that I am fortunate.
In my 30s, life got intensified – with more responsibilities at work and even deeper spiritual growth. The pace got faster and the depth got deeper. Not only did I learn to let go people at work (yes, that was to fire people), I also learnt to let go a few closest people in my life: my father (who passed away in 2012) and a couple of closest friends. In all instances, I did not expect it. It came out of nowhere, so I thought. My life collapsed when my father died, yet I am still there. After a period of grieving, I picked myself back up again.
The one who is consistently there when my life and the world around me changing is me. I always show up, no matter what.
In February 2015 (beginning of my 40s), I declared my undying love to myself. I bought myself this infinity ring as a reminder of Me + me = forever.
It took me sometime to get to this point and I am contented that I am here.
2. I surround myself with people that I resonate strongly with.
Something that has been consistent in my life is that I always have circles of friends around me. As I grew up and trust myself more, the circles expanded.
Looking back, I see the role of these circles evolving, as I evolve as a person.
My 20s is mainly filled with discoveries of the world. I travelled extensively to experience new cultures, to meet new people, to experience new foods and drinks, to see different places. It was outward focused. I moved country three times in this decade. Start and restart was the theme. Most of my friends were doing the same. We bounced off on this and we reflected the learnings with one another. It changed when a couple of us shifted their focus. They wanted to settle down. Transition was not always easy, yet it was inevitable. I cherished the memories we shared and respectfully I wished them great success in their new focus. The dynamic changed and to be present in revised relationship requires conscious decisions and efforts. I made them, for some friends, but not many.
My 30s is filled with a more balanced approach. I remained discovering the world but I also put a lot more investment into an inward journey within myself. I welcome new friends into my circle who were going through the same. I also lost a couple of friends throughout.
During this period, I combined travelling to new places with spending quality time with the companion of a friend or a group of friends. I did a couple of road trips and holidays with friends (singles mainly). This served us well because while we absorbed the new stimuli and experiences, we simultaneously reflected on our lives there and then. We did not have a long wish list of things to do in a place. We just followed the flow of the day and embraced ourselves with conversations as we enjoyed the new environment and food and everything else the place offered. I always returned to Zurich feeling richer; physically, emotionally and spiritually. While I was much more focused on my inward journey within myself, I was still enjoying the external input I got. I am, indeed, a traveller by default.
I just started my 40s so I don’t know how this decade will turn out. I started my 40s with a holiday in Paros with a group of friends, family and their “crews”. Please note that I was single at the time. I enjoyed the company of all, including their children. This is maybe a sign of what to come. I know that I am very inward focused these days and in the path of deciding on how to bring my talents and interests to the world so it is useful for a lot more people regardless where they are. This is my main question these days. And of course, I am surrounded by friends (old and new) who are driven exactly by the same question. We are connecting on this.
As you can see, my circles evolve as I evolve. I lost some people from the circle and I gained some new ones too. I accept this as a fact now, after happening to me a few of times. I am respectful towards people’ decisions, as I am towards mine.
I also have the privilege of having a few of the same people over my 20s and 30s and now 40s consistently present and show up in my circle, despite the changing focuses. I consider them as my extended family. It lasts that long because we love one another enough to keep the relationships going. We consciously are making that decision and putting the efforts to keep them flourishing. Not all of us live in the same country, yet we make the time and put aside some resources to be connected. I love being a part of their lives and I feel that they love having me in theirs.
3. Life partnership is my conscious decision.
I have been asking myself what do I want from my life partner (and in my world, I call it a husband). Believe it or not, this is not the most straightforward question to answer!! For me, anyway. It took me a lifetime to answer it. Maybe I am just a late bloomer 🙂
Essentially, it boils down to this. As I am going further inwards within myself, I now want to share my home with someone who wants to share his home with me so we both can be each other’s mirror. It’s vague? Yeah, I thought so. Let me try to break it down a bit.
Three aspects to this rather vague statement: Home, Share and Mirror.
When I say home, I don’t mean home as only as a physical space. I mean a home as the entire package home, which is ME. I am my home. Literally. Body, mind and soul.
For me, sharing something means that I have or own what I want to share. Sharing my home means that I “own” or I “have” my home, which is ME. Without disrespecting God’s power who created me, for the sake of making my point, I am going to use “own” in my terminology. The bottom line in the sharing offering is: this is ME, take it or leave it, as I am right now. Now, small caption, over the years, I will evolve as I have always been all my life, without exception. Be ready for it.
I’d be keen to support whoever this person is to get to know me with clarity and transparency. The offering is the entire me, not partial me. To make this work, a full acceptance of ME is the fundamental requirement here.
Home is ME, all of me: body, mind and soul. These are what available for sharing.
Mirroring is a day-to-day concept that we often are unconscious about. Everyone comes or touch my life on daily basis and leave some kind of imprints. Some of these imprints stay for a long time, some briefly. They are the marks of life lessons I am learning.
The role I want my partner to do is to be my closest and most consistent mirror, so I can continue making my steps towards my true Self. To be one with my true self means freedom, for me. For this, I am committed to be present in a life partnership. I am a great partner for someone who wants the same.
It is a huge responsibility for anyone. Also for me, when I choose to be a mirror for someone. It is a privilege and a responsibility. We will get it all, all kinds of things, from and in this relationship. And this is why I take the process of choosing seriously. Particularly at this stage of my life, where I know a lot about myself, compared to the earlier years of my life.
Now, how can I accept someone when he is evolving all the time? A very valid question (my heart answered my mind). The answer is…. by making the decision to accept him and his continuously evolving self, to a point where I can not anymore and when I start to deny myself in the process. At a point where I can’t be or don’t want to be his mirror anymore. That is when the partnership expires. This is due to my vow to myself that no matter what, self-love comes first.
So… the circle closes here. This is how I relate to myself and to others, out of a place of being independent. To feel empowered and to be free. This is it.