Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Naked Love

I've been contemplating friendship and what it means to love someone unconditionally. I like to think of it as naked love. Naked love is: void of conditions; without covering, love laid bare, stripped of protection, unsheathed; real, factual, true, not accompanied or supplemented by anything else; exposed, in plain view, open, evident, undisguised; direct; unlimited; not contingent or determined by anything; absolute.

That's quite a tall order and although ultimately the goal of human life may be to love all of humanity nakedly, my own intention at this point in my spiritual evolution is to start with the relationships that are close to my heart, my family and friends and then to branch out to those that I have personal contact with. I simply hope that this love will eventually emanate and spiral out to encompass all people everywhere, all of life, all that is.

Naked love is without attachment to any results. It doesn't expect anything. That doesn't mean that I'm not attached to things (my love relationships for instance) because I am. But attachment makes it difficult to remain nakedly in love and my experience is that one must keep their "clothes" off in order to love fully.

Attachment is the heaviest, most suffocating covering to love that I've experienced. It convinces me that love looks a particular way and that another should be doing my bidding. We all have opinions about what is appropriate behavior in love relationships. I want what I want and you want what you want too. That's all fine and dandy when those things match but when a divergence occurs, watch out! I'm always working on remembering that it's none of my business what another does. Everyone has the right to do what they do, regardless of what I think about it or how I'm affected by it. Even when they are breaking an agreement they've made with me. I may not like it and I'm not required to either. And if I find myself affected by something another is/isn't doing, I can do something about that to...or not. I can choose to just feel what comes up for me and not do anything at all. I can wait until muddy waters settle or wait until I can't wait any more.

The tricky part for me is when I'm committed to a love relationship and another is behaving in ways that seem to disregard the relationship. For instance, when another agrees to specific things and then doesn't follow through. Of course this is another's right and again, none of my business, but what is my business is how I choose to handle it. I don't tend to be one that is easily offended and I don't like the feelings created when I find myself projecting blame and judgement on another when I start interpreting their behavior as rude, disrespectful, unthoughtful, uncaring etc. The truth of the matter is that I don't understand the behavior so I start making up stories about it. Sometimes my stories are unkind. Sometimes they are off the mark. Sometimes they are right on. Of course, some relationships push my buttons more than others, and some people in my life have patterns that they continuously repeat. Some people I give a lot of slack and others I'm hyper vigilant to perceived neglect.

So I'm looking at my patterns in relationships. What is it about me that chooses to be here? Why do I chooses to stay in relationship with someone that continually treats me in a way that I don't like? What is this role all about for me? Am I pathologically attached to this person, attracted to some quality in them that speaks to an unhealed wound in my psyche? Is the fact that they for instance, make themselves unavailable, disappear for extended periods of time and abandon me, what I'm actually looking for in them? Is this the behavior I secretly crave from them? Of course, all of me isn't sick and maladjusted and if I was only receiving neglect I wouldn't stick around. So of course there are all of the other most lovely aspects of another, of the relationship itself that beacon me, that encourage me to stick around. I ask myself, when is enough, enough? After repeated offenses, when will I be done? When will the painful aspects of the relationship outweigh the joy I receive? These are not easy questions to answer.

I'm not being abused by anyone. None of my relationships are that bad. I tend to attract pretty incredible people into my life. So incredible in fact that the gifts they offer are so immense, that the pain generated generally pales in comparison. People are people and we all have our shortcomings. I can't imagine wanting to end any of my relationships. I'm a real hanger on. Letting go is not my forte. I like sustaining relationships. Granted, they evolve and sometimes people move on, but I like to keep doors open and build bridges that are available to perhaps cross over again. I always imagine that more love is available.

That said, what about when I find myself lacking trust, even fearing what a person will do? Worst than that is when I get cynical and find myself making snide comments and glib assessments of that person. This is when I know my heart has closed down to them. I'm angry about something they've done, my needs aren't being met and I'm holding them responsible for my lack of happiness. What do I do with all of this? I struggle to get out from under the lies, to uncover the truth.

I know that my needs are my responsibility so I start off by processing all of this. Feeling my feelings and trying my best to stay out of my head and the endless stories my ego makes up regarding another. I remind myself that what they do is not my business and then I try to get to the business at hand--opening my heart and finding my truth. This is what feels good to me. Living in the truth of an open heart. Living nakedly.

When I arrive back to an open heart I feel good again but eventually, I'm still left wondering. Is there something for me to do here? I'm committed to this person, to this relationship and I've made certain promises. I've promised to tell the truth, to make myself available and to confront issues that arise between us. And dammit, I don't know how to be available and tell the truth and confront the issues that have arisen when another has made themselves unavailable.

And I have the tendency to get fed up if I'm the one who has to always be the squeaky wheel. I don't want to be the one who always pursues the issues, the relationship, the truth, the other--no matter how graciously I'm met, how sparkly their eyes, how warm and friendly their smile, how open their heart when they see me. I tire of this role. I want to be pursued too. I want to pursue the truth with a partner who is as equally committed to showing up as I am.

And yet, do I tire of it enough to give it up? I think not. So I continue contemplating friendship and the meaning of being committed to a relationship and loving someone unconditionally. Naked love melts me. My commitment is to be here for them, even if they aren't here for me. And I enter that commitment with the full knowledge that sometimes I don't have a clue how to best "be here" for them. Is it come closer, break through my wall? Or is it, back off and give me space? When another doesn't speak, sometimes I make the wrong choice. Sometimes I make the wrong choice when they do. My commitment is to keep my heart open and to love through the pain, the anger, the heartbreaking sadness-both mine and theirs. My commitment is to love nakedly.

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