January 12th, 2010
On this day 5 years ago my life changed. I got an e-mail that was the result of "a cosmic 'coincidence' of pretty monumental proportions" - it was an e-mail from Susan.
The first mention I ever made of Susan in my writing, was in my March 2005 Update Newsletter - at the end of which I wrote:
"Rather this person is someone / the soul mate, that is going to be in my life long term or not I do not know at this time. It is possible that she is a brilliant flaming shooting star who is flashing through my world to illuminate some things / issues that I needed to see with more clarity - a catalyst of growth and awakening. Perhaps I will get to once more experience a broken heart and the grief that goes with it. I don't get to know that right now. What is important is that I am willing to take the risk - and the Universe has brought a very special lady into my life to help me learn. I am hoping that she is the special woman who will be willing and able to surrender to opening her heart to me, to surrender to the experience of Loving me - while I surrender completely to the experience of Loving her, to opening my heart to her. More will be revealed about how this newest adventure is going to unfold."
It is now 5 years later - 3 years longer than my previous relationship record - so it has been long term for me, and Susan has been a brilliant flaming star illuminating issues in my life, definitely a catalyst for growth and awakening. But it has taken some time for some of the lessons to sink in, for some of the issues to become illuminated.
February 12th 2010 - hopefully for publication on Valentine's Day
On Christmas I wrote the following to my Yahoo mailing list:
"I posted the newest pictures on my Darien page earlier this month, but haven't had time to tell the stories yet. I am going to be sharing about a huge breakthrough Susan and I have had in our relationship in that writing for the Darien page - but not sure when I am going to get it done. Hopefully before the start of the new year." - Friday 12/25/09 9:25 PM "Merry Christmas to my Yahoo mailing list"Although I have worked on this page intermittently since then, it is only now that I am nearing the finish. Last fall our relationship made a quantum leap in intimacy - and I have now opened my heart to Susan as much as I have to Darien.
In my early writings about the relationship, I talked about how I had opened my heart to her in a way I had never done to another person - and how I was able to Love in the moment in the way I described in my Wedding Prayer / Meditation on Romantic Commitment in reality and not just in theory - and those things were true to the extent I was capable of loving at that time. But the level to which I had opened my heart and was capable of Loving then was minuscule in comparison with where I am at now. I have tried to think of analogies - like the difference between a drop of water and all the water in the pond; a grain of sand to all the sand on the beach; being in preschool as opposed to getting my third Ph.D.; my level of consciousness at 30 days sober compared to at 26 years in recovery, etc. Obviously I am trying to convey that there has been a huge, quantum leap into dimensions and depths that I have never experienced before.
This was a major, huge, incredible breakthrough for me - and unfortunately the Universe need to use a big stick on me to get me to wake up.
"The way I think of it is that my Higher Power works with the carrot and stick approach: like a mule driver trying to get a mule moving, he can either dangle a carrot in front of the mule and get the mule moving after the carrot, or he can take a stick and beat him until he gets moving.
It is a lot easier on me to follow the carrots that my Higher Power dangles in front of me than to force the Universe to use a stick to get me moving. Either way I am going to get to where the Universe wants me - but the carrot method is a lot easier on me.
The more that I do my healing, the clearer I get on receiving the messages - the more I get to follow the carrots instead of experiencing the stick. The dance of Recovery is a process of starting to Love ourselves enough to start changing life into an easier, more enjoyable experience." - Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
It was an incredibly painful experience - as opportunities for growth often are, especially when the stick is used. When Susan gave me my 26 year token at an AA meeting she said that us standing up there together was proof of the miracles possible when two people are in recovery. She said that "we went through hell" this last year and now our relationship has never been so good - or something to that effect. (The part in quotes is a direct quote.) The people in the room could feel the Love we have for each other now - and it was a very cool experience.
The "hell" part was not fun - but it was a major load of fertilizer for both of us. I don't know if we could have reached the level of Love and intimacy that we are at now had I been willing to follow the carrots. I don't think so sitting here today. I think we needed to go through what we went through as a perfect part of our individual spiritual paths. A few weeks ago, when I started writing this, I was really beating myself up - judging and shaming myself for not following the carrots. I told her that I was so sorry - that it was like I was in a black out for a couple of years. But that isn't true. I was doing the best I knew how I at the time. And the things that she went through - that I, in a way, set her up for - were a perfect part of her growth process. Some deep issues that she needed to get in touch with - just as I needed to get in touch with the issues that were driving my behavior.
There were plenty of carrots that told me something wasn't right in how I was behaving - but it wasn't yet time for me to uncover the source of those fears, of that defensive behavior yet. Up until last fall, I was still very defended in my relationship with her. This was something I recognized and mentioned in my writing - but that I was not able to overcome until a few months ago.
At the beginning of the Darien page I quoted my April 2008 Newsletter:
"My fear of intimacy is still keeping me from opening my heart completely to Susan in some ways - and to myself also of course (the fear of shining too brightly I mentioned in my last post here) - but our Higher Powers unfolded our paths perfectly to put us together with Darien so he could help us both learn about Love. Susan and I are learning a great deal from each other - and the common ground of our love for Darien is helping our love to evolve. . . . . I can see clearly now that Darien is the first human being - since my parents when I was an infant - that I have ever opened up my heart to completely. Because of my Love for Darien, I am gradually opening my heart to Susan." - Joy2MeU Update April 2008And it was gradually that I was opening my heart to her. I wasn't ready yet to break through in a major way because I wasn't aware of where my resistance was coming from. I knew that I wasn't comfortable with the way I was keeping her at a distance, the way my fear of intimacy was still operating to keep my heart mostly closed, but had not uncovered the cause. In some writing I did in January 2007 I was forced to look at my fear of intimacy issues again by some things that came up as I was writing an appeal for help in keeping my book in print. That caused me to do some processing in my March 2007 Update about what I had written - although I ended up sharing what I had written in an addendum to that Update rather than in the Update.
"And that is what I am seeing right now - that my terror of intimacy has risen it's ugly head and has been doing a number on me. I have been allowing myself to focus upon the "stress" of the financial situation as an excuse to be distracted and not present in my relationship with Susan. And I have been using my precious step grandson / God son Darien as part of my camouflage for doing that." - My Fear of Intimacy revisited again 2007
So, as far back as January 2007 - over 3 years ago now - I was aware that I was focusing on Darien, not just because of my Love for him - but also as a way of keeping some distance between us. In that March 2007 Update I shared that I was going to be writing about my fear of intimacy, and also about my issues with my own masculine energy which I thought was a key to opening up my heart to Susan. Then I wrote the addendum page just quoted - and basically talked about the history of my processing through my fear of intimacy issues. That left the actual issues I needed to look at for another extra Newsletter page - a page which I never finished. Obviously it wasn't time yet to make the break through.
Ultimately those issues had to do with my father. Those are issues that I still need to do some processing about, and I plan on doing that processing in my next Update Newsletter which I will try to get finished this month. The issues that I had with my father - resentments of how he treated me (which I had done some work on, but not enough) and betrayal issues from early childhood that I had not even known were there - were what was causing me to keep up walls with Susan. I was discounting and invalidating her, withholding my love and affection and attention because of buttons that she pushed in me because of my issues with my father. And I set her up to react out of issues she had with her father who abandoned her. Her abandonment issues caused her to revert to an old pattern of hers - seeking attention and validation from men.
I am not going to go into the processing I need to do any more here. I will be sharing about those issues with my father and the behaviors they caused in the upcoming Update. I am going to wrap up this section with an answer I gave to someone who sent me a question in a message on Facebook - and then include some pictures from our trip to Cambria on the 5th anniversary of our first meeting.
Q: "hi. im curious what you think...do you think that a codependents relationship with someone that they have chosen out of their codependency COULD ever work? and what if when that relationships trust has already been destroyed? i think i know the answer to be no, but im am struggling with my feelings and thoughts on this and thought maybe you could give me some insight/advice. thanks."The key ingredient in choosing to go forward with exploring a relationship with Susan back in January 2005 was that she was dedicated to her recovery. She is often more dedicated to her recovery than I am able to be - and she challenges me on that when I am being lazy and complacent. It is vital to be able to work through issues in a relationship - and the magic that happened when we were able to work through our issues a few months ago Truly does make this relationship a priceless gift that I treasure and cherish, as I spoke about in one of my theoretical articles on healthy relationships that I wrote over 10 years ago.
A: "Yes ___, it can work if both people are working on their issues so that they can stop reacting and start seeing things more clearly. That includes seeing that the violation of trust that occurred was not personal - just the other person reacting to their own issues. So blind trust cannot be restored - but trust based on the reality of who the other person is today can be built.
I hope that makes some sense. It is really a very complicated process sorting all of this out - and involves owning and grieving for the old wounds that have been triggered in the latest situation."
"It is vitally important to make healing and Spiritual growth our number one priority so that we can look to the other person for help and support - not expect them to rescue us and give us self worth. Healing is an inside job. My issues are my responsibility to work through, it is not the other persons job to compromise her self to accommodate my fears and insecurities. If I am choosing wisely when I enter into a relationship then I will choose someone who will be compassionate, patient, and supportive of me while I work through my issues.I was able to get past my reactions - and separate the pain from my childhood from the pain in the now - to get a place where I was able to take responsibility for my side of the street - for how my behavior set her up to seek attention elsewhere. Her process unfolded perfectly in sync with mine in that the Love she feels for me helped her to hit a bottom in her old pattern that allowed her to reexamine some of the old ideas / attitudes and wounds driving her behavior and see her self more clearly so that she could get to a deeper level of honesty with herself and me. It was a True journey into intimacy and a gift (that felt like shit some of the time) - but I am very grateful for how things have unfolded because the place we are at now is a place neither of us has ever been.
And no matter how wisely I choose, or how much healing and recovery the other person has had, she will still be a human being with her own issues to work through so she will not always be able to be patient, compassionate, and supportive. For one person to expect another to always be there for them, to always have the space and time to be available to us, is another insane expectation.
We do want to choose someone who is willing to work through issues. When another person is willing to do the work with us, a relationship can be an incredibly nurturing, magical space to explore what True Love means - some of the time. It can not be that all of the time. There might be periods of time - days, weeks, even months - where things are going beautifully and it feels like we may have reached "happily ever after". But then things will change and get different. That is how the life process works - it will not be someone's fault. It will be a new opportunity for growth for both people.
Two people who are working through their issues and are willing to do the grief work, can turn an argument about some stupid, mundane life event into some mutual deep grieving. That is True emotional intimacy.
When we are willing to own our power to be the neutral observer who can see our responsibility in whatever is happening without shame and judgment, and can also have the courage and willingness to hold the other person responsible for their behavior without shame and judgment - then the magic can really happen.
Two people who have negotiated some guidelines to help them in times when they are vulnerable and reactive - can transform an argument about some symptom into an opportunity to heal some core wounding. . . . .
. . . . . . They can achieve a place of True emotional honesty and intimacy where they can get in touch with their individual wounds and grieve together. That is the kind of emotional intimacy which can form a very deep bond and be Joyously healing for both people.
To be willing to be conscious and emotionally honest with ourselves is a courageous act of faith that will allow us to progressively increase the number of moments in each day that we have the ability and freedom to be happy and Joyous in the now. To find another being who is willing to join us in this adventure, and to explore True emotional intimacy with us, is a priceless gift to be cherished and treasured." - Healthy Relationships - Part 4, Partners in the Journey
It is still quite scary at times, being so vulnerable from having opened my heart to her so much - as I am sure it is also for her - but we are going forward enjoying this new closeness, this new much deeper intimacy, and this new more mature Love that comes from having worked through issues that would have destroyed most relationships. I am proud of myself, and very grateful and proud of her, for having the courage to reach the place we have in our relationship now. As I said to her on my Facebook page, "Thank you Sweetie for making my life so much richer. You are the Valentine that is the answer to my prayers!" - RB 2/14/10
Darien & "Papa" on the beach.
The big boy on the jungle gym at the Cambria park.
On the weekend that included January 23rd - the anniversary of our first meeting - we made a trip to Cambria. These are pictures from that trip. Cambria is a special place for me - a special place for Susan also. And it is a special place for us. We hope that some day we might be able to live back up there again. Although right now we are trying to figure out how we are going to pay this months rent here in Encinitas. It is a good time to remember what I wrote in my October 2005 Update - when I shared the incredible miracles that led me to Cambria back in 1995.
"So, I am going to share a little of the story of how I came here to Cambria. This is an excerpt from a page I wrote for my Joy2MeU Journal in 1999 when - as I talk about on that Donation page - I was without a home to live in for 6 months.The difference now is that we need to take time to stop and enjoy the "big boy." ;-) And we still need to hope for miracles at the same time we are taking any action we can take to change the financial situation. I am again working the third step by sending out a message to the Universe that I could use some financial manifestation. Maybe there are some eskimos out there who will respond or the Universe will answer in some way soon: Working the Third Step - ASKing for help - Opening to Abundance
I tell this story not only to share the miracles with you - and to remind me to have faith - but also because I need to be reminded of the tools and process I need to use to maintain some emotional balance when my buttons are being pushed. As I have mentioned, my partner has defensive reactions that push all those deepest buttons - so the reminder is very appropriate in my life right now. And the reminder to have faith in the future while enjoying the journey one day at a time, is very timely and appreciated. As I was saying to my Lover yesterday - as we took a walk through the magical forest behind the house we want to rent - it is important for us to remember to not give so much power to fear of the future, and instead to "take time to stop and enjoy the baby." This time of experiencing her Love for me growing, our Love for each other growing - and sharing with her the experience of watching him grow - is the most amazing, Joyous time I have ever experienced. I am so grateful for this last few months no matter what the outcome of the situation turns out to be. I hope this adventure between us can continue for the rest of my life. ~ Robert October 17, 2005” - Joy2MeU Update October 2005
Darien running in the Cambria park.
Darien & Susan getting ready for the hot tub.
(If there was ever an example of the insanity of codependency, it is withholding attention and affection from a partner who looks like this.)
I do Love Cambria and miss it greatly.