In September, upon my return from my most recent travel nursing contract, I made the conscious decision to hang up my travel nursing coat for a while. I still don't know where the timeframe lies in this plan. To accommodate the shifts and transitions apparent in other aspects of life right now, it made sense for me to be home. It's funny how life works sometimes; the moment my heart yearned to find external safety and comfort by being home, unbeknownst to me, Max's wanderlust kicked in.
He left last week on a three month caving expedition with tons of mishaps and challenges on the way. Covid-19 definitely put a hitch in his plans with one roadblock after the other in the days leading up to his departure. When the time came to finally say our goodbyes at the airport, which we have done countless times in the years prior with my contracts, it was part of our bittersweet routine. We took the time together the night before to be present; we did breathwork, cried, pined and grieved. It was a readying ritual, preparing us for the adventure of navigating life without contact and on our own for the next three months. I was ready to let go, until he called me from the airport to ask me to turn around and pick him up (*not today Satan). Covid-19 swabs galore, airline timeframes, miscommunications, lost money, lost baggage, lost morale, it all happened over the course of the week. But despite it being super sh*tty in the moment, I am really grateful all of that happened to him, to us. A lesser man would have given up and a fragile relationship would have made this situation fodder for bad behaviour and partner lashing. Preparations for this trip is the most recent example of how and why Max and I work together so well.
As I sit here, vibing with the Valentine's Day energy, bawling while watching my wedding video, simultaneously missing Max while enjoying my solitude, I am reminded of the lessons and words said on our wedding day. As strong and true as the day we created them. Words rooted in evolution, connection, kindness and communication. The essence of conscious coupling. Truly allowing the rhythm of our love song to sink into my heart, for us, this is what conscious coupling looks like.
1."With love, I bring my whole self to him/her."
We knew right off the bat, even when we became friends in the 7th grade that we were VERY different. We accepted this. We relished this, because it was like a challenge to the universe that we were going to fight the odds to be together. Luckily, it worked. I was the popular girl: editor for the Yearbook Committee, art geek, Junior Secretary, volunteer award recipient and choir girl. Max was a championship wrestler, D&D enthusiast, paleontology wizard, a connoisseur of videogames and a tiny ornithologist. We had no business being together. But it was in our common values, our humour and desire for learning that we flourished.
It's easy to lose yourself in a relationship. You get so caught up on the love hormones that you just want to be with your favorite person, all day everyday, and do everything they love to do, even if you don't. Drop everything to be where they are. Share his interests so that they become mine. Nay nay. While compromising and playing rock-paper-scissors to decide on a date activity, dinner preference, weekend getaway is totally reasonable, catering to every single desire that your partner wants is depleting and damaging. There is nothing spicier than pursuing our individual passions, knowing that at the end of the day I get to share the journey with him. And as we continue to fully realize ourselves, as a couple, we become more than just the sum of our parts.
Like one scoop each of your two favorite flavors of ice cream...it's just better.
2. "Fulfillment through growth, growth through learning."
"I was not born in a vacuum." - is one of Max's favourite truisms when showing his appreciation for his friends. It is so true. We are born, unsullied, untainted; a blank canvas to be warped, bent, shaped, painted and created. One of the great things about being totally different from your partner is that you learn so much. The perspectives I've gained, the new knowledge he has shared from his world, the way I help and hinder all gets to be exciting opportunities to grow and be better or different. When you are susceptible and curious, you continue to see the magic of our world and how you impact it.
3. "I want to know if you can sit with pain...without having to hide it, or fade it, or fix it."
There came a time in our relationship when I had to recognize for my own well being that I could not "fix" my partner. No matter how much I loved him, no matter how I wanted to protect him from all the hurt in this world, no matter how good it made me feel to be needed and wanted in this way. At some point, your heart gives out, your cup empties, leaving you both depleted, tired, depressed, wondering what the point of all of this was. Part of showing up as your whole self is honoring your own pain. In order for me to show up to my relationships the strongest and most compassionate I can be, I have to start with myself. To be able to sit with your own pain is power, to be able to acknowledge your suffering is empowering. And when I began the process of unleashing my vulnerability, my rawness and hurt, it gave my partner the permission to reveal his own. Cultivating a home full of trust and support without judgement. A place where we can both express our sorrows without merging our energies.
4. "I will draw in every word and write them on my heart."
We tend to be hardest on the people that we are closest to, especially when we are feeling threatened, jealous, attacked, resented and unheard. This bubbles up and is projected on to your loved ones (*sorry honey). I use to be so, so insecure that I often said things I didn't mean to get a rouse out of my partner. It hurt him, it hurt me and it is so true when they say that "hurt people hurt people". I did it and I still project and slip sometimes, and it is awful.
Learning to sit with my own insecurities, wounds and pain has allowed me the ability to respond as oppose to react when my expectations haven't been met; the presence of mind to ask myself whether I even communicated what those expectations were. I wear his heart on my writing hand; a constant reminder that I am in control of every compassionate, kind, seething and painful word that comes out of my mouth. A way of honoring and seeing my people with compassion and kindness, a way of reminding myself that I can receive and bestow the same.
5. "May my arms be your shelter, and my heart your home."
Home is not confined to a certain place. It is a feeling. A place to lay your weary head when you feel the chaotic depths of the waking world. Home is where you rest, recover, replenish and regroup. It tells you you're doing a great job and gives you permission to unravel and undress without expectation or restriction. To stretch in its space, to cry on the floor. Home is safety and protection.
6. "Passion in Action."
Never in my 15 years have I failed to kiss him on the forehead before I left the house. Max rubs my back to sleep the night before I start my work sets every week. I always choose the other fighter he is rooting for in UFC, just for fun. It's constantly busting moves in the grocery store and long nonsensical talks before bed. Passion goes far beyond sex (though that helps too). It's the boundless desire to seize and relish every moment and the intense enthusiasm to be good to each other. It's loving with emotion and arguing with reason. It's being present and transforming the mundane into the extraordinary.
I won't hear from him for three months and while as scary as that may be, it gets to be that and more. Opening. Spacious. Yearning. Sad. Okay. Not Okay. Everything. When people ask me jokingly, "Are you even married though?!" because of how little time we have recently spent together in the same home, they fail to recall the amount of time we have spent cultivating this partnership in comparison. I always knew that I was going to make a very good married person (*cue Disney theme song). What I didn't realize is how fulfilling this one was going to be. To be both free to fly and grounded, to be able to rely on my own faculties knowing that he is somewhere there behind me cheering me on, to know that he will always be there with open arms when I come home feeling depleted and unappreciated. To trust, to feel, to thirst, to live my life alongside his.