Ready for Real

old-people-kissing-12-6-10Today I had the privilege of witnessing two individuals join together in a vow of marriage. I honored the bride with a statement that described our history together, how we helped each other through the trenches of personal growth, supporting each other as we faced the shadows within. It was hard to complete this toast because tears welled up in my eyes, and my throat got that familiar lump that only happens when you really love someone. I had not yet met the groom, but when I felt the genuine deep love from each groomsman as he honored the groom with a personal statement, it became clear to me that they, too, had struggled through the trenches of life together. They had shared the kind of love and connection that people share when all the pretense is stripped away and you’re vulnerable, raw, and real.

On the drive home after the wedding as I reflected on my experience, I realized that real love happens when you’re willing to look beyond the illusions, embrace the naked (sometimes ugly) truths, and take action to support one another. Real love requires seeing what IS, rather than the fantasy you’ve created in your mind about how it could be, if only. Real love takes time to cultivate because it’s based on actions–being there as a sacred witness and support during the tough times, showing up as a cheerleader for the celebrations, and honoring the relationship by always taking actions to show you care.

When I met my ex-husband at 22 yrs old and moved in five months later, I had no idea what real love was. What I did have was a very big fantasy about being a wife and having a house with a white picket fence, two kids, and vacations in Hawaii. I was driven by hormones and internalization of societal expectations to “get the man” so I could build the “perfect life”. I was starstruck by the big moment—the across-the-room soul connection that I shared with this man—and I let it outweigh every objection raised along the way. The real problem with my marriage was that I didn’t know myself yet. And because I didn’t know myself yet, I didn’t know where boundaries should go to make a healthy long-term relationship, and I didn’t know what personality traits and preferences would best complement me to bring the smoothest ride.

As I drove home from today’s wedding, a big dose of honesty poured itself down on me. Even though I left my husband three years ago, and have been dating as an adult 45 yr old woman, I did not stop creating fantasies about relationships. In fact, every relationship I have had has been an intricately constructed delusion fabricated from an ounce of real connection and a pound of generous interpretation of what could be, if only. The bigger the illusion of love, the more romantic and audacious and fantastical…the better! Instant love that without fail has led to disillusionment. Luckily, the delusions have lasted for shorter and shorter periods of time as my ability to accept the truth has expanded through my spiritual practice and personal development.

The dawning of all of this truth left me with one question: Am I ready for real? Am I ready to see what is actually present, rather than what I imagine I want to be true?

I thought back to that moment when I felt the power of heartfelt connection from the groomsman towards the groom.

Yes. I’m ready for real. I’m ready for friendship that leads to experiences that leads to actions that leads to compassion that leads to shared moments that leads to … love.

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