This weekend provided me the perfect opportunity to attend one of the many movies on my “Hope to see Before Oscars” list. Due to its close-up view of marriage–both the before and painful now–I chose Blue Valentine. Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, these two spiritual awakening movies wonderful actors effortlessly, yet profoundly, take viewers directly into the heart of a marriage on the rocks delivering to us on a silver platter a chance to spend much time afterward contemplating our own special relationships and the levels of intimacy that we both offer and allow.
Again and again, the movie portrays on many levels the difficulty to love another fully when we are not whole ourselves–healed from the inside out of past wounds usually acquired in childhood–even with the best of intentions. Instead of taking the courageous leap to confront the true “villain” lurking within, it appears so much “easier” to blame another for our unhappiness and discontent with the unfolding of our own life. While these particular individuals in this deteriorating marital dynamic had no role models to move into deeper territory, many of us today can look to numerous channels to assist us in personal growth that leads to greater intimacy with self and others.
Oh, to see the characters struggle is quite difficult as they attempt to use alcohol, sex, anything to recreate the better feeling days of before. Each really just desires to be seen, truly seen by the other. The husband has his past issues and the wife has hers, both longing for something different from what the other has the capacity to give. As you watch the film and feel the longing for relief–their relief and yours–flashes of your own relationships with significant others/spouses begin to surface:
How much intimacy do i truly allow in my relationships? Is there a depth in my understanding of who the other really is beyond the role of spouse? Do i really see the person before me? Am I relaxed and giving in my sexuality? Am I actually available to give and receive love? How whole is my partner? Have I healed the fragmented parts of myself? What changes could we both make to enjoy a more sensual and uplifting reality?
This movie has stayed with me as i seek to explore further my own intimate relationships. I marvel at how much we all desire another to love us with affection and acknowledgement when very few of us are willing to even begin the inner work to love ourselves the same way. How can we expect another to see and accept us exactly as we are if we cannot look deeply into our own eyes in the mirror with compassion, forgiveness and self-love? How can we expect another to provide full exposure and intimacy within a relationship, when we find it difficult to listen to the voice of our own soul without judgment and censorship?
The Soul to Soul Perspective acknowledges that marriage and long-term relationships are Both the most difficult of unions And the greatest opportunities for growth–gut-wrenching, soul level growth. In an intimate relationship, we are gifted with a continuous mirror, a barometer of sorts, to see quite clearly our own deeper issues that rise to the surface to be owned, dissected and healed. One gets a strong sense of this in Blue Valentine along with a chance for a closer look into our own reality, if desired. We can continually jump from relationship to relationship–different players, similar script–or we can finally choose to begin a relationship to trump all relationships.
It is this everlasting and most fruitful relationship with our very own SELF that will offer us what we have always sought–an opportunity to live liberated from seeking in another what has been inside of us all along… It’s actually very simple. If we see life as an extended dream, then we can say that events, experiences, and memories are there and we can participate in them, but we won’t suffer by overly dwelling in them. It’s similar to watching a movie. We could suffer, forgetting that we’re just watching a movie. However, the truth is that the only thing that we ultimately are is a witness to the movie. Once we know this, we can relax and spend more time in identifying with who we are. We are the witness to what is happening.
Once we say “we are this” or “we are that” and we give labels to ourselves, we have moved away from awareness. If we stop identifying with labels that follow “we are, ” then when events occur, whether good or bad, whether desires or fears, we won’t create stories to go along with these experiences and we will stop suffering. In pure awareness, there is no suffering because there is no mental commentary. We still experience pain and pleasure, but we’re not creating stories to accompany those events. We don’t fight or resist them, so we don’t suffer and they can pass quickly.