We are designed for love. We are born to be in relationship with one another. We are social beings who are naturally generous, kind, and empathic.
But survival is always going to be primary, and we do what we need to do to feel safe and to survive emotionally, especially when we are young. There is an intelligence within us guiding us. We make the best choices we can based on the understanding we have.
I learned that appearing like a good girl kept me safe and got me external validation. So I developed a way of being in the world that maximized my chances of seeming like a good girl to ensure my psychological safety and survival. Was it necessary to do that? I don’t know, but it appeared essential at the time.
The coping mechanisms we learn to survive often create suffering and can get in the way of enjoying our relationships.
My good girl survival skill meant that I learned to be inauthentic and wear a mask that I thought would be pleasing to others. I sacrificed authenticity for safety. Not all the time, but enough for it to become a conditioned way of being that could feel stifling without me even knowing why.
Then along comes love. Conditioning flies out the window. The neurobiology of chemical attraction plunged me into the present moment and allowed me to feel free.
Free to be me. Free to open my heart. Free to be safe in the world exactly as I am.
Many of us know this exhilarating experience. Many of us are told to run the other way when that kind of chemical attraction appears. Many of us would follow that advice. I didn’t.
I don’t regret it, but it was hard when the high wore off.
I had paired my happiness with my relationship with Angus. It was a natural correlation to make, but when the good feelings settled down and I found myself caught up in my habitual insecurities and neuroses again, I wanted to get that amazing feeling back. And I thought the feeling went away because there was something wrong with our relationship.
I didn’t realize that it was a gift of grace to experience that freedom within myself and that it wasn’t coming from Angus. I didn't know that amazing feeling of well-being was actually coming from my heart being open and my mind being in the present moment. I didn't think I had that available within me. So when the high wore off it made sense to try and fix the relationship so I could get that feeling back. And fixing the relationship consisted of looking at all the ways Angus needed to change.
I didn't realize it didn't work that way, nor did I see how I had reverted back to my old conditioned ways of thought and was living in the feeling of the stress, pressure, and anxiety that accompanied them.
Not knowing this I looked to my relationship to bring me back the feelings of happiness and inner safety that I had experienced. This meant that I put pressure on Angus to make me happy. I did this innocently. I wasn’t aware that I was making this demand, but I sought to find my well-being through our relationship.
This didn’t leave much room for him to have his human experience and meet his own needs. And he had his own learning curve with codependence so we were in it together. His consisted of putting way too much energy into trying to make me happy and get me to see my irrational thinking. As you can imagine that didn't go well.
What finally woke me up and made a huge difference in our relationship was realizing that my happiness and inner security do in fact come from within. The love and well-being I experienced at the beginning of our relationship were not coming from Angus. I was experiencing the love and peace that resides within me.
That love never went away. I just lost touch with the experience of it when my habitual limiting beliefs and insecure thoughts came back online after some respite. My honeymoon period was not with Angus. It was actually a honeymoon period with myself. I was falling in love with the experience of my true nature and projecting that onto him. Of course, that experience had me show up in such a way that our relationship felt amazing, but when it shifted this was not an indicator about our relationship. It was a reflection of the change in my state of mind.
And that couldn't be fixed by trying to change Angus. I needed to see this for myself. So I now know the direction to look in when it feels like things are going south in our relationship. And we can now enjoy the honeymoon feeling with real intimacy and understanding.
Our relationship has provided a loving container for the exploration of impersonal love and personal healing.
Impersonal love resides within each one of us. And it is healing and transformative. We may not be able to live in the peak experience of it all the time, but each time we experience it more deeply it creates a new foundation of experiential understanding within ourselves.
My falling in love with Angus set me on a journey of knowing who I am more deeply. I took many wrong turns along the way where I looked to him for my happiness, but that was all part of my learning curve toward understanding that my happiness lies within and the only person that takes that experience away from me is me getting caught up in limiting beliefs and misunderstandings.
I hope my sharing helps you to remember that your happiness lies within. There is power in remembering. There is truth in that. There is freedom in that.
Your relationships and every other aspect of your life will benefit from knowing this. May you find your way to living happily based on the knowledge of where happiness actually resides.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In the first season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couple's intensive retreat programs that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilders Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.