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  • Writer's pictureKirtimalini Kuber

Being and Dying in Love




Prelude


A little inner work before you read the text below. I have been working on this for a week or so. Generally, connecting ideas is not difficult for me - but when I talk or think about the word love, my mind gets fuzzy and my body enters a sort of a pause state. The usual anxiety of sharing ones thoughts with the world do exist, the need to not offend or hurt or present an idea in a neutral form is also present. But this experience of fuzzy-pause is because of the multi-layered task of writing about love.


Being born after the romantic revolution, how can I talk about romance and love without being submerged in the popular idea present about the same? Esther Perel has spoken about how romanticism crept in marriages that were meant to be social contracts and how it is a curse for both - romance and marriage that did not coexist decades ago. So, historically there is no data to look at the existing structures.


When we talk about romance we quote celebrated romantic tragedies of lovers like romeo-juliet and heer-ranjha - who died passionate and graphic deaths trying to reconcile the spirit, and their soul with the community. Psychologically, these are the sacrifices resulting in the violent reunion of the masculine and the feminine. When the bar is raised this high by death, we stand no chance to marry our internal need for the gold (in the spirit within) and the external need for structure and belonging without it. It is no wonder that we flirt with that sacred death, albeit of the relationship itself. For, what is the point in trying to accommodate when we should fit together like puzzles and become inflamed in passion and sacredness?


My Quest


My quest in this exploration of a relationship is mainly to try to dis-entangle the various ideas and unconscious themes plaguing romantic relationships in general - first of the role of death in relationships and the marriage of individuality.


It is true that one seeks romantic relationships for social, cultural, and physical reasons; but also for spiritual companionship. It is also true that the psyche, the spirit, and the soul all demand an equal part in this dance of union of the masculine and the feminine. Sometimes, the suppression of the inner exacts a higher price from oneself - a self that is dissatisfied with the comfort and richness that love and belonging provide. So, my quest is to rescue this spiritual and psychological marriage from the life-sentence of either imprisonment or death.


In a culture like India where the millennials have been the first generation to freely attempt to exercise choice (in the small percentage or a bracket assigned to them) - in profession, career, and even a choice of a spouse - it is no surprise that partners exercise freedom even in their intimate relationships. How can we then reconcile these polarities of the inner and outer journey from individual to togetherness, while the intimacy and romance is trying its best to remain afloat amidst the expanding sexual identities, and broader definitions of romance and love?


Belonging


David Whyte says "There is no house like the house of belonging." This belonging becomes a blessing and a curse that eventually cages you in a state of 'I am, because you are'. Like all polarities, belonging also has meaning when the other opposite is present. We build this belonging from the time we are born - first to our caregivers, then to our families, communities and eventually (if we are blessed enough) to ourselves. We belong so that we can break free, we belong so that we can fly, and we belong so that we can strive rather than survive.


In this web of safety in belonging, somehow the world still managed to celebrate individuality at every step - from high-performing students, to bonus-earning employees, to the single leader standing on top of the hill - everything is a celebration of an individual. It is no surprise then to see that an institution that celebrates togetherness - marriage of two individuals, families, communities - is dying already. How can belonging, individuality, togetherness reconcile to chart the journey from 'I' to 'us'? Where is the training for that? What does that look like?


Welcoming Death


Usually, death is dumped on the relationship while the relating partners run from one relationship to another without consciousness or awareness. This doesn't need to be the only way to welcome death in a relationship. Death can also be welcomed as an opportunity to revisit the way in which they are connecting with each other and be present to the changed aspects in themselves and their partners from the time they first met. Not as a cause and effect phenomenon that is doomed by fate. It is a chance to welcome the death of who you once were and your partner once was, then relating with the new yous. Re-know the old, re-cognize, re-generate - I once liked to see movies, now I like to go trekking. This is also me.


Is there a space for this new you, in you and then in your partner? Is there space for the new 'they' your partner has become now? Can you look with new eyes the person you thought would remain the same for your and their lifetime? These deaths can be enriching grounds to become more of who you are and to support your partner to become more of who they are.


Relational Opportunities


Then what do we do with this marriage between romance and social structures? Can the quest for 'the one' survive the changing social, emotional, and cultural fabric? Or is it a lost battle and the fabric of relationships is changing beyond recognition?


One option is to rescue death from the karmic cycle of doom and entrapment and give it a conscious space within the relationship rather than as the endpoint of the relationship. The grandfather of modern psychotherapy, Dr Carl Jung said that unless the unconscious becomes conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate. If we apply it to relationships - unless the unconscious patterns in a relationship are made conscious, you will repeat it and call it divorce.


The opportunities to make the relationship conscious is by far the richest battleground - that of holding conflict without getting polarised by it for a long time. Here is where death comes in. A conflict is a cemetery of all the ways that you once were and a birthplace for rediscovering a new way that you can become - a conscious part of yourself and a partner in a conscious relationship. A space to once again be free - of a stale you and of the seeming entrapment of a relationship. This is a space to welcome death as a participant and foundation for a newer, enriched love.


There are of course those relationships that need to be ended - the ones that abuse and teach us to abuse ourselves by taking in abuse as a form of love. They are also the grounds that have several epitaphs of the way we once were, of the ways in which we have changed by breaking free. Some deaths are more graphic and leave a lasting impression than others who die in their sleep. The more conscious we are of these epitaphs, they can act as foundations for richer and fulfilling relationships with others and parts of ourselves.


I wish we had not died, but together

buried the dead relationship. And sorted the bag

of seeds to see which seed we wanted to sow

in the decaying body.


I wish we had celebrated the renewed, regenerated

life and not mourned 'how you have changed'.

I wish we had embraced our own brokenness

before looking for space for it in each other.

I wish we did not become saviours, forgetting

that saving ourselves is our own task,

sorting and burying our dead parts.


I wish we had cemented the foundation

of our growing, becoming relationship on several epitaphs

of several deaths - a solid foundation for an

enriching and sacred relationship.


I wish we had not died, but together

buried the dead relationship. And started looking in

the bag of seeds to see which seed

we wanted to sow in the decaying body.


Do you know which seeds you want to sow?



Needless to say, consciousness needs to be sought by both the parties in a relationship. Unidirectional consciousness will result in a feeling of entrapment and life-sentence.


Answers


One of my favourite poets Rainer Maria Rilke said, "Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." Stay with this aspect for now. In a world where we are brainwashed as solution-driven minds, for once just stay with the problem. Stay with what this means in your life, in your relationships, in your soul and spirit; stay with how it resonates with you, how you would like to define for yourself - even for a moment.





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