Qu’est-ce que l’amour? …or A Tale About True Love

3 June, 2020

“To love pleasure takes little. To love truly takes a hero who can manage his own fear.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

We get scared in the presence of something bigger than ourselves, in the presence of something we cannot grasp the meaning or purpose of, something we can barely find words to describe. It manifests as a magical power pushing us forward, giving us divine courage and willingness to mend our souls. It never just swings by unnoticed… It shakes the ground underneath our feet, it makes us lose our focus and taps into something we didn’t know existed deep down inside. Your Person – true soul mate has arrived.

It is easy to love that very special another when his/her sudden presence seems to be so fragile, when passion is at its peak and two souls seem to be dancing together again after millions of years of being apart. How effortless it appears to be when the universe is laying roses under our feet. We shiver when another shivers, we shelter another from anything this mighty world can bring their way, we always approach with open heart and mind – no past conditioning, no comparisons, no opinions of others… We jump into unknown that is dazzling with the most pleasant emotions, magical sensations – something not from this world. We drink buckets of holly water heaven has landed on us thinking of its limitless resource. This shall last forever!

Then heaven claims its share, usually at the time when we already forgot the responsibility we once had taken. Suddenly we see the “ugly” in another that does not inflict passion, does not drive excitement – certain imperfection, perhaps a weakness or two, maybe neediness that once was so appealing because it made us feel desired and now simply stands for what it actually is. Here is when most of us shake off the responsibility – “This has never been mine”, “It was a mistake”, “He/she has changed”. Some of us get scared that the “beautiful” we fell in love with once is gone forever and run. The others mingle for a little bit longer hoping that the situation will resolve by itself (the “ugly” will be gone with no effort on our part, perhaps we could pay a little bit of ignorance in a meantime).

Once we fall in love we tend not to see the other person for who they are but rather project the qualities of our own anima (female aspect of the soul) or animus (male aspect of the soul) on to the newly met partner / love object. Here is why this phase is called “being in love” rather than “love” itself.

Love happens when we actually start seeing the person for who they are and accepting the existence of the two – the “beautiful” and the “ugly”.

Unfortunately, very few of us are capable of showing courage and commitment in the face of the “ugly” or something we perceive as such. Hardly anybody hugs the “ugly” with warmth and compassion, with the willingness to learn – it is a conscious choice that has to be made, an effort taken knowing deeply in our soul that the “beautiful” is now transformed, evolved, grown into something yet unknown is waiting just around the corner.

“Inability to face and untangle the Skeleton Woman [to meet Lady Death] is what causes many love relationships to fail. To love, one must not only be strong, but wise. Strength comes from the spirit. Wisdom comes from experience with Skeleton Woman. <…> If one wishes to be fed for life, one must face and develop a relationship with the Life/Death/Life nature. When we have that, we are no longer bumbling along fishing for fantasies, but are made wise about the necessary deaths and startling births that create true relationship. When we face Skeleton Woman, we learn that passion is not something to go ‘get’ but rather something generated in cycles and given out. It is Skeleton Woman who demonstrates that a shared living together through all increase and decrease, through all endings and beginnings, is what creates an unparalleled devotional love.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I hear you – “it all sounds lovely but what do you suggest I do!?

  • Whenever you feel the “ugly” approaching, whenever Lady Death starts tapping on your shoulder instead of running away try to commit more.
  • Trade your expectations for appreciation. Simply list all the things that you love your person for. It can be a wonderful smile he/she has in the moments of intimate presence, his/her childish curiosity, life purpose, honesty and ability to speak his/her truth, his/her way of treating people and many more wonderful things which he/she must have plenty, otherwise you would be long gone.
  • Each time you are moving through cycles try to open the list, go through it and perhaps add more qualities, tiniest things count.
  • Remember, the essence of a person does not change. If you hold him/her in a loving embrace through the time difficult and oh-so-scary for both of you he/she will feel more confident to dance with Lady Death.
  • Most importantly, take responsibility for yourself and the relationship. His/her job is not to get out of their way trying to make you happy. Drop this selfish notion and do it now for your own good.

I read somewhere that relationship is a university of life. We have the greatest opportunity to grow out of our own fears and limitations through them. Use it wisely!

I really hope that when you encounter the treasure you will appreciate it, you will be willing to accept love in all its guises, you will nurture what has been brought your way. You will be wise and brave (because I know you are already!) and you will commit to stay in the presence of the “beautiful” and in the presence of the “ugly”.

Ps A very charming and funny Ted Talk on the subject: https://www.ted.com/talks/yann_dall_aglio_love_you_re_doing_it_wrong/transcript?language=en#t-4374