Who is This I?

My ex-husband used to tell me that there are many kinds of love. This in response to my frustration that he couldn’t make up his mind, or rather his heart. I should have read the signs right there and then, faced the disappointing truth that he would always desire intimacy with more than one woman. But I was young and swooning and voluntarily blind to the faults of my beloved. What I failed to understand then was that we were both spellbound; transfixed and captivated by an idealized version of romantic love, a yearning, fiery fervor fanned and stoked by the smoke of the silver screen of our youth. My parents were likewise enamored of high drama, so it was not surprising that I had no other point of reference; these two put Liz and Dick to shame.

I cannot tell you that I came to any sudden realizations on the road to relational contentment. Instead there was a painfully slow awakening, a process of learning who I was underneath all the parental and religious conditioning, of recognizing a deep dissatisfaction with the impact my own confusion had upon others I cared most about. In a word, I recognized a lack of authenticity. It was as if I was going through the motions in life like an actor in a play, one step removed. I was not being honest with myself or anyone else. I lacked integrity.

It’s tough to get to the core of who we are when we don’t have an inkling of what that might be. In the throes of confusion, we cannot imagine that the small insignificant being that lies beneath our projected persona could possibly be enough. Everyone else seems so confident, so dynamic. We are constantly comparing ourselves, coming up short. We don’t realize our fellow actors are likewise engaged in their own role playing. And so on we go, on and on in that grand passion play of life, until something jolts us awake or until we become so miserable that we begin looking for answers outside the lines that have defined us up until that point.

Awakening to a deeper, more authentic presence has been a lifetime process of opening up and daring to drop the armor, bit by bit. My own path has been to practice this in the companionship of a best friend and life partner. Without this solid friendship however, the trust it takes to become that painfully vulnerable would never have truly developed. Without deeply valuing friendship in and of itself, the idealized romantic mold would, somewhere along the line, have been blown to smithereens. Without being committed to the very best for a dear friend, a gentle soul would have been shattered in the throes of my own bonds bursting. Without holding one another in tender regard, frustration would have easily mounted, as layer upon protective layer papered over accessibility, holding both of us at the stale distance many come to know in their own long-term relationships.

While commitment to authenticity can be difficult at times, the rewards are well worth pursuing. They are lasting, far reaching and doubtless contribute enormously to the betterment of humanity and our own inner peace. Besides, who wants to feel defeated in the face of aging bodies and forgetful minds? Far better to continue awakening, becoming aware and energized for the unknown journey ahead.


25 thoughts on “Who is This I?

  1. “Without this solid friendship however, the trust it takes to become that painfully vulnerable would never have truly developed.” – This is true for all of us ultimately; the bond of friendship and the freedom that gives us to enjoy one another is the core of contentment in relationships, a core that many people don’t realise is needed, or want to recognise when it is not there, but all the rest we think we want is. Drama is not the food of love, and when we look into another’s eyes who also knows all this, we begin to live such contentment as that we never dreamt possible I believe. I’m glad you’re there Bela. – *beams*

    Lovely post.

    – esme hugging Bela upon the Cloud

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    1. Aloha dear Esme, wonderful to hear from you! Isn’t it true, eh? Romantic love can only take one so far – and the ride can be exhiliarating, but good lord, not for the long term unless it morphs into something more – and I think that’s rare. I do believe some are addicted to it, my ex included. He became disenchanted easily, which I don’t think that uncommon. But the world is richer for the two beautiful young women who were the product of that union.

      Glad to join you for a hug on the Cloud anytime, Esme. Thanks so much for your comments! (blows a kiss)

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      1. My point being that there is a single Being: one unborn awareness. While we are busy mentally chattering away at being our individualised “Me” we lose sight of our true nature.

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  2. To the extent that I’ve had success in long-term relationships is borne out only by the fact I’ve remained on very good terms with all my ex-partners — amusing, but true. For example, I still have regular two hour-long telephone chats with an ex-partner I’ve known for 28 years, and we still love one another very dearly. I just wasn’t cut out for living with human beings, it seems. Dogs, yes, but humans, not so much. I like being on my own, and have never felt the sensation of loneliness. I can miss affection and touch, but when that happens I never feel isolated. I had to look at all the nonsense that my false persona carried around with it by staring it in the face in solitary meditation, four to eight hours a day of silent practise for 25 years — that’s how slow I was and how much nonsense there was to expose. I think the same can happen when the company of another acts as a mirror to us, but like I said, I wasn’t cut out for living with others, so that was never really a possibility. Martin Buber was big on this idea of transcendent understanding through relationship, wasn’t he? Does a relationship with a Border Collie count? Aloha Bela! H ❤

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    1. Hariod, I appreciate your complete frankness in this comment. I don’t think live-in relationships are for everybody. I’m sure Buber and Carl Rogers might diagree, be that as it may. They were on the cutting edge of the Humanist movement and much spilled forth from that point forward. A title comes to mind, a book we carried in our bookstore/restaurant back in the 80’s entitled Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics by Marsha Sinetar (http://www.marshasinetar.com/books-such/books/ordinary-people-as-monks-and-mystics/).

      I do believe certain people are cut out for such a life, my husband surely being one of them. But because we are both solitary creatures who give one another loads of space in daily living, it works. Life is for learning, and my thought is that however we embrace our path – long as it’s respectful to the earth and all sentient beings – cannot be in error. Bravo for realizing what you need for your own peace of mind – far more important, I think, than bouncing off another person in anger and resentment of what is obviously a strong mirror.

      Aloha, dear one – enjoy your Border Collie. They are fantastic dogs, and so smart! We’ve tended to accept into our world the lost canine souls who find their way to our door, so we’ve yet to experience that breed directly. Our little cattle dog mutt/rescue comes close – this girl has turned out to be a gem. Took her years to trust humans, but she’s coming into her own these days. What a comedienne! ❤ ❤ ❤


      1. Thanks Bela, I’ve had a scan ’round Marsha’s site and listened to a lovely audio clip — 20 books she’s written! I read a funny thing once, it was a survey of Americans questioning them on whether they felt they were capable of writing books. An amazing 70% said they felt certain they had a book in them, but what was really funny was that over 90% of that 70% were pretty sure they didn’t have a second! That tickled me, the idea that one’s entire life’s creativity, one’s entire life’s knowledge resource, fits neatly into 223 pages — but no more!

        Anyway, Nellie, my Border Collie, died about four years ago. I had a German Shepherd before that. Both were so in-tune with me, and the experiences I had with the GSD at the end of his life were those of unbelievably intimate communication. I took on his ailments in brief spells, at times not being able to get myself up off the floor and becoming paralysed below the waist just as he was towards the end. There was a transference of thought and feeling that was wordless, yet all the more real for it. And Nellie, my darling Nellie, could read my mind quicker than I could myself. She was the craziest thing on the planet, but so, so sharp and attuned. She read me like a book. She was a great being, and gave me so much.

        H ❤

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      2. Yes, I kind of understand the book sentiment, though – that one oeuvre that one knows can never be topped. When all the senses are piqued and the stream flowing from the cosmos is beyond intense. I’ve got a friend who is a singer/songwriter and I’ll tell you – her first album was just like that. Her stuff since is good enough, but never, ever as beyond inspired as that first work. Still she persists.

        I opened a little book of haiku this morning and my eyes fell upon this by Issa, “Give me a homeland; and a passionate woman; and winter alone.” Thought of you immediately. Leads me to wonder at the DNA of the hunter/gatherer template of men: maybe this is more basic and instinctual than one would think. Women of course are communal beings, needing to give birth and raise young – though surely the needs of the planet have been well seasoned, that way.
        As to your dogs, I’m sorry to scratch that loss open for you again. You sound like the ultimate empath. I’ve often said I’m part dog and that’s why dogs light up when they see me. Might also be that I reach out to them energetically in friendship. Even the service dogs misbehave when they can, trying to greet me. I suspect we share that quality. Sending you love on this beautiful day! ❤

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      3. Sure, I get it that people do indeed only have one book, or one bunch of songs, in them, crafted at a particular juncture in life, and perhaps that’s true for most non-professional writers and musicians? Still, your friend didn’t record her first album with the prior thought, “Right, this is my one shot, this is everything I’ll ever have musically in the whole of my life.” But that was what 90% of those who said they had a book in them did think, and which I found amusing. It’s like saying there’s a limit to what I can think, and when I’m done, I’m done folks!

        I’ve more than a suspicion that my preference for aloneness is largely genetic. I think that was why I was able to socially hibernate within a monastery and retreat silently so frequently, and for so many years. My dad was a loner really, although he stayed with mum all his life. My sister is married but she truly loves her time alone, and seems to have a similar arrangement to you and Chris(?) — hope I’ve got that name right. So I don’t know if it’s necessarily or always a gender thing, but think you’re probably better placed than me to make that call given your past professional work. And I certainly take your point about women evolving for greater suitability to communal and familial life, whether they want it or not. Yes, that does make sense.

        You’re a good friend Bela, and a great person — I’m so pleased to have met you, not only for your sublime poetry and deep insight into life. H ❤

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      4. Aww, you are too sweet, Hariod. It is I who am blessed to have met You!
        As for my friend, no, I’ll bet she most definitely did Not know how powerful that first album would be compared to what came after. I’m sure if she heard me saying this, she’d not think well of me – but it’s the truth.

        Yes, I get the genetic part of your solitary self – and no, I don’t know better due to my background. Mostly because I think one of the most flummoxing delusions is that we can ever fully understand human beings (!) So I don’t pretend to. I’m just stating the obvious, really. I do think genetics plays into it, and even genetics to a point where a soul chooses to come into a family where the match works – whether by design or by default. But that’s for another discussion, surely. My husband Chris (good memory 😉 ) is quite like his dad in basic temperament, though Chris can Be social, where his dad really truly is like a hermit and very antisocial. And I’m too much like my fiery parents to suit me at times. Yet I’ve evolved my bit every bit as much as Chris has his. And I do think that’s worth something, though I’m not sure what(!) I think my dad would have been far better off, for example, living as I/we do rather than choosing big business and a city life (with forays into wilderness). But we all make our bed, do we not?
        Love to you, dear Hariod. Much love!

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  3. If I am right Bela, your reflections on love, understanding and relationships are standing on a slippery ground…we are all confused about these terms as they often bewilder us with their intensity and enervation.
    I have always felt that indecisiveness in relationships has nothing to do with love, which is the most misunderstood and underrated emotion. My conviction is that there is nothing called romantic love…it is actually infatuation, that’s why it wears off with time. Since youth is vain, they refuse to realize the realities of emotions and relationships, have no maturity to ponder, get easily swayed, blind to the follies of those they like and some have extremely adventurous attitude.
    By the time they wake up, emotional hurts get beyond control and blame game begins!
    Relationships are more complex than we can imagine or understand and are based on trust, selflessness, mutual respect and kindness…the more we give, greater are the rewards.

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    1. Aloha Balroop – my point/s exactly. Romantic love is indeed infatuation, but sometimes it’s all an immature young mind can grasp onto. Sad, that.
      Mahalo for chiming in with your wise words. Would that the young and clueless would listen to reason, but often they do not. I know I wouldn’t have, all those years ago. Nobody’s fault – it’s all in the learning, and grateful I was able to find mature love in the end. ❤

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  4. I’m not sure how to respond to this post exactly, simply because I have little to add, other than it sounds like it came from my heart, although I am not sure I could have expressed it as beautifully as you have. I guess I would add that this journey you talk about, is probably the most important one we can take. The one in which to learn better how to love, whether it be partners, friends, humanity…comes from shattering those romanticized ideals and realizing that we are all more alike than different…all vulnerable and imperfect and that projected personas are just that.

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    1. Mahalo, Swarn – for responding anyway. Your thoughts are always welcome here. First, thank you for your kindness and for affirming the importance of learning better how to love others. Ultimately I believe it results in loving Ourselves better, as we work through the hall of mirrors that life on earth can sometimes be. The life of the mind is one thing and its importance is not to be diminished. The life of the heart, I think, extends much further, even into the depths of loving all of Creation for what it is, not our romanticized version of it. Example: I remember as a kid watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Oh my god, when I realized all those stunningly beautiful animals I had only ever seen in zoos were tearing one another apart for a meal, I became despondent. How could it be that they were no better than the angry people that surrounded me? Yet as I came to accept that nature, too could be savage, I slowly (and I do mean Slowly) came to the realization that human beings are part of Her as well; that we are all co-evolving and co-dependent for survival.
      I don’t mean to equate survival with romantic love or the lack thereof, yet it’s the same shattering of illusions that allow me at least to accept life on its own terms. To accept loved ones, flaws and all, as the wondrous beings they are, underneath all the masks and damage.
      Hope you are enjoying your weekend with your own dear ones, Swarn! Aloha ❤

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  5. This was so well written Bela..

    It’s strange isn’t it how we perceive other lives to be..

    “Everyone else seems so confident, so dynamic. We are constantly comparing ourselves, coming up short. We don’t realize our fellow actors are likewise engaged in their own role playing.”

    This is so true.. One comes to understand that true Romance is not a bed of red Roses.. But its being there seeing you at your worst.. Holding your hand through the tough times. Working together. Forgiving each other and seeing that each has their own opinions.. It’s about saying your piece and letting it be known you are your own person. It’s about agreeing to disagree yet seeing the others point of view.
    Its about Laughing at your own stupidity, Its leaning on each other for support..
    Thank goodness my Hubby has stuck with me through thick and thin ( my Breakdown I was not a pretty sight ) lol..
    I am so pleased We are growing older together..

    And I am so pleased you found that wonderful Man to spend your Long Term Relationship with Bela… Love comes in so many ways. And we are blessed when we find that partner who allows the I in us to grow..

    Love and Hugs my friend
    Sue ❤

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    1. Mahalo for your kind words, Sue. Your own comments on romance and love are astute, and can only be felt, I think, by those who have endured both adversity as well as longevity with eyes wide open. I love, “…it’s about saying your piece and letting it be known you are your own person.” So true! Even raising my adolescent girls, I’d say, “I want you to make up your own mind, but you have to hear what I have to say about it first.” They made good choices, generally speaking. I will bet a breakdown wasn’t pleasant to witness, but I’d also imagine it strengthened you both, as a result. Isn’t life … amazing?! Haha. Love to you, sister. Wishing you a gentle week ❤

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  6. A trifle late I am, in reaching up to your narrative on love, companionship and self-discovery. As referred to in the beginning here, forms of love are many. In itself, love is a binding and sustaining factor, that which transforms parts into newer wholes equating to more than sum of the parts. The entire universe exists in love and would wither without it. While many people can be comfortable by being in their own company without the need for a spouse or a friend, the spice of life is certainly in its expansion into relationships, accommodation of hopes and aspirations, and extension of duties of care. It is exemplified in the most common manifestation of love where two entities describe themselves as husband and wife or as live-in partners as is the vogue in several regions. The word ‘husband’ has a patriarchal ring to it as it reeks of male superiority and female inferiority. It, however, was not so in the Vedic period where the relationship was originally described as Pati – Patni, loosely translated as husband-wife. Whereas in point of fact, the Sanskrit words Pati and Patni both mean ‘traveller’, one who journeys through ‘paths’ as pati and panthi which gradually corrupted into patni to denote the female gender. There is no question of who is superior and inferior; it simply defines an equal partnership of two entities journeying together through life’s pathways toward the mutually sought after destination. The packed home-food carried for the journey is called ‘padheyam’. Figuratively, the word padheyam (no one word translation in English) captures the totality of nourishment that foster growth as the journey progresses. This is lovingly dedicated to the Patni in you, Bela…😋

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    1. Raj, how very much others miss by never reaching out beyond the boundaries of their own home and culture! What lovely imagery Pati, Patni and Padheyam evoke as you paint them with your keystrokes. Even the English language, itself can be pitifully inadequate when used restrictively – a common occurrence in the US.

      When Chris and I finally decided to make our union legal (we had lived together for many years before), I resisted calling him my husband for years. The patriarchal implications of the term as it relates both to partnership as well as to breeding animals(!) made me shiver. Over time, I began to form new images in my mind for the loving union we shared, and the old familiar term lost meaning. (Plus, Chris would often come home from work, saying in his endearing way, “Husband is home!”) So it evolved into a term of endearment, not at all unlike the Pati you speak of, if I understand it correctly.

      Many thanks for taking time to enlighten us as to another way of viewing this “mutually sought-after destination.” It’s interesting to ponder how culture informs those who reside within it. Even the imagery of your native land dances with padheyam – not only in people, but as I see it, in all of life.

      Namaste to you, dear man. Aloha ❤


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