So, you have finally found the person of your dreams! You make each other laugh, you both love (or hate) the same healthy food, you take long walks by the beach or spend nights wrapped up watching art house cinema, they know your buttons and uses the knowledge for good. Your paradise on Earth! What can go wrong?
Well, for starters, everything! Over familiarity may set in and where nights wrapped up in the same blanket were a cozy cocoon, now seem an all too fuzzy prison that your exotic bird wants to fly away from. Do not despair though! Not all is lost and you too have ways to make sure that your love, who you spent a big part of your life looking for, will happily keep choosing you as their safe port to come back to again and again.
Here goes! 5 top tips to give an honest fight
First and foremost: Look at them
In many occasions, especially in long relationships, we reach a stage where we tend to think that we know everything there is to know about the person next to us. To a degree this is true as we grow with this person and we most likely see the changes as they happen. Or do we? Do we really see our partner with new eyes every day as an exciting and intriguing stranger trying to find out how they view the world today or is it just “good old Mike”? If the latter is your modus operandi at the moment, it is time for a radical review.
Second: Keep looking
Like a memory foam mattress, our communication with our partner soon comes to mold in the shape of our repeated chat and small talk we engage in on a daily basis. “How was your day?” may seem like an innocent enough question at first, but the 1000th time that without fail your partner knows it’s coming during dinner, it may offset a nuclear reaction! As much interest as it may exhibit, so much “I can’t be bothered” whiff it emanates. It feels as if someone has pressed the play button on an old cassette player. Maybe that’s not the type of communication for today, maybe your loved one just wants a kiss or a silent hug. Do you know or are you just eager to carry on with your playlist?
Third: Have your own life
There is nothing more satisfying to a strong, independent person with a purpose, than seeing their loved one being absorbed, lost even in their own creative project. Don’t expect the person by your side to fill all the holes in your life. They are a fellow walker on the path of life, not plaster! Have or find something you love and do it just for yourself, just for your own satisfaction and then bask under the admiring and loving gaze of your lover!
Fourth: Expect nothing in return
“The heart that gives, receives” advises Tao Te Ching from the depths of time. If only we could bathe in the timeless wisdom of Lao Tzu’s words. We do the good deeds because we want to and because they make us feel good. That already is a finished and balanced exchange. However, greedy old people we are, we want more. We expect gratitude, acknowledgement, both, either or something in between. And not getting it, leaves us with a profound sense of dissatisfaction. “Why?” we must ask ourselves. Why do we want more? Isn't the smile or the expression of pleasant surprise or the rest our love got from our selfless action enough of a “thank you”? Let’s behave like the richest people in the world, because we always have something: our body, our mind, our emotions.
Fifth: Be yourself
Who else can you be anyway? “Everyone else is taken” as the saying goes. Soon, the real you will start showing through the cracks of your mask anyway, so, to begin with, don’t even bother. Being yourself means exactly that. Be the unique “you” you are with whatever that means. That’s the person your loved one fell in love with and decided to stick next to. So, don’t forget about yourself and always give yourself the space and time to shine through.
As a general rule of thumb partners end up acting as mirrors for their partners. Last time you looked in your “mirror” did you like what you saw? Or was the image distorted? In the same way, in the beginning, your partner-to-be fell in love with everything on you that they identified with or was hoping to be themselves, in a similar way, but on the flip side, they now show to you everything about you that you are not happy with yourself. So, what can you do with this information? Use it as the beginning point to start becoming the best version of you. And ultimately this is not a favour to your partner but an obligation to yourself. Keep challenging yourself, keep learning, keep expanding your being, don’t take anything for granted. Life is so big and you owe it to yourself not to become small and hide in a comfortable cage.
And the outcome? Even if your love doesn't stay with you but decides to spread their wings and fly, you will at least know that you now have brand new, strong wings of your own. Because, with such a blue blue sky, every bird deserves to fly!
I wonder whether there is a way ….I felt today that it is actually possible to feel -besides just knowing- which nervous system supplies us at any given moment. If we are tuned into our body and listen to what it has to say to us. I wondered consequently whether there is also a way to move on from feeling and understanding to actually manipulating or changing this condition. I felt my stomach going tight when I went in the kitchen in the evening to cook something. I was moving frantically around, desperate for the movement, my body a bit numb from sitting on my arse-ana all day long and hungry for anything. I ended up gulping down food while cooking my main meal. I felt my stomach tightening more and more with every mouthful, felt my oesophagus constricting so as not to put any food in it. And I checked my emotions: I was stressed. I felt pushed. All day’s inertia blew to sudden and uncontrolled activity while I was still functioning on my flight or fight mode (although no wild animal was chasing me) and here I was mindlessly shoving food down my throat. I stopped. I breathed in slowly and tried to locate this nervous system of mine and ask it to switch to another mode of function. I told myself to relax and I hoped that my nervous system would follow. I decided then to walk out all this nervous-ness and hoped that this would set a straight stomach for the job. Of eating.
Ever since I was diagnosed with acid reflux, my relationship and my interest in food has taken another shape. And I’m saying this, because in my life, it has taken all sorts of shapes. Always a big foodie, I had periods where I would just eat and eat and eat to the point I couldn’t walk off my chair, others when I would avoid it almost completely and just survive on cucumber with vinegar (how did I manage?), a short one -from another lifetime it seems- where it would be the part of a cycle in which the other chain was weed (I once ate all my flat-mate’s buns; she woke up to find none was left from my after midnight raid in her cupboard. Can’t remember if I wrote a "sorry-I-ate-all-your-buns-but-I’ll-buy-you-new-ones" note to redeem my munchies-ridden greed), a period where it would substitute the passion to bring me and my lover together over a pizza and now when it is both my medicine and my poison.
I have to choose carefully. These days even the sight of wrong –unsuitable for me that is- food can send me acid refluxing. I have bad days and good days. But I understand the battle between mind and organ so much better now; better than when I had quit meat, better than when, while on a diet, I would smell the lovely cooked food before eating a salad. My stomach knows what it wants and what it doesn’t. My mind on the other hand knows as well, but since it is not the main receiver of the discomfort, can choose to forget and to ignore. Can choose to put the harmony of the whole at stake for the gratification of the selfish desire.
So, maybe it is not just about cultivating this magic power of switching one mode of nervous system for another, but is more about learning to manipulate this amazing friend and this terrible foe we keep caged up in our head. How can we make the brain like all the other organs? In that, it too, will not only work towards its own pleasure but for the benefit of everyone else? Does it feel superior indeed, all alone, at the top of its realm -our body- only abstractly connected with the rest of the inhabitants, its subjects? Has it become an ill advised and foul tempered ruler our brain? How can we make it work for its people again? How can we make it our friend?
I haven’t got the answers to these questions. I know however that the tools to accomplish this exist; and if they don’t, we can create them. No matter how superior or separate the brain seems, still it is intertwined with us. And we are not just it. We should never underestimate the organs’ intelligence and individual perception. And we should remember that they too are us.