You should all go read this letter, follow her blog, twitter, join her Goddess Circle, do her programs, etc. But just in case that feels like a lot, here’s a snippet from the article that really resonated with me, and I think is important to get out, because we *don’t* talk about this enough:
“We don’t talk about this enough, you know.
Of what it takes to form a marriage with someone. Of the grief and the necessity of transferring your loyalty from your family of origin to your husband and children.
And yet it is so essential: this is how the human species continues to grow… by branches of the family tree falling, digging deep into the earth, sending their own roots down and bearing forth their own new tree.
I’m talking about this because it is terrifying to be so vulnerable and honest and yet I must.
So many parts of my life have been wiped slate-clean.
My husband, my daughter, my soul and my work are the most important things that remain.” -Leonie
Marriage – any serious relationship, really (and probably the less serious ones also, AND the asexual ones, like friendship!) – is a lot of work. It just is. But when it’s right, when it’s working, when it fills you with joy – it is a lot of work, but it doesn’t *feel* like a lot of work. It’s just what you do, to nourish that relationship, and it doesn’t even have to be a big complicated thing. It can be as simple as you make it. (As my therapist likes to remind me when we’re discussing the work I need to do on myself, and how scared I am because I think it’ll be “difficult” and “hard work” – and you know what? Turns out she’s right. Sometimes I *do* need to do the hard work, to force myself to let go of old patterns and fears and baggage. But sometimes, it’s as easy as walking in her door, sitting on the couch, saying what I’m tired of dealing with or what old patterns need to go – and then deciding not to do it anymore, turning it off, explaining to myself, on a deep level, why what I’ve thought was working, or have tricked myself into thinking was working, actually wasn’t. And – poof! – that easy: bye-bye old baggage!)
But go read Leonie’s article! It’s pretty much amazeballs, as is as her glorious writing, and so…open and honest and brave and beautiful. But she also talks about the importance of support, which is a theme that’s been reappearing in my life, in my friends’ lives, regularly, for a couple months now. So, for me, and for yourself, take a couple moments to REALLY think about your support networks. I’m mainly referring to your mental/emotional well-being support networks – but you could also think about your physical health, your spiritual journey, your financial supports, tons of other stuff. Just take a couple moments, and check in with yourself, and go over your support networks – because they are CRUCIAL. You NEED to have them, they NEED to be as big and wide as you can make them and are comfortable doing*, and you NEED to have them established and in place BEFORE the crisis hits. Let go of the false, unhelpful idea of controlling things that you can’t actually control, let go of the idea that you’re some sort of magical exception to “no man is an island,” and, yeah, sometimes? Let go of the idea that you *have* to, and *should*, do every single thing all by yourself. Yeah, being as self-reliant and self-caring as you can be is awesome – but you don’t have to be superhuman about it, and 100% self-reliant. That’s not healthy, and it’s kind of, in my opinion, not the point of life. (I mean, not just in my opinion, if you want to get into reproduction and survival of the species, but I’m thinking, I guess, a bit more existentially here.) We’re meant to interact with each other, and care for each other. (But we can also care for others better and more easily when we’re taking the best care of ourselves.)
*Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, right? If your support network is (like mine was not too long ago) just one person (hi, honey! and thank you! smooches!) – BULLSHIT. First of all, that is a RIDICULOUSLY UNFAIR burden to put on them. Your aim should be to be able to support yourself, and handle all your self-care needs. (Or at least know what they are and be responsible for getting them filled, even if, say, one of those needs is acupuncture – CLEARLY I can’t perform acupuncture on myself, so I do see my acupuncturist. She performs the actual acupuncture, but *I’m* responsible for knowing when I need it, for self-care, and making sure I’m scheduling appointments as I need them.) Ultimately, each of us is responsible for our own health and happiness – and we HAVE TO BE responsible for our own health and happiness. We have to be able to love ourselves, and take care of ourselves, and be happy from within, and be WHOLE. If we’re not complete on our own, our relationships with others won’t be able to flower completely, they’ll be hampered by our own lack of completeness. I think, especially in romantic relationships, that the ideal is to find someone who complements you. You don’t need anyone to *complete* you, because you’re already complete. You want someone who complements you, and then you’re both complete on your own, as individuals, but also the sum is even greater than the parts (which, since you’re already complete individuals, are pretty dang great, too). But back to your support network and not putting all your eggs in one basket. So, the goal is to empower yourself, to make yourself as happy and complete as you can from within, to be responsible for your own health and happiness. But sometimes that’s not going to be easy, or even doable – and that’s why you need a support network. Once in a while, you’re going to need to lean on others. (The aim should be to reduce that need, those occasions, as much as possible – but don’t “should” on yourself, or feel guilty if you need help – there’s no shame in asking for help. That’s an empowered decision: you, fully complete, aware of your strengths and weaknesses and needs and health and happiness, realize that you can’t do something all by yourself, and you ask for help. That is empowered! YOU are doing what’s necessary to take care of yourself. If you can’t change your car’s oil, and it needs an oil change – are you going to guilt-trip yourself over it? Or are you going to take it to a mechanic, and not think less of yourself for having to do so? If you have a nasty bacterial infection and it’s just getting worse and worse – are you going to feel ashamed that you can’t just wish it away? Or are you going to go to the doctor and get help, usually in the form of antibiotics? If you go to the doctor, are you going to feel like you failed as a human being because you had to go to the doctor and get antibiotics? Bit silly, isn’t it: guilt-tripping yourself over asking for help when you actually need it.) BUT – a support network of one person? That’s a HUGE burden to put on someone else, especially for protracted amounts of time, and especially considering that, by my model/assumptions/ideals, *they* are also busy with the work of self-care, and possibly being part of other support networks. So you spread it out, put more people in your network.
Second of all, if your support network is one person, or a very few people (say, my husband, my therapist, my doctor, and that’s it) – what happens when they’re all busy with their own shit, or can’t fit you in for an appointment, or even (hi again, honey!) have been supporting you for a while and could REALLY use a break? Supporting others is AWESOME! It is, I love it. I adore being able to help my friends, and even complete strangers. But it can be taxing work, grueling, exhausting, even. It takes a toll. You NEED a biggish, varied support network, so that people can switch out, and get breaks. And then they’re more refreshed and healthy, and can be a better support if you need one.
So no putting all your eggs in one basket, k? Also, on the “as you’re comfortable doing” note: don’t coddle yourself too much, or allow yourself to weasel out of establishing this important web of support. I’ve done that, an embarrassing amount of times, and it has ALWAYS bitten me in the ass, and fairly soon, rather than later. You don’t have to choose to be totally open and tell the whole world your business (like I do – but it does keep things simple alot of the time ), but don’t let your discomfort convince you that you don’t need a support network, or that you can make it smaller than you actually need. That’s bullshit – and it’s also your…ego/shadow self/inner demons/baggage/whatever-you-want-to-call-it-but-you-see-what-I’m-getting-at pulling the wool over your eyes, rationalizing shit, making excuses, lying to you – all just to set you up for a bigger fall, and more hurt, later. Don’t let that shit win – it just wants to rile you up and get you to hurt yourself because it thinks you don’t deserve better. Yeah, it’s a part of you, but it’s not a part that tells the whole truth, or even any truth sometimes. Sometimes, it tells the truth, but only focuses on negative stuff, and then horribly exaggerates them. Sometimes, it just tells you a bunch of utter, utter bullshit, that’s not even true, but since it’s coming from inside yourself, it’s easy to feel like it is true. Fuck. That. Noise.