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Happy Ever After? The Myth And Reality Of Relationship

September 4th, 2011 by Cassandra Eve from Living Feminine Essence

In every human heart there is a deep longing for love. We experience it as one of the deepest impulses of our humanness. Primarily we know this longing as the call to relationship.

Intimate partnership is one of the greatest love experiments a human being can undertake. To know love with another is an attraction and motivation arising in adolescence that directs our adult lives both consciously and instinctively. From the primal urge to mate to the deep longing to experience a union beyond our limited selves, we follow love’s call. Intimacy beckons and we are drawn by its magnetism.

Beneath the surface attraction to love lays the teeming whirlpool of legend, myth and fairy tale that have informed the human psyche for centuries. Our pull to relationship, although seemingly arising from a conscious motivation to find love, is deeply influenced not only by our personal experience but by this vast reservoir of unconscious symbolism within the human psyche. When it comes to love the ‘happy ever after’ theme is one that definitely informs our relationships – whether knowingly or not. Despite our often painful experience of loving another and in the triumph of hope over memory, when it comes to love we believe in ‘happy ever after’. Somewhere deep within us we recognise the potential for an everlasting love, one that will not leave our dreams wrecked and our hearts broken. We are aware of a potential for love that we have not reached yet; one that holds a promise of redemption and ultimate union.

So where is this elusive love that we discern but struggle to attain? The love that we touch sometimes in our attraction to man or woman. Is it out there somewhere, in some body? And if it is, is the search for love doomed to end in heartbreak, or in the dullness of security and familiarity?

The modern myth

Our modern culture has brought us to a place of endless searching. The promise of fulfillment dangled like a carrot before the donkey’s nose – buy this, earn that, entertain yourself here, escape there. Everywhere the promise of happiness is flaunted through something we can have, strive for or attain. Even the spiritual path has taken on the search for some elusive mystical experience or enlightenment that will bring completion. Fortunately many of us are recognising this modern myth of fulfillment through success, materialism or gain for the individual. Yet when it comes to love we fall again and again into the same trap. Somewhere within ourselves we close our eyes to the obvious truth – that nothing external can truly fulfill us.

Our search for love is a fool’s errand. Yet isn’t this what we have been taught? That all happiness, i.e. love, or the good in life, is the result of an exterior event or object (objects including people). Yet it only takes a moment to recognize that in truth anything good, including love, is experienced within. This is where we know it. The catalyst for love may seem to be external (a man or woman, my child, my new car, a beautiful sunset) yet the only place we know love is inside. It is not that we cannot experience love with or from another, but to recognise where the source of that love is. Another can reflect the love we are and share its expression but they cannot fill our inner emptiness – for inevitably, they will leave or fail us. Hence our cry of “You don’t love me” when they act in a way that does not conform to how we think love should look; hence the potential that we are deeply loved by another, yet may not feel it.

Reclaiming responsibility

So what is the answer to this inner/outer dilemma?

Many of us are aware that we have lost the heartfelt knowing of being in touch with our deepest essence. Yet still we seek to fill our emptiness from the transient nature of external experience rather than from the inner well that is always available to us. When our primary fantasy is that love is here to fill us, to meet ‘my’ needs, wants and desires, or the alternative (but the same) to fulfill the needs of another, we will always fall short of knowing authentic love. For authentic love is beyond the person or the personal.

Here is where we meet the paradox of love. For authentic love can be known through the personal. When we recognize our innate accountability for love as individuals – that no-one else is going to do it for us – we open the door to living love. It becomes our personal living experience of life. The key is in the acknowledgment that we are responsible for bringing love to this earth through word and action – not as some soft, emotional experience but in the living of our deepest knowing of truth. Truth that serves the whole of life and not personal gain. It is simple really – for we all know when there is something in it for ourselves. And when there is, does that deeply satisfy or nourish us? Whereas in making the commitment to live as love, love becomes our living experience. It turns up in the most unlikely places. And when love appears to have left us, we are held by the knowing that it is always there – hidden beneath the current experience, within the transformation of our self-centeredness.

In the recognition of our collective delusions about love can we move on to a more real experience of what it is to love and be loved? This is our current evolution. When we are prepared to take the perilous journey into the heart of love, despite its bringing us to the door of disillusionment again and again, a different knowing of love opens. This is a love beyond ‘you’ and ‘me’, a love that takes us beyond what we know. It is the love that is our very essence, hidden beneath the many ideas, beliefs and concepts we have about its nature. To open this love requires our willingness to live love.

The paradox is this – whilst we search for love in another, or for personal gratification, we will never know ‘happy ever after’. When we recognize that love is our very essence, the potential for ‘happy ever after’ is real. Not as an exterior love or a happy experience (for both inevitably will change or die) but as heartfelt connection, a vibrant living participation in life that we know to be our true nature.

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