Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy

Vulnerability: Choosing Love

Lately I have been thinking that all of the work of being in a couple and being intimate comes down to our ability to soften to and accept our own and each other’s imperfect humanity. In my work with couples I watch so often people lashing out at others, blaming their partners, when they begin to come close to the tender raw spots inside themselves. We are so defended against our fragile humanity. It seems there is a part of us, a wounded part of us, that we would rather act out of than turn around and face directly. We would rather blame our partners or shut down than touch the fire of our own woundedness. We are longing to be seen and held and known and yet we are so afraid of letting ourselves or another get that close.

What I see over and over, though, is that when we allow ourselves to touch our own wounds with tenderness and presence and when we let our partners see that part of us that we see as ugly and horrible, then melting and healing can happen. The fire of our own woundedness is actually an alchemical fire that transforms us, transforms our relationships, and transforms our hearts. We begin to see that the very thing we were running from, the thing that we believe makes us unloveable, is actually the doorway out of our suffering and disconnection and alienation, is actually the doorway into love. Ultimately, can we allow our partners and ourselves to hold and bless the previously cursed parts of ourselves?

So, the challenge is can we catch our habitual patterns of defense and avoidance and choose to do something different? The habit energy of defensive anger rushes through us and instead of getting on that train, we pause, we breathe and in that pause and breath a different choice is possible. In that pause and breath, there is freedom. We can choose to go inside, move toward the pain, and share from that vulnerable conscious place. We can choose vulnerability and connection and relationship over isolation and fear. We can choose love.

I sometimes call this process the unilateral disarmament of the heart and it takes a great deal of courage. Yet the alternative is the war of relationships that we see all around us. There is so much violence in the world coming from our fears and when we choose this path away from violence and toward love and relationship, a small part of the world is healed. Thus, the work of relationship and intimacy becomes the work of ending the violence in our world, starting with the violence we perpetrate on ourselves and on the ones we love.

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