by Angela Perin, Brisbane, QLD
By the time I came across Universal Medicine in 2010, my marriage of 20 years was really not in a good place. We had managed to work through some of our issues, and in many respects things were not ‘as’ bad as they ‘had’ been previously, but the underlying dynamics, and communication and behaviour patterns within our relationship remained, and neither of us could claim that we were really happy or content. Although I feel both of us previously had felt deep down that our relationship was not all it could be, none of the things we had tried to improve it (or ourselves) in the past had worked.
There was something missing.
What I came to understand through Universal Medicine was that this missing element was in fact ‘love’, that is ‘TRUE’ love… and that true love began with self-love. This realisation came with an awareness and honesty that there had been an absence of ‘self-love’ in our relationship from the outset, and in fact well before we ever got together. This had resulted in a relationship based on need, on being a certain way and doing certain things in order to meet or fulfil obligations or expectations, and an arrangement that was based on convenience and comfort. No wonder we were both frustrated and unhappy! (It also explained the many other relationships in my life – not only those with my children, but with my friends, family, work associates, etc.)
The process of building self-love into my life and daily routine started with re-connecting (listening) to my body and making choices based on how and what I felt in my body. In addition to the physical choices I began to make (such as going to bed early, choosing not to drink alcohol or coffee, avoiding foods which made me feel racy, dull, heavy and bloated [which included sugar, gluten and dairy] etc.), I also began to say ‘no’ to abusive behaviours (from myself, my husband, my children and others). And by abuse, I mean anything that was not self-loving – not only in the way I physically looked after my body, but also in communication and the ‘way’ I spoke and that others spoke to me, the language that was used, wanting to please others, being a martyr, etc. (the list could go on!).
I began the process of allowing myself to deeply feel my own hurts and sadness that I had buried for so long, and to accept responsibility for my choices (including my marriage) with an understanding that I had made these choices because there had been a lack of love for myself (which ultimately, only I was responsible for). I learnt that it was not about blame, judgment (of self or others), or recrimination, but simply that I had an opportunity to make a different (loving) choice in each and every single moment.
At this time, I identified that although the marriage had not been based on love (by this time, we were in effect cohabiting and still running a business together), I also realised that the answer was not to ‘escape’ or run away from the marriage. I knew that if I left the relationship in anger and resentment, or out of frustration and blame, that this would not reflect ‘self-love’ (for self-love is love for self and another equally and leaves no-one feeling less), and that the underlying sadness and hurt would still be there, only to resurface in another relationship.
So in order to build any foundation of love, I realised I needed to first build it (self-love) within myself.
Of course, this process was not always easy (for either of us, including our children) – there were many ideals and beliefs that I had lived my life by that were exposed and that I did not want to let go of. Many of these were entwined in the institution of our marriage, including what I had identified myself with (including being a wife, mother, business partner etc.), the material possessions we had acquired, the comforts and convenience of our business and the life we had established, fear of living on my own, etc..
Although the choice to self-love was simple, the practical implications of this in daily life were not always easy and brought with it a range of different physical and emotional considerations, all of which impacted on us differently as individuals and as a family. In the 2 years following, there were many times that it was difficult and it was not always pleasant. There were lots of feelings that came up (including sadness, hurt, anger, resentment, judgment, blame, etc.) that each of us worked through in our own way and timing (and continue to work on).
It must be said that in truth, in all the years we had been together prior to that, there were many, many times that were equally as difficult and unpleasant, however during that particular period there was little that was based on truth or true change, and so any improvements that occurred frequently only offered a temporary feeling of relief, escape or distraction. Underneath, the feelings of emptiness, dissatisfaction and discomfort had remained. In stark contrast, basing choices on self-love was often difficult on a practical level, but the choice itself was an easy one, and was one which I knew deep within was the only way to bring about true change.
And true change is what finally began to occur in our relationship.
We were able to identify the basis of our marriage and be honest about the reasons we were still staying together. In essence, we were married and living together because it was convenient and comfortable, and allowed us to maintain a certain lifestyle, but not because we were ‘in’ love with each other or wanting to connect with each other in a more intimate relationship. Based on this new foundation of self-love, we recently made the decision to separate.
Although we had ‘considered’ this a number of times during our 20+ year marriage, for the very first time, this decision was actually based on ‘true’ love. It was a decision that although not taken lightly, reflected ‘truth’ about ourselves as individuals and our relationship, and was done in a way that was mutually supportive and respectful – and without animosity or recrimination.
It has actually been an amazing experience and has given our family the opportunity to experience that there ‘is’ a different way to be in relation to marriage and separation, a way that is about ‘true’ love.