Opening to Love — Part 1

On Wednesday evening (1/15/14) Pat and I listened to our recording of our most recent (1/8/14) couples counseling session with Sage and Anthony and then Thursday and again Friday mornings (1/16 and 1/17) during two powerful 2-hour coffee-time conversations we picked up from there to see where we are in our lives and our relationship.

Part 1 — Summary of 1/8/14 session with Sage and Anthony…

In our 1/8/14 session, after Pat introduced where we had left off in our previous session – four weeks ago – I introduced a topic that I thought Pat and I had agreed we would discuss with Sage and Anthony, namely that when there are things we are not yet ready to share with Sage and Anthony I realize that fear comes up in me. I realized that without Sage and Anthony present to Pat and me in these challenging and sensitive areas of our relationship I feel alone with Pat, and the image came up in me of being alone with Pat in a lion’s cage – Pat being the lion. Feeling this fear was a startling realization for me and I wanted to share my fear in the session so we could work with it.

So I presented this situation of “being in the lion’s den” in the session – and I was trying to make it about my fear and not about Pat.  Yet after I introduced the topic Pat was uncomfortable. At her discomfort I confessed that I was quite confused.  Had I not been careful enough in how I introduced the subject? Sage and Anthony picked up on this and noted that this exchange between us created a “beautiful problem” that could serve as an entry into deeper consciousness concerning our relationship.

In Pathwork, our deepest sexual fantasies are seen as powerful tools, providing a window into our deepest life issues. I had shared my core sexual fantasy in detail in earlier sessions, and Sage was now able to draw upon my fantasy in helping me see what went “wrong” in my introduction of the “lion’s den” topic in this session. Pat had somehow felt violated by me by my sharing the lion’s den story,

As we worked with this “beautiful problem” in session I was able to touch into my rage at women, beginning with Mom, for withholding from me the spiritual/sexual nurturing I longed for. I could feel into my sense of starvation for that which I assumed only the feminine could give me, and my rage at women for not giving me what I wanted. And by introducing something that Pat was not in agreement that we would discuss I was unconsciously getting back at Pat by “violating” her privacy, revealing what she felt we had agreed was private between us.

And I realized that I was confused by what I wanted from Pat. My true longing was for Union, for connection with the All, but not having a sense of what such a whole connection meant, my longing became one-dimensional: sexual. Our relationship is so rich in so many ways, but I was now narrowly focused on sexuality, an area where I wanted more connection. And though I was “nice Gary” on the outside, on the inside I was enraged at women for withholding what I longed for. And from the rage came negative aggression, a strong forcing current: MY Killer energy toward Pat’s Life Force, a force in me that was heretofore unconscious.

My rage towards Pat’s Life Force, my cruelty towards her, though heretofore unconscious in both of us, has been of course terrifying to her. She could not really trust me not to violate her on some deep level. Becoming conscious of my rage, my Killer Energy, my cruelty in me was very sobering for me – and Pat – to see! And because I covered up my rage with “Nice Gary,” Pat had assumed up until now that she was wrong to have a Killer Energy toward me, toward “nice” Gary. She could not understand her intuitive resistance toward me. Now she and I could both see how of course she would have a Killer Energy toward me – her Killer Energy toward me was required to meet my deep but unconscious cruelty, my Killer Energy toward her. We were in an unconscious war to the death! It was so helpful to see this!

In the session I was quick to move on, but Anthony called a pause. “Gary, the same unconscious forcing energy you have had toward Pat, energy that violates her, lives in you toward yourself. Let’s pause here and let you fully experience your cruelty.” As I slowed down the consciousness of my rage grew. Wow! I cannot hold back my starvation any longer. And I could truly feel my starvation for connection. Anthony encouraged me, “Be the starving one.” As I embodied this starving feeling I was confused, unsure – what exactly was I starving for? I wasn’t sure. With regard to sexuality, I could feel a distant longing but was not sure for what or how to fill my longing for connection. Anthony: What do you feel in your body? Gary: Fear, shudder in my heart area.

Pat: I can feel for that one who is starving for Mom, starving for nurturance. I have compassion for that starving one.

Gary: I can see where my starvation can give rise to cruelty and rage against the feminine – starving for what the feminine has and outraged that she won’t give it to me.

Anthony: Let’s pause again here. Pat just said a minute or two ago, “I feel compassion for the starving one, I am taking you in, Gary, you the starving one.” Gary, did you pause to receive her compassion? What you long for – connection – was actually right here being offered to you.

Gary (embarrassingly): I missed the connection, the compassion coming from Pat as she was tuning in to my starvation. I was too focused on the dimension of sex within the physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual-spectrum of connection and did not get that compassion, a key component of connection, was right here being offered to me.

Sage: Perhaps you experienced an energetic traffic jam. We all have these. Part of you says, “I want connection.” Another part of you says, “I don’t want connection.” That part that doesn’t want connection really doesn’t want wholeness in Union. And the part of you that wants connection focuses on the dimension of Union you sense is missing: sex – it wants what it wants and totally missed that a deeper dimension of connection was being offered in Pat’s openhearted compassion toward the starving one.

Pat: Anthony, this is helpful to me, to mirror back to me that I actually felt compassion, that I was actually receiving Gary. It is good to savor this felt sense of compassion toward Gary arising in me, to slow down.

Gary: And for me it is good to slow down and learn to feel what aspect of connection actually is here: connection, compassion. Can I receive this, take this in, feel this compassion that Pat is offering.

Anthony: Slowing down. What is arising in me are the words of an author Rebecca Solnit. I hope this doesn’t interrupt the feeling space we are experiencing here.  Her words go like this, “Ultimately, I believe that slowness is an act of resistance, not because slowness is a good in itself but because of all that it makes room for, the things that don’t get measured and can’t be bought.” (Open the writing that this is from – Finding Time) Gary: Anthony, please read that again. I, being so oriented toward action, fixing and productivity, need to take this in!

Gary: I want to share with you two an experience of this connecting that Pat and I had on Sunday. We were planning a “romantic interlude” for that afternoon, but I was not feeling in the mood. As I sat with this I realized I felt fear of spontaneous sexuality that might arise in me. Sex meaning so much to me, this fear of spontaneous sexuality that might arise in me made no sense to me, but I stayed with it. We lay on the bed fully clothed and I got in touch with the fear. I felt it all through my body. And I could “get” that my image concerning sex is that sex is evil. Pat: And I came to recognize that my image was that all things sexual are mortal sin, the old Catholic stuff I grew up on.

Pat (continued): I want to share more of the experience that we had on Sunday. As Gary realized his fear, we just stayed right there with it, both of us able to feel into the fear. Gary could speak of it moving, going away and then he would settle back into it again when it returned. Gary: Then I notice more fear on a really felt basis all through my body, and I am in panic almost. And Pat just put her hand on my heart. Pat (excitedly):  And that impulse to put my hand on your heart just arose spontaneously out of nowhere, you know, that’s how it is. And it was that place that we just described here with my compassion arising spontaneously in response to your starving self. I was able to be right there with you. And it felt like an arising that was beyond anything I could think. It was the movement in the field. So that was Wow Guys!

Gary: Yes, quite an experience. And (smiling) it’s almost like we have such a way to go before we get to “sex” in our relationship. A lot of unlearning to do, breaking down so many patterns and images before fully-embodied sex can occur, so much clearing out just to make room for all that is available in Union. Anthony: Well yes, yes, yes. But what a ground you are preparing. That is such a beautiful beautiful experience you are telling us about, as I hear it. So intimate and so hopeful, and so life-changing. Pat: Full of awareness. We are being right there in it.  We were in it. That exchange, we were in it, it was holy, as much holy as we can get.

Sage: You were making love to the fear. And when you talk about your images – sex is evil, sex is a mortal sin – you’re clearing out all of those images by going through each of these things so that sex for you can be whatever it is for you. That’s important. Sex is not a “thing.” Sex is you, sex is your expression, and it’s your incarnational embodiment of Spirit. So you are going through what lives in you in order to let it be what it can be for you. Gary: Taking sex into the Mystery, sex is to be experienced in that space of Mystery. Sage: And an “it” that has been defined so darkly by the church, by patriarchy, by whatever, but for sure in our culture sex has been defined very darkly. And that darkness lives in us. I am just so moved that you’re seeing this personal process that you are going through. It’s your own delivery. It’s your own liberation. Gary: And not to compare our experience with what everyone else is doing. Anthony: God forbid.

At the end of the session we were exhausted, yet exhilarated.

Shared in love, Gary