I’m loving this concept from Esther Perel of our love narrative, our erotic landscape at the moment. Esther has spent a lifetime understanding why, when love was still present in a relationship, desire was not. As I quest on my journey for ever greater levels of intimacy and fulfilment, it is also a question I’ve explored in order to understand what is at play and how I can alter that reality for myself.
“Show me how you were loved,
and I’ll show you how you make love”
This is possibly one of my most loved quotes from Esther, it is a question that floats in my mind and body daily. I think of it when I consider my own internal landscape, how I respond to different people, how I show up in my relationship and what I’m teaching my children in my ‘being’.
My summary of how Esther explains it is this:
A little child sits on the lap of the parents. If all goes well, at some point the child will want to get off the lap and crawl/walk away to play, discover and be exploratory, and every little child will turn around and look at the adult who is standing there.
How we respond or how we were responded to is crucial.
If the parent/caregiver says to the exploring child:
“Hey kiddo the world is an amazing place, go, go explore, go discover, there’s so much to discover, I’m here, and when you’re done, come back”
Then THIS child, we'll call them ‘child 1’, turns away and goes to look further.
They are experiencing connection AND separateness at the same time, security and adventure together. This is one of life’s greatest fundamental dualities and in this experience, we learn to create safety in the experience of both.
If the child turns around the caregiver says verbally or non-verbally:
“I’m anxious, I’m lonely, I’m depressed, my partner hasn’t paid any attention to me….what’s so good out there? Don’t we have everything we need together, you and I?”
Then this parent is 'saying' everything that says “come back!”.
This is where the love/lust split starts to happen, this is ‘child 2’s’ reality.
This child comes right back, because they know deep down that they would rather lose a part of ‘me’ than my connection to you.
This child will manifest this type of love/lust one of two ways:
Either, the child will come straight back and internalise “In order not to lose you, I will lose a part of me”. They will be in service to another at the cost of forgoing who they are.
Perhaps they are a little more ‘zesty’ and they stay out just a little longer, before returning back. They internalise a type of fear. A fear of being suffocated, swallowed up or losing themselves in relationship as an adult. It is this adult who will say “in the beginning there was no problem”, but as intimacy increases, often desire decreases.
Either way they make a trade-off of self and desire for love, connection and security.
It is a bargain that has far reaches into our adult relationships. Love comes with extra burden, weight and responsibility and a deep-seated fear of losing ourselves in order to receive love.
When we feel so beholden to the person we love, we don’t know how to leave them in order to experience our own pleasure and excitement. We don’t know how to be inside ourselves AND with the other at the same time. Which is what you need to make love to someone you love.
It is a place desire’s embers cannot survive.
The third child never comes back. There is nothing to come back for. As an adult, they may have a luscious passionate life, but very little anchoring, very little security.
So tell me how you were loved and I will show you how you make love.
Why delve into our past?
Because we are always living in it, consciously or unconsciously.
So I guess, I feel a responsibility to not only myself and my relationship, but also to my children. The dynamic they grow up in is what they will unconsciously seek for themselves as adults.
what do I want for them?
This is the question that inspires me to do the work we do, to show up in my own life when it’s painful, and to push past my ‘desire’ for my initial reaction.
I know it’s a big leap to prioritise yourself, your relationship and your parenting, but if you have a top value of family like me, if you are seeking to run from your family of origin, or to awaken something different for your own family, then it all has to start with you.
It’s why we created Loathing to Loving, our online 5 week program, because we know how much ‘we’ matter in our motherhood.
We’re running our next live round at the end of January and we’d love to dive into how you were loved and how you love, with you. Perhaps you have some Christmas money left over, or perhaps you feel deeply called to prioritise some love in form of a course for you and your family in 2018 – come join us in January.
Julie Tenner is Co-founder of Nourishing The Mother and is The Pleasure Nutritionist. Julie is a Naturopath, specialising in women’s and children's health, with specific focus on awakening women to their full potential – health for the mind, body and soul – creating lasting life change for you and your family by “coming home” to your magnificence.