How to understand a relationship… It took a lifetime of meetings, travels, experiences to get to the conclusions I came to and yet I seem to understand nothing! Having said that, I flagged some flags and I thought I could share my point of view with you. Ready?
It’s been a couple of years now that I started a difficult and compelling personal journey that covered all areas of my life: career, personal life, relationships, mind-set. And as it happens during all of my travels around the world, I have collected many small souvenirs, pieces of awareness that allow me to go forward with my head up high and free from fear. As I have already written on Instagram, in fact, at the end all our actions are dictated by the presence or absence of the feeling of fear. As a perfect representative of the Taurus, I have always been afraid of changes. I can handle them, I can face them, I know how to overcome them, but when I feel comfortable in a situation I have the anxiety that a little breath of air will destroy my paper castle. Yet, my life has always been about changes: friendships, body, attitude, houses, countries. Thanks to the people I met and the experiences I experienced, which are the lifeblood of my thirst for curiosity, therefore, today I want to share some of my conclusions with you, to go forward and to let us still be surprised by the unexpected events of life!
1. Me myself and I: the relationship with ourselves
Let’s say it right away. It is the most complicated of all. One moment we love ourselves the other we hate ourselves, an instant we seem to have understood everything and the next we are in total chaos of thoughts, we are able to express 35 different moods in 16 hours (of the remaining eight, even if dedicated to sleep, I can not guarantee) and we even complain if others do not understand us properly. Yet, that wonderful and terrifying journey that begins when we start to perceive the influence that others have on us (before that time I played Barbie … and even in that case I had some problems of acceptance as I identify myself with the ugly friend that Ken ignored), is a swing of incredible emotions. As for me, I started to really understand who I was and to give me a break (read: to accept me for who I was and not to blame me for everything) in old age, even if I’m catching up quickly. In my case everything coincided with the umpteenth and devastating unrequited love. One of those that make you tie your phone to your fingers hoping that he will write to you, or collect it from the bottom of the sea after he replies after 72 hours or, even worse, leaves you sleepy for three months when you understand that there is no history whatsoever and you are forced to close and move forward. Anyway, from that moment on I decided to stop for a moment and concentrate on myself, and not on always pleasing the others. As Elizabeth Gilbert says in ‘Eat Pray Love’ (and if you have not read it yet I will send you to the bookshelf kicking your ass), finally I started to ask myself: ‘Melania, what do you want?’. I discovered that free from the conditioning of others I had time for myself, soil to cultivate the seeds of my creativity, free to express all the parts of my soul, even those less conventional or comfortable. I do not want to lie to you. I’m still facing hormonal storms, sudden jumps back to when I was 15 (and do not say I did not warn you), hysteric crying, moments of pure adrenaline …
Nevertheless, I finally feel that I have undertaken once and for all the path I had chosen for myself since I was a child (even if I wanted to be a singer).
2. Couple relationship: a never-ending series of compromising moments
Believe it or not, I’ve always been the loser on duty. The best friend, the nice girl, the reliable person, etc. … no glamorous peaks as the party queen, so to speak. So for me couple relationships had always given headaches. Give and take, give more than what you receive, understanding that giving unconditionally (and without getting angry a moment later) it is in fact the meaning of a love story. And still adapting to the other, finding compromises to better enjoy the relationship, learning how to manage sex and intimacy … All this for me has never coincided with a fluid movement, because in the meantime in the meanders of myself I had not found yet that balance and completeness that are the basis of an adult relationship. And only now when I happen to spend time with some important people for me, I realize that the price to pay for the spasmodic research of enlightenment has a lot to do with the happiness of a couple. That being said, however, I understood a couple of things:
– If we are not complete as a person and as souls living on this planet, we can hardly find someone to share a mature path with. We can fall in love, discuss, argue, send us to that particular country, live an overwhelming passion, but the couple’s relationships are much more than that. They require time, self-knowledge, a spirit of sacrifice towards some parts of ourselves, a constant take and give up the small or large imperfections that are part of ourselves and that certainly our partner also has. Because nobody is perfect. And this is also true from the opposite perspective: if the person we choose for ourselves has not yet reached the equilibrium point, if they cling to us to feel complete, then the red alarm triggers. They will be able to stay with us for a while, and they will love us so much, but sooner or later that point of no return will come and the relationship could be irreparably damaged. The famous ‘I love you but I can’t’ that we often hear in movies not only exists but it hurts like hell.
– Couple relationship is the purest. That may seem strange and many of you may object that friendship is the purest relationship. In fact I’m talking about ‘couple’ in the broadest sense. The relationship between two persons. Whether it’s a love story, a complicated relationship, a special friendship, that link is absolutely the purest and uncontaminated, given the fact that the parties concerned are totally sincere and free from masks and anchors. In this case, the link is really unbelievable. The bodies begin to talk to each other, you can perceive the slightest nuances of the other, the way the other manages to fake anxiety, the change of the tone of their voice, you are able to give comfort with a simple word. The right one. And here it comes the hardest part. If you find such a person do not let the disturbing elements sneak up. I know it may seem immature (I told you that sometimes I go back to being 15 years old, no?). But I realized on my skin that as soon as another person binds to the couple inevitably this brings bad moods. Think of it as a scale with two stones that have found a perfect and balanced harmony together, even if each one on their plate. And now think of a third stone. Where do you put it? Since there is no central pivot that balances the weight like a triangle, it is normal that sooner or later it hangs from one side or the other, with the calculated risk that the magic may disappear. I know, it’s a hard thought. But it often happened to me to mess up balances for stupid and careless lightness. The treasures, in practice, must be kept for ourselves.
3. Three is a crowd
Speaking about relationships, then, it is more than normal that things change with the arrival of a third person. Often marriages are shattered when a baby is born, or even better, the couple finds an even more surprising balance with the birth of a child. Not to mention when the evergreen mother-in-law intervenes between wife and husband … On the other hand, even in particular and apparently indestructible friendships, a third soul can cause havoc: some whispered word in the ear of one, an advice given to the other, some information that not all members of this small community know … and at the first breath of wind our small and insidious insecurities raise the upper hand. Also because life puts us in front of challenges that alone we find it hard to decipher, not to mention when they involve parts of us unresolved or other people. As an American saying goes, therefore, ‘Three is a crowd’, precisely because the third, comfortable or uncomfortable that it is or more or less consciously, with the simple fact of their arrival is able to move the waters and cause sudden tsunamis. The previous speech is valid: pay attention to your treasures. I am not saying you should not to welcome anyone in the dynamic of two, but be well equipped together to face every calamity that comes at your door. And sometimes without knocking.
4. Complexity: group dynamics
In November I was lucky enough to attend a seminar for influencers and youth workers in Évora, Portugal. I had never participated in a similar project, nor I ever had the (un)luck of taking part in the terrifying mass job interviews. I was, therefore, literally catapulted into group dynamics. If on the one hand as a photographer in the Canaries I was already used to deal with many people of different cultural, linguistic and professional backgrounds, on the other I did not expect to be so emotionally shaken. I discovered many small souls that struggled to cope with the challenges of life at their very best. I met people who are now part of my personal imaginary archipelago of islands, which has infinite boundaries. I have close ties with authentic and uncontaminated souls. All that has been possible thanks to the games that the organizers have prepared for us, and who have forcibly pulled out the bursting energy of group dynamics. I want to tell you some of them.
-Storytelling. We have been asked often to sit with our workmate (which varied every time, just to encourage the familiarization with the group) and start telling about us, then listening to the story of the other. ‘Tell the meaning of a scar or a tattoo’, or ‘Tell your favourite smell or ‘Tell where you’re going to live’. They may seem like small details, and yet when you find yourself face to face with simplicity, you realize how much truth and purity you can discover about yourself and the people in front of you. Personally, the dynamic hit me hard when I was asked ‘Write a postcard to the first person that pops up into your mind’. You realize that, in contact with so many brains who think and many souls that open up, even your spirit begins to see clearly and remove the excess parts (read: people).
– Role-playing games. Role-playing games have given us not so light shocks where each one of us had to appeal to calm and patience to survive the experience. Personally I had a difficult time with another girl (with whom I clarified after … it is incredible what moments of solitude spent in a hotel room can do) who during a game in which you had to form groups according to various criteria (each one of us worked according to the setting of our brains, which did not always conform) has imposed herself as a leader not allowing me to speak or choose for myself. I became red with nerves, blue with rage, and white when I tried to control an emotion so overwhelming that I almost did not recognize myself. Where did all this come from? What drowsy feelings that girl was tickling inside of me with her nonchalant attitude? It was clear that the ‘problem’ was all within me. To cut it short: in a group the best and worst of us can emerge in a second. And without bothering Pop Psychology, mental illnesses such as the syndrome of abandonment, the repressed bullying, the diseases of food, the fear of being ignored, the megalomania, then, come to the surface with incredible strength. The group is difficult, the group requires constant work on ourselves, the group is challenging, the group welcomes or rejects. Personally I have never had a group of friends, because I have always preferred relationships with two or three persons. And yet, after this experience, I realized that group dynamics are not only complex but they go right to unsettle the complexity within us, forcing us to work hard to express ourselves and to be original and distinguish ourselves despite everything.
5. The world: new people
And we come to the most beautiful part: new people. How nice is it to meet a new person? We can invent who we are without lying, show the best parts of us, let them see us for the first time without speculation, without past recriminations, without spots that contaminate thoughts, relationships, actions. And it is also nice to find out how others see us, to know something about us that we may not know yet. My work often leads me to meet new people almost every day. And every time it’s a little trip. As if a time machine, in the brief instant in which I give them a kiss or shake their hand, would kidnap me and bring me back to the past and then let me retrace my whole life in a flash until the present moment. And the person in front of us becomes a chest. This is my fatal flow on which I’m working. When I know a new person that I like, I’m so happy that I start projecting my feelings on them: I would like them immediately to have a role in my life, ready to share a bite. But this does not always happen, and sometimes people are just passing meteor. Yet, despite the initial sadness, even the fastest meteor is able to leave a luminous trail that lasts a lifetime in the eyes of the beholder. Everglow, to quote the wonderful Coldplay song I tattooed on my left arm. A perpetual luminous glow.
I am learning not to project my fears onto others. I am learning to let go of expectations and focus on the present moment. Because it is the only moment of pure joy we have in our hands. After all, the life we choose for us never has an end, just as the certainties we think we have in us can collapse in a glimmer, ready to rebuild themselves in a completely different form. And our journey becomes a continuous work in progress, a riot of equilibrium, a constant search for beauty. So do not be afraid to give yourself to others, because behind every person there is a teacher. A teacher we often do not like, a teacher who sends us straight to summer school, who is rigid, but definitely someone we will thank in the future when their lessons will fall upon us in unexpected times and forms. But it is precisely in the expectation of the infinite construction that the best masterpieces are born. And you? What experiences do you want to share about relationships?