We often hold negative associations with the concept of detachment. "She seemed so detached," we overhear someone say with a pained look on his face. We may perceive someone who is detached as uncaring, irresponsible, unloving, or any number of other things. We are made to believe that attachment is what brings happiness. We often confuse love and attachment.
During the last few months, the universe has gifted me with valuable experiences regarding attachment and detachment in a relationship. When I entered a particular relationship dance, I consciously committed to breaking through structures and limitations that had been present in all my previous relationships. These structures and limitations were echoes of familial patterns, past relationships, and societal norms. I opened myself more fully than I ever had before, moving through fear, and allowing myself to be utterly vulnerable and exposed. I engaged in this dance with a beautiful, divine being who embodies the very essence of detachment and love.
During this time, I observed myself growing more and more connected (more attached, we might say) to this being, as there were no longer walls around my heart. This experience may be related to what people refer to as "falling in love." It was a new experience for me. I had been on the receiving end of such an experience but never on this end.
When we attach to someone, there is a connection like an energetic cord. This energetic cord has a similar function to the physical umbilical cord. When we are in the womb, we are connected by the umbilical cord to the mother in order to gain nourishment; this connection is necessary to support life. When we enter this world, and we are able to thrive on our own, it is time for the chord to be cut, we detach. In relationships, not realizing there is any other way, we energetically attach to another in order to draw nourishment, to get our needs met.
We are conditioned into believing that the fulfillment of all our emotional needs and our happiness are attained through a significant other, or through other outside sources, rather than from within. Emotions are energy, and we believe we need energy from others. We believe we are like light bulbs needing to be plugged into an electrical outlet in order to shine. And we are continually bombarded with messages to reinforce this false belief — everything from co-dependent love song lyrics like, "I can't live without you," to our parents and friends telling us, "You'll find somebody to make you happy, don't worry." With this repeating message, it is not difficult to see how we then internalize this belief. We say, consciously or unconsciously, "I am not with the woman/man of my dreams, therefore, I am unhappy. I feel confused, forlorn, unwhole, unloved."
Statements like these hand over the ownership of our experiences and feelings to another person. We are saying, "You are here to make me happy," or "You are here to make me feel loved, or "I am sad because you left," — you, you, you — removing self-responsibility and making others the cause of what happens to us. We disempower ourselves. How can another person be responsible for something that is our personal, inner feeling state?
Having an energetic cord in a relationship also sets up expectations. Again, stated consciously or unconsciously (usually unconsciously), "If I buy you dinner" (or take care of the kids, or am kind to you, etc.), "you will like me more and want to spend more time with me so that I can get my emotional needs met." We are engaging in action with the expectation that it will bring us something in return. I want to be clear that I am not saying there is anything "right" or "wrong" with this way of engaging, but merely that it puts the responsibility of our need-fulfillment in another person's hands.
If we commit to acting from the awareness that we are responsible for our life choices and what we create, we have the opportunity to realize our truth, which is that we are NOT the light bulb. Rather, we are the electricity! We are that which we are seeking.
Having a fair amount of experience with energetic cords from times past, during the last few months, when I would feel attachment to this loved one, I would regroup and consciously "cut the cord" (a cord-cutting ceremony is a powerful tool from the shamanic tradition). I consciously chose to gain my nourishment and energy from sources other than this person. This happened time and time again — I would feel energetically attached, and then cut the cord. Then, as if it had a will of its own, I would discover the cord attached once more (all those darn years of conditioning!). So again I would be persistent and cut it. Attach, snip…attach, snip…attach……snip.
Even when an energetically corded relationship comes to an end, or transitions into another form, the cord may still be there for a time. This is experienced in any number of ways: continued longing for the other, blame, projection, a sense of feeling incomplete without him or her, an attempt to control the other person's behavior because she isn't doing what we think she should be doing, etc., etc. This cord could remain attached for a few minutes, a few days, or a few years, depending on when we choose to cut it and release it.
The challenge is in the letting go, the surrendering to the unknown. As our hands grip the edge of the cliff, we cannot always see what lies beneath our dangling feet. But let there be trust, for others have gone before us and joyfully lived to tell the story.
When we choose to cut cords, we are not saying that we must disconnect ourselves from experiencing or feeling love. On the contrary, once we distinguish attachment from love, understanding they are not synonymous, we open ourselves up to experience a more powerful, pure, and expansive love, for it is no longer limited to just one person, and no longer based on need. It is like going from having a few teaspoons of water dribbled upon us to being plunged in the ocean! We become immersed in it. We realize it is in every thing and every one. It is impossible NOT to experience love, for this is our very essence.
A couple days ago, I came across these words by Don Miguel Ruiz from his book Beyond Fear. They are a beautiful reminder and reflection. He states, "Other peoples' love can awaken your love, but it is your own love that makes you happy. That love is your own truth. It is your freedom…. Happiness can come only from inside us. No one can make us happy. Happiness is an expression of our love coming out of us. We are not happy because others love us, but because we love them."
I am grateful to the universe, to Spirit, for providing such an ever-abundant supply of life experiences from which to learn and grow! May we all embrace our truth, experience our freedom and joy, and embody our love-essence.
Love All Ways,
Only the person who is utterly detached and utterly dedicated is free to enjoy life. ~ Gandhi
Give up attachment to the results of what you do. That is, give your best to every undertaking without insisting that the results work out the way you want, or even whether what you do is pleasant or unpleasant….Those who are compulsively attached to the results of action cannot really enjoy what they do; they get downcast when things do not work out and cling more desperately when they do… Seek refuge in the attitude of detachment and you will amass the wealth of spiritual awareness. ~ Bhagavad Gita
Image by suchitra prints, courtesy of Creative Commons license.