In a dharma talk I listened to yesterday Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) shared that in Vietnam husbands and wives call each other ‘my home‘ which in its beauty and along his insights on the nature of said home inspired deeper reflections in me.
Making a home of ourself in his spiritual sense means the cultivation and practice of self compassion, loving embrace of all that arises, and turning towards our suffering with compassion.
In my vision of relationship, born out of my experiences, current physical realities and higher visions, there are two more pieces missing from the above that are indispensable and non-negotiable to an intimate relationship with me: an active self practice of shadow work and conscious integration of trauma.
Lovingly holding and embracing our suffering mostly will not help us to know and liberate ourselves to a degree which allows us to understand the dynamics of our trauma responses and how they link into other’s pattern, and most of all how to step out of their destructive dynamics. It also doesn’t necessarily teach us individual practices to calm our nervous system, resource ourselves and retrain our brain in a timely way. There is much to be gained by wedding eastern and mystical wisdom with western scientific insights, it is wise to embrace our suffering and also wise to drop some of it when we have tools to do so in an integrative and healthy way. But I digress.
Making a home of ourselves, clearing the house of our Soul to be a welcoming, warm, clean, beautiful and safe space for self and other is a pleasant way of describing my path and journey.
It has been a slow and rewarding process to get to this current degree of inner peace, coherence of my inner tribe and their acceptance of the leadership of the impersonal self. She has been busy co-creating lasting peace between selves that had contrasting approaches and goals, teaching parts lacking boundaries to cultivate and uphold them fluidly and those whose boundaries were too rigid to ease up and become more fluid, lovingly nurturing the wounded parts and their protectors into more ease and a sustained sense of safety. Over and over my inner tribe has unified behind an updated vision of selfhood and path to walk, the years of intense resistances and infighting are thankfully behind me.
Almost every self trusts that it will be heard, taken seriously, be part of decision making processes, and their real needs will be fulfilled even if it may be delayed to serve a more pressing need. Internal disruptions are mostly dealt with calmly and with curiosity about the insights and learning available for all selves in the process. There is an acquired culture of knowing, trust, cooperation and compassionate kindness which is sustained and supports the growth, peace and joy of my self.
In other words I have come a long way of making myself from a war zone into a beautiful home.
This home of mine is deeply precious to me, as it was built at the cost of years, sacrifices and strife to get to its current state. Not everyone is welcome in it, no matter how much I may love them. Those that bring the taint of war and disruption to my door are sent their way with a blessing for their own healing and protection along their path. Those who approach with muddy boots and littering habits are told to clean up and shape up before they can enter my sacred space of serenity.
Potential partners, especially if they want to share my life center (co-habit, co-work, share finances, etc.), have to have built a home of a comparable quality and beauty if I am to answer the question “Are they a home to me?” in an affirmative.
I have worked hard to create this home of mine and have earned the right to no longer accept invitations into cold, drafty and unsafe shacks of people lacking boundaries, to sit in the entryways of the dark starkness of windowless fortresses of the emotionally unavailable, or any other inhospitable environment I encounter.
Another piece of insight completed contemplations I had on the aspect of safety in choosing another as a home. Safety, is a painfully lacking translation of the German term Geborgenheit at the center of this inquiry, which describes beyond ‘safety’ also a sense and/or feeling of being protected, cared for, cozy, secure, belonging and more.
In my reflections on what constitutes a good home in another I realized that safety stood for a dual quality I need to feel and sense. For one I have to trust the other to be capable of standing up for and protecting me, even if my warrior self can do that job very well I want to know that if she is down there is a reliable and strong second line of defense. On the other hand I have to trust the other not to carelessly or willfully neglect, abandon or hurt me and thereby act as a trigger dysregulating my nervous system.
Both qualitative aspects of safety are not simply known by what another professes or their track record with others, the assessment is mainly intuitive. Now that my trauma and mind no longer override the voice of my intuition in this, whenever my body says no it becomes an amplified whole being NO. A non-negotiable boundary which I gladly and lovingly uphold for my body and nervous system she suffered decades of abuse at the hands of my ignorance and distorted thinking.
With these and other reflections on being a home to self and others it becomes self-evident why someone who has not made a home of themselves cannot be a safe and homely refuge for another.
And a new dimension of inner work, of decorating one’s home to support and delight one’s beloved opens up when meeting one another on an equal footing. A joyful journey of explorations and shared creative play is gifted to those who will receive and expand into it.