A friend of mine recently introduced me to Jim Dreaver, who has been on a spiritual path since 1975. Jim’s mission is to support others in awakening to the freedom from the “I,” the “me,” and all its stories. He teaches at Esalen Institute, in Los Angeles. Jim recently shared with me the story that he wrote called “A Relationship Story.” I enjoyed reading it and wanted to share it with you. It’s a wonderful illustration of the healing power of being present with “what is.” Enjoy!
A Relationship Story by Jim Dreaver
A couple, Alex and Rebecca, have been together for twelve years, the last ten living together in a large home in Santa Monica, California. Alex is a successful entertainment lawyer, and Rebecca is the president of a philanthropic organization.
Alex was born and raised in Los Angeles, in a lower-middle class family, got his bachelor’s degree from UCLA and his masters in jurisprudence from Stanford. Rebecca grew up in northern California, the daughter of hippies, and after college she worked for many years in nonprofit organizations. Between them, they have three grown children.
Their relationship seemed to flourish for many years, and they were the envy of many of their friends—Alex handsome, relatively wealthy, extroverted, and Rebecca pretty, soft, very feminine. Many thought of them as “the perfect couple.”
But then less than a year ago, Alex discovered a series of emails passing back and forth between Rebecca and one of her male co-workers that were intimate in nature, suggestive—in Alex’s eyes—that she might be having an affair with him. When he confronted her she denied it, saying that they were only friends—emotionally intimate friends, she admitted that much was true, but their relationship was not physical.
Nevertheless, this discovery sent Alex into an emotional tailspin. All his old trust and control issues were triggered, and he began to doubt that Rebecca had ever loved him.
Now Alex had come to see me once before, prior to his relationship with Rebecca. He was in a relationship with another woman, Greta, and was having problems with her. He wanted to discuss his relationship with her—specifically, he wanted to know how he could get a commitment from her.
As Alex told me his “story” (and, I cannot emphasize this enough—people need to tell their story, and hear themselves telling it, before they can become free of it), it became evident that there was a lot of pain and suffering in it.
Alex’s mother had died when he was young, around age six, and he had been raised by his father. But then his older brother, Roy, whom he looked up to, was killed one day when he ran out into the street without looking. He had just turned twelve.
The loss of both his mother and Roy sent Alex into a deep depression which took him years to get over. Only his drive to succeed in life—inspired by his somewhat emotionally-detached father, who was a wealthy businessman—carried him through. Thus he had gone on to become very successful himself, first working in his father’s business while at UCLA, and then law school at Stanford, and then as a junior partner in a law firm in Century City, before finally starting his own practice.
All this came out when Alex and I met privately. And now he was having an issue in his new relationship. But as we talked, it became obvious to me that he was trying to run his intimate relationship with this new woman in his life like he did his law practice. He was very much in control of his law firm—to the extent that many who worked for him were afraid of him—and he wanted to control the outcome of his relationship with Greta in the same way.
“It won’t work,” I told him. “You’re almost demanding a commitment from Greta, and it just doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to allow her to choose for herself… You’ve got to trust yourself enough, and trust her enough, that you give her the space to choose to be closer to your or not…”
But of course, Alex did not trust himself. Those two major losses early in his life had resulted in a strong, pervasive sense of abandonment, and a need to control the outcome of pretty well everything in his world. Control works well, and is often necessary, in the realm of business, but it doesn’t work in personal relationships—and certainly not in enlightened or conscious relationships.
For these, the watchwords are freedom, space, a letting go of expectations and attachment to outcomes, and a deeply harmonious flow. A truly conscious relationship is a beautiful dance, in other words, an exquisite, dynamic balance of yin and yang, of the feminine and the masculine.
When Alex called me to discuss the betrayal he felt over Rebecca’s email correspondence with her co-worker, his voice and tone were a lot softer than I remembered. His pain was evident. We talked several times during the following weeks, and the Alex asked if both he and Rebecca could do a joint session with me via Skype.
Because they were both busy during the day, we had our session quite late, at 9 pm. I had only met Rebecca a few times before, but we had a connection because we had both lived in northern California, in the same county, in fact, and she was a very conscious, spiritual woman.
She was tired by the time of our session, and she actually had her head on Alex’s shoulder, and she was being very affectionate toward him. Alex commented on it.
I read their body language, and could tell that Rebecca still loved Alex. She was much freer than him, freer of her story, more present. She was just waiting for him to catch up with her, so to speak—which is why, I didn’t doubt, she had begun her email affair with this other man. She had grown tired of always waiting for Alex to really show up, become truly present, in their relationship.
We spent most of our Skype session simply being present with each other, waiting to see what wanted to emerge. There were no angry words, no accusations, no “I told you so’s…” There was just the silent energy of beingness, the perfume of this moment now…
Alex saw something during our session, experienced, anew, his love for Rebecca, and that she loved him.
Later, when he and I chatted privately, he revealed to me: “I realize that the little boy who felt abandoned is still alive in me, and that resulted in my feelings of betrayal, and not trusting the relationship. I see how I still have that story in me, and that story was true once, when I was young, but is not true now…”
I told him: “Yes, Rebecca’s actions rubbed salt in your wounds, but the wounding happened long, long ago… As you become even more present, and make the shift from ego to essence, to your true nature, you will free yourself of these past demons, and your life with Rebecca will take on a new form… It will be a new relationship, a truly creative and loving dance, filled with new possibilities and discoveries…”
“The great voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes,
but in seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust