from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday, 13 February 2015

eleven things to give up in relationships

This is also a reblog from a couple of years ago (let's hope time, energy and inspiration all cycle together soon!). 

I find it useful to remind myself sometimes (frequently) of what Buddhism calls 'skillful means', here applied to our intimate relationships.


eleven things to give up in relationships

Here are some things that commonly block our ability to give and receive love. Giving them up can only make you happier!
The idea that your partner or anyone else is here to make you happy and to meet your needs. Your partner is here for his or her own journey on this earth; if you can support each other in your journeys and adventures then you have a chance of real happiness.
The view that you and your partner sail in the same boat. You are, always have been and always will be in two boats*; the choice is whether you steer side-by-side for the same open sea, or shore, or not. What you have in common is the ocean.
The need to merge or fuse with your partner. True union isn’t possible except when two individuals are clearly differentiated, knowing themselves and their partner as distinct entities. Work instead on knowing who you are, and seeing clearly who your partner is. That way, there’s a chance of real love and interdependency rather than co-dependency.
The need for that Other to be like you and to agree with you. Showing another who you really are and engaging with who the other is is an act of love; needing their agreement and approval before you can be who you are can be narcissistic, egotistical and insecure.
Controlling, whether by fault-finding, withholding, blame and coercion – or by praise. All are manipulations, and driven by fear. That doesn’t mean to say you can’t appreciate, out loud, who your partner is, nor ever express something that's pissing you off – it's more whether you are co-opting this to serve your fears. (There's an associated issue here: that of self-disclosure. This is a prerequisite for intimacy, but it's important to be aware of whether we use this as a manipulation to have the other reveal him- or herself to us, or as a genuine desire to share who we are with that Other without necessarily expecting reciprocity.)
The association of love with mind-reading: ‘If you really loved me you’d know without my telling you what I need.’ Instead, commit to knowing for yourself what you really need, and be willing to show that to your partner. Equally, learn from him or her what s/he needs.
Expecting the other to always ‘be there’ for you. It’s simply not possible when the other has his or her own life and journey, and s/he is not your mother/father.
Taking everything another says or does personally. While you may be offering him or her a 'hook' to hang their stuff on, another person's 'stuff' remains their stuff, and probably says more about them than about you.
Reacting. Instead, learn to respond. What this means is denying yourself the momentary satisfaction of blowing the other out of the water with emotional heat (you might feel it, but that doesn’t inevitably have to lead to exhibiting it), instead seeing clearly what the situation needs from you. You may still find you need to raise it with your partner anyway; if so, it helps if you can give yourself time to calm down so it isn't merely an attack. If you take time out, you may find you don't need to launch anything at him/her, but adjust an expectation of your own, or at least trace the roots of your reaction and its previous baggage (because there usually is some).
The need to blame – self or other. Instead, take responsibility and change a pattern for the better. We’re all human and we all get it wrong sometimes as we learn, and that is simply how it is. Learn to love yourself; then you can love another.
Struggling – with yourself or another – to be anything other than who you are/the Other really is.
But you don't have to believe me; just try it for yourself... And no, of course I don't manage it myself all, or even much, of the time! And this list clearly could go on and on, and no doubt at some stage it will.

Roselle Angwin

* The boat image is from David Schnarch's book Passionate Marriage.


  1. I like this very much, Roselle. May I disseminate it via my own blog at some point?

  2. Of course, Robert. Thank you for the compliment.

  3. A very worthwhile reminder, Roselle, and one that's relevant to what I'm writing about. Thanks for this – it's reassuring. I like the way these gems keep popping up just when my mind is thinking on those lines. It's like a note being passed under a door at just the right time!
    Shall be sending anther instalment to you before very long, all being well.
    Miriam x

  4. I love the idea of notes under the door, Miriam! - Just off now to the Exmoor coast, so more soon.


  5. "What you have in common is the ocean."

    I'm here by way of The Solitary Walker. Thank you so much for all these healing thoughts, including qualia.

  6. Thanks.

  7. am: hello, welcome, and thank you for your very kind words. I'm glad it was helpful. I liked the phrase 'what you have in common' etc - then realised it was my own! Always nice to see things through another's eyes!

    Robert: thanks! Your reposts of my posts always bring more visitors to my site - much appreciated, with a deep bow (as they say in Buddhist circles).


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