“It is no accident that the primary motive, the hidden agenda in any relationship, is the yearning to return. It is . . . the Eden Project . . . the yearning for the Beloved. It is essentially a religious search . . . ” (Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 17)
As much as I want to dismiss this as pure rubbish because of a number of factors including to my aversion to the word “religion,” I have to look even deeper into this because of the “heat” that the statement has elicited within me. That “heat” is a warning bell that I must heed if I am to reach my goal of freedom from my self-imposed boxes that keep me out of authentic relationships with others.
There is no question there is a yearning within me, there has always been a yearning within me for as long as I can remember. I wanted connection so badly I would do anything to protect whatever it was that could give me that sense of belonging. Most of the time, there was nothing I could do and so I would disappear into silence and into books. Sometimes life through what I perceived as threats to the thin threads of connection that did exist within my family – become a responsible adult as a child taking care of other children, becoming my mother’s little “man” of the house when my father was absent, being the offering to my mother’s father in hopes that she would be restored into a state of grace with her father. None of it worked. I blamed myself for the failure as is normal for a child when put into these life circumstances. Rather than feeling the bond of belonging, I was left wounded and betrayed by my mother, by my father, by my grandfather and by my church which has seen my vulnerability and exploited it. I was left empty blaming myself instead of others.
Then I found a girl who needed me and in turn, I found myself needing her, hoping that she could fill all of my empty spaces. She became my religion, my Magical Other. It was love at first sight for both of us with a commitment for a life of love and relationship given in those first few hours of contact. Who was this person, this young woman? I never asked that question, it was enough that she said “Yes” to my proposal of marriage in those first few hours. I was one of the lucky ones, I found myself in relation to a beautiful young woman, a woman who was everything I was not, as different as one could possibly be. And I filled in her holes.
But the holes only became bigger as the years and the decades passed; holes that had nothing to do with the “Magical Other” we had married, but had to do with something within the depths of myself. And as a result, relationship became strained – the “Magical Other” became a real, live, breathing woman as I became a man of faults, one not able to sustain the myth of her “Magical Other.” And it is here where I begin to sense the pull to something else, the pull into the religious or spiritual, a pull that can’t be filled with or by any woman; what I found missing in the dynamic was an authentic relationship to my “self.” As I wrote these last words, it dawned on me that I was trying to connect to something deeper that the core of Robert, but to the center of everything, the source that breathed life and soul into the joining of sperm and egg that would become a human. That is the religious home to which I find myself yearning for in my second half of life.
Does this mean there is no room for relationship with another human, with my wife? No! If anything, I will be better able to be in relationship, honest relationship that accepts the reality of the other person without need to project “need,” without the need to “use” this person to fill in my holes.