After the election, I needed to hear about Super Couples. It’s been one hell of a week and I do mean hell. To me hell is what happens when our unspoken, sacred rules of humanity are broken. In this case trashed, burned, buried and even mocked but this is not an article about the election and the demise of trust. No really, it’s not. It’s about love, kindness, relationship and Tara Caffelle.
I bordered on becoming a dangerously sad drunk these past seven days and I’m not talking about booze. As a kid I endured sloppy holidays with intoxicated and teary uncles cornering me between the fridge and the chip dip begging me to never give up on my dreams. Go to school, they said, and don’t turn into me, they begged. Guess what? I grasped their drunken despair this week. I drank a few too many glasses of wine and I ate a lot of chip dip. Still, this is not an article about the election but I can’t seem to get away from it. Neither could Tara or I when we spoke earlier this week.
Tara Caffelle, a relationship coach and a good one – great one – balls to the wall – best one. She likens herself to being a couple’s fairy godmother who with her magic wand of good honest work is here to change the world one Super Couple at a time. In unpredictable times such as these, we all could use a fair godmother don’t you think? We can skip the glass slipper/glass ceiling or whatever…, ditch the carriage that goes poof into a pumpkin at midnight, but let’s keep the wand shall we? Tara’s kind of fairy dust teaches us all how to turn toward each other. We need that. She believes that when we turn in to each other we begin a ripple of loving kindness that can be felt by all. Her message is timely.
I needed her this week and badly. Not because my personal relationship was in trouble, rather because my relationship with the world had it’s teeth kicked in and I found myself feeling gobsmacked reading the ‘I left you and btw I took the kids’ on the American electorate kitchen table. We both felt it. How could we not?
Tara – Helloooooooo… How are you?TinaO – Oh f*ck… I’m okay. I’m recalibrating you know?Tara – Yeah, me to. Me too.TinaO – And all the positive spin spin spin on social media out there, we’re all just coping because it’s all we can do right now.Tara – Mmmm…. yes, we need to make it understandable for ourselves. Last night I read an article and I thought maybe this will be okay. I’m trying to make sense of this, I’m trying to make it be okay but there’s so much shadow between ‘here and it’s okay‘ and I don’t know that I’m ready to do that. I was humming along just fine before all of this, and now what??? It’s exhausting.
I’ve had my fair share of relationship smack-down moments. I’ve been in love many times which means I’ve also been left at the altar so to speak more times than I care to remember or admit. I don’t believe in soulmates. I don’t believe in the Lord of the Rings version of marriage with One Ring to Rule them All. I don’t believe in ’til death do us part’ – What do I have to die to get out of this? And some people do. I believe in love and I believe in freedom. Love is a renewable resource and freedom is the mother who never dies, who never abandons, whom you can always come home to. I’m a sensible Canadian, but even I can hear the Nationalistic pride in my personal values.
Tara – I just keep coming back to the only thing I have control over is what I put out to the world and I think compassionate, loving, soft people who feel at home is what is going to save us.We’re going to be living in a world where we need to be looking out for everyone. To look around and recognize we don’t take for granted anybody’s safety anymore, we actually have to look out for each other now. We are now all together in this. That’s the invitation. It’s the ultimate in self-care.
When we actually prioritize our relationships, when we care about our relationships like we would ourselves, when we think about self-care (which btw is the most annoying phrase I’ve ever heard in my life), as our own care, being compassionate to ourselves, we have a full cup to give from and when everyone is feeding from that same giant pool of water, there can be enough. It’s only when we focus on the periphery of our lives, that’s our water source gets empty, and it all starts in relationship. I take care of you, and I take care of us to take care of you, to take care of me. I agree to treat you like you are the most precious being in the world, because you are. …That part just makes me cry.
I’m stealing from Dan Savage here. He calls it the cost of admission. His cost of admission is having a partner who is a slob in the kitchen. It makes him nuts. Everything is everywhere: the bread, the mustard, the entire kitchen blows up but that’s one of his costs of admission to being in relationship with him. We have different prices to pay and our most challenging and triggering cost is just giving your partner what they need. Asking what does your partner require right now? What do they need, that needs you to give it to them? Just give it to them. I know you don’t want to. I don’t care. Do it because they are asking for it.
We take things personally. We get triggered. We react. Let’s not collapse and forget that we manage ourselves by asking and staying in charge of our own needs. It’s as if the relationship becomes a third person in your home and for them to feel welcome and safe, sometimes you have to step over your own bullshit, your own triggers, ego, resentment, and get ACTIVATED by saying NO, my relationship needs this from me right now.
Sometimes the cost of admission here is to be really fucking gentle right now, to not get triggered… even though you do feel triggered, to just to AGREE that we are going to be really, really kind to each other. We can ask, how can we be a little more gentle and caring? How can we hold each other? Sometimes it starts with the smallest things like shutting off netflix to cuddle or have a shower together. We can ease into making tiny threads of connection by turning towards each other on our way back to centre.
Yes, we begin to look outward. When needs aren’t being met, when we’re feeling injured, when there’s disconnect, when we feel distanced in some way… It’s so easy for a fracture to turn into a big crack and then grow into a gash between. When the relationship bank account is at bedrock we will look for other ways to fill it.
We can do that for each other, and things don’t have to be ‘hard’ or ‘wrong’ to start. We all need a little extra cushion for these exact reasons and kindness costs us nothing.
The bottomline for me is that great functioning relationships ripple out and change the world. I’m here to support those ripples in all the ways I can. I’m an empathic person and I feel all the shit that’s going on in the world, I feel it so heavily, and this is how I can take action, it starts with you and me.
It’s pretty simple. You’re hanging out with your most beloved for a whole day and getting to learn a few things and have some lightness and sweetness between you. There’s no dancing bears, no walking on coals. It’s a relationship workshop because we know, living in the same house doesn’t make a marriage or a connection. And it’s okay to have conflict, part of the workshop is WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR EACH OTHER? LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT? What do you need from me? How can I actually support that for you? I’m here to serve you as much as you need to, and I hope that after a day with me, you don’t have to come back because sometimes all you need is just a little tune up.Come as a couple. Come as a pair.It’s like the Arc you can only get in two by two.
Tara Caffelle is a relationship coach who was married, then married in an open marriage, then divorced, then single, and now is in a happy and fulfilling monogam-ish relationship with a guy she seems to never get tired of. She’s a writer and is currently working on her first book about grief and love and intimacy which she found when she lost her best friend, her dog and 3 other people in the span of one year and 20 days.
She believes that sometimes we have to be brave enough to break our own hearts that our relationships set us free and that good ones, SUPER COUPLE ones, can, and will, change the world.