As an artist, I tend to understand broad concepts in a visual way. And it dawned on me that being in a relationship is akin to entering a special room with your partner: Let’s call it the Relationship Room.
Every time you enter that room with someone, you both automatically bring in your own baggages in the room with you: the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of the content of the baggages can be beneficial to the relationship, others not so much! You may be aware of some stuff in your baggages. But there are most likely some stuff in there that you are completely unaware of.
During your relationship, however long you decide to stay in the room with that person, you get to experience the room, each other, and your baggages. You get to create a space that hopefully suits the both of you.
What makes the difference between entering a conscious relationship versus entering and unconscious relationship is whether or not the lights in the room are turned on.
THE RELATIONSHIP ROOM IN THE DARK
There are no instruction manuals on how to build and exist in a successful relationship. Most of us took our romantic relationship queues from our respective environments while growing up. Based on that, we “Frankensteined” our own relationship formula. Some relationships are more enduring. Others are more challenging. But I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us went about it in a mostly unconscious way. And experiencing a relationship in an unconscious way, is like experiencing a room with little to no lights in it : you’re going to miss some stuff, you're going to discover unexpected stuff, you might bump your head a couple times and you might also experience some pleasant surprises.
We tend to exist in the Relationship Room with our partner by feeling our way through the room. With experience, some of us learn to recognize and perhaps even label certain areas of the room such as : the safe area, the fun area, the uncomfortable area, the dangerous area, the no-go area, the unknown area, etc. Most of us have no idea how large the room actually is, especially since it’s not very well lit. We only know the parts that we allow ourselves to explore. During our stay in the Relationship Room, we eventually stumble on each other’s stuff and we either deal with it, or memorize their location to be sure to avoid it next time.
FINDING SOME UNCOMFORTABLE BAGGAGES IN THE ROOM
I remember a time (relatively early in my previous relationship) where I decided to do a complete cleanup and reorganization of our bedroom, including my partner’s night table. It had been accumulating dust and trinkets over time. I figured maybe he wasn’t into organizing as much as I was, so I proudly put my organizing skills to use. I cleaned and reorganize the entire room. Everything was bright and shiny. It felt fresh, calm and serene. It was easy to see everything we had in the room. I was really happy with the final result.
When he came back home however, instead of being impressed and thankful (like I expected), he got mad at me for “moving his stuff”. Never mind the fact that it was cleaner and all the attention to details I had put into it. Never mind the fact that I kept everything that even seemed like trash in an area for him to double check before disposing of them. I was shocked. Little did I know, I had stumbled on one of “his baggages”. My response was to essentially never touch his side of the bed again, no matter how dirty or disorganized I felt it was.
In our Relationship Room this became an area for me to avoid if I wanted to keep the peace in the relationship. Because I didn’t know, I didn’t shed light on it to see what the real issue was. Subconsciously, it became one point of contention in our relationship : an uncomfortable area in our Relationship Room.
This, to me, is an example of being unconscious in the relationship : choosing to keep that area in the dark not just because of the fact that it was an uncomfortable aspect of the relationship, but because of the fact that my feelings towards the situation were neglected by both me and my partner at that time. It’s only years later, as I started to become a little more conscious and aware of my own response, that I was able to see how it affected me, how it affected the relationship and even played a role in us eventually exiting our Relationship Room.
FROM UNCONSCIOUS TO CONSCIOUS
The interesting thing about being in an unconscious relationship is that it gives you plenty of opportunities to either transform the relationship into a more conscious one or help you become more conscious yourself. If you keep hitting your head every time you forget to lower it when you reach a certain area of the room, you might decide one day to just pull out your flashlight and see if there’s a way around it. Every time you stumble onto something new, you shed some light into it, you explore it and you decided, as a couple, what you want to do with it. Maybe you can install a permanent light in that area so you're both aware of it. You might even be able to remove the objects that are in your way and open up the space to allow you to move more freely in the room. That's when your relationships starts to become more conscious.