by Danielle Pirera, Australia
My friends and I would often joke about the ‘rip cord effect’; when a woman gets married and then pulls the cord, like on a life vest, and ‘poof!’ – instantly she puffs out, putting on weight. My partner has also joked to me about this, but I could feel that it was from a genuine concern or fear that this would happen to me. I pondered on this more deeply, seeing it in my mother, and I reflected on times when I had put on weight in relationships, or ‘let myself go’.
In my teenage years and as a young adult I grew up not living as the lovely girl or gorgeous woman that deep down I felt I was. Living in such a way felt empty or bottomless… not living in the stillness and preciousness that I could feel myself to truly be. Somewhere along the line I was taught, shown or told that I could be this lovely woman when I had a man, got married and / or had children. So in my head I thought that if I had a man beside me, or became a wife or mother, I would no longer feel the empty and desperate feeling within. I then spent a greater portion of my life driving or pushing very hard to get a man and kids; I lost myself completely because every choice was based on what would enable me to reach my goal.
However, every time the goal was achieved (find a man), I still felt like something was missing. I then thought the relationship was wrong, or the man wasn’t loving enough, or there must be more that I needed to do, i.e. have the right career, look a certain way or drive the right car. I then spent 10-15 years working on my career, money, looks, fashion, body shape and finding the ‘right’ man to try to fill what I felt was missing. The relationships were cycles of finding someone lovely and then feeling it wasn’t right, or wasn’t loving, and / or there was no true love, and so I would leave.
Not long ago I began a relationship with a man who was truly loving; not perfect, but offering true love to the best of his ability. Eventually, and unfortunately, I went into my usual cycle of finger pointing to say how, where and why he was not being loving, because deep down it didn’t feel that the relationship was as loving and amazing as I knew it could be. Then one night I recognised the cycle, and I realised the truth of the ‘rip cord effect’. No matter what I achieve on the outside, even if I get the ‘perfect’ husband and children, I will still feel the despair and devastation within, but it is felt with an even greater sting. The sting is much more harsh because I have worked so hard towards achieving the goal thinking that it would deliver me the preciousness I knew life could be: not only did it not do this, but every step made towards the goal was in fact one step further away from myself. So in a sense it is a double-sting, and this sting is so great that many women like myself cannot handle feeling or dealing with it, and so will instead choose a life of distraction and comfort which results in the bloating or ‘rip cord effect’.
I decided I wanted to break that cycle. I could point my finger at life and the man and demand it to be different, OR I could deal with the fact that I didn’t feel the grandness of the love that I knew in my life because of something deeper inside me. I recognised that every relationship I have will feel ‘not enough’ until I choose something different for myself. I then felt the pain and utter devastation of not living the stillness and preciousness that I have always felt myself to be. And I could feel that I had been literally running away from feeling (this) my whole life… and at first it was hard to feel, because it was so old and so buried. It hurt to feel that because the grandness of my beauty was and is so massive, there needed to be much effort in order to push it down; effort provided by my self-loathing, self-hate, distraction and numbing, all to hold the gloriousness back – OUCH!
And now, every day I discover ways to connect more deeply to this preciousness and begin to let it out. The more that I do this, the more life around me mirrors the preciousness and gloriousness of what I am feeling on the inside. I clearly see that life and relationships will appear loveless until I let my gloriousness fully out. But the magic is that, as I let my glory out, people may not or don’t really change, but to me they do feel completely different, and so the relationships feel completely different, even though they personally have hardly changed. So my relationships start to feel more truly amazing and loving, as I let more of this out. How amazing is that? We all have the power to have love in our life and our relationships, just by choosing it for ourselves first. I then realised that it doesn’t matter if I have a partner or not; or if I chose a partner, it wouldn’t really matter how he was, as long as he is open to love then he will always appear loving and amazing to me, so long as I am loving and amazing with me.
There is a deep steadiness and trust in my knowing this, because now I see that if I choose to marry a man I don’t need to be fearful of what might lie ahead. there will be no ‘rip cord effect’ for me, because I will not have had anything to numb myself from feeling, and so can guarantee that it will be love, if I choose this first for myself.