On your relationship with tenderness and vulnerability.
[Alan addressing a woman at the end of Love and the Shadow workshop]:
Of course, the session that really matters is the one that begins when the workshop ends. There are all sorts of challenges just in the way that regular ordinary life is set up. The most beautiful thing about you right now is how open you are to the tender feelings you couldn’t allow yourself when you came in here on Friday. Going home is going to be really different for you. You’re not going to be able to trash everything soft and vulnerable the way you were doing in your life before. Your relationship with your tender feelings and your tears has changed dramatically. Now you’re allowed them! Your children are going to be interesting mirrors for you because they’re used to your hard-hitting approach to things. They’re going to have to discover a different mother, and you can’t impose her on them. You just have to let them gradually realise and learn from how you’ve changed.
The most important thing about how you look after this is that every few days, when the kids are in bed and it’s just the two of you for a little while, you go sit together and put on some soft music and just be with each other. Be willing to be soft, to cry, to feel. And know that sometimes things will happen during the days where you’ll see yourself doing your old stuff again. But when you sit together you have space to see how you hurt yourself, played old games of not caring. Sitting together brings you into your caring, and as the days go by, you learn more and more to care for this quality of being. You look after what I call the first intimacy – your intimate relationship with all your inner colors, and at the same time you’re looking after this in each other, and with each other, and for each other. That’s your work! It’s not tough work, it’s very tender work. You just have to be willing to make the space for it. And when either of you feels the need for it, the other has to say yes – that’s an agreement you need to have with each other. It’s important because of the times when one of you gets into a tough space and says, No, I don’t want to do it, while the other one is feeling the need to find the softness. That’s why you have to make this agreement with each other.