I first met Tris at one of the first of his dad’s talks that I ever attended. He was blond with bright blue eyes and was chubby and outgoing. He was not my ‘ideal’ man and so I completely ignored him. Actually, I did more than that… I disapproved of him. Over the year I began to practice Divine Truth. I was already in love with God, so the big revelation for me was about connecting to my emotions. This was a bit of a game-changer for me. I started to feel more empathy and connection to people than I’d ever felt before. I was more outgoing but more sensitive. Relative to Tris though, the secondary change that occurred was that my version of an ‘ideal’ partner began to stretch and expand.
When Tris and I got together, over a year after we first met, it was the most intense and passionate attraction I’d had for anyone before. I was more honest than I’d ever been before, about me, about how I was feeling. This strengthened our attraction. The first night we spent together talking and holding hands was a night of little sleep. The next morning I went to say hello to my mum in her room and she went into a bit of a meltdown. “He’s just a boy,” she said of Tris, “He’s not good enough for you, Anna.” I comforted her and maybe I shut a bit of my heart down from Tris then, just to make sure that I wasn’t upsetting Mum too much. “It’s okay Mum, I won’t get hurt.”
We spent much of the following months travelling and camping away from home. I deferred my degree as I felt there was so much going on with Tris and I and I just wanted to focus on that. We had some great times during this period.
About 6 months after we got together, we went to live at our family holiday home in New Zealand for a few months over the summer. We had the house to ourselves for only a week before my brothers began to descend on us. It soon became apparent that my immediate family (except for my younger sister, who adored Tris like a brother) did not thinking highly of Tris at all. They felt that his lack of employment, of education and ‘culture’, lack of travel and worldly experiences and lack of physical fitness and over-fondness of a good book we not very palatable. More than this though, was how challenging Tris was – he was honest and didn’t stand down on moral and ethical issues. Tris encouraged me to step outside of our family values and for a time we both found ourselves very much on the ‘out’. At times I was rebellious and behaved in ways that weren’t ethical. Tris recalls (with greater clarity than I) the violent and virulent arguments I would have with my siblings. Gradually, the pressure of being outside of my family began to pull on my heartstrings that had been designed in me from a young age for just such a purpose and I began to honour my family values once again. I pressured Tris to go hiking with me and other such pursuits to assuage the attack I was feeling and to gain back the approval I desperately thirsted for. Unawares, I began to distance myself from Tris and this was essentially the beginning of our relationship break-down.
Once we returned from NZ we took some time apart. I was trying to stretch my wings again to wriggle back into a place of gaining my family’s approval (or the addictive need of it inside my heart). I remember AJ/Jesus (Tris’ father) talking to me about how I’d gone to NZ one person and come back another; that by seeing how much Tris was disliked by my family I had got scared and now was trying to do what I could to regain approval. It was the first of many talks Jesus has had with me on the topic! When I tried to deal with the issue, however, I oscillating between becoming angry at the people telling me about the issues, or angry at my family and blaming them for all my pain, which wasn’t helpful and didn’t assist me to see that I am a key player in my family dynamic and often a perpetrator of addictions within it.
After a few months apart we moved in together – on our own for the first time. While there were some good times, when I look back at this time (and the whole 2 years after), it seems shrouded in a dark mist. I started to justify my anger and control, rather than see it as something that needed to be felt and removed. Tris, feeling unwanted by me, spent a month or two secretively reading pornography. There were some tough times. I re-enrolled and then dropped out of uni again after meeting my practicum supervising teacher and thinking a lot about my values in education.
Around this time Tris was invited to run small groups at the Gold Coast. I would come along too, but looking back on it, fell much too hard into ‘co-directing’ the groups than I should legitimately have been allowed. I have emotions of competition with others, so would often try and run the groups with Tris and had expectations upon Tris that he make me feel valuable/wise/special/intelligent etc. I believed I was still practicing Divine Truth, but in reality, I was often indulging heavily in emotional histrionics. Often times my crying was simply me having a tantrum or seeking approval . I still had a love of God, but felt more and more disconnected from Him.
Tris and I dreamed of creating a school/retreat/learning place for children and teenagers. With this grand ambition in mind (but no concrete plans!), I used most of my inheritance to buy a large block of land about 3 hours north-west of Brisbane. We lived in a tent and a shed. At first, we were both inspired and excited and we loved the 47 acres of native bushland I’d bought. But I soon ran out of money. Now living remotely, Tris was dependent on me financially and I was dependent on him emotionally – I wanted Tris to work hard to make my dreams come true. I had changed my life so much since Tris and I had first got together (deferring university & moving away from home) that I used Tris like a crutch – I was needy on him and probably held him accountable for some of my decisions – enforcing my own lack of self-responsibility. Tris was becoming depressed and drained. I was often working very hard physically on the land, and Tris was reading constantly to escape my demands and to avoid challenging his own addiction of being dependent on me. It was codependency and it wasn’t working.
Around this time I started dreaming of teaching again. I decided to re-enroll in my university degree. Tris moved to the closest town and searched for a job. I stayed living on the land, and found work tutoring children. After about a year of both of us getting on our feet a bit and things seeming a little better, we moved in together in a unit in town. I completed my degree and got a job two hours away. Tris and I broke up.
It was probably one of the more emotionally painful experiences I’ve had. I was very angry (Tris was no longer meeting my addictions), sad and afraid. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life and often times I blamed Tris for this. Like I said, I was very angry. In my fury with Tris, I had also become furious at Divine Truth. Now I had immeasurable pain and suffering and was looking for ways to ‘get through it’ with modern psychology – somewhat helpful, but not deeply. When old friends asked why Tris and I weren’t together, I responded that Tris said I had anger issues. They were surprised as they didn’t see me as an angry person at all. They, like me, probably assumed that Tris had the problem. When I look back on that these days, I think partly I was attracting what I wanted to attract – I required my friends to agree with me and I certainly believed it was Tris with the issue – not me. Also my friends hadn’t seen me with Tris (when I was most challenged and confronted) and some of my friends, like me, had their own issues with anger and the justification of it.
Over the course of that first year, things slowly got better. However, part of this was probably because I had found other ways to get my addictions met! I moved in with a male flatmate who made me feel attractive and saw a psychologist who thought I just needed to think less and go and experience life without over-analyzing things. There were some genuinely good things too – I was engaged in teaching children, growing in confidence with my skills and was at a school that had incredibly supportive and caring staff.
At the end of this year, I returned to Kenya, where I had been 7 years prior. I stayed with a close friend there and expressed how angry I was at God and Tris. I remember once she gave me this Rumi poem to read; it was about how when a chickpea is cooked it is in such pain, but the cooking is what gives the chickpea its flavor. After a lot of reading and sitting and writing, I started to feel a little better.
I was offered a job in Kuwait and accepted it. After two weeks in Kuwait I had a quick holiday with my brother in Oman. Upon returning, I thought to myself, “So this is why I’m on the other side of the world. To get away from my family!” Kuwait was good for me – for the first 4 months. After a particularly savage (on my end) conversation with Tris, he unfriended me on facebook and all communication between us was closed. I was like, “Shit.” I think I took a sick day and just sat on my couch, struck by the gravity that Tris had been so hurt from my treatment of him that he couldn’t communicate with me anymore. I called up my psychologist in Australia and had a skype appointment. “I want to know how to get through anger.” I said. He replied vaguely that it wasn’t possible.
There were times in Kuwait (in that first 4 months) that I would try praying to God again. There were times where I was struck suddenly by immense emotional overwhelm – I remember once sobbing to God, “He’s the one I love,” crying about Tris and feeling such a connection to him. But then I’d get all controlling and angry at Tris because he wouldn’t come and join my life and fulfill my addictions. It was like a yo-yo. But what happened after that first 4 months, you ask? Yep, you guessed it – I started dating a guy.
This was really a bit of a catalyst. Prior to seeing him, I was quite sure I was going to go home (ending my contract soon, after six months total time in Kuwait) and try to reconcile with Tris, or at least work towards it. But dating this guy seemed to send me off on another road. I ended up taking a contract in far north-west China.
This was a particularly savvy move by my spirit guides, I think. I was determined not to be in Australia (I was angry with my mother, Jesus and Mary, and Tris) and wanted to be adventurous and live overseas. The contract I accepted, however, planted me in an incredibly inaccessible, isolating place where the number of English-speakers could be counted on my fingers and toes. In short – there were no easy ‘escape’ travelling options and there were no eligible men to date.
Here I was, on the edge of the Gobi desert. Me. My Pain. And Me. And Holy Moses did it hurt.
I don’t want to explain much about what went on there, except to say that by about October I realized that I had some serious work to do on myself. This didn’t stop to-ing and fro-ing between other ‘love interests’ and other emotional addictions, but it was a start. It was around this time when I started feeling that it was more important to love Tris than to be angry at Tris – it might sound small, but this was key. This was around the same time as Tris went to Bali started exploring the idea of working on a school, but that was completely unbeknownst to me. By the following June I was seriously concerned by the state of my heart; I knew I was selfish and self-absorbed, stingy and hard-hearted. I went back to Australia with my primary objective to ‘fix my heart’.
By now I was studying counselling at university. I would apply some of the therapy techniques to myself with great success. I started acknowledging my anger as something that was an issue, and using different techniques to help myself be honest about what I really wanted out of being angry, and to express it healthily. Prior to this, I had always ‘felt’ anger but maintained the justified indignation of it; I was feeling anger without any intention of letting it go – this wasn’t honest, was essentially just raging, and did more harm than good.
I took baby steps after coming back to Australia from China. Very slowly, I came to a place where I wanted a relationship with God. For months my only prayer to God was, ‘God, please show me the way forward.’ That was all I could handle, was all I wanted. A real relationship with God is not something that is coming easily to me – but when I truly see the difficult truth about myself or how I have hurt others and when I do this without self-punishment, I feel so much love from my spirit guides and, I think, God too. I began to spend a lot of time thinking about what I had done and how I’d had harmed people in the past. Without self-punishment, it felt good, cathartic, cleansing.
I went to see Tris. “I want to date you,” I said. “Not yet,” was his reply, with encouragement to keep working through my issues, the issues that had caused the separation in the first place. Very slowly, I came to be interested in Divine Truth again. I was selective in what recordings of Jesus I listened to. I began to love it.
Since then it’s been very gradual, my growing closeness to Tris. There have been times where I’ve gone off the rails and wanted to pack it in. There have been times when I’ve not been successful at owning my anger and taking responsibility of my emotions and this has caused pain and time spent apart from Tris.
This is a quick summary of some things I’ve learnt and how I’m feeling at this point:
- The times I take action on faith, rather than fear, I feel an exponential bound of love for Tris and for God. I rarely do this, and it would be better for me if I did it more often.
- By being very honest, I treat Tris better – he knows exactly what is inside me and can then make decisions based on the true reality, rather than a facade I throw up in order to keep trying to get my emotional addictions met by him.
- If I am very, very honest, then emotion comes up naturally and it feels really good to be around Tris.
- I’m still very influenced by the people, environment and spirits around me because of my emotional addictions. The more I notice these and be honest about them (and sometimes I even feel the effect of these) the closer I feel to Tris.
- These days, Tris feels like my best, best friend. I see more qualities in him than I’ve ever seen before. I am more motivated to love him than I have ever been before.