I was sitting years ago in my studio in Toronto with a full schedule of social activities, clients and classes (acroyoga, singing, functional training..)
When I suddenly had the urge to cancel everything, reschedule clients and book a one way flight to Bali.
Around the same time my wife was traveling with her best friend back to Russia when she got the unexplainable urge to head to Bali.
Our story started there and it was full of a varied palette of emotions and experiences.
I had never *truly* been in a relationship.
Not a committed one where I’d consider a life with them at least.
I thought I was emotionally available and mature and quickly found out that when I actually allowed myself to feel there were a lot of unhealed and unprocessed “things” lurking in my heart.
I battled the whole idea of dating her since in my “MUST HAVE LIST” that I’d written earlier that year, I had described my perfect partner with some of what follows:
– She is clear on her purpose and living a fiery expression of it. An empowered woman on a mission bigger than herself and devoted to something greater
– She lives in Toronto. (I had sworn against long distance anything after a few bad experiences)
– She is an impeccable communicator, listens fully, speaks with compassion and always with the truth
– She has an amazing relationship with her family (I’d seen with previous partners that those who didn’t, carried a lot of trauma that found expression in the relationship)
The list went on for several pages.
Turned out that my wife, at the time:
– Had just quit her modelling career and was in a state of transition trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life
– Lived in Moscow
– Did not even speak proper English (our first dates we had to have google translate open and pass the phone back and forth to communicate)
– Had a tense relationship with her parents.
I remember clashing against these things and wondering if I was compromising my own values, crossing my own boundaries or jumping into a pool full of red flags.
On paper, she was not the woman I’d expect to marry..
But what my whole body and heart felt when we met, said otherwise.
Yet I couldn’t figure out if this was another one of those “trauma bonds” where emotions bypass all logic and pull you into a whirlwind of passion, chaos and eventual pain…
However, something felt different with her.
As time went by I realized all the growth I had yet to make.
I thought I “deserved a better woman” just because I had spent more time in my spiritual and healing journey, and had more clarity about my life’s mission…
But in reality I realized that there’s no “deserving” in life.
The universe does not care about us earning anything (other than wisdom perhaps)
It cares about coherence and harmonious vibrations and -given where we’re at- that’s what we attract.
Given who we are, at the core of our heart.
Not what we put up on the vision board..
So I had to put my ego aside and realize that actually, this relationship was exactly what I needed.
And that -in my case- the list of requirements were more about me than about the woman I wanted to be with.
I needed her to be clear on her purpose because I wanted the social validation of being with a “powerful woman”.
I wanted her to have her career super clear because I wasn’t very generous and didn’t want to care for someone else, nor have my partner have too much free time and demand anything from me (I rejected the idea of responsibility and inclusion.)
A woman with more time on her hands and more of her heart set in the relationship felt like a threat..
I needed her to live in the same city because in that way I wouldn’t have to deal with my compulsive sexual behaviour -which found expression every time I travelled and created a lot of havoc with my previous partners.
So a woman in the same city was safer -and would also require minimal investment from me, compared to someone who lived far away.
I needed her to be a great communicator because I had been hurt before. I was not capable of sharing my emotions vulnerably and feeling safe within myself, so I hoped for a woman to provide the safe space that I lacked.
An impeccable communicator meant I’d feel seen, and she’d probably pry out of me how I was feeling, so I wouldn’t have to worry much about working on being more open..
And I needed her to have a good relationship with her family because I grew up witnessing a lot of chaos between my parents, due to blurry boundaries around money with family members..
But beyond that, because I didn’t want someone “Broken”, or someone who would hurt and have trauma or baggage.. (the irony!).
I wanted the perfect independent princess that had no needs and no flaws.
That felt easy to date.
Dating my wife I realized that this list had more to do with the areas where I rejected my own growth, than with the shortcomings somebody else should fix.
I saw the ways in which I was not ready for a different type of woman..
And the moment I stopped trying to fix her and focused on myself she’d bring forth more of that fuller expression of a woman that I previously desired..
We were quite stubborn and clashed consistently, yet there was always a love present that would act as a sand paper, smoothing out our rigidity and inviting us into a greater way of being.
I learned to be a Man.
To take responsibility for the role I played in the dance..
To be inclusive and caring of someone other than myself.
I learned to connect and lead from a place of devotion and not one of demands and expectations.
She grew into her own woman, at her own pace, of her own accord.
I remember on one of our first dates when I returned to Russia, I wrote down the names of a bunch of European cities on a piece of paper and had her close her eyes and pick one.
Two days later we were in Prague exploring around..
The distance served to nourish our love and to give us space to work on ourselves.
It gave us the difficult gift of missing each other.
However, in those spaces we both learned to be our own humans.
To deeply love each other, to share our needs with each other, yet never to place the weight of our joy on each other.
We both learned to fall in love with our own life, our families, our work and our friends…
So coming together was not a moment of draining the other because our cup was empty but instead, sharing two overflowing cups.
Which people everywhere we travelled would comment on.
My wife’s Canadian visa was denied twice so we’d meet in different places every time.
We lived with an Ayahuasca community in Colombia (where she learned fluent Spanish in 3 months), we travelled Europe for months, spent some time in India in an Ashram and so much more.
Today I’m grateful for this whole journey for I know with certainty that if she had been able to join me in Toronto as soon as we met we wouldn’t be together today.
We would not have had the experiences that changed us at our core.
I’m also grateful for the tender, disconnected and somewhat dense place in which we both were when we met.
For I always thought that love is something that either is there or it isn’t and that a beautiful relationship is found, not built.
And every ounce of beauty, passion and connection that we share today, we built day by day with our own hands, commitment and work.
This eventually became the foundational work that I share with clients.
Teaching from direct experience, knowing that if we were able to turn around two stubborn souls like we were, any other couple with a bit more love in their heart have a greater capacity to repair and reignite their relationship beyond their wildest dreams.
So I’m grateful for the differences that brought us together and sharpened our minds, opened our hearts and strengthened our compassion.
I’m grateful for the distance that taught us how to love with deep involvement and without entanglement..
And for the power of love which, as an entity of its own, brought the two of us from immature adults into a more blooming expression of our ultimate truth.
And through that, forever changed the way we live, the way we eat, the way we work, serve and make love.
And today is a very special moment:
After 4 years of trying, my wife has finally received her acceptance letter to be a permanent resident of Canada!
A letter that brought her to tears as she read it, for she recognizes all that we’ve been through which wasn’t always easy.
The distance has nourished us and strengthened us..
And we’re now ready for a deeper union in the stability of a household where we can lay roots.
Knowing that deep roots bear the sweetest fruits.
Thank you Anastasia Tumanova for your patience, devotion and grace in navigating this wild adventure that is love and life together.
-And to those of you reading, thank you for taking the time to hear about my personal life.
I hope this share invites you to reassess your mental checklists and to see what is a standard and what is a shield..
And to trust that the universe always brings you the person you need, so you may have the opportunity to become who you say you are.
It’s all perfect.
It’s all love.