“We need a witness to our lives.”
It’s an old sentiment, one that I heard years ago, nearly a decade, actually, since I found myself single for the first time in my adult life at 29 years old.
A few days ago, I was interviewing someone for a biographical article and she used that same phrase. Not a “soulmate”, not a “partner”, “husband” or “wife”, anything like that.
Not “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”.
What does it mean, anyway? To witness someone else and be witnessed by them?
This thought caught me as I spent the sunlit morning of this Family Day weekend in Ontario hanging out in a small town near my home, seeing the lovers and parents and their kids and pups walking to and fro in the cold from a coffee shop window.
What follows is excerpted from a hand-written journal entry I wrote during that contemplation. Will this be useful to you? Does it make sense? I have no idea.
Still, if you, like me, are still confounded by this whole relationship business and wonder if our understanding of it could be otherwise, it might be worth considering that the romantic partner as a “witness” might have more powerful implications than we might otherwise imagine out of the gate.
It’s almost like…I don’t exist without another person perceiving me, holding space for me, on an ongoing basis, in person. All those more intimate moments, those private aspects of myself, when they go unwitnessed by an intimate life partner: it’s like they never quite happened.
Without someone there with me in the dark (and the light, for that matter), those parts of myself are just rumours, even to myself, just another set of cognitive distortions like the ones I have whenever I am tired or anxious or depressive.
From that perspective, then, dating and marriage and partnership are not necessarily ways to complete ourselves, find our missing halves, but means to collapsing the wave functions of our whole beings into the greater reality that lies outside our own perceptive bubbles.
Just as the observer has filters, histories, traumas, opinions, desires, needs, and levels of awareness that shape just what and how much they experience of the world, the wrong lover is someone who consistently actualizes a lesser, smaller version of you into reality, one that they end up complaining about, disrespecting, diminishing, harming, and ultimately leaving.
Meanwhile, the right lover, the soulmate match, consistently and naturally brings out the biggest, grandest, and most complete version of our being, your total essence.
How does one attract such a witness in one’s life?
Possible Steps to Witness Actualization
Acknowledging the entirety and grandeur of your being seems to be a good first step. Owning your shadow (those aspects of yourself that you hide or find ugly) is also part and parcel of this act. What you find ugly, someone else may find dazzling.
Projecting that whole, grander version of yourself into the world would be a logical second step. This is where I struggle and have struggled historically, because I see others doing much the same and confuse their projection with inauthenticity, with braggadocio. I want nothing to do with either. Still, they’re going for it: that’s what going for what you want can look like. That’s how you get seen.
How can you be found and claimed by your soulmate witness if no one can see you? How can you claim and witness them if they never appear in your awareness?
Step Two is where great fear comes in. If you can be seen, you can be attacked, picked off at a distance by those who seek to harm you for whatever reason. That is the risk, though, with anything worth showing up for, and at least you’ll die at your most magnificent, and many will witness you at your grandest, even if it’s at your last. More than likely, however, being seen, you’ll be okay.
Lastly, when you really go for it, when you project that version of yourself that you aspire to be in this timeline (and that you already are in the grander timelines adjacent to this one), and your witness appears, the last act is to immediately surrender to them.
This is the greatest risk of all, because it requires standing down all of the defenses that you’ve deployed against the rest of the world on the assumption, with zero certainty, that your soulmate witness will not betray and hurt you at your most vulnerable. You just don’t know, and will never know for sure. That’s what trust is.
But there’s also another element, a vital one: you’re there to witness your soulmate witness, too.
Seeing an imperfect person perfectly is one way to collapse the wave function of their grandest, most magnificent potential into greater reality. If you’re afraid that they’ll harm you, consider that when you can hold space for someone’s grandest qualities, they will feel grander in your presence, and so the space-holding neutralizes any harm they would have done to you. Why would you ever feel threatened by someone who enables you to experience your own grandeur?
So, to sum up…
There’s a way to view dating as a quantum function to actualize the grandest selves of two human beings in a relationship. A witness to your grandest self brings that version of you into reality, as you would do for them.
Step into that whole version of yourself and project it outward into the world to call forth that soulmate witness, the one who can see you perfectly even in your imperfection.
Take the risk, put yourself out there as strongly as possible. Do the work to overcome the resistances to that act. Show up in the world so your witness can see you and approach.
And when that soulmate witness appears, trust that your intuition will recognize them immediately, and that their arrival will set off all of your defenses against harm. When that happens, remember to hold space for their most magnificent self. It will neutralize any impulse to hurt you that is rooted in their own traumas, because they will experience themselves as the grandest and highest in your presence, and you will yours in theirs.
Re-reading all of this, I can’t help but feel that it reads like a bunch of New Age, pseudo-scientific gobbledygook or something out of some bad dialogue from “The Big Bang Theory”.
Keep in mind: this was stream-of-consciousness writing, and not any kind of real advice or counsel. I am the last person to advise anyone on relationships or finding partners in any credible way.
That said, I do know inspiration when it strikes, notions and ideas that ostensibly seem familiar, and correspond to pre-existing concepts already kicking around my consciousness, but which felt deeply transcendent as they streamed out of my pen in that coffee shop.
Something about that notion of witnessing, the correlations and connections to quantum physical notions, however evanescent, just feels right, if only as a model for looking at dating and relationships.
It seems to soothe the desire for someone else, the inability for many people to soothe those longings on their own, and the deeply spiritual experience of expansiveness, power, and joy that one feels when they’re in a relationship with the person they call their “soulmate”.
Anyway, it’s one way to look at it.