BY NKECHI NJAKA. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEUN IVORY.
able to be used or obtained; at someone's disposal." refreshments will be available all afternoon"
(of a person) not otherwise occupied; free to do something." the nurse is only available at certain times"
informal not currently involved in a sexual or romantic relationship.
I believe romantic relationships are our greatest teacher. A romantic relationship is one of the only things in life that really presents all and everything about our humanity and beyond— our hopes, dreams, longings, loss, passion, desires, limits, openness, insecurities, shame, vulnerabilities, wounds, triggers, attachment style, and so much more!
YOU WANT LOVE? BE LOVE. YOU WANT LIGHT? BE LIGHT. — Cleo Wade
The same is true about emotional availability/intimacy in a romantic partnership. The law of attraction is an actual thing. I have come to understand that it means we are what we attract. I don’t pretend that this is a straightforward concept at all. And I encourage you to investigate what that might mean for you. Regardless, if we are what we attract, then it’s important to make sure we are practicing availability. If that is what we want from our relationships.
In investigating this topic, I am reflective of my most recent relationship. The wisdom that I’ve gained from that relationship (and perhaps all past relationships) continues to expand as I every day look inward to better understand who I was being (how was I practicing love, presence and availability?) and the impact.
Availability, presence, emotional intimacy, depth, connection are what I wanted from that relationship. And I would say this is what I have wanted in ALL of my relationships. I will also say, that with each relationship, I learn how to be more emotionally available. I begin to see where I am limited, where I have room to expand my capacity to be more present and to be more whole. I see where I can be more loving and more available.
[the practice ]
Availability. It means different things to different people. But I think the practice is simple-- be as available as you desire in another. Be the partner you want.
This can be a really challenging in practice (simple doesn’t mean easy!!). By being honest with yourself about your own availability, you will know how to navigate those who do not meet you where you are at.
Here are some things to be in inquiry about:
Beliefs. Do you feel worthy of the love you desire?
Equanimity. Do you value your partner’s needs, goals, time and feelings as equal to your own?
Personal responsibility. Do you own your feelings, actions, and needs?
Anger. Are there past wounds that need to be healed before you’re comfortable getting close to someone?
Avoidance. Do you make excuses to avoid quality time, do you dodge conflict, do you withhold information or any part of yourself?
Autonomy. Do you think you’re so independent you don’t need anyone?
As for identifying emotional unavailability in a partner, there are the classic things, right? The things we all kind of know in our heart of hearts. Some of them include:
Does your partner get back to you in a reasonable amount of time?
Is your partner present when you spent time together (eg. Devices away, can make eye contact, etc.)?
Is your partner aloof, evasive or make excuses?
Does your partner avoid discussing their feelings?
(You can apply this to friendships, co-workers and family members, too!)
BE THE TYPE OF LOVE YOU DESERVE, IF FOR NO OTHER REASON BUT TO SHOW US ALL HOW IT’S DONE. — Cleo Wade
What it really boils down to is, if you aren’t getting what you need from a relationship (which admittedly is a hard thing to know sometimes), it’s time to have a conversation with your partner and check in with getting aligned. If that conversation can’t happen for some reason or if the conversation happens but nothing changes, the relationship may be close to transitioning.
Transitions. My last relationship ended when I stated what I needed. While incredibly painful, transitions are ultimately a very beautiful part of the human experience. At a time where it became very clear that my needs would not be met in the current partnership, had I not been so brave in stating what I needed so clearly, I would’ve continued to exist in a relationship where I was self-abandoning.
Self-abandoning is the opposite of self-care. The way that we show up for our self is exactly the love that we will attract from others. We each are our greatest love. We are the love that we have been seeking the whole time. Our radical act of self-care is our practice of loving ourselves.
Nkechi Deanna Njaka is a SF mindfulness meditation instructor and the founder of NDN lifestyle studio, co-founder of Sitting Matters, and a 2017 YBCA Truth Fellow.
As a neuroscientist, choreographer and meditation teacher, she has spent the majority of her life investigating the relationship between the brain and the body and has always felt the significance of their integration.
Through her work as a neuroscientist as well as a professional modern dancer + choreographer, she discovered that mindfulness and creativity are crucial for sustaining individual and global wellbeing. She attended Scripps College in Claremont, CA where she majored in neuroscience and dance and went on to complete an MSc. in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh.