relational holarchy

Thoughts on ethical love

  1. Everyone deserves healing, and we need healing so we can love. Love is a part of healing.
  2. To love is to be in the process of your own growth & the growth of another.
  3. You were born whole. And like all interconnected beings, need others to stay whole. Connection is a human need. You need connection like you need breath, air, nourishment, shelter.
  4. Understanding your own edges, your boundaries, is essential to understanding connection.
  5. Approach nurturance of your connections with curiosity, over coming to them with an inflexible agenda. (People over structures)
  6. Stay embodied and collaborative in following your desires.
  7. A love-ethic does not co-exist with abuse of power. Care, affection, entanglement, responsibilities may be shared, but if power and control are unspoken motivators in your connection, it is not loving; you cannot be in growth from this place.
  8. Turn towards harm. Everyone harms, everyone can change. Do not excuse, justify, or ignore harm. If it is to be transformed, it must be given name together. It is not enough to name it to yourself.
  9. Every body deserves safety.
  10. We must acknowledge how power is held in society to understand the harms we are vulnerable to in the personal.

A holon is a word from Greek that indicates something that is both whole and an essential part of a whole. A seed is a holon which is both contained within a forest, which contains many trees, which contain many seeds, and can contain a forest within itself. It honors the fractal nature of forces operating in accordance with their purpose. Relational, or relationship (h/t to relationship anarchy), holarchy is a philosophy of love that posits that by operating free of external forces, each autonomous individual in loving connection strengthens the loving collective, the holarchy. Relationship holarchy is not a set of rules or codex of behaviors, but a system designed to plan for the unexpected with resilience, and prioritize growth through autonomy. It trusts living and loving beings to inherently tend towards growth when liberated. If you believe that without rules that make you suffer you’d fundamentally be destructive, decolonizing yourself from this belief is part of the work of healing.

When I look at a tree and I see how the branches grow out I think about how life, nature, the forces of physics seem so often to choose the path of least resistance. Water will move from one area of higher pressure to one of lower pressure, and this phenomenon of capillary action which allows giant red woods to get water to the highest branches also causes my sinks over run in every sink when we clog the pipes in one sink.

When nature, through its foundational acceptance of entropic principles is capable of amazing things, human ingenuity neglecting to note the wisdom of the natural world will work against ourselves all the goddamn time. I think I’m saying I wish my pipes were designed better, but this is a post about relationships. When I look at the social blueprints for relationships printed en masse in the media, I think about my clogged sinks. Structures that don’t respect the nature of the substance, fail the substance. Love flows freely when the structure is designed for its natural flow.

Growing up in the culture of individualism in the United States, and falling on the “codependent” side of the supposed “codependent”, “narcissistic” duality, I felt that loving myself always came at the expense of what others were entitled to from me. I thought that loving someone meant that I would suffer for them if they needed me to. My partners who fall on the “narcissistic” side of that duality were more likely to believe that they were entitled to love, and to be without it was a source of suffering.

We were both very wrong and very right. What was totally wrong was the duality, or the belief that any of us linger permanently in one camp over the other in all our connections. This was individualism. Interdependence sounds so very complicated within the context of individualism where we say things like “Put on your oxygen mask FIRST before helping others.” It’s really more like “it’s important that you breath and it’s also important that others breath.” These things aren’t in competition like individualism benefits from positing.

For others to breath, we must also breath. And for others to breath, we must breath. We are interconnected and all benefit and all suffer from the benefits and harms of the systems in which we engage.

Love is an ongoing process that we can systemically enable. We don’t have to think about love for it to emerge, but if we heal, understand our capacity, find our way to feeling in our bodies, understand our desire, turn towards harm and remain accountable, and trust our intrinsic wholeness and goodness, love emerges.