I Think I’m Alone Now. But I Think That’s Okay.

I can see why some people just decide to spend their life alone with no one to share it with as intimately as you do with someone you love.  I can see why some people simply give up on finding someone and making it work.  I teeter back and forth with this idea.  And I’ve come to accept more than I ever have the possibility of being alone.  I’ve come to love who I am when I’m alone, which is to say I’ve come to accept that there is a lot about me to love, regardless of my relationship status.  And maybe… just maybe… that’s been the whole point of it all.

 

 

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Intentions: Bringing Us One Step Closer Or Taking Us One Step Back

Good intentions don’t always yield the results we had hoped for. I found myself spouting this tidbit to a fellow comrade this morning, realizing the relevance it has had in my own life lately.

Rejection tends to leave one feeling broken, weak, and powerless. Instinctually, out of the pain and betrayal I feel, I want to hide behind my fear and anger. And I have done this. But once the dust has settled, once the storm is passed and I am back in touch with the deeper meaning of my life, I choose instead to express love, kindness, forgiveness. Because I believe those are the only things that last; certainly, they triumph over every misguided or ill intention I may have at one time harbored. And unquestionably they are what give my life meaning. I could choose to remain bitter, I could choose to disown those I feel betrayed by, to cast them out of my life like a thorn in my side. But all that does is increase the likelihood of eventually stepping on said thorn, creating more agony and turmoil for me down the road.

Ignoring someone who has hurt us isn’t facing our fears; it’s running away from them, especially when that person is trying only to show us the healing power of love and forgiveness. When we run from fear we run in circles, ending up always right where we started. Progression, growth, these things imply a linear movement forward or upward. They are also impossibilities unless we relinquish our fears and reach towards the light that is the extension of someone’s merciful hand.

Some motivations to express kindness are self-serving. Behind these acts there is a desire to get what we want, to feel better about ourselves, to feel less rejected. I’ve been rejected in love plenty. I now have what you would call a thick skin. You could set me on fire and I’d probably not bat an eye. And yet, to those who I have been hurt by and regardless of whether the same generosity is rendered to me, in the end I will always choose to extend graciousness and benevolence, not with my ego, but with my heart where the purest of intentions coexist often with the deepest well of sorrow and discontent.  And in this way, I’d like to think I am destined for growth and for true love.

Rules For Entering: A Mother’s Reflection On Matters Of The Heart

This morning before leaving for work I was struck by the sign on my 8-year old son’s bedroom door.  It was a list of “rules” for entering which you can see here:

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I thought it was a fine list of rules; he doesn’t seem to request anything of his bedroom guests that is too unreasonable.  Asking permission to enter, being kind, respecting his personal space, as well as his feelings and the times when he just needs to be alone… all good things.  What I was most intrigued by was the warning he attached below them: if you break the rules, you’re out.  No wavering, no mending, no talking about the problem. It’s a very move-along-and-don’t-let-the-door-hit-ya-on-the-way-out sort of mentality; Nihilist, even, black-and-white.  Fear ridden.  Destructive rather than constructive.

So while I was standing there reading the sign and having these thoughts I wondered, is that what my son has learned?  He’s seen me go through three relationships with men I invited into our home and our family yet who are no longer around, outside of his own father.  The other two just… disappeared.  Why?  Because they broke the rules, I guess.  And what were my rules?  Well, very similar to junior’s, actually:

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Seriously.  I asked for a donut.  Where the fuck is it?!  Right???  I think we all feel that way sometimes, or at least I have.  I just find it very interesting to see that feeling reflected here in my son’s rules for entering his room, his world, his life.  Poignant, symbolic, yes?  What I don’t know is how much of that is learned and how much of it is a natural part of being human and wanting to feel safe and cared for.  I guess if anyone regardless of their current situation or circumstances growing up can say that they would ask the same of anyone entering their haven, then we can all agree that these rules belong on every door to every heart.

Unfortunately, written within those rules there is nothing to be said of loving for the sake of loving; giving when you don’t want to give; learning what that feels like in the end.  Even though it’s challenging, there is no implication in such demands that believing the pain of loving without guarantee or restitution is worth it; there is no resolve to lead with love despite the fear of getting burned.

What do we do not only for the other person, but for ourselves when we allow someone in even when they’ve hurt us… upset us… didn’t deliver what we asked for?  I’m 34-years old and I’m still figuring this out; I suppose I can’t expect my 2nd grader to really grasp it yet.  But as his mother, his teacher, his guide, I see it as my job and my privilege to show him the power of love, forgiveness, and working through differences, even when someone we trusted enough to welcome into our lives has hurt us, gone against the rules.  We would all want someone to show up at our door bearing donuts, chocolate, and ice cream.  It’s just that, not all days are like that.  Some days it’s a pile of smelly trash, baggage you don’t care to deal with, and horse shit.

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The only thing that keeps me sane is the belief that only love will remain. When all is said and done, what was left unspoken will come down to one word: Love. That’s all there ever truly was. That’s all that will be left behind. Whether with me in form, they’re engraved upon my soul. Mates at one time at least. Lovers no more. But still so much a part of me; their stories becoming my own, an interwoven tapestry. Dreams of what we could be soothed by gratitude for all that we were. And for what it’s worth, what we were was Love incarnate.

Sacrificial Heart

Valentine’s day is upon us again.  And as I find myself sitting here, alone, I can’t help but think of what I was doing last year on this hot or cold, take it or leave it holiday.  Last year I was lying in bed with someone very special.  And as we were lying there, naked and nervous, we said the thing you say to someone when they make you feel unlike anyone else makes you feel.  We said, “I love you” to each other (for the first time).  And then we laughed at ourselves because….Valentine’s Day?!  How cliche can you get??

But it was true.  We both felt it.  And we had both been holding out, but agreed the words and the feelings had ignited a fire, burning deep within our souls for quite some time that we simply could not contain any longer. It had started before we even had a chance to meet; before my hand could reach out and touch his hand; before I could know the relief I would feel in his presence.  It was alive; a spark followed by the most brilliant light.

I loved him and he loved me.  We loved each other and became a family.  His. Mine.  We moved in together and things became “Ours”.  It was great. …And then it was not so great.  It was great again.  It was… not.  I still loved him and he still loved me.  That was never the issue, so then… what?  Because here we are, on the “not” side of things which finally turned into the “never will be” faze of our now non-relationship.

Perhaps the what was an unwillingness to let our hearts get broken; an unwillingness to be completely vulnerable, to let go, move on, sacrifice.  In addition, an unwillingness to sweat, though if he came to me and said, “You’re worth it” I’d roll up my sleeves and say, “Let’s do this”.  There is so much work to making relationships work!  There’s a lot of work to just life in general.  Is that why people give up?  Is that why people resist pushing their limits?  They settle in to themselves and just decide, “Well… this is the way I’ve always been.  Guess this is who I’m going to be forever.  Take it or leave it?”  Because to that I say, “Oh, bugger off then!”

You see because, I don’t take what starts as a tiny spark and grows into sheer luminosity very lightly.  In fact, I take that shit quite seriously.  But I also take myself seriously, as well as my family.  I demand a lot of myself and therefore, I demand respect from my partner and I demand a man of integrity.  This means that when the woman you love is asking you to sacrifice for the betterment of your relationship, you get down on your knees and offer up your best metaphorical lamb.  You do NOT saunter off with your tail between your legs because you’re worried the lamb isn’t enough.  Or because you want to keep the lamb for yourself.  NO!  That is not what appeases the gods and goddesses of eternal love.  And let me tell you, that is NOT how committed relationships survive and flourish.  (All of mine have failed so trust me, I’m an expert!)

Interestingly, it just so happens that Valentine’s Day coincides with another holiday: Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of a 40-day religious practice, Lent, also known as a process of reconciliation to the Body of Christ.  During this time, people are called to render their hearts to God by giving up something that is sacred to them.  For some, this is ice cream; chocolate!; coffee (please don’t take away my coffee).  But really, what this time is meant for is to reflect on how one can be a better person.  In the Bible I believe it is referred to as  “conversion” which literally means ‘to turn around’, or in other words, to turn back to your true nature.

Hearts are meant to be broken.  And broken hearts can be made even more whole than what they started out as being, as long as we allow ourselves the time to reflect on who we were born to be and why we sacrifice for a greater sense of belonging.

“To change one’s way of living is the sign and fruit of this broken and reconciled heart by a love that surpasses us.”  –Pope Francis (formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio) in his 2013 Lenten message.

I want a love that surpasses; one that’s worth sacrificing for. When I find it, I will step up to its alter and offer up my fear of a broken heart.

Lessons Learned on a Rainy Tuesday Morning in the Midst of Winter

I’ve given it some thought on this rainy Tuesday morning and it seems to me that the key to sustaining a nourishing relationship is being able to answer ‘yes’ to these four things: 1) Do I love this person? 2) Do I love them so much that I would be willing to be dragged through the mud in a torrential thunder storm with them?  3) Do I trust this person to be honest with themselves in addition to being honest with me? 4) Above all, do I feel respected and important? 

I really feel that if you can answer ‘yes’ to those questions about another person, and they can say the same about you, you’re probably destined for truly amazing things.  You are probably on your way to becoming your best version of yourself because it is through our trials with others, especially with those we love and trust more than anyone, that we gain the power (if we allow it) to rise above even ourselves instead of becoming wrought with fear.  And by rising above ourselves, we can know the beauty of true love.  It really is quite simple, and yet so complicated.  But then, I believe we all too often make things harder than they really are.

I think we have to recognize that times are going to be tough.  Insecurities will arise; they’re part of what make us who we are, each one telling a story about where we’ve been, what we’ve done, things we’ve seen.  And they’re also part of what make us so uniquely divine.  In those insecurities are opportunities for strength and vulnerability;  for it is by admitting our vulnerability that we actually gain strength.

Allowing another to see us… really see us… opens up the path to love and enlightenment.  It is frightening and full of uncertainty, yet still, this is the path I choose.  Which one do you choose?

 

 

Disappointment: A path to enlightenment

One thing that grows out of a relationship that has fallen apart is disappointment.  This is something I have been struggling a lot with as I continue to ask myself “Why… How did it all go wrong?”  I begin to doubt my self-worth and cling to the fear that I’ll never find someone to share my life, my dreams with.  I sense that there is something I’m missing amongst all of this disappointment; something that this experience is calling my attention to, but which I have yet to discover.

It’s easy to lose yourself, to forget what is most important when you devote so much of your time comparing yourself to others and vying for someone else’s approval.  But in a moment of clarity late last night a thought occurred to me: I will never be happy trying to fit into someone else’s mold.  All of this juxtaposing has made me miserable and hollow inside.  I can only live my life with genuine intent and authenticity and in so doing I will attract that which I hope to find.

… which brings me back to the issue of disappointment.  In my research this morning on how to start living a more authentic life I happened upon some words of wisdom from Phillip Moffitt, former CEO and Editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine who has since founded the Life Balance Institute and now teaches meditation (proof that anyone is capable of changing paths).  What he explains is that hope can often be false in the sense that it is merely a refusal to accept things as they are.

When you reject the moment that is arising just because it is unpleasant, you are rejecting the only moment you have in which to be alive, the only moment in which you can feel and act. If you are lost in disappointment about the future or the past, you are not fully and authentically present in the moment.”

Got it.  Less hope = Less disappointment.  I have been telling myself that where once I was a hopeless romantic, now I’m just hopeless.  So maybe that’s a good thing?

Or maybe… just maybe… it’s part of the natural order of things.   One of Buddha’s teachings is that we experience everything in terms of these Eight Worldly Concerns: gain and loss, praise and blame, pleasure and pain, happiness and unhappiness.  Buddha referred to these duos as the “terrible twins” because we cannot experience one without the other.  To every action there is a reaction.  What goes up must come down.  And as Moffitt reiterates, “One cannot be open to praise and not receive blame. One cannot experience pleasure and not feel pain. This is the nature of the reality that we know.”  Yes, I can see this.

Abandon all hope.  Accept that life is full of disappointments.  The only way to enlightenment is through our own personal hell.  And in that hell, we will experience moments of loss and despair, panic and confusion.  “Given that this is so, you can either live in denial of the truth of your experience or obsess on your pains and disappointments. Or you can consciously accept, even embrace life not working out and trust that in doing so you will discover meaning in your life.”  I sure hope so.

See more of what Phillip Moffitt has to say at: http://dharmawisdom.org/teachings/articles/living-disappointment#sthash.mJrrUDdx.dpuf