Bringing In The New Year With Some Good Ol’ Fashioned Cheer

If you love something, set it free. It’s something most of us have heard; this year has taught and reinforced for me many things and that is one of them. A few months ago, I wrote in a poem :

“It isn’t until you’ve been fully rejected that you can begin to fathom the possibility that you might be worthy.”

And ever since then I find that I keep coming back to that idea. Admittedly, sometimes I’ll put something out there without being totally convinced I have it right. Yet the truth–my truth–is that my whole life I’ve wanted to be made to feel by everyone I tried to love that I am worthy of also being loved. And too often I’ve been disappointed.

They say love is blind. But I don’t think it is love that blinds us.  It is need that distorts our thinking and ability to see things for what they are. After finally accepting being rejected by people I care for, I began to feel a sense of liberation. I don’t need anyone to tell me I am worthy. Love–pure love–can only exist where there is no need. My worth is inherent. And anyone who can’t see that is the one who is blind.

This year has been a series of losses, let downs, crises, and failures; full of moments and experiences that made me stop and think and feel quite a bit. I’ve fought, I’ve lost, I’ve moiled, and I’ve mourned. I’ve been challenged in so many unusual ways I never could  have prepared for or expected. I’ve had to let go of the life I envisioned for myself and my family in preparation for a life that was meant to be mine.   I’ve endured rejection and hardship so that I could discover the true meaning of love and freedom.

So many people I know have been going through the same things.   The struggle to accept our lives as they are, without need, without regret… this is one that few fail to fall into.  We all long for something.  We all look in all the wrong places before stumbling onto something right.  We all get desperate when a sense of control is beyond us.  We all want to belong.

But we also have to relinquish whatever it is we cling to if we are ever to experience pure peace. pure bliss. pure love.  We have to remember the light that is inside, even in these darkest of days.  I belong to myself.  And, I belong to something much, much greater than me.  I am a part of it.  You are a part of it.  It unites us in so many mystical and magical ways.

There will always be dark as long as there is light.  2016 was a dark year.  I’m hoping 2017 is accompanied by a lot more light, despite the cards stacked against it.  But I think no matter what challenge lies before us, loving our way through it is the only way to wholly overcome anything.

And so it is, as we reach the brink of both an end and a beginning, that I resolve to love and to let go.  May we all learn to embrace our dark side even as we welcome the light.  May we cherish the winter in spite of its storms while remembering the warmth that is promised.  And to the New Year… Cheers!

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thursday mourning

They cling tight to one another; they’re all they’ve ever known. To once be with him, to now be without him. They’re trembling for their lives as it creeps upon them; the reality of their loss being defined by days, weeks, months, now years as they made it through their first one. Sometimes there is light in the distance but not on a day like this. On this day, they mourn. They sit and weep; they bury their burdens deep. They find no solace in thinking about tomorrow; from where they are it’s just full of more emptiness and sorrow. But on this day it is good to remember the time he spent here, the meaning in the tears that won’t go on forever. Tears eventually get replaced with the kind of smiles he always put on their faces. He stays alive in their hearts and in their lives because of the love he gave them.

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.

Eulogy

When I’ve drawn my final breath

And my body, laid to rest

What will they say of my time spent here?

What will I have given

to leave a lasting impression?

Will there be pain in their laughter?

Joy in their tears?

 

And so it is this I ask of you, dear children:

Do not mourn the life I lived,

but rather rejoice in all of the love I had to give.

I assure you it will remain

forever with you,

wherever you go;

Even once you grow old and

your souls summon you home.

In that home I shall also be.

It is a place not built of walls, but rather

space for us to be free–

Apart, yet joined by eternity.

 

Remember, also, another thing:

You are the stars,

the moon,

the world to me;

You are even everything between

the spaces of the spaces.

All I know of love I learned from you,

my darling dears;

Have no fear.

Your love has carried me through this life,

as it will continue to carry me to

all the places I am meant for.

 

Close your eyes,

feel my hand warm against yours,

as though I never left.

Think of my love when you’re feeling bereft;

For it is alive and well

And it calls upon you to live your life

as though you might also die;

One day at a time,

Forgive through the pain,

Love through the strife.

Mountain Gorilla

I think that perhaps the hardest part of breaking up with someone you put all your faith in–so much so that you trusted you could invite them into your children’s lives and into their home–is the feeling of having failed. I let not only him down, I let myself down and most importantly, I let my kids down. It’s hard to hold your head up high when you feel ashamed for being deserted. I guess that means I’m assuming blame but how else am I to interpret his leaving?

Maybe it’s the fact of having kids that I expected him to be more careful, but it’s also the reason that I should have been more cautious. It’s hard to trust yourself to trust another when I keep making choices that end up hurting not just me, but the two most important people in my life.

Every time I am around other families…or really just, breathing… it is a reminder that I am a single mom failing at love and life.  There is an indescribable sense of shame and embarrassment in this, even with all of the single parents out there.  There is shame in being naive enough to allow someone to convince you that they’re strong enough to make it through the tough times with you; that to them you are worth it.  There is embarrassment in admitting to the world that none of this is so.

What ended our relationship was nothing that couldn’t be worked out… Had he kept in mind any of my redeeming qualities. I certainly was able to recall his, despite doing things at times that made him feel like nothing more than a whipping horse. While he didn’t hesitate to share those feelings with the world, I guess he forgot to include all of the small, day to day things I did do and say to remind him of his worth: Extending gratitude and words of praise; offering up back and belly rubs; watching movies and shows that were of interest to him; having conversations about things I knew nothing about, but were important to him; and just generally doing things to express warmth and love, kindness and consideration…

But… We see what we choose to see. And to quote one of my favorite songs of all time since it has become a theme in my life: “you don’t…see…me.”

**Just an interesting fact about the song from which it came, 3 Libras, Maynard James Keenan had this to say in the liner notes of the song: “Up until the mid twentieth century the mountain gorilla was considered a myth. Oddly enough, a legend not unlike Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. The chance of actually seeing/experiencing this elusive shadow was as likely as finding one’s soulmate. Rare. Precious. Even once discovered they seemed unapproachable. The only way to get close to this magnificent creature was to become empathetic. Abandon all pretense and preconceptions. To bare an open throat. To collapse into the arms of vulnerability. All but extinct, these beings/moments are threatened by the black hearted. The cold and oblivious. The empty eyed profit seekers that overlook these Rare. Precious.”

I am that rare and precious being, seen only for what frightens people away.  They are the black hearted…cold…oblivious.

 

Fool me once… fooled again

You made a fool out of me.

Now all these people won’t let me be.

I never asked for a handout,

Nor do I need their sympathy.

Sometimes people just…  leave.

 

But I can make it on my own,

Alone I might have a fighting chance

Of learning to love myself again,

Since asking anything of you became a sin.

 

And my biggest transgression was

trusting that I could let someone in.