today’s quip

Let love be your only intention.

I suppose that’s not enough to be blog worthy perhaps. But it’s enough to fill your heart with an exuberance of warm fuzzies. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about? Life is hard.  We are all trying to overcome it in some way. Let the love in. Let the love out. Feel the warmness.

PTSD

One thing he doesn’t understand:

Those images traumatized me.

It’s like they triggered my PTSD-

At any moment my instincts

could tell me to go into battle.

But I guess it doesn’t matter

to him

Because you see,

they’re such good friends.

And so it seems,

I’ve been making

love to the enemy.

Q:What’s In a Name? A: A Chance For Freedom

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” -Chinese proverb

How frustrating it is to have good intentions only to be misunderstood in the end. But sometimes the way we act, the things we do convey meanings we didn’t aim to project.  Through our behavior we communicate an unspokenness; a hidden truth to us; something buried so deep within that it often remains impenetrable even to ourselves.  And so it becomes easy to do things that are out of line with our true nature as long as there remains this part of ourselves longing to be named.

But it’s not enough to label a behavior as ‘good’ or ‘bad’; in fact, this is inimical.  As long as we carry on simply accepting certain conduct as acceptable or not acceptable, we cannot get to the nitty gritty of what our actions say about us in order to give a voice to all that we’ve been stifling throughout the course of our lives.  This state of reticence creates drama and problems for us.  It interferes with our ability to ask ourselves whether our behavior is in line with our core values.  In fact, it can even prevent us from being able to identify what our values are.

We all know the importance of naming.  There is a name for nearly everything under the sun.  Expectant parents can have discussions that go on for hours regarding nothing more than what to call their child who is about to enter the world.  Just think what would happen to that child’s sense of self if their parents simply chose not to name them.  I imagine it would be confusing, disparaging, and lead to a host of insecurities and personal dilemmas for that person.

It is equally important to give name to the motivations behind our actions, avoiding judgement in labels like ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.  We must really delve into the dark waters of our kaleidoscopic beings and ask ourselves those tough questions, such as: What or who does my behavior remind me of?  What was I feeling when I chose to do this or that?  Did my behavior feel like a choice?  What are my biggest fears, where did those fears stem from, and how might my behavior be simulating those fears?  What has brought me the most pain and suffering?  Have I recreated that pain and suffering in someone else’s life?  Forget right or wrong.  Forget good or bad.  This is you getting real with yourself.  This is you giving a name unto yourself, one that you have chosen for yourself.  Because once you can name the root of your pain, you can set yourself and those around you free from it.

 

 

 

 

naked eye

I was a sex object when I didn’t want to be and she—
She was powerless to protect me.

I learned the way a woman is supposed to be
By sneaking into the living room
Only to catch my dad watching porn.
I didn’t know there was a name for what he watched
at night
in the dark.
I just remember the feeling in my stomach
Seeing topless women roaming around,
bouncing up and down,
making funny sounds.
I remember the panic in my chest,
the shame forged in the pit of my throat.

I learned the way to live in denial
Of what I would later learn to recognize as betrayal
When, at a young age,
I happened upon photos of women all addressed “To Tommy”.
Who the hell is Tommy?
I thought my dad’s name was Tom.

Without permission I was touched,
I was watched,
I was invaded.
Nobody tried to stop him.
Nobody cared to listen to my silent cries.
I was a play thing,
A show piece.
Just as they were.

And every time I die inside.

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?

 

 

writing to inspire

writing has always been my outlet.  so naturally, I tend to write more whenever I’m grappling with something that calls for a shift in awareness.  it is my way of processing, organizing, controlling the way I think about a thing.

and since my outlook these days has been pretty grim given the pain and confusion I’m trying to sort through so that I might begin to make some sense of it, some of my blogs have been concerning to friends and perhaps misconstrued by others.  I’ve exposed a lot of myself on here; offered a window into my soul.  it ain’t always pretty.  I’ll be the first to admit that.  but I think, I would rather be able to name my demons than pretend they don’t exist.

to go along with Buddha’s insight into what he described as the Eight Worldly Concerns, we need to embrace that there is both good and bad, light and dark within each of us.  and so I’ve decided that while I may need to get dark and heavy because yes, those parts do exist within me, I will write to inspire the light within us all.  but above all, I will write.

 

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

as a mirror

Maybe in a relationship, the thing that keeps it from going anywhere is the fear deep within ourselves that we are imperfect beings capable of hurting others; capable of feeling hurt; capable of destroying; capable of being destroyed. When we become intimate with another imperfect being, tensions do arise because building intimacy requires that we reflect as a mirror to the other person both how we see them and how they truly see themselves, deep within. And sometimes we do not like what we see; we loathe what we see whenever how we feel inside isn’t congruent with the reflection of ourselves in the mirror that is our partner. We feel hurt. We feel destroyed. We feel the need to hurt. We feel the need to destroy. And so it goes; an endless cycle between creation and destruction.

We create stories in our head that we tell ourselves to hold on to; we replay them over and over in our minds. We eat these stories; we drink these stories; we dream these stories, over and over and over. They become us and we become them. But what if there is more to the story than what we are allowing into our self-narration? What if there’s another truth of ourselves? One that’s deeper, and richer, and more fulfilling? Wouldn’t we want to follow that, to use our mirror’s reflection to better ourselves? Wouldn’t we want to create ever more of this type of dream, instead of destroying our only hope for everlasting redemption?

je ne sais quois

Lately I’ve been feeling really shitty about myself.  I look in the mirror and I’m tired of what I see.  It’s all very ugly and frightening and I think, “who would find this irresistible??”  So I’ve sulked and I’ve cried and really I’ve just… died inside.

But tonight I decided to do something different.  I sat in front of the mirror and started talking to myself.  At first, it was mostly just because I’m alone and lonely and wanted to feel like there was someone else in the room listening to me.  (You can put away the violins, it’s okay.)  Alas… it was just me.  But as I sat there watching and not just listening to myself talk, I began to see a je ne sais quois that I actually found quite captivating.  And then a miracle happened as I began to think, “who wouldn’t find this irresistible?!”

Je ne sais quois.  As within, so without.  Beauty is on the inside; it’s in the eyes of the beholder.  All of these are just expressions to give rise to the notion that who we are is more important than what people see before them.  Looks can be deceiving and what is underneath can transform any beast into a handsome prince.

Look within yourself.  Really gaze into the mirror and peer at your own reflection.  Think of something that makes you smile and watch as your face lights up.  That’s true inner beauty coming through.  All the doubters and all the haters who would have you believe otherwise really aren’t worth your time.  Now think of something that’s important to you, something you stand by; something you believe in.  Think of a challenge you’ve been through and how you overcame it, or a fight you’re still battling.  Notice the strength, the courage written on your face.  See how elegant you are, and yet how bold.  Stop thinking about how your hair looks, how your clothes hang on your body or any of that stuff.  Really just look at yourself without all of the harsh judgment.  What do you see emanating from the inside?

Tonight I see me, for the first time in a long time.  And dammit if I’m not a total stunner.