Photo credit J. Scott Bovitz
I am still shedding the way of loving that hurts me, and others, bad.
love that is merely the appearance of Love, but no where near the same thing.
This love is wrought with panic. You are afraid of moments of conflict that make it look as though love is failing. You give love that isn't received. You are unreceptive to the love that is given you. Your perceptions act as a sieve. All the good falls out, and you can't help but focus on the bad.
Pervading beliefs and assumptions take over: They must not have the ability to love. I must not have the ability to love. Better not trust. They can't see what is right in front of them-- then, they never could. They are just like their father/mother. They are weak, passive, and will never make it in this life, or they are strong and overbearing and unable to give. If only they would listen.
You spend endless energy trying to do it 'right' but you can't. You go through phases of bliss and you pretend that everything is okay, believing that you've finally mastered relationships on some level. Then you are shocked and hurt when you are back in upheaval. You feel blame. You feel guilt. You feel lost. You feel like hiding. You feel like leaving. You mask it with externals, maybe even babies, until you can't anymore.
You want to run away, move, start over, but you know when all is said and done, you are trapped-- by duty, be it spousal, parental, child's, sibling's, friend's, neighbor's, professional duty. This makes whatever kind of relationship it is so much worse. You can't abandon those you love. You can't abandon what you've worked for--too much to lose.
You threaten. You plead. You bottle up the pain.
You die a little more each time.
Nothing but effort. It zaps your energy. The shelf-life of this love depends heavily on being resourced by fleeting good moments. It is a constant drain, and each time the battery becomes weaker and weaker.
Sometimes your well-being is based on whether or not the other person appears to be doing well. If the other person is doing well, you feel room to not be doing well, which brings the other's sacrilegious joy down to size.
This kind of thinking pervades all of your experience. You become a harsh judge of what is. You always play it safe, because you see the world as damaged, and you don't want to cause any more damage, or maybe you become reckless with a 'what the hell' attitude.
You vacillate between hope and dread, but are mostly shocked by what you see. You cope by constructing rationals, detailed solutions and arguments, distractions--always more judgement-- or perhaps you choose to live in fairy tales wishing to be saved, in dreams, or far into the future--anything to avoid right now.
When this is your experience of love, escaping it feels impossible. It is like a Chinese finger trap. The pull to love and to escape love keeps you locked up.
Sometimes you finally break. You might just disappear in the night. Sometimes you die.
Sometimes you become convinced that it shouldn't have to be this hard.
The most friendly thing you might allow is for yourself to shut down--perhaps the easiest, most natural thing you've done in a long while.
Why am I writing this? Good question.
I know, it is pretty depressing.
Stepping outside of this kind of love--more like putting your head above water for breath of life when you are drowning, feels virtually impossible. So, the solution: just let yourself drown.
Stepping out of this pain is completely counter-intuitive, because it takes stepping right back into it to find your way out of it. Running into the fire instead of away from it.
This is what I am seeing around me and in my own experience.
People deciding that they can't do it the same way. People giving up. People becoming really loud then really quiet. People surrendering. People no longer wanting war. People splitting up. People dying literally or figuratively. Mostly: people stopping themselves in their patterns, and trying on new ones.
This requires sitting on the battlefield, while the shots are flying past you, having long put down your weapons.
This requires a little voice inside to cry out for the first time. This really sucks. I'm dying here. Help me, please. This requires you letting the voice be heard. This requires you doing the unthinkable: following it.
This looks like a broken being, given up the fight. But there is nothing pathetic about her. In fact, she has just found her way to the top of the mountain, with a bird's-eye view of her life--an understanding of why she has been doing it this way for so long. How she could be so strong here, and so weak there. How she could do life, but her relationships had the power to level her. How ready she is to finally do it differently--all the things she thought she would lose...all that she has to gain.
There isn't one path for her. The only surefire thing is that she must walk directly into the pain and not be afraid. She must walk into her fear, let the pain peak, and name it! without reacting with the same anger and blame. Maybe she finds the problems are all in her. Maybe she still chooses to see them outside of herself.
Either way, she is done.
She is finally open to the possibility that she doesn't know shit. She has let go of the idea that her judgement is keen. She takes a flying leap of faith into the void, trusting that she will be shown another way--realizing the moments when she has been--all those clues along the way.
She has to tell the sad truth, that she doesn't know how to fix anything. She is profoundly done trying.
She has no other choice but to let go.
I am she.
If any of you don't know yet, I write these blogs for me--to help me. It is a bonus if they resonate with you.
Often I write these blogs, and encounter the exact situation I have been writing about in a more intensified way--baptism by fire--to gain a deeper experience of it.
Back in the shabby remnants of love recently, letting the experience burn through.
In this case, worrying about needing approval from my mother, that it was worth it for her to come out and visit, judging her as being an exception to a new life that would extend me unconditional love. And this feeling, despite all of our healing together.
Finding the worst of me coming out as a monster, as angry, as controlling, but sucking it all up inside me, as to appear loving--unable to make eye-contact, as we tip toe around each other; me yelling at my kids, trying to wrangle them into shape, feeling guilt, wanting to escape, sure that she must want to go back home. Unable to express the fear.
And yet, no longer able to carry it.
Not used to having to worry about another adult in my life, I find myself forming stories in my head, painful stories of an empty future, of impossibilities with anyone new in my life. Safer to be alone. Hearing my daughter echo this, telling me she wants to live alone with her animals in the South of France. Sounds good to me. She tells me she doesn't want me to visit. 'I'll visit you.' she says--that way we are on her terms, she is saying. No room for conflict with people relationships, no complicated human interactions to wreak havoc on her sanctuary. Shit, she's eight. Is this my legacy?
Your children as a projection of you--seen it?
Then in the midst of the storm, I have a dream that I was with a man that I loved and Loved. The dream soured. It was all the same. The same conflict. The same unspoken, unexpressed pain. The same covering it up. The same wanting to run away, and begin again.
So, the next day I let experience catch up with itself. I decide to walk right into the pain, to see what this pattern is showing me.
I let myself feel the bigness of the story, the judgement of those who can't love me in the way they 'should'. Of me being incapable of love. I feel the unfairness. I feel the guilt. I feel the familiar feeling that I will surely never escape.
Then I stay there in the line of fire, and let it shoot bullet holes right through me, until the fear begins to fade, until I'm not so shocked by the noise, the holes, the bleeding out.
And enter: Help.
I talk to a friend. She tells me that I am amazing that I can even recognize these patterns, that I can bring them to light, to the surface, to face them head-on. Oh, that's right. I am the pattern girl. Foundling of Patterns R Us.
She helps me to realize that buried deep in my old patterns of pain, is light, emerging.
That is why we can't do this alone. We need our friends to point out our good parts. We are far too hard on ourselves.
This new light shone through as my friend--a new pattern being born in my experience, of unconditional love and support. It does exist. (Thank you, C). Directing me back to the truth, that we are all born with a golden heart. We just have to learn this about ourselves and others.
She gave me the confidence to know that if anyone was to see through to love, I can. Through talking to me, she reminded me that I am deeply committed to moving to the other side of half-truths.
I followed the pain to a doorway. I opened it. It was dark. But you know? It was gentle. A hidden pocket became exposed, where I thought new love couldn't emerge--especially with those that had helped reinforce all my old patterns.
But I don't know shit.
Then I did what I could never do before, at least in a way that healed rather than hurt-- I expressed my fear, my pain--and I did it gently. I expressed to my mother my fear that she would regret her short visit, that she would judge how impatient I was with my kids. I told her that I didn't know how to escape being my worst self, because my kids were fighting like crazy, and I needed to gain control of them, or she would want to leave us. I was afraid of being left. I told her I was disappointed in myself for not being able to do it better.
I told my mom about my dream about this man. My fear of recreating painful love in my life, of not being good enough. The fear that I could never let someone in my life because of my imperfectness, that I would always live with rejection to the very core-- the good, and the bad. That I wasn't worthy of love, having this monster part of me, whose aggression is a mask for deep pain of seeing brokenness. The shame.
I told her about my inability to trust that the good could possibly stay, that anyone, including her could love me enough, to work with me in a moment, to get clear, and to not just walk away, disillusioned.
I expressed my guilt of putting judgement in her mouth about me, and believing it, after all we've worked through--and my guilt of my own judgement of her forming in my own head, wanting her to be perfect, because I'm not.
And then all of this story the size of a hurricane, began to slowly dissipate, began to transform into a summer breeze. In a place where I thought love might be met with a head-on collision of old pain and story, I was met with solidarity, unconditional love, understanding, and compassion. I was met with my mother's own clarity, her own breaking free, her trust that this was all part of deeper clearing, and her recognition that this was a gift for both of us.
My life is full of trust building exercises at the moment. And yes, when you jump into the void, there is fear of falling, but the richness--oh the richness of building this new kind of love--step by step.
I am reminded that my heart's desire is to assemble all those souls willing, to form a brave new world that loves beyond itself.
And it is happening.
I feel that soon I won't be so afraid of this new kind of Love. That I will understand that it is not fleeting, or vulnerable to attack, or that I must meet certain criteria to experience, or is exempt to certain situations.
With experience abounding perhaps I will soon trust that real Love, as sure as the air I breathe, is always there.
And perhaps very soon I will feel my whole body surrender to this big, big Love. But until then, it will be good enough to celebrate the baby steps letting it in.