Monday, January 24, 2011

Hurt so good

An interesting observation was made about me the other day that really got me thinking. I was told that I seem to have the opposite kind of trust issue than the majority of people. Rather than having a difficult time trusting others, I have the ability to trust, very quickly and very completely, in the people I let into my heart. Heck, maybe the last part of that sentence needn't even be there, seeing as how I've chosen to write a blog wherein I share stories of a most personal nature, the stories of my heart, with whoever happens to be reading. Regarding my blog, the way I see it, I don't expect any sort of adverse reaction or negative consequence to come from sharing and trusting so freely. Quite simply, it is a cathartic and creative process for me, and my little band of followers seems to enjoy what I have to say, so win-win. As for trusting the people in my life, I operate under the assumption that anyone who I have connected with is there as part of a Divine plan, and I take an "innocent until proven guilty" approach. I strive to find a way to embrace whatever and whoever comes my way, anticipating the best and not wasting my precious time and energy worrying about what harm might befall me by being so trusting.

Naturally, I get hurt.

By being so trusting I expose a very real and sensitive vulnerability to those close to me. I let them in, and for the ones who really matter, I actually hand over a little piece of my heart. I trust them to cradle it gently, but they're only human and sometimes they crush it; sometimes they crush me. It isn't intentional. It isn't malicious. It's life. It's love. We are all guilty of this. I can't think of one person, even revered saints and sages, who has not caused some sort of emotional harm to another human being. It is our nature. We can't help ourselves. Many times, the hurt comes about, at least in part, because of circumstances beyond either party's direct control. While trying to do right in one area, we cause harm in another. By trying to alleviate our own suffering, we provoke suffering for the ones we love. It is part of the human condition.

Last week was a trying one for me. My heart was already raw and aching from the end of my relationship, and much of my inner strength was going toward healing in a healthy way. Inwardly, I was two steps away from tears falling at just about any moment and caught up in processing a lot of different emotions. Outwardly, I was doing my best to own my decision and surround myself with the love, light and laughter of my friends, and as much yoga as I could fit into my schedule, so as not to fall apart. And then not one but two of my closest, most trusted friends dealt me enough of a blow to break the shell wide open. The tears fell for sure. Neither one of them did it on purpose. Neither one of them would have chosen to cause me any sort of harm if they could have helped it. They were both trying to make what they believed to be the best choice in a challenging situation, and it just happened that their decisions led to some suffering for me.

In the face of this turn of events, I had to ask myself whether what transpired was really so egregious, or if it was my own expectations of these individuals, the trust and love that I'd placed in them, that was the real cause of my pain. Had I not opened myself up to A. or to these two friends, could they have ever hurt me? This kind of thinking is how I imagine people begin to develop the more mainstream kind of trust issues. It seems like a very dangerous downward spiral from there, in my opinion. Instead of getting onboard for that particular ride, I found a different perspective to consider. Thanks to loving and trusting all of these people, I got to face some of my own crap and engage in the process of healing and growing. And since I was a little too in control of my post-breakup hurt feelings, the situations with my girlfriends ended up providing me what I needed most: release. I needed to cry big time. I needed to just let down my guard so I could feel the pain, sadness, disappointment and grief fully in order to begin the process of moving on. As I do, I become even more aware and appreciative of how incredible each one of the people in my life is, how much they bring me, how much I want to keep loving and trusting them, hopefully for our mutual benefit.

I could never live my life as an untrusting person. I'd be too afraid to miss the opportunity to feel, to connect, to experience all the juicy, messy, fantastic, wild goodness that opening your heart brings. I know living this way means I will get hurt from time to time, and I accept that. I accept that because it means I will love, and be loved, in ways far more powerful than the hurt could ever be. To me, that is more than worth it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My take on heartbreak

It has occurred to me that the very act of loving someone, deeply, truly and from your soul, is heartbreak. You give a piece of your heart to that person, and for so long as s/he is close, the break goes unnoticed. But when that relationship ends and the person is no longer by your side, the pain reveals itself and the word "heartbroken", as it is commonly understood, enters into the dialog. As always, I draw from what I know.

I've been blessed with a very passionate, intense, eye-opening love in my life for the last several months, a love that, quite frankly, has been tested, and tested me, from the very beginning. I handed over a piece of my heart without a second thought, expecting nothing but the same in return. But how is that nothing? It is actually everything. And sometimes, everything is just more than some people can give. Sometimes your version of everything is quite different from the other person's. When faced with that, you either accept it and find a way to make the best of things, or you recognize that it is not going to be enough to sustain you and walk away. I tried the former, because pure, profound, delicious love lets you do that for a while. Love amps up your own supply of patience, understanding, flexibility, tolerance, compassion, whatever is needed to help you compensate for your beloved. That's part of what love is about, giving more at times and doing so with grace. But we all have our limits, and ultimately love needs reciprocity in relatively equal measure over the long run. Love needs both lover and beloved to be on the same page, as it were. If there is too great of an imbalance or disconnect for too long, you may find it best to choose the latter option and walk away. You'll know in your heart when you reach that point, and if you listen to it carefully, your heart will always guide you in the right direction. That direction may seem incredibly scary or painful when you start heading in it, but that doesn't make it wrong. That's the point I found myself at.

I could place blame in order to make my decision easier to swallow, substituting anger for the scary and painful feelings. Why do you think most stories have a good guy and a bad guy? Blame the bad guy, of course! But in life, and love in particular, that isn't always so. Many times, when a love ends, there are no bad guys. There are two people who tried, who loved, but who just couldn't get it quite right, whether because of timing or circumstances or any number of reasons. While that isn't always easy to accept, at least not for me, I've come to believe it is true. With my ex-husband, it took me quite a while to release blame and instead see that we were just not meant to be. We just recently sat down to our first meal as friends, two years after we first split, and it was incredibly gratifying to see how far we'd come and that there are no bad guys. With A. I'm making my peace with the fact that our timing is off, and so no matter how much love we share, it isn't meant to be right now. I'm doing this early enough on so that it will hopefully spare us greater heartache than is absolutely necessary. Why would heartache be necessary at all, you might ask? Well, I believe it is because we need to revere love lost as the incredible teacher that it is. If it didn't ache to lose love, would we really take the time to reflect and learn the lessons we are meant to learn in these instances? If you can just walk away from love without feeling some pain, was it really love to begin with?

So right now I'm a little heartbroken, and I can accept that. I've given a piece of myself to someone I love, and for a while we walked alongside one another on our respective paths. Our paths have diverged. I am better for it because I have learned and experienced so much good through this relationship. I hope he feels the same, if not immediately then eventually. There is hurt, there is sadness, there is longing. I feel them all very acutely, but I can tolerate them, I can tolerate heartbreak, because gratitude is stronger. I'm thankful for this opportunity I've had with A. to love and to connect, to enrich and be enriched. And along with gratitude, I have faith that more love, connection and enrichment are to come.

Monday, January 3, 2011

You must know darkness in order to see the light

So here we are, a new year, a new beginning. And in order for something to begin, something else must end. So it goes, an infinite cycle of starts and stops, openings and closings, coming together and moving apart. I am among those who places a great deal of emphasis on a new year. In particular, I view the transition from the previous one into the new one as an important time to take stock of what you want to let go of, what isn't serving you any longer, and consciously release it. Simultaneously it is the time to focus attention on what is working so you can nurture it, as well as what you want to attract or manifest as you go forward. My girls and I spend a lot of time symbolically burning lists in fires or throwing stones into the ocean to release, as well as contemplating, writing, vision board-making, etc. about future intentions during the tail-end of December and the beginning of January. Fun stuff, if you like that sort of thing!

I decided 2011 is my year of living fearlessly. In order to do that, I have to really look at myself, my life, my relationships, my habits and see where I am being motivated by fear. That is not an easy thing to do, because I'm not talking about fear of heights or spiders or something tangible. I'm talking about fear of being alone or choosing the wrong path in life or being disliked. These are the fears that breed insecurity and cause otherwise intelligent, confident, well-adjusted individuals to engage in behaviors or relationships that are dangerous or dysfunctional. These are the fears that tear apart romances and fuel conflicts. These are the fears that lurk within us in dark shadows that we are too afraid to explore most of the time. But darkness is nothing more than the flip side of light, and I believe it serves our highest good to get to know both equally well so that we may be whole.

Whole is our natural state. It is our Divine birthright. We are born whole, happy and healthy. A baby knows no fear until conditioned otherwise. We do not come into this world with trust issues or an adversity to certain personality traits in others, rather, the relationships and experiences of our lives foster these things. If left unchecked, these "dark side" afflictions can slowly and quietly begin to run our lives and motivate our every decision. Before we know it, we are sabotaging our own happiness with the very choices we are making, and yet we cannot seem to figure out how it happened. Really, the mystery isn't all that great. We are powerful, conscious beings, many of whom live in a way that denies that very power and disconnects from that very consciousness. I have chosen otherwise. I want to fulfill my birthright of a happy, healthy and whole existence, and as such, I have accepted the fact that the only way to do it is to be willing to look at all my crap: ugly, shameful, uncomfortable, embarrassing, fear-invoking though it may be, it is part of me. I know I must own it and address it in order to move past it.

Not surprisingly, the very best way to see our darkness clearly is in our most intimate relationships. We attract people into our lives (this goes both ways) to hold a mirror up to our junk so that we have an opportunity to look at it and decide how to best deal with it. For some, this means moving even further into a state of denial about our ugly truth and more likely than not, leaving the relationship in shambles. For others, it is the needed opportunity to break the cycle, face the truth, make a conscious effort to change for the better and be part of a loving and nurturing relationship. I am trying for the latter in my love life, and I can tell you that it is hard work. It is scary in its own right, emotionally draining at times and can be downright frustrating. But I believe that A. and I are wonderful mirrors for one another. I believe that we can help each others' light to shine more fully and wholly. I believe in our love. So I've chosen the fearless path, and now we shall see where it leads.

As you go about setting your resolutions and goals for the year, there is nothing wrong with the garden variety "I'm going to shed ten pounds by bikini season" or "I'm going to save $100 each month toward the island vacation of my dreams". Any goal with a positive end is a goal worth setting. But ask yourself if those are the things that are truly going to nourish you and bring happiness. And consider if setting such specific goals is always wise, or if it might be a good idea to leave a little room for Divine interpretation of your aspirations. Creating that space could mean receiving far more than you imagined possible.