Be in this world but not of it. -Jesus of Nazareth

bridgeI love this quote.  It has become my mantra over and over again when I feel myself getting tangled in the web of the world around me.  Sometimes the strings in my life have barbs and they tug and snare, and I think of these words and feel instantly calm.

I said them once to my father as he went on a tirade about some commotion with his family.  He was sad because after his mother’s death his family was squabbling about what to do with certain items, money, and property.  The emotions he was carrying with him were heavy, and I often have a difficult time in the presence of them.  I wanted a way to calm him, soothe his fears and anger, so I said, “Be in this world but not of it.”

He quieted for a moment, then asked, “What does that mean?”  I explained to him that it’s the thought that we are created to be in this world and a part of its manifestations, but as soon as we lose ourselves in the mastication of events, we are lost.

“Think about,” I said.  “We are physical beings.  We are in a physical reality much of the time.  There are events and things that transpire that we cannot control nor should we.  As soon as we start to believe that these events and things are who we are, we lose the thread.  We are spiritual beings living a physical experience.”  He looked at me like I had three heads.  He nodded and continued driving, no longer lamenting the affairs of his family. I felt generally soothed by the fact that he was at least mulling it over.

After a few minutes he turned to me, “So which one of your psycho babble new-aged philosophers taught you that idea?”

I laughed.  “Jesus,” I said.  He paused again.  His deep and abiding love for Catholicism kept him from going any further with this his derides.

“So tell me again what this means,” he said. I did, but I am still quite sure he didn’t get it, and truthfully, that’s okay.

The quotes I remember, the mantras that keep me going, the words of wisdom that help steer me in the right direction day after day are here for my journey.  The understanding that we are all here to learn our particular brand of lesson is never lost on me, and I try to remember that before I get frustrated by lack of understanding.  We are all on our own paths and we are shown constant signs to help guide us through, and perhaps showing others our sign posts help them or maybe it just helps us.  As we reaffirm an idea for another, it travels more deeply into the core of us, and there it becomes lodged and more of a truth than it was before.  Either way, it is good.

Trust. Trust. Trust

Wondering About the Nature of Love

heartWhen does someone know she is in love?  Is it just a level of caring that overtakes her softly and then sideswipes her over and over again until she wonders which way is up?  Or is love a combination of waves crashing on a beach, sometimes soft and lapping other times thunderous and raw? Does it matter if the other person loves us back?

I have read every relationship book ever created.  I have read The Rules, and It’s only F*cking Dating, He’s Just Not That Into You, Ignore the Guy and Get the Relationship You Want, Rory Raye, and Bruce Bryans, The Key to Getting His Heart, How to Be the Girl Who Gets the Guy…just to name a few, and I feel I have found the common thread that links them all together.  It is about loving myself first.  Unfortunately, this is the tough part, and these books aren’t entirely helpful in explaining how a person does this.  One suggests “circular dating”, and another is more keen on buying something that the person who is a successful relationship would own.  This way you are already materializing the good things you will have in the future. There are visualizations and experimentations, drawing clear boundaries, and feeling your emotions.  It’s all pretty exhausting.

A few months ago I went to the 2017 Flower Show at the Convention Center in Philadelphia.  I decided to go alone. I was going to take advice from one of my countless advisers: Just date yourself for awhile.  As I walked among the myriad flower displays, a cold loneliness washed over me. It was surreptitious at first.  I had fooled myself into thinking that I was totally having fun weaving in and out of the vendors, closely studying the beautiful displays.  It was right around then that I started to notice couples everywhere.  They were holding hands or kissing under arbors, snuggling up to catch a selfie, and I felt the bottom drop out.  I texted my mom.

Me: At at the Flower Show

Mom: That’s great, Honey

Me: I am on a date with myself

Mom: Oh, that’s wonderful

Me: I just realized something

Mom: What’s that?

Me: I don’t even want to date me

Silence.  It was at that moment that I realized I had run into a wall.  If the truth was that I could not even have a good time with myself, then what was I expecting on the other side of all of this.  I realized with sudden clarity that it was not love I was seeking, but a body to fill the void and keep me from me.  But why?  Why go to such lengths just to avoid me?  It would be in meditation that the answer was found.

In the silence, I remembered.  I remembered being that sad, little girl sitting in her room, ignored by the adults around her.  I remember my dad laughing and telling people that he could always hear me talking to myself. I was alone so much.  A child of divorce and a father who worked seven days a week…there wasn’t much time for me.  The thought of being alone catapulted me back to that moment if I wanted to go there or not, but then I remembered something Eckhart Tolle had said, “Our past is merely an interpretation of events.”  The loneliness certainly didn’t feel fabricated.  It felt very real and I resented those adults who didn’t care for me.  Either way the past was sitting in my lap during my meditation and I allowed it. I gave the pain and the loneliness space to be.  I did not deny that little girl the feeling of her loneliness, but I reminded the adult me, who was coming to realize that she was already whole.   I tried gentleness as opposed to an egoic tug of war with myself.  I allowed it to just be.  I wish I could say that it all dissipated and at that moment I was free, but any student of meditation knows that it seldom works that way.  My little girl self returns with a vengeance or sometimes a gentle tapping, but she always returns for the compassionate reassurance that she is not alone.

So going back to love…I feel that the best is on the mat, deep in meditation and silence.  I go within when I am overwhelmed with these emotions, even if going to the mat means I stop in a public place to catch my breath.   Currently, I am in love with a man.  I am trying not to let my white, hot loneliness take over, but I am filled whearts3ith fear. I want to nail this down, figuring it out, give it a title, know that it is all going to work out, but I have to go back to my mat.  I need to recalibrate and focus on what is real.  Love from Source.  Love that is already me.

Trust. Trust. Trust.

Abuse and the Empath

loveWhen I was child, I was abused by my father. When I did anything wrong, I was beaten with either a hand or belt. I was most scared of the thinner belts.  They hurt the most.  My father has a “funny” story that he used to tell when we would be sitting around the dinner table.  It went something like this…

I was four or five and I had wandered around the block.  This was wrong. I was not allowed to go past the house with the big white pillars and the small porch.  This was a rule, but I had broken it.  Perhaps I was chasing a butterfly, maybe I just wanted to openly defy the rule. I don’t remember why I broke this rule; I just remember that I did.  As a cycled back around the corner, I saw my father’s angry eyes.  His mouth was twisted and I knew that he was furious.  I knew that I was caught.

“Don’t beat me, Daddy,” I cried as I put my hands across my behind to try and save myself from a subsequent beating.  My father’s face changed as he glanced at the few neighbors who were watering their gardens are putting out their potted plants.  He smiled and bent to the ground, supporting himself on one knee.

“It’s ok, baby,” he said soothingly.  “I am not going to hurt you.” I smiled and ran into his arms.  He hugged me as he carried me into the house.  I buried my tear-stained face into his neck and sighed.  I did not notice that we were walking back towards the house.

And this is the part my father always thought was most amusing, the part that he would chuckle while saying,

“So here she thinks she got me,” he would continue.  “She thought she could manipulate me and embarrass me in front of the neighbors, but I showed her.  When I got her inside, I spanked her so hard she didn’t even know what hit her, and I made sure she really knew I was serious because I really laid into her.  She never did that again.”

And I didn’t do that again…throughout my life, I don’t think I ever did that again.  How terribly did that scar me?

I find it difficult to trust men.

I believe all men lie to me or are going to hurt me if I give them an ounce of trust.

I fear men and the things they are capable of doing to me.

How does a person have an intimate relationship with a person of the opposite gender when this is just one “story” in a vast sea of abuse?

How long will it take me to walk away from these stories to find myself in the rubble of a broken childhood, a broken marriage, a broken life?

I know that dwelling on this past and sitting in these stories detract me from the present moment and feed my victim story, so I am trying to relinquish them to a time that is no longer here, but I do feel a sense of loss when I think about letting this story go.  I do feel like this story shaped me, but at the same time I also feel like it is keeping me small.  It is keeping me from freedom.

I am not that five year old girl holding her butt in front of her angry father.  There are no large men lurking in the distance waiting to beat me for my wrongdoings, but I still act as if I am.

How do I let go?  By writing it here in this sacred space?  Maybe by telling the truth about my past, I can let each story go with a touch of the “publish” button, shedding each layer of skin one story at a time.

And perhaps I need to be reminded of the following:

“You have to be larger than thought to realize that however you interpret “your life” or someone else’s life or behavior, however you judge any situation, it is no more than a viewpoint, one of many total perspectives.” – Eckhart Tolle

Saturday Morning and Soul Mates

I woke up early again this morning and went for my run sans musical accompaniment. Without this influx of music, my mind was filled with its own ideas and awareness.  Today my musings centered on the classic idea of a soul mate.   This idea of soul mates has always astounded me, and today I was pondering as my feet hit the pavement.  Why have I always assumed that my soul mate needs to be a romantic attachment?  It seems everywhere I look now the Universe is telling me that this is not true.  It has taken me a long time to realize this.  In my defense, my parents were not very good teachers.

Last night my family went out for dinner. I have three brothers.  I have an older brother and two younger brothers.  My two younger brothers are from my dad’s second marriage.  My father recently left his second wife, and he has again started a new “family” with his current girlfriend.  My stepmom is still very much in my life.  I am not entirely sure how I feel about that, but she’s a part of it.  My youngest brother is thirteen years younger than I am. Despite this massive age difference, we think alike and have this unbelievable connection.  We have spent most of our lives laughing at the same stuff and watching bad b-rated horror movies.  When I told him so many years ago that I could feel other people’s feelings, he was supportive and understanding.  He did not think I was crazy, but he listened and said that it all made perfect sense.  Not just sense, but perfect sense.  As I sat next to him in the restaurant last night, I could feel our connection again.  It does not matter how long it has been since we have seen each other or talked. I can stop what I am saying mid-sentence and pick it back up with minutes, hours, or days later and he will know exactly what I am talking about.  I know I can tell him anything, and he loves me and does not judge me, and I do the same for him.  I realized with sudden clarity that my constant search for my perfect “soul mate” has ended.  I am instead looking at the “soul mates” I have already been given.  They seem to be all around me.  I am blessed.  Stop and look around at the people in your life.  Who are the soul mates you’ve been given?