Trapped in the marble of your history

I would like to write words that lift a reader’s day, perhaps help a heart heal, a body heal, the soul too. Let’s not leave the soul out. Absent that and you’ve removed oxygen from the air.

If you’ve lost sight of, or never knew, the extraordinary value of the life that is you, I can promise you, it’s there.  Michelangelo (1474-1564), the Italian sculptor, painter and architect,  believed the masterpiece was already in the block of marble. His task was to keep carving so we could see it.  He once said: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

I believe each life is a masterpiece in its own right, right from the beginning. The thing is, life can be brutal and many of us have received some cruel and untrue! messages about who we are. Start the wounding early enough and the child has no reason to disbelieve what they are all too often told, they are the problem, and if only…. then they wouldn’t be. Rubbish. It’s not true.

The masterpiece that is you may be trapped in the marble of your history, but its there. Because you are not in touch with it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Promise.

The challenge is not one of becoming a valuable human being; it’s discovering you always have been a valuable human being.

 

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Fear of intimacy

They are wounded.

Keep this in mind when you see or experience people — or yourself — hiding or running from real intimacy in a relationship.

I am not talking solely about physical intimacy or love-making intimacy. I say love-making intimacy because people have been having sex for years without an iota of emotional and spiritual intimacy to be seen for miles. Physical intimacy, holding hands, holding each other, cuddling, simply touching, can be a steep climb for the badly wounded. Love-making intimacy, even steeper.

Avoiding intimacy takes many forms. One of the more common is when people enter into relationships with partners who are either unable or unwilling to be intimate. At times, this allows the partner seeking intimacy to both bemoan the absence of intimacy on the one hand without ever having to  be intimate on the other. Choosing to be with someone who can’t be intimate can be a way of avoiding intimacy in and of itself. This does not mean either person is aware of the intimacy-avoiding pattern they’re trapped in.

If emotional and spiritual intimacy were physical beings the amount of intimacy being lost could fill the Grand Canyon on a daily basis.

There are real reasons deserving of the deepest respect people fear intimacy. Almost without exception the fear revolves around the following truth. At some point in time, usually in childhood, but not exclusively so, you were in some way taught that being who really really are was dangerous. Emotionally, physically, or sexually dangerous. Someone you loved with all your heart died. You were abused physically, emotionally, spiritually, sexually. Somehow, through no fault of your own (even if you are still making the mistake of holding yourself responsible (You’re not!)), you came to believe truly being yourself with someone else was dangerous.

For an array of reasons, I believed it was dangerous for me to be myself with someone for years. For me, getting free of this fear began with two understandings. First, getting free of this fear meant getting free of my history. Second, who deserves to be in control of my decision making? Me or my history?  I pick me.

Talking about the fear with someone is not only an immense help, it is necessary. Talk to someone: a psychotherapist, a member of clergy, a close friend. Now, for those who believe asking for help is an act of weakness, let me ask you something. If it is an act of weakness to ask for help, then why is it so hard to do? After all, if it was an act of weakness, asking for help would be easy. And, it’s not so much that I think each of us need the help. I think we damn well deserve it. Why? Because you deserve to get free of your history’s decision-making power. Promise.

Falling in love (an interview)

Do you think you’ll fall in love again?

– (Smiling) I don’t know that I have much say in the matter.

– How’s that?

– I don’t think falling in love is something you choose. It just happens. It’s like one of those exquisitely delicious moments life offers, like, for me, the first time birds find the newly placed birdfeeder. The breathy gasp of joy is out of me before I know it. Like falling in love, it just happens. Your experience of the moment or the person simply happens.

– So a person’s powerless? Defenseless?

– What would you be defending? As for powerless, you’re not. You have a lot of say over what you do in response to falling in love. You can pack up and run. Some do. Or you can allow the experience.

– What about rushing into it?

– I’m not sure you have, speaking for myself anyway, that you have much choice over the intensity of feelings.  I think there is such a thing as moving to quickly. Remember to breathe, enjoy the beginning of things. There are a couple of things I’ve learned over time. The hard way in some instances. First, never give up who you are for someone and second, allow yourself time to be sure the person you’ve falling in love with is really there, and, if you they are, that they’re able to be fully present as real intimacy expands its reach.

– Giving up who you are would be?

– For me it would be, say, someone doesn’t like that I’m a writer or love to read or that I jump into the fray when I see someone’s rights are being denied.

– And people being who they really are? Allowing intimacy?

– There’s healthy compromise and there has to be in relationship, but if you begin to give up the essentials of who you are, resentments build, the relationship becomes toxic and then you’re done. As for people being who they really are or being able to continue to be present when the intimacy becomes real on all fronts… Sometimes I think people present themselves as someone they’re not, not so much because they want to be deceitful or dishonest, but because at some time being themselves openly was a dangerous undertaking. Connected to this, at least in my mind, is the person who flees, runs, disengages – you pick the word – when the relationship really begins to be fully intimate. Some run because when you are fully with someone it can feel as if your very existence is at risk. It’s not so, but God knows it can feel that way.

– Are you a runner?

– No. Other way around, there are times I should’ve disengaged and didn’t. And then, one more thing.

– And that is?

– In order for any relationship of any kind to be a healthy one, each person needs to be who they really are safely with the other. Absent that, there’s no point.

– And so when it comes to you falling in love again?

– (Smiling) If there is the possibility of being in a loving healthy relationship with someone, I don’t want to miss it. Cool?

– Cool. Thank you.

 

Finding Lisa

If you’ve had some luck in life (and I hope you have) some extraordinary people have been in your life. Sometimes years may pass without connecting with them.  If and when you do reconnect, and discover the bond remains unbroken, you realize how delicious and beautiful life can be.

It seems I’ve had some luck. Yesterday I spent nearly three hours on the phone with Lisa and the bond between us is clearly unbroken. I’d been trying to find her for some time with little success. Finally, it occurred to me, why not write to her old address? The place she lived when we were first connected in life, when we were boyfriend and girlfriend, when she was 15 and I was 17.

It worked!

While the fact we genuinely loved each other may not seem particularly special (it was) or come as a surprise, we were also friends. We genuinely liked each other.  We really talked, valued each others opinion. We pursued what interested us, even if others may not have understood. If you’d been looking for us in June 1972, say, you would have found us hunkered down in her family’s garage watching the Bobby Fischer vs, Boris Spassky word chess championship. We watched every single game and loved every minute of it.

One of the things that joined us back then was neither one of us were (or are) followers. We very much marched to the beat of our own drums and we were lucky enough to notice our rhythms matched. Neither of us had to sacrifice self in order to connect in life.

I suppose I should not have been surprised to hear she has the same voice. It has an enchanting quality. A reality that makes her very-direct and very funny sense of humor even more entertaining, and adds a layer of solidity when her formidable levels of intelligence, compassion and perception are on display.

During our conversation yesterday I thought, No wonder I fell in love with her. I thought of the line in the Jackson Browne song, “Hold On Hold Out,” I love you. Well just look at yourself…what else would I do?

It didn’t take very long in yesterday’s conversation to realize Lisa is still someone I very much love, like, and deeply respect. For all of us the glass of life is half empty and half full. Yesterday I was reminded how absolutely wonderful the half full part is. A joyous reality if ever there was one.

We’re not dark yet

Listening to John Hiatt singing Feels like Rain thinking so of many battered and bruised by life’s travails, sheltered behind barricades that blind, or lead or to miss or lose the love that’s right in front of us. Were trying again, letting love happen, taking that risk, an act of weakness, then why’s it so hard to do?

Listening to what may be the most beautiful version of Hallelujah I’ve ever heard, remembering dreams lost, lives gone, chances lost, thinking God give me strength to accept the possibilities life offers me, and please don’t let my fears lead me astray. Yes, I know it’s hard when some have had other try to end them,  but do we really want to allow those others to pilot our lives from here on out? Not me, not me.

Listen to Springsteen’s Tougher Than the Rest … Toughness (strength),  the capacity to allow life’s experience unabridged by history’s wounds, plans gone wrong, the missteps of ourselves, and others. Finding the strength to love sometimes means going through the fear until the fear can’t hold on; it means going through the rain to reach the sunshine. 

Listening to Marc Cohn’s One Safe Place  I find myself still believing love  can be one safe place. If this makes me a fool, well then, fuck it. So be it.  I say dream on, keep the faith. Don’t give up. We’re not dark yet.