I am thinking today of what love really is. Is it something that needs to be returned to us, conditional on others being or doing things a certain way? Can we love through hurt and even when we don’t get what we want or need? Can we see through our own agenda more deeply?
Of course if we are giving and giving love and nothing but hurt is coming back that is another story. And perhaps the depth of our connection with other does increase when we feel seen, met, received and heard. But can we not love anyway even those who hurt us when we realise how much they must have been hurt or are hurting themselves?
When I look back on my own life I see so many times that love has ended and relationships too. I have moved through so many phases of life where others have come and gone. Since moving home I see friends who have retained their connections and meet on a very superficial level. I know when I got into recovery about 23 years ago that way of relating became even harder for me. I had used alcohol and drugs a lot to try to fit in and hide myself and in the end that way of living was not working for me any more. I needed to find something deeper and eventually it came in the guise of people in recovery who were also looking into their souls but often finding a lot of confusion.
I guess the lesson that has come home to me more and more in my later life in sobriety is that no one out there really has the ‘answers’ for me. I believe as the poet Rilke said, too that we are better to love the questions and not seek too hard for answers. But there are deeper knowings and truths we can feel deep inside that lie beyond words and ‘answers’, for me they have a tidal aspect that rises up and sweeps away illusions from my eyes. They rest in felt sense and deeper feelings which are not always easy to articulate. They are perhaps soul knowings that come out of my own struggles to live.
Often I have that experience of waking up to a truth I could not see before and then I see how blind or lost I was before or how much hurt I was in. That is when I need to make peace with my inner self and inner child who struggled so long in an seemingly alien world without guidance not feeling that she really belonged out there in any way and also feeling for so long that something was wrong with her.
Going through the experience as I have lately with this town house and feeling that I had to erase the soul life I was building here in my little cottagey home has made me realise how I give myself and my truth away so often. I don’t mean in terms of sharing my deeper self which is what I try to do and grapple with on my blog. I mean more in terms of not holding onto my true soul needs and wishes, especially if I feel having them confuses or causes pain for others. But now I know when I fail to know what I know and feel what I feel and fight to hold onto what is really me I do myself a huge disservice and my body suffers.
Today I awoke so glad to know I will not have to leave my little home. I have a lot of creative projects I want to do here, last night I thought of some painting I want to do, possibly a mural on one wall. I am literally building up my soul energy in this place and I don’t feel that physical things are just things we should not get attached to any more. I feel that the physical things around us carry soul deeper within them. They are not empty but full of meaning for me.
I was lying in bed this morning and the term nazi spirituality came to me. What I was thinking of was how there was a period in my life when I was reading all about non attachment and thinking that not being attached was a sign of spiritual health or superiority. But often not being attached is a sign we are disconnected emotionally and can be used as an excuse. I am not talking here of not surrendering our will and ego objectives when that is necessary here I am talking more of what Buddhist writer John Welwood calls the spiritual bypass where in we bypass our deeper psychological work in favour of spiritual disconnection. It comes to us when people tell us we caused something to happen when really as a child we were a victim and now playing out an old pattern. We may be told we are projecting or that other’s can’t make us feel or be or do something we don’t want to do or that hurts us. We may be told “but surely that was all in the past” which in the case of trauma and Complex PTSD or abuse actually shows an ignorance of the deeper neurobiology of the situation. The idea that it was all in the past and we should not be affected is just not true and it is a form of nazi spiritualilty at least to my mind and can be used by new age narcissists to discount or diminish us.
Recently someone who has undergone a lot of abuse left a comment on one of my posts saying how growing up her Dad was a fan of Albert Ellis and was told by her Dad that the way her brother affected her didn’t really have the power to make her feel bad. While I know there is truth in this once we can learn that what others say and do to us says a lot more about them than us we can only reach this perspective from the point of view of an adult and often by the time we reach adulthood inground pain just lives in us from what others have said and done so deeply that we are often not even aware. Such scripts take time to come to awareness and often a lot of pain in the process.
In my own life I know that I absorbed a lot of beliefs about myself growing up that were just not true. I see how often I feel I have done something bad when really I have not. I see how making mistakes and stumbling wasn’t always allowed. In a climate of emotional neglect I also had to make a lot up and just get by without the required attention and boundaries I really needed to do well. I went out into the world in no way psychologically prepared for it, like a little kid without a lot of psychic skin. That skin is now something I am learning to grow. I have had a lot of learning around boundaries. I have had to learn that I am not a ‘bad’ person full of character defects, I am really just a very human person who has all the different instincts and feelings like every other human. I have had a deep hurt in me from emotional neglect that I carried into other relationships. I attracted those who didn’t treat me well at times but that was also a symptom of not treating myself very well or knowing myself very well.
I was reading a lovely meditation last night on self knowledge. In our later years we have the capacity to look back at what we have become and see the mistakes along the way. The pain we suffer is the coin we often have to pay to learn. We often do ourselves a deep disservice when we choose to numb or run from our psychological pain into a spiritual bypass or other escape. For it is only in sitting in our pain, in facing our own dark side that we truly find the light. It is in acknowledging and embracing our fear that we learn courage. It is acknowledging and embracing our so called ‘defects’ and realising they were the result of lack of nourishment of the right kind that we develop humility and find the right food to grow in healthier ways. Then our ego naturally levels out and becomes more right sized, neither blown our of proportion in inflation nor shrunk to the size of a pea in devaluation and at the same time our compassion for our fellow humans grows.
The courage to face our wounds brings for us learning. Our ability to see where we and others mess up develops wisdom, a right sized ego helps us to mediate all of this, it doesn’t need to be discarded nor over ridden in the process and if it contains the toxin inside without addressing it deeply it may spew the venom onto others, even those we feel that due to hurting us so deeply deserve to suffer and then we develop not only an emotional wound, but a deeply spiritual wound too that festers.
Can we love anyway, that was my original question, even those who hurt us? I feel the love I am speaking of is a very deep pool of wisdom and acceptance that is able to encompass all shades and expressions of soul from dark to light. It requires of us an expansion instead of a contraction, a reaching towards instead of a pulling away or avoidance. However with each contraction we make we can learn to breathe deeper and hold and then we can let the breath out and allow the empty space left to be the void that pulls us towards expansion. We can then expand into the love and light that we find after we have found deep within us the ability to tolerate the journey though the darkest of nights which in contracting form the birth pangs that have the power to push us forward on our pathway of emergence, growth, connection and love.