Our longing to be loved

 

I have just read the beautiful extract below in John O’Donohue’s book  Eternal Echoes :  Exploring Our Hunger to Belong.   The hurts that lodge in our body and soul from never being truely loved can run so deep, some of us try to deny them but never the lesss they are there and yet there is a flow of love we can find within, an inner wellspring that we may have to suffer to find through long nights of betrayal or abandonment.  When it awakens in us we are never again truely alone.

“One of the deepest longings in the human heart, is the desire to be loved for yourself alone.  This longing awakens you completely.  When you are touched by love, it reaches down into your deepest fibre.  It is difficult to realise actually how desperately we need love.  You inhabit your life.  You seem to be in control.  You live within an independent physical body.  From the outset, you seem to be managing very well. Because you present this face to the world, no one suspects that you have a different ‘inner body’ called the heart which can do nothing for itself if it is not loved.  If our hearts were outside our bodies, we would see crippled bodies transform into ballet dancers under the gaze, and in the embrace, of love.  It is difficult to love yourself, if you are not first loved.  When you are loved, your heart rushes forward in the joy of the dance of life.  Like someone who has been lost for years in a forgotten place, you rejoice in being found.   When you are discovered, then you discover yourself.  This infuses your whole life with new vigour and light.  People notice a difference in you.  It is nice to be around you.  Love somehow transfigures the sad gravity of life.  The gloom lifts and your soul is young and free.  Love awakens the youthfulness of the heart.  You discover your creative force.  It is quiet touching to see love bring someone home so swiftly to themselves.  The Connemara poet Catlin Maude writes:

His little beak

Under his wing

The thrush of our love

Even without the outside lover, you can become the beloved.  When you awaken in appreciation and love for yourself, springtime awakens in your heart.  Your soul longs to draw you into love for yourself.  When you enter your soul’s affection the torment ceases in your life.  St Bonaventure says in The Journey of the Mind to God : ‘Enter yourself, therefore, and observe that your soul loves itself most feverently.’

 

A road in the woods

Road

A road opened up

In the woods

Deep inside the wilderness spaces of this heart

That led to you

It revealed itself

When I let myself feel my loneliness and deep longing

Despite all fear

And answer its plea

By reaching out

You may not fully understand me

But you let me be

Who I am

We were alone in this wood so long

You and I

Separated by mist and fog

Inside I felt the silent cry of your heart

That no one else but one other could feel

This journey we are living out is cellular and emotional

As sisters we share a lonely legacy

I cried today

And you held my hand

I felt more walls coming down

I was always so frightened of you

But now I dont struggle as hard

With being the one

Who expresses feeling

For in the lonely wood

Where we connected

I suddenly heard a choir of angels sing

I am sure it was not just imagining

The heavens rejoiced

When you reached across that great divide

To hold my hand

And the empty space in both of us was filled

With a recognition

Deep pain

And unfathomable love

Unspoken

Disconnection and connection : some thoughts

Jung

From quite a young age I had a sense of being on the outside of the life around me.  I was the youngest in family caught up in other worlds, only lately am I realising the depth of aloneness I felt and how the attention was focused somewhere away from my inner self.  And so I believe I did grow into a loner, but one who craved connection of any kind, no matter what the cost.  I didn’t have wise protective radar for who was really connected to me though as I don’t think I was connected to a lot and so it felt unfamiliar, emotional abandonment or disconnect I knew (unconsciously at that point) so I attracted more of that in the years that followed.

I have been thinking about it a lot today and seeing what a hunger to connect outside of myself did to me before I was connected to my deeper self.  Put simply those connections just did not work and I always ended up sorrowing and empty.  In later years with all the trauma and insecurity I carried maybe I didn’t find it easy to connect to others as I had begun to turn to substances.  I also had an implicit feeling that I was a failure for not ‘fitting in’ and so I needed to change, but lately I am realising I didn’t need to change at all, my task lay in coming to know myself, so I had something real to offer relationship.

The Buddhist’s say the ‘self’ is just a construction and I do believe we can construct a false self of representations, but I am a firm believer that there lies inside an essential core of us we can know.  For me, as a sensitive, soul attuned person I find this feeling comes when I am connected to nature and my inner world.  I never feel more at home as on moments where I sit being comforted by the breeze flowing on my face, listening to the song of a local magpie who comes to visit around lunchtime and while writing or reflecting I touch base with something essential and lovely so deep inside.  At moments like this I realise that my hunger for connection outside of myself often led me astray.  My need to be liked or understood by those who could not hurt me and I also made demands at times out of a needy self that did not know how to hold her own hand.

I am so happy to say that lately these feelings of ‘need’ are dropping away.  I was thinking today of the young child or baby who cries out and when not heard collapses into depression or resignation.  In my own case I am learning to give up and surrender longings I direct toward unavailable sources.  And I have discovered a fundamental truth, that I connect best to those who connect with their inward worlds, something I touched on in a previous post about being an orphan.

Lately, I don’t feel that totally empty, bereft feeling of orphanhood that I did before, I am not making demands to have a different journey or fate than I have.  I will always probably be a loner but the paradox is that in society I connect with others when I see deeper in a way those who are on another plane don’t.  It’s not something that is easy to express and I know there are others out there a lot like me.  I don’t feel as alone in the crowd as I used to because lately I see more of our common humanity.

A fellow blogger helped me a lot a few months ago when I was sharing how I had met with a friend and we hadn’t connected by saying that connections cannot be forced and we cannot will them into being.  Knowing when we are connected and disconnected is important.  For me if I feel disconnected in a certain situation its a sign to retreat and listen to my soul.   I find so much loving connection, too from my blog and through reading the writing and blogs of others,   It’s that joyous moment of pleasure and uplift that comes from being received and ‘got’ and I am so grateful for it.  I am also coming to be more and more grateful for my times of deep solitude which are like a balm to me.  I am beginning to realise all the gifts I have and its okay to be alone, not necessarily a sign of something wrong with us.

I also feel myself separating more and more from my family on the earthly plane.  Deep at a soul level I know we are connected and always will be, but it seems to me I am beginning to be aware of playing a ‘role’ in that family can limit my soul which wants to be freer to breath new life into old past grief filled places.  Its beginning to be a real possibility that I can find a way to live outside of the pain of a past that nearly crushed me and for that I am grateful beyond words.

The ways you loved me

Always

The ways you loved me were not always easy for me to see

I could not feel before the ache in your heart for the ways you fell short through no fault of your own with the best intentions

Moving on was the only way you knew to cope And then there are the silent regrets you may never share About things we will never be able to change

So now I pray for acceptance Of all that went before Because the hurting that goes on is not good for me

You don’t really know how to reach out at times Because you were left alone

Now you don’t want us to have to carry a burden we never chose

But somehow we have to make the best of what is left Together For separation avoidance or denial will only bring more pain And sometimes it feels my heart cannot stretch wide enough to contain all these broken threads

Emotions gone mute never totally go away but form the swell under the surface that threatens to rise and fall in those silent quiet moments When my soul draws close to your soul

I will always love you And long for your body Because you are my body and I am yours Let me not forget this

For love is not disembodied but only happens to us in and through a body  awake alive to the vibrancy of soul and longing from ages past surfacing and resurfacing from deep within for healing

Father ; farther

Dad I never got to say goodbye

 I am sorry our last words were an argument

Father you were always farther away from me

And I struggled to understand

Could you really see, feel and hear the real me

So many times when I tried to tell you what I needed

You said no

So Dad now its so hard sometimes to trust

And to let myself have what I need

If you had lived today you would be 97

Now you are a ghostly presence

Who I will never truly say I can know

Lost to me I long for your holding and love

In all kinds of ways

So how can I resolve the need to be known and loved by a man?

Oh Dad how much I wish things were different

Somewhere deep inside I think I felt

All the things you hid

Under a cover of silence

But how will I ever know?

I hurt

I had a very strong experience today of really feeling the amount of hurt my body has carried in the past that I have swallowed down.  I shared a few posts back how my brother’s birthday came and went and I didn’t call as I am so hurt about his refusal to help my dead sister’s son and family which would have allowed them to return to live close to us just before my sister died. I truly believe she died from being exiled and also from a broken heart.  I was aware that his refusal to help bought up the deep pain of being separated from my nephews who were like brothers to me growing up due to being closer in age to me.  It was a wound that really damaged me and one I could not express but covered over for years in addiction. It was a far earlier wound that my inner child was making known.

Anyway last night at dinner the subject of his birthday came up and I was not honest about why I did not call. I have found that speaking my truth in the past lead to being sidelined and I am deeply disappointed in myself to say I was not honest.  My sister asked if I forgot and I just said nothing much.  Later on that night I realised I had not been honest and that was due to fear.  I realised I had let myself down and lost an opportunity to share my hurt and pain.  It may or may not have been validated but really their response is none of my business and this has brought up a big issue with me that I have that I don’t speak my pain out due to not being heard or received before and so my body ends up all twisted up with my gut in knots.  I shared with Kat, my therapist last week how I also feel like I have stampede of wild horses in my chest when real feelings come up and meet the wall of fear over how they will be received.

I wanted to call my Mum and share my honest feelings but I did not want to bring her down and so I swallowed the feelings in and just spent the day at the library and having a cup of coffee.  I could have called my therapist but I did not.

The deeper issue I always struggle with is whether to say anything or remain silent. You may not see this side of me come across in my blog as I present myself as someone who says you must speak up, but we do teach what we most need to learn.  The one good thing is that today I became aware of how much my inner child longs to be heard and how invisible she felt and how little of a voice or a sense of power she had growing up.  This part of me really cried out to me today and I heard her and comforted her.  That was one good thing.

Facing reality

Sometimes we can see no further than our own hurt We have our needs from relationship So often denied We see the refusal to give as a slight to us But what if it is really all about the other person?  A person who does not have the ability to really be there?  Or a person who is suffering from their own wounds If we love them we may question and deny  Maybe they told us there is something wrong with us for responding to them the way they are or for wanting what we did But maybe we are just being human Maybe we have needs they cannot fill That does not make our needs wrong It just means we may have to give up the fruitless search that leads in wrong directions and look elsewhere And then take care Of our own aching heart

These are not easy lessons to learn When you really long for a parent or a person’s love It can be hard to give up and know they cannot be there nor express things in the way you want Try to let go Try to forgive Not in saying it was okay but in saying I accept the reality of who you are instead of my wishful dream Then keep looking It may be easier to deny that anyone could ever care or give but I am finding that when you start to really heal you will find new friends, new loves who get it and get you Those who will stand by you no matter what the cost and really see and hear you

When you find those people keep them close  They are precious jewels in a life that at times can be oh so full of stones And we all need a soft place to land now and then!

Love, wilderness and the Hurting Time

Love, its really at the base of everything isn’t it?  It was something I tried to express in a prose poem the other day, how love often hides its face in what seems to be the deepest of despair and longing, it is so powerfully wanted but also so mysteriously absent when those of us with our acute sensitivity, predisposed to experience existential anguish of the most bone crunching despair and emptiness find ourselves in that deep, dark void space.

As I wrote this my fingers typed voice instead of void.  And that makes sense cause in that space it may feel like we are all alone only with crippling, punishing voices of doom, fed by the anguish of past mistakes….all the times we reached for love and could not find it and all the times we longed to express love but could not due to fear or anger.  And maybe so often at midlife we also find ourselves deep within the deep, dark night wilderness experience so powerfully expressed in Annie Lennox’s song The Hurting Time : 

So many times I have wept when I have listened to this song because it is so full of anguish and yet there is also a poignant beauty to it.  It speaks to me so much of where we find ourselves when the emptiness is actually leading us to the abyss in which we will eventually find love, realising at some point that the love we so need, so dearly needs to be found from within.

Self punishment and self blame are for some of us the most painful passages that in leading us to the brink of suicidal despair,  can also lead us to understand more of what we need to change to show ourselves more love, empathy and compassion and then extend the same to others.  For I do believe that all of our pain in some way can be used for growth if we are willing to feel it and release it rather than remain captured inside it, for isn’t the cry of feeling the absence of love a wake up call to us to find the missing love inside us?  For this we need love warriors to guide us, to show us that it can be done, that darkness in being faced can be transformed into light.

Lately I have been reading a lot of Marianne Williamsons’ writing.  I am half of the way through both Everyday Grace : Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness and Making Miracles as well as her latest book From Tears to Triumph.  I probably relate a lot to her as a lot of her work comes from soul wisdom that she actually found inside her own heart from and through suffering her own trials and addiction.  She is an advocate for not numbing pain and makes the case powerfully in the second book of how our pain is actually the critical doorway that can lead each of us towards transformation.

In many ways the pharmaceutical industry has been set up in such a way as to make us believe that our pain makes no sense and that we cannot bear it.  In many ways this kind of belief system seems to have been forged by souls who in their own childhood were led astray at some critical level.  They may think that healing involves the numbing out of pain rather than seeing the transformative aspect of it.  I am not here making an case for masochism.  There is time we reach for pain relief, but I think we need to be cognisant that it is not the final answer.

In my experience it is really only love that heals us.  Only love can help us to bear with our own or another person’s suffering.  I think it was Virginian Wolf who said “to look life in the face, to know it for what it is”, how can we look something in the face we are numbing?  How can we find our truth if we are fed the lie that our pain makes no sense and is a sign of ‘mental illness’?  It is extremely disturbing to me that I heard recently that the psychiatric community is making a push for grief to be called a mental illness, that information just horrified me.

The issue of grief and healing is complex as there are all kinds of different griefs and much depends upon how we are actually encouraged to feel and express it.  It was the trauma specialist Peter Levine who through his study and research showed that animals and people who are allowed to discharge and express their trauma and pain as close as possible to the event are less likely to develop long term post traumatic stress as a so called disorder.  Those who cannot often end up trapped inside trauma, debilitated by it, losing access to the pure life energy of spirit that could empower them through necessary discharge.   We help a wild animal not by capturing it in chains and traps but by letting it run free out into the world of nature, discharge its energy and find its intuitive healing response, rather than block it.

In my own life complicated and compounded grief has been the terrible consequence of getting no help following critical traumatic incidents and instead self medicating with booze and drugs.  My struggle to feel and express has also, I firmly believe been the real cause behind three traumatic injuries, two of which brought me very close to death.  So its no wonder I feel very strongly about this issue.

For we need to express our grief in relationship.  There is a lot of healing we have to do deep down in our own soul and there is are a lot of challenges if our grief is related to some form of abuse because then tangled up with it in an at times seemingly impossible to unravel Gordian knot of pain are powerful mixed feelings of powerlessness, shame, sadness, fear and anger too.     Some of us don’t express grief instead we get angry.  Some of us don’t allow ourselves to grieve or feel sad or cry as we are terrified to do so.  Firstly of how will we be received, will people think we are crazy, secondly due to the fact that we fear that if we really gave vent to or allowed our feelings we would destroy or be destroyed.

How horribly, terribly sad and yet there is some truth in this to a point for at times when our feelings which are meant to flow and have been blocked do become like a raging torrent or burning fire.   And yet mysteriously when they get to flow what I feel we actually do come to feel is love, release, letting go, emptying.  And when we become empty of our pain for a time then love can rush into the empty space to fill it.

It can be so hard to open our hearts in love towards everything.  But really it is our only healing.  This open heartedness is beautifully expressed in some writing of Paul Ferrini which I came across this morning.

Each one of us holds the key to our own salvation.  And we can offer it to each other with a gesture of support, a gentle word of encouragement.  We can offer it to each other by seeing every attack as a call for love.

The heart opens when we accept ourselves with all our contradictions, all our liabilities, all our struggles.  The heart opens when we accept another person, with all their trials and tribulations.  The heart opens when we offer love simply, as we would to a hurt child.  And it opens when the hurt child reaches out for the love that is offered to them.

There is nothing mysterious about what opens the heart.  Acceptance does.

There is nothing mysterious about what closes the heart, judgement does.

The heart is a spiritual muscle.  It opens and closes.  The more it works the stronger it gets.

Don’t judge yourself if you feel your heart tighten.  It does so merely to open again.  All you need to do is allow it.

Let the pain come and go.  Let everything pass through you.  Breathe deeply.  Let the air come in and out.  Be a channel for life. Don’t resist on the inhale or hold onto the exhale. Just let the breath come and go. Just let life come and go. Don’t be afraid of either. Don’t be attached to either.

No matter how hard you try, you are not going to change the ebb and flow of life.  It continues regardless… To open your heart you must be willing to move with the ebb and flow, the contraction and the release.  Don’t expect to ride the peaks without descending into the troughs.  ..Just be present.   Be with yourself.  Be with others. Be with God.  That is enough.

Contraction / expansion, inbreath / outbreath, love / fear, anger / joy these perhaps are all part of the oh so mysterious dance of life, a dance we so often can refuse to enter and flow with due to holdings and blockages on our life energy.  Surely love is the attitude that most opens us to encompass and embrace them all by riding the out going and in flowing tide of that energy to awakening, consciousness, connection and enlivened presence.

Echoes of longing for the holding, soothing and connection we miss.

One of my favourite albums is Coldplay’s Ghost Stories.  So many tracks on it resonate with me and when I finally googled the birth chart of Chris Martin a year or so after it was released I found out that like me he has the Saturn Moon conjunction and if you don’t know the Moon is mother and Saturn Moon relates not only to mother hunger but to a deeper sense of disconnection and loss we feel around emotions and mothering and all human connection really.

With that in mind this afternoon as gun metal grey skies surround my wee home and the cold of night creeps in on icy feet I am listening to this track and really felt the need to share it.   I sometimes feel I can actually feel Chris Martin’s soul resonating with pain that merges with my own when I listen this track, and he made something so hauntingly  painful and beautiful when he wrote this song.  And when I listen to it I don’t hear the lyric ‘Another’s Arms” as much as the words ‘A Mother’s Arms’… possibly my projection but I am not so sure.