Every year for Valentines’ Day, I have written a poem for friends to honor our heart to heart connection. In 2002, I penned something called What I’ve Learned About Love and it included lines that spoke of my own journey. This entry is my Valentines’ Day gift to you.
I often say that my writing ‘writes me’, and the words come through me and not from me. One that jumped out at me from the beyond was “Love with abandon without fear of being abandoned.” What would that be like, I wondered, when that line came spilling out? Full out, like a fountain, not fearing that it would run out of water, since it would be recycled back in. Sunbeams shining forth without considering if they would be able to peek out from behind cloud cover. Stars beaming their brightest, knowing that their light is reaching our sight long after their lives have been extinguised. Trees budding and blooming, shedding over and over, sensing in some way that it is their destiny to do that season after season. These forces of nature do these things without conscious thought. For we humans, it sometimes gets complicated as we second guess our intentions and actions.
As you read this, it may seem like an odd Valentines’ Day message, but in the end, it is offered as a present of enormous value, more long lasting than flowers or candy, more sparkling than gems and a testament to love in all its glory.
On Sunday, I found myself in the home of my friends Phil and Janet as we celebrated Janet’s birthday. Both are creative souls who have found ways to love beyond the wounds they have experienced throughout their lives. They are my mentors for being a thriver; which to me means being able to move past victimhood and even past survivorship in order to ‘give back’ and ‘pay it forward’. Janet is an artist and performer/mime. Although Phil is a bookeeper, he also has a right brain, colorful side and he and Janet create performance pieces that educate people about mental health, suicide prevention in particular, team building and wellness issues. Phil has also been my son Adam’s unofficial Big Brother for the past 10 years, playing a surrogate father role since I was widowed 13 years ago. Both are involved in the Mankind Project (New Warrior and Woman Within trainings). Each has a solid relationship with anger.
That’s where the story continues…….for years, it seems, they have been inviting me to have a healthy relationship with that emotion from which I have run away and hidden as if it were a slimy, icky, fire breathing, belching, destructive monster that threatened to blast me away, taking everything I love along its incendiary path of destruction. With that association, why would I want to get to know it better? They felt (and my 24 year old son agrees, since he is no stranger to that emotion:) that in order for me to be fully human and genuine, I need to see what was hiding beneath it. Janet even told me that she felt she could read my Bliss Book once I had gotten real about the feelings I had been witholding, otherwise, the bliss wouldn’t ring true for her.
So, after everyone left the gathering last night, filled with laughter, love, Chinese food and the sugar free, eclair cake with fluffy chocolate mousse icing that my budding chef son made for Janet, we got down to the biz of letting the anger fly in a safe setting. First I made a list of resentments and judgements I have been holding for years, some about myself, some about others, that really have been holding me back and things that have been said by certain people in my life, namely my son and husband that had pushed my buttons. Most people who know me, might be shocked to hear about the shadow side and the renegade, runaway riff that roils through my brain at times. The inner critic has her field day if I allow for it. They moved the furniture back and placed piles of pillows on the living room floor and added a plastic baseball bat to the mix. After setting up safety rules, they encouraged me to fluff up the pillows with the bat, while sounding out the emotions with exhalations. It took but a moment for the tears to follow. I found myself in the now moment of emotion; grief and relief mixing so I wasn’t sure where one began and the other ended. Janet and Phil held space for it all and that was such a gift, since I had long believed that although I could be a safe haven for other people’s feelings, no one could be that for me. Fiercely independent with that little girl inside who wanted to ‘do it myself’ when it came to everything from tying my shoes to getting dressed, from reading a book to climbing the monkey bars, I have rarely allowed that sense of vulnerability. So many revelations came flying out, about ways I have felt I needed to earn love and approval. After I was complete with the pillow walloping, Janet turned on some intensely rhythmic music and together we did an anger dance. Making faces, holding onto each other’s forearms, punching the air, shouting, sounding out emotion, felt so freeing. Drenched in sweat, muscles throbbing, I didn’t need to go to the gym yesterday, after that workout. I was able to get out of my intellectualizing head and into the guts of the experience, unafraid to appear out of control. Any time I wandered off into worrying about what their neighbors might think about the noise, they re-directed me, because they have done that kind of release work themselves and for other friends and no one complained. Even their four legged kids; Bananas and Dodger sat and observed this wild woman at work and didn’t run away or even bark. They were guardians at the gates of grief and release too.
When I was cooked and complete for the night, I realized that in my fearlessness, I was able to embrace love as I allowed it to embrace me. By receiving this gift that Phil and Janet offered, I was giving it back to them as well, trusting that they wouldn’t judge me and in fact, would celebrate a deepening of our relationship since I had been willing to unveil another aspect of myself in their presence.
Still processing, with intense and frightening dreams last night, about betrayal and violation, about getting out of dangerous situations and into the light of a new day.
Learning moment to moment how to love with abandon without fear of being abandoned, throwing open the metaphorical door to my heart, allowing the irrepressible energy to flow unabated, despite my trepidation, having compassion for myself in the process, since I also know that love without limits begins with self love.
http://youtu.be/eDgjK-gPG60 Love Song by Elton John