This is another old draft, chosen from April of 2017 and dusted off for you to use. May it help you feel less lonely in our current season of darker days.
“The holiest spot on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.” — A Course in Miracles. I follow a musician, Girish, and this was posted on his social media in April of 2017.
He is an absolutely beautiful human, and I waited in line once just to offer him a hug. My husband said that was creepy. I told him it was the best hug I’d ever experienced. We stared at each other for a bit after that. I love the confidence in our marriage that allows us to banter this way–safely, truthfully. We’ve worked to build that, and we continue to work on it year after year.
Yesterday, 4/10/17, I’d been pondering how one kind of mastery is matriculated, when we are able to send love, well-wishes, and positive sentiments to those who have truly obliterated our hearts.
Nothing had happened to spur this pondering, it’s just a great example of the kind of things that pass through my mind when it’s humming around in idle…as I’m sitting in quiet contemplation listening to the universe hum around me.
Back to the essential question: it seems to take many broken hearts to get there, and we tend to protect against those with all we’ve got. How many broken hearts does it take? The answer is probably different for everyone.
Personally, I am sure my work sitting with people in the midst of any of a variety of phases or types of suffering has helped. I know it’s made me stronger, more compassionate, and more comfortable with negative emotions.
They are just as valid, useful, and real as positive emotions. Strong feelings, spiders, snakes–they’ve all been given a bad rap.
Sometimes we want to pretend they don’t exist or transcend them without giving them their proper gravity and care. Spiders and snakes, we might even want to obliterate, kill immediately. I can see why. Depending on the amount of venom, some things are not safe or tolerable in our immediate space.
But there are a lot of harmless spiders and snakes.
As for the feelings, they are frightening, intense, and essentially boil down to one thing–pain. Who doesn’t want to avoid unnecessary pain?
It’s ordinary. It’s healthy. It’s human nature.
Too much avoidance, however, leads to a lack of skill. We don’t need to dive headlong into our pain, or the pain of another, unless there is an emergency, and then we check the scene for safety first, get out of that intensity as soon as we can, and go into a position of recovery. This is pro skill level of emotion regulation.
Along the way to becoming an emotional first responder, we must remember two things: 1) is the scene safe and 2) recovery position. The rest comes with time. We sit with our pain. We allow it. We observe it. We manage it. Sometimes we need to take medication; eastern, western, indigenous, naturopathic, or otherwise. We all have our own paths to nurturance, our own ideologies of health.
There is no shame in that. We must take care of ourselves. We must seek care.
To be human is to experience pain. To venture into love is to risk pain. To be our full, honest, unconstrained selves, is to encounter pain. The inherent understanding is that we will harm and be harmed.
As we experience our lives with and near one another, we risk becoming hard and defended, captivated by pride. My friend recently told me, “that is called living in self preservation, and sure, that’s fine.” The silence she used to punctuate that statement was the real point.
But we can also endeavor to become more knowing, more dauntless, and more honest. We can endeavor gently, more wisely, and more graciously. We can respond to our pain before it has become unmanageable, crying out to us through our numbing defenses.
We can forgive ourselves and we can forgive others, and even so, we do not have to. We can, at the very least, start to understand pain. It is universal. We can accept negative emotions. In fact, we can reduce the idea that emotions are either positive or negative, by refusing to enforce this archaic paradigm in every human interaction.
JToday, in the year 2018, I’ve been listening to Guy Winch. Maybe his words will resonate with you, too? https://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene#t-180847