Tag Archives: love

Where love grows

As Robin pointed out in yesterday’s comments, when it comes to need, what most of us hunger for is relationship. We have a deep drive for intimate bonding with other humans, and without that we feel adrift. Perhaps at the heart of our obsession with things is a belief that owning the right things will turn us into attractive potential mates for others. Let’s face it, that’s the subtext in most advertising.

If hooking up was the answer, the world would be a much simpler place. But it isn’t. It may be the greatest need we have is for love, but answering that need is one of the hardest things to do. Even in a relationship it is entirely possible to feel lonely, miserable and unsatisfied, if the other cannot supply us with what we want. It takes more than ‘I love you’ to convince most people they are loved. In the shallows of romantic gestures, we don’t really find soul satisfaction.

I think some people get round this by turning to God. Once you style your deity as unconditional love personified, then so long as you can hold that belief, you have all the love you need for as long as you need it, and no call to fret over those difficult human interactions. God isn’t messy, won’t stain the sheets or abandon you for a friend. But at the same time, God will not lie next to you in the small hours and stroke your hair. There’s nothing physical about divine love. The religions of the book sidestep this by denigrating all things physical elevating the spiritual. Thus love of God is better. I guess if you can hold that belief, it may keep you going. I can’t and don’t. It’s the messy, complicated, sheet stained human reactions I’ve always hankered after. Which is one of the reasons I’m a pagan.

But if there’s one thing to be said for people, it’s that you can’t trust them. They can’t always be there when you need them, they don’t magically know how to fix everything. Sometimes they stop loving you back. Sometimes they die. Loving people is a risky sort of activity, a constant courting of betrayal and disappointment. And still we do it, and still we long for it above all else.

On the whole we’re under a lot of cultural pressure to pair-bond with one other human, and stick with that. A single, obsessive love that lasts us all our lives and fulfils our every need. Up until recently, that would have been specifically a heterosexual love as well. Can any one person be all things to another? Almost certainly not. Should we ask that of anyone? Hell no. It’s too much, a crippling degree of need and responsibility.

It’s in some ways easier to love another human deeply, and fearlessly, if we aren’t trying to make them ‘everything’. Some people get round this by being polyamorous. But for those who crave monogamy, there are still ways. We need to place our love for each other in the context of a wider care. The more openly, broadly and completely we love, the less fearful we need to be. What matters is the love that we feel, not what is returned to us. When you let go of seeking the return it all becomes a lot easier. Having my heart broken by other humans, I learned to love the sky and the land, the wind, sun and shifting seasons. I came to love the rhythm of my own feet upon the earth, and the deep darkness of night. Non-human loves, are a bit like divine love in that they don’t go away. They give back to us as we love them. They are not a substitute for human love, but they put it in a different, more manageable context.

People are flawed, unreliable, fickle, perplexing creatures. We seldom make much sense to each other. Accepting that, with patience and compassion, loving the essence of humanity whilst recognising the failings, we can be more peaceful with each other. That terrible, ravening hunger that demands you be all things to me, is lessened. We find acceptance. Learning to love people as they are, embracing the things I struggled with, and seeking nothing in return, got me through some very hard times. And then if you find someone who can do the same thing for you, whole new possibilities open up. While you’re looking, don’t drown voluntarily in the noise of modernity or bury yourself in gadgets, learn to love the stars, and the sound of your own heartbeat. Trust me, it helps.

Love and Pain

I don’t think I’ve ever been significantly wounded by a stranger, in body or in mind. Statistically, you’re more likely to be raped, assaulted or murdered by someone you know well, than by some random nutter. It’s the people we love and trust who have the most power to injure us, and that’s a lesson most people learn quickly.

It’s a very natural response to want to avoid that kind of pain once you’ve been close to it. Only where there is deep trust can there be the anguish of betrayal. If we do not trust, we cannot be betrayed in that way again. Only the people we love unconditionally, utterly, with all our hearts, hold the power to break us entirely. And sometimes they do. Some of them do it because they do not love us in return. But not all. The hardest ones of all are the folks who shred us, and love us, and still need us to love them in return.

We do not ever get to keep anyone. Loss is inevitable, because if nothing else does it, death will divide us from everything, so far as we know.

For a long time, I saw no difference between love and pain. The measure of how much I loved was also the measure of how much pain I experienced. I opened to love conscious that I was also opening myself to wounding. There was no shortage of wounding. The nature of love, and life, I had felt, is that we tear each other apart, an unmaking process that strips us down to our most essential selves, or breaks us entirely. Where love and pain are the same thing, fear will always be in the mix too. Love becomes the anticipation of pain, the fear of betrayal. Love becomes fear.

I still think all of these things are true, but I’ve travelled a long way in the last six months or so, and I can see there are other stories as well. Betrayal is not inevitable. To love someone does not inevitably mean giving them permission to take you apart. There are other ways to learn that do not make you bleed and weep.

Love is also compassion and patience. It is a shared faith and a dedication to companionship. Love has the power to heal as well as to destroy, to give as well as take. The kind of ‘love’ that forever reduces, diminishes, strips down and undermines, is something to look at hard. Stripping away can be a process of refining and improving, but it can equally be brutal and pointless. If love turns you from rough stone to shining diamond, that may be something to embrace. If it grinds your stone self down into sand and blows you away to nothingness on the first wind, is that really a gift?

It has always been in my nature to love people. I took too much wounding, and I withdrew, pulling tight into myself and being wary about who I loved, and how much I let myself open to that. I became fearful of giving anything of myself, and especially closed to letting myself care for anyone new. Being protective, I isolated myself. I don’t have to do that. I had something of a revelation late last night, about the possibility of feeling love without drowning in pain at the same time.

I have absolutely no idea how anyone else relates to any of this stuff, but it’s been an odd sort of journey, and I thought it might be helpful to share it in case it does turn out to have wider resonance.

Equality in relationships

For Druids, relationship is central to spirituality.

The best kinds of relationships are rooted in equality. Where there is a power imbalance, it should be rooted in issues of responsibility, not in control. For example, a parent has responsibility for their child as that child learns and grows. But that does not give the parent the right to control their child. One person in a relationship might have more money than the other – and money can be easily used to exert control. As soon as you step into situations of control, you cease to have a relationship of equals.

Some people assume that certain things give them power – money, gender, social status, level of education, and age are probably the most frequent ones. Perceiving certain things as valuable, and then believing that makes you more important, carries with it the implicit assumption that people who have less of this are less important. They are lesser than you and therefore should be ruled by you.

As soon as a person believes that certain things make them more important than others, they have thrown away all scope for true relationship. There can be no scope for respect and equality with such a person. There can be no balance or equal sharing, and there is an inherent disrespect for the person who, for whatever reasons is deemed ‘lesser’. And from experience if such a person sets the benchmark for ‘important’ somewhere and you achieve it, you can be sure either they will move it, or have some other reason to disregard you. It is not about the status signifier, it is actually about the belief that they are more important, which they will justify by whatever means necessary, be it ever so illogical.

If a person seeks to establish themselves as the powerful one in a relationship, it is because they want to be in control and they do not want the other person to be their equal partner in all things. The source of power and authority can so easily then be used to put the other person down. They are not as important because they do not have a proper job, a degree, as much life experience, a car, as much money etc. Putting people down takes power from them. Focusing on these kind of details to justify control shows a total lack of respect for the person you are with.

We’re all different. Each one of us has an array of strengths and weaknesses. In terms of relationship, how much money a person has is far less significant than how much compassion they have, how much magic in their soul. Society encourages outward displays of physical wealth, status symbols and trophies. If we internalise those values and bring them into our relationships, we ruin our chances of good and meaningful connections. Where there is inequality and disrespect, love will not flourish.

There needs also to be an equality of giving. That doesn’t mean that we must give exactly the same things to each other. Balance can be found in other ways. You cook the meal, I wash the dishes. You pay the gas bill, I pay the electric. A sharing of work, responsibility and ownership is essential in good relationship, and that’s not about hours spent in paid employment or money earned. Financial contributions are not the only ones that have an impact. If one person gives and the other does not, that creates a power imbalance. Energy in the relationship only flows one way, until that person has nothing more they can give and either stops, or walks away.

If you want to have power over something and make it do your bidding, get a car, or some other mindless piece of technology that will not be hurt or offended by this. If you want an actual relationship with a human being, there is absolutely no room for any notions of power, control and inequality. If you can’t respect the person you are with, it probably means you shouldn’t be with them, for both your sakes.

On Nurturing Creativity with Elizabeth Gilbert

This video comes from TED, a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.

This talk is with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray Love. The focus is on writers nurturing creativity and ego from a spiritual sense, and the information is too good not to share.

 

 

From the website:

“The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Oxford, bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).”

“On TED.com, we make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free. More than 700 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. All of the talks are subtitled in English, and many are subtitled in various languages. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.”

Romance … ???

Elen Sentier
… behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather taleneted cat …
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Wye’s Woman Celtic Shaman Training
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Gaia Dancing

I just found THIS, excellent! And so much what we do in Wye’s Woman.

Dancing, tapping the skin of the Earth with your feet, rubbing your skin on hers, feeling her rhythms flow up through you … so much connection :-).

Dancing is the language of the goddess …

Sit … listen … hear … dance …

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Today

I don’t know what to write about today, so I’ll just let the line flow along the page, let the words flow. Perhaps someone can find meaning in it. Perhaps I can. The act of writing is an act both of release and of taking control.

I only have any control over my life because I believe that I do, and because I think I can roll with whatever gets thrown at me. But there are days when the grief, the dismay gets too much and I wonder how we will ever get through this, how there can possibly ever be a good place on the far side. I have lived in a nightmare and I want it to end, but how to wake up?

Then I think back to the person I was a year ago, so lost and wounded, carrying the weight of blame for too many things, my soul shattered. A year of singing back the missing parts of myself. A year spent learning to trust again, to open, and to heal. I have a way to go yet.

But I am not yet free of the past. Last night’s accusation, about how I irritate and grate, how I am constantly attacking and bringing up problems still echoes in my ears. And yet, my perception is so very different, that I am quiet and keep my head down and try not to make a fuss unless something really matters. I am so grateful for the people who believe in me, who offer back reflections that do not make me look like a monster.

Today I weep for the past and the things I have been through. I have confessed the worst of it to my family, and there was some relief in that. And they step in, trying to help, to support me, and I feel so guilty that I cannot manage all these things myself, I feel so useless, letting them down, too pathetic. And I cried, and they told me it was ok, and that they would help me through. Burdens of responsibility lifted from my shoulders. I have carried so much, and so far, and thought myself weak and insufficient for all the things I could not do, but my family, are not blaming me for being soul tired and distressed. They just want to help.

I wish I had been able to speak sooner. I wish I had known how to say that I was fearful and in pain, that I could not cope. For a long time, I have needed someone to step up and help me fix things, but how could I admit that? I expected blame for shortcomings, not kindness. I am still shocked by kindness. I lived with so little of it for so long. I lived on crumbs, telling myself it was a feast, and the fault lay with me if I was still hungry. Too greedy. But they were crumbs, and I was starving to death, heart and soul.

It was a slow erosion of self, slow enough that I did not see it, until there was almost nothing left in me. I don’t know how a person guards against that. I can’t much offer advice for how not to go there. I know this. Just keep talking. Trust people. More than one person. Tell the stories of your life and make sure they seem ok to someone else, and listen if they say otherwise. It was the silence that undid me, the carrying that great, unspoken weight, and never giving anyone the chance to tell me to run, never giving anyone opportunity to come in and rescue me. Not for too long. I thank the gods there is Tom, and that he helped me feel safe to talk, and told me none of what had happened was ok, or my fault. Today, my mother’s words echo his. Terrible. And not my fault.

I am breathing very slowly. I am typing, because I can. I have spent a lot of time holding my child. I will get through this, somehow. But today hurts, and I can see no way forwards, even though I think there must be a lot. If you can spare a prayer or a little magic for James, Tom and I, we’d be glad of it. And spare a moment for anyone else around you who is in pain, or in crisis. So many folks are. Life is hard enough without people undertaking to make it worse for each other.