You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘intimacy’ tag.

Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control. We can love and care for others, but we can not possess our children, our lovers, family, or friends. We can assist them, pray for them, and wish them well. Yet in the end their happiness and suffering depend on their thoughts and actions, not on our wishes.~ Jack Kornfield

I didn’t realize what a tight ship I run, that is, until my children and grandchildren arrived for a visit. You have to realize that I live in a very controlled environment, where predictability assures safety. Gentle, lighthearted conversation, belly-laughing humor, along with deep intimacy and Presence is the norm. Enter four adults and two boys under the age of seven and we have a decibel level and chaos not common in my (probably) overly controlled physical space. Upon their arrival, each of my dear caregivers and friends comment on the physical and energetic difference of my living space.

And when my family leaves, they notice my fullness of heart bursting with a panoply of emotions including grief from the void left behind, the memories from our past that cannot be relived, as well as the relief that with each visit we have fewer unexamined or unresolved issues together. I am left with equal proportions of deep grief and deep joy.

Each visit feels special in its own way, but the visit last March seemed particularly deep and a bit less fragmented than usual. There were less opportunities for long individual conversations, but more building of love and cohesion as a family unit. Perhaps because the boys are getting older there are more opportunities for connection that doesn’t involve physicality, of which I am completely and regretfully incapable. Jordan came a week early to have mama time – my boy and his mama – and a week later his girlfriend Emily, Casey, Kumar, River, and Luc arrived.

The background of this visit included a movie being filmed by Kumar with River, Keyahi, Luc and Amali as the stars. I was cast as the Oracle. 🙂 I have to admit that the Oracle participated in the game of Cards Against Humanity on two different occasions with adult family and friends during this visit. If you have not played this game, the liberation that results from this sort of catharsis cannot be measured by trips to a therapist or pharmaceutical medicine. Try it. You will be horrified and humiliated, but if you can weather it, you will experience the immense liberation that comes from casting out all of our inhibitions.

Luc, my four-year-old grandson, is an adorable handful. (He is the one under the table in the photograph.) I’m not sure what it is about second children, but I see this pattern over and over again. Although with Casey and Jordan, a milder version of the opposite was true, which was probably due to their wider age difference. Luc is the child who tests every boundary presented, often for his own safety, and at other times for his parent’s sanity. It’s a good thing Luc is so adorable, because his will is pretty fierce at times. Both of his parents adore him, have a high threshold for his willfulness, and continually provide him with love as medicine. Luc was the child who, at two years old, poked the cat eight times in order to learn she would scratch him every time when he didn’t honor her boundaries. Casey eventually needed to intervene, because he still didn’t get it. Casey and I have this sort of tenacity in us as well. When it can be harnessed, it is a useful life skill in an adult, but this quality in a child is not easy to parent.

First children are considered the hero child. Perhaps the second child needs to enter with a vengeance to show us who they are, possibly to topple the heroes from their perceived throne. My beloved caregiver and friend told me her theory – if they gave you your second child first, you wouldn’t have a second child. 🙂

Each time they come to visit we get closer and closer. There is so much gratitude for each visit, while at the same time the impending grief grows. The courage it takes for each of us to continue to open and not shut down in the face of the inevitable Great Grief is profound. I think my respect for them grows along with a certain capacity to hold the grief.

Luc is also the child who is completely uninhibited and forthright. He came to me and said, “You’re going to die.” Fortunately, after working with children for nearly a decade, I don’t get rattled by much. I replied, “Yes, I have to get my angel wings.” This gave me the opening to have the conversation with him I’d been wanting to have. I told him that I would be with him his whole life and he could always speak to me, but he wouldn’t see me with his eyes, only his heart.

Later that day, I had a similar conversation with his older brother, River. This conversation needed to be more sophisticated, because River is less in the magical thinking stage and more concrete. River has been precocious since day one and requires more Presence when engaging with him. If you have had one conversation with River, you know this about him.

This was a groundbreaking visit and auspicious in its timing, because my physical condition has begun to rapidly decline. I hope I have the chance to reinforce these beliefs, that as I move toward the end of my life, feel more like truths. Casey was a witness to these conversations and I’m sure she will reinforce them for the boys and for herself. Casey was the child who taught me about the other vibration. When one of her children is struggling, she can recognize the greater missions they have undertaken. I trust she will be able to find me.

Sometimes, children’s eyes can see what adults’ have forgotten. May they feel my love through the veil with their hearts and not their minds. And if they have trouble finding me, perhaps Luc can show them the Way.

Advertisements

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. – Helen Keller

balance

I have been practicing Marshall Rosenberg’s seminal work on nonviolent communication for over nine years. Recently, I have been remembering his statement that every communication is an expression of either “Please” or “Thank you.” No matter how skillfully or un-skillfully the communication is delivered, all communications are either requesting something one needs or expressing gratitude. We don’t always get what we want or need from people, but we can always choose a response that is more conscious. A more conscious response will move the conversation closer to love and forgiveness; forgiveness of other, and more importantly, forgiveness of self. A less conscious, more impulsive reaction would likely keep the expression of pain going. It requires much skill to interact consciously with other human beings; I believe that is why we are here, learning with and from each other.

It is essential that we understand the feelings we are experiencing during conflict and that we understand the unmet need triggering the feeling. Identifying our feelings can take much spiritual maturity, because allowing oneself to be vulnerable during conflict is like what Stephen Levine calls, “opening your heart in hell.” Once one is feeling and need literate, conflict is easily reconciled. Here are some common examples:

Wife – You are always working, it’s like I’m a single woman in a marriage!

This is an expression of please. This is where the real work begins. The wife might only feel anger, but sadness or grief is always under anger. She might not even realize she is sad and missing her connection with her partner. In our culture, acknowledging our vulnerabilities is grossly undervalued, perpetuating an illusion that we are self-sufficient islands. Allowing one’s vulnerability, in my opinion, is how we can achieve world peace, one person at a time. At the core of this existential shift is the ability to find empathy for the self. To me, this is the prerequisite and the gift that neutralizes conflict and increases love of self and others. Once empathy is achieved, there is more self-reflection, and her communication might be, “My need for connection with you is not being met and I’m really sad about it. Would you manage your time so you can spend more time with me and the children? With practice, one can move more swiftly to vulnerability and affirming one’s love for the other can render more love.

Husband – I cannot do enough for you. All you do is nag nag nag.

This is an expression of please. It is important to hear beyond the pain. What he may be unable to express if he is not feeling literate is, “I feel so much pressure to provide financially, emotionally, and physically. I feel like I’m dying on the vine. I need some help here.”

The most difficult work is identifying the feelings and needs. Cultivating empathy for one’s self, leads to empathy for the other and will ultimately lead to feeling less isolated. This is the power of duality, or interacting intimately with others; the power of community.

Once self-empathy becomes natural, one can respond to these please requests with gratitude, rather than the automatic reaction of withdrawal or acting out our pain. Whether the communication is skillful or not, we can feel gratitude, because the other person is willing to express their unmet needs. Moving out of one’s own pain through self-empathy allows one to hear the other’s pain. Here is where love and connection can be restored and please can become thank you.

Recently, I reached out to a significant person in my life who has been disconnected from me, disconnected from my heart. As I move toward the end of my life, I know this is not truth. I reached out asking if we could reconnect. (Please.) I was met with a very cold, defensive response. I knew that we were not both in the place of reconciliation and I needed to honor that. In the past, I might have pushed for my needs to get met and it would not have ended well. I recognized the opportunity to honor where the other person was and more importantly, not to sacrifice my own well-being, knowing how open and vulnerable I am in my life right now. My reply was merely, Thank you.

And I meant those words, completely. “Thank you” to her for letting me know where she was. And, “thank you” to me for letting go, for having the wisdom to know that because we are disconnected on the physical plane, in another vibration where love is the only truth, we are connected forever.

All statements express please or thank you. Vulnerability is the key to open communication and inevitably leads to empathy. Empathy is the balm that changes poison (pain) to medicine (intimacy). You cannot give to others with an empty internal reservoir of love. This reservoir needs to be attended to constantly and consistently. This is the basis of most spiritual practices and the hope of heart-centered psychotherapy.

Marshall’s books can be purchased on Amazon, found in many libraries and YouTube videos are available online at no charge.

World peace can be achieved, one person at a time.

“In each of us there is another whom we do not know.” ~ Carl Gustav Jung

The Veil

Have you ever had an old aunt or parent who was in assisted living and they complained that you never came to visit? Maybe you were there the day before, but in their minds it was never and you knew there was no way you could convince them otherwise. Feeling exasperated, you thought, “What’s the point? I can never do enough.”

Well, from the perspective of someone who is alone eighteen hours a day, seven days a week and having felt this Great Aloneness my whole life, the kind of aloneness that being with other people does not touch, I am beginning to understand this dilemma in a completely different way. With this new understanding, beloved family members finding themselves in what feels like a bottomless pit of despair they could never climb out of, just a shift in perspective could significantly reduce suffering.

Many people, like myself, have lived much of our lives close to the veil that lies between this physical existence and our Soul selves. The veil is getting thinner as people are becoming more conscious, whether our egos accept this or not. After all, we, our souls, have chosen to enter human bodies for a courageous reason. When entering the lower vibrations of duality, the work of evolution of the soul is, paradoxically, accelerated. From duality, we move toward unitive consciousness. (Our culture is craving this shift and this is the hope for humanity.)

As people near their transitions, they become closer to their soul selves. It begins as an internal process that may not become outwardly visible until a critical mass has been reached within the consciousness of the individual. It can be subtle, where the person we’ve known all our lives becomes different. It may have a balancing effect where they appear belligerent where they were gentle or they become peaceful where they had previously been hostile. Sometimes, this process happens through acquiring dementia to fully experience their Shadow, the part of their personalities they were unable to live due to a lack of acceptance of these behaviors. (Maybe a significant person in their lives had been aggressive and they chose to live passively, refusing any angry impulses.) We take on human bodies to acquire experience, to grow and heal by balancing karma. The more determined the soul, the more likely one may choose illness, addiction or injury to assure we are following the soul’s plan rather than the ego’s plan.

My mother would have been a Renaissance woman if born during a different time. She was an independent, able woman who skipped grades in school, but married young and began having children at 19. She never completed college, which I imagine created much frustration due to limiting her options in life. Over time, her personality became aggressive and belligerent, which was not her true nature. She was frustrated and I felt terrorized by her behavior. I learned to not be my mother, so I denied any feelings of anger. On the surface, I appeared to be a sweet person who could have won a prize for “most congenial,” until one day a spiritual teacher gave me a Shadow gift of a plastic machine gun. I instantly felt shame, but a part of me felt liberated as I began to love the sound of the plastic machine gun, and, more importantly, I began to experience the buried aggression in my personality. Allowing myself to feel the repressed aggression and befriending it freed me to begin to allow vulnerability, a quality necessary for intimacy in relationships, and therefore freeing me to live a more authentic life.

When it became dangerous for my mother to live alone, we had to place her in a nursing home. She went through a period of confusion and outrage, until she surrendered and became a sweet old lady. My brothers and I commented on the irony, “A sweet old lady called me today, do you know who that might have been?” She was finally able to live her true self.

Understanding the changes in ourselves and our loved ones as we near death can significantly decrease suffering and allow us to truly come Home to our own true nature.

 

“You wait a lifetime to meet someone who understands you, accepts you as you are. At the end, you find that someone, all along, has been you.” -Richard Bach

22573d7ae83ed1e264855c45662ba651

Siegfried Zademack

I recently shared with my dear friend Alice, who is on a similar Journey as me, that with this illness I believe we are being brought into greater balance. The personal journeying she has shared with me recently has affirmed this Knowing. I wanted to share some of my deep, personal balancing.

I have been particularly touched by a couple I have known for some time, who has been journeying through MS together. One has the illness, but they are together in their commitment of seeing this curriculum through. After David left, I communicated with Stephen to ask what enables him to stay. His response was so profound and personal that I will not share it on a blog; suffice it to say that he expressed reverence and deep love in his serving. Hearing his perspective gave me so much hope for humankind and appreciation for these friends whose lives are unexplainably interconnected with mine.

From time to time, we check in with each other to share strategies and mutual respect. As I near the end of my ten week commitment to The Presence Process* with this week’s theme being, I FORGIVE MYSELF, what keeps coming up is that I need to forgive myself for having this illness. Everything else has been forgiven, but this last piece seems intransigent.

During our most recent communication, I must have shared my pain and disappointment about traversing this journey alone in contrast to their shared path. There have been so many similarities and synchronicities along our respective paths, it is surely not a coincidence.

But for me, David left. Stephen expressed something remarkable to me. “… dearest Aliyah, I have fallen for you in a way I cannot explain. Somehow there is a sisterhood of like souls on similar voyages and somehow the two of you have me on the same liferaft. You make it easier for me to care for [my wife]. I feel that I could be with you in your situation with perfect ease…” That last line was the clincher. I could not stop sobbing. He had struck a nerve. Pun intended.

I was able to see the part of me that is so balled up and black that I cannot possibly be lovable. After all, David adored me and he could not leave fast enough. As I sat with the pain in my being, and allowed myself to soften and expand around this pain, I realized that it was myself that I could not forgive. Somehow, this invitation allowed me to see the deepest judgment I held was for myself: I had been so cruel to my mother when she was sick for ten years of my young life. My mother has long since forgiven me, but I had not forgiven me! My healing with this illness has involved revisiting the primary relationship with my mother, as I have described in much detail in previous blogs.

It has taken Stephen’s kindness and devotion for me to access that place that we can perhaps call the missing piece. I also understand why I could never maintain a primary relationship and simultaneously do my deepest healing. I would fetishize and romanticize the love from others to protect myself from touching into this blackness. I had to hear love from another person, but also someone from the same liferaft. It is a wondrous process to unlock the depths of where we cannot love ourselves.

It is by entering our deepest wounds where illness can sometimes be just the medicine we need for bringing us into greater balance.

*a book by Michael Brown

VISIT THE BLOG FOR MY NEW BOOK – MEET ME BY THE RIVER!

Go to - http://www.meetmebytheriver.net -- And you can find it on Amazon!
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. more...

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 114 other followers

Advertisements