Monday, May 10, 2010

Choosing to Live a Love Story

"That same circuitry is active in your brain today in the amygdala, hippocampus, and related structures. It's hard-wired to scan for the bad, and when it inevitably finds negative things, they're both stored immediately, plus made available for rapid recall.

In contrast, positive experiences (short of million dollar moments) are usually registered through standard memory systems, and thus need to be held in conscious awareness 10 to 20 seconds for them to really sink in.

In sum, your brain is like velcro for negative experiences and teflon for positive ones.
In the moment, this built-in bias puts a negative spin on the world and intensifies our stress and reactivity. Over time, these experiences build up in what’s called “implicit memory,” casting a glum shadow over mood and outlook, and darkening one’s interior landscape. Yes, these hard-wired inclinations have been evolutionarily successful, but Mother Nature cares about grandchildren, not about dukkha."

- Rick Hanson, psychologist, and Rick Mendius, neurologist
Something I have known intellectually for years is finally sinking in experientially -- where we put our attention defines, and even creates, our experience. The way to cultivate attention is to live with intention.

I spend far too much time putting my attention on shadows. Rather than intentionally cultivating gratitude and appreciation for the abundance of goodness I have in my life, I have been focused on not-enoughness, disappointment and other negative judgments of myself and the people in my life. Especially within my changing relationship.

(Oh goodness, I need something to call the man I love with all my being but is no longer my "partner." From now on I shall call him Knight. In many ways he has been my Knight in Shining Armor, even if we may not live happily ever after from a traditional perspective. We are rewriting the fairy tale and redefining "happily ever after.")

Knight is a truly good man. He is a good provider who makes a living doing something he loves, which is serving and facilitating healing for others. He is dedicated to family. He is fun and made me laugh a lot. He has a strong masculine/feminine balance and is overall a great communicator. He is remarkably accepting and non-judgmental of mine and other people's quirks and shadows. He is smart and creative. He works toward his own evolution and encourages others in their work. He is curious and adventurous. He is incredibly sexy and a wonderful lover. He is definitely a great catch. I had so many moments with him where I consciously thought about how blessed I was to be in the closest possible relationship to him. I was consistently surprised by the beauty in him -- his openness, his tremendous capacity and desire for love, and his insights into the human condition. I could see the Divine Spark in him and it is so very beautiful.

And yet as his quirks and shadows emerged over time, I took them personally and paid them too much attention. I allowed them to feed my fear stories. I became emotionally volatile. When a situation with him would set off a trigger, I would sink into the fear and shut him out. My communication would become violent -- passive aggressive, blaming, criticizing -- which would set off the fear triggers in him and send us into a tailspin as we tried to inflict pain on one another in some twisted sense of self protection. Our shadows weren't dancing well together and we didn't put the needed intention into learning how to dance with grace. We protected ourselves right out of our relationship. Funny how I don't feel any more safe or secure now.

Instead of focusing on how Knight was choosing me as a life partner, to the point of making compromises for me, I focused on my fears around his desire to be polyamorous. Instead of maintaining gratitude and appreciation for all the consistent ways he supported me, listened to me, encouraged my growth, and expressed his love and desire for me, I tripped out on him when I misunderstood him or he was self-absorbed or fell down in his own fearful stories. Instead of practicing compassion and holding space for his experience, which would have deepened our intimacy and strengthened our bond, I became self-absorbed in my fear and pushed him away.

I believe that I have been too focused on my own shadow. While we cannot bring our shadows into the light without paying serious attention to them, I believe that we can focus too much on our "deficiencies" and live in a consistent fear of fucking up. We pay so much attention to our fears that we bring them to life. I have seen this pattern in others, but I have never consciously experienced it in my own life like I am now.

In recent months I have had to face the shadow of violence within me. I have become aware of how I communicate violently and how I sometimes hurt people I love with my words and my tone. And it has made me afraid. I am so very afraid of hurting anyone ever again. I am judging and blaming myself for the pain I've caused. I am perceiving judgment all around me, believing that people see me as a fraud, incapable of living the love I claim to be striving for and ask them to strive for. I have been so afraid that I started worrying the crazies might be coming back -- or never really went away. I have been afraid that I will do the unforgivable, and living so deep in that fear that I created exactly what I was afraid of. I did something that may be forgivable, but has lost me one of the most precious gifts the Universe has given me. How can I not feel like a failure? I don't think I have failed so big. While I can usually find the opportunity, and even the beauty, in every failure or disappointment in my life, I can't imagine how that is possible with this. I have lost the love of my life, someone with whom I feel more potential for a love-filled life than I have ever felt before. How do I find the grace to forgive myself and believe that I am deserving and capable of a healthy, loving relationship?

Instead of writing a love story, which is what I believed myself to be doing, I was writing a fear story and brought my fear to life. I don't know that I have ever understood my own creative power so well. It's time to put that power to better uses.

One of the questions I am living is how can I trust the Universe if I cannot trust myself? How can I trust someone elses love for me if I cannot trust my own love? I am more violent with myself than I am with anyone else. I have voices inside, voices that I spend much too much time listening to, that tell me I am a failure, that I have no right attempting to make change in the world when I have so much change to make in myself, and that I should hide away with my fucked-up-ness. My saboteur runs rampant in me and keeps me from doing all that I am inspired to do. I am terribly unkind to myself. I neglect my body to the point that I am living with near daily discomfort or pain. I strive to take good care of the people I love -- my children, my tribe and the greater community I serve -- but I don't take care of myself. I try to meet everyone else's expectations -- sometimes to my own detriment -- and yet I don't feel deserving to ask for what I need or desire from others.

I desire to be living a love story, not a fear story. And not just with Knight, but with myself. Oh wow, I just realized a whole new layer to what is unfolding. I have been unable to forgive my mother for choosing a fear story over her love for me. I have also struggled to forgive my ex-husband for choosing a fear story over his love for me and my children. I have judged them, blamed them and struggled to forgive them because they are a mirror for my own fear choices. I have been doing the same damn thing, choosing to give attention to my fear more than my love.

When my mother died, a friend told me it was an opportunity to be free. I have convinced myself that the path to freedom is digging into my wounds. I have given tremendous power to my wounds, allowing them to disrupt the flow of love in my life. Every difficult moment I had with the Knight (and in all of my other relationships) was based in a fear story that reinforced my wounding. Once I was emotionally triggered by a situation, I couldn't break free of the wounded story. Instead I fed it and reinforced it by setting limitations for myself and our relationship.

I haven't broken free of my mother's hold on my life, I have become her.

"The whole world is waiting for someone to open their heart first." Byron Katie

This is my wake up call. I have always had a passion for self development because even though I was born into such a deep fear story, I was also born with a deep intuitive knowing of what living a Love Story can be. I have never been able to explain it properly to people, but I can feel the potential of living a Love filled life. I can feel it within myself, within others, and in relationship between myself and others. I work so hard on myself and on my relationships because I am striving to create that Love experience. I work to bring information and experiences to others that will encourage the Love because I am striving to create what I feel is possible. I believe in Love fiercely and I will do whatever it takes to open myself to it to my fullest capacity and encourage others to do the same. Right now that means ending the fear story I've been living and intentfully writing my Love Story.

Thank you for being a part of it.

"You suppose you are the trouble, but you are the cure. You suppose you are the lock on the door, but you are the key that opens it. It is too bad that you want to be someone else. You don't see your own face, your own beauty, yet no face is more beautiful than yours."
~ Rumi

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