Friday, June 25, 2010

Prayers for the Broken

Memorial crosses symbolizing what is lost due to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill stand in the front yard of a house in Grand Isle, La., Tuesday, June 1, 2010. "This is breaking people," property owner Patrick Shay, not pictured, said of the spill's effect on Grand Isle residents. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Huffington Post

I am sitting in presence with the oil spill for the first time this morning, not because I've wanted to remain blissfully ignorant of this disaster, but because I know the depth of pain that is there and it is overwhelming for me, especially in my current openness to the energy of all life. I cannot stop crying. To attempt to hold space in my heart for all the human pain and animal/plant death is incredibly difficult. But necessary.

The Buddhist spiritual practice of Tonglen is to breathe in the suffering of the world and breathe out compassion and healing. I am doing this practice this morning and every morning from now on.

I pray for those who have the intelligence and education to find solutions to the spill and the damage it is causing.

I pray for all of the individuals and families impacted by this disaster to receive the emotional and financial support they need.

I pray for protection for the ocean, the plants and the animals that are still alive.

I pray for the awakening of us all so that we stop wounding ourselves and the planet in these terrible ways.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Masochism: Lessons in Pain & Unbounded Power

I have a very special friend with whom I have a complex and strangely intimate relationship. He is special because he is a fellow mystic with whom I can share my journey in the most intimate ways. He is special because he was my closest friend after my mother died and an amazing gift in my grief process (although not always in the nurturing way you might expect). But my friend is also a sadist who will consciously and joyfully take me into the places that scare me both physically and emotionally in order to help me face my fear, heal and evolve. This creates a tension in our relationship.

I am a masochist - spiritually, emotionally and physically. I willingly move toward fear and pain. It forces me to grow, to dive deeply into my own darkness and fly out more spacious. It gives me release. It tests my resilience and endurance. And physical masochism allows me to express and transform spiritual and emotional heartache through my body.

My masochist is powerfully attracted to my friend's sadist. The pain he is capable of inflicting with joy is terrifying, more than I know I can handle. And yet I feel a strong desire to surrender to him, to allow him to push me to my edges.

It isn't the same as the submission I surrender to Knight. My masochist and my servant-submissive archetypes are very different. Masochism isn't about service to another's will. It is about surrender to fear and pain, in the hands of someone I trust not to harm me.

My friend and I have had several impact scenes over the years, but always at parties, always light because they were limited by time and space. He is moving away from Humboldt soon and I have been experiencing a growing desire to see what would happen if we allowed my masochist and his sadist to dance without limitation before he goes. I expressed my desire to him recently and discovered he had the same thought.

Last Saturday night we danced. It was an ordeal. It blew my body, my mind and my heart wide open. It mirrored my current emotional experiences in powerful and excruciating ways. I am overflowing with insights. I believe that I was subconsciously seeking an ordeal all along, knowing that my friend would push me to my edges and beyond.

This dance was different than any other BDSM scene I had done before. It was the most physically and emotionally trying scene I have experienced. We started with dinner and a mystical conversation. As we moved into scene space, we talked about some of the things that came up for me (like how it freaked me out when he slapped my face). I was very vocal, which I usually am not. I talked about feelings and fears I was experiencing in the moment. I admitted when it hurt. I cried torrents of tears. I called him names. I stood up for myself when he taunted me. I even fought back to make it stop and refused to allow certain sensations to continue. It was the first time I refused to completely surrender to the physical play.

But I experienced complete surrender emotionally. I shared my raw pain with no inhibition. My habitual pattern is to keep my pain to myself, both in scene and in life. I pride myself on my endurance, strength and resilience. I hide away with my darkness as much as possible. It scares me to be so vulnerable as to share my raw pain with another and trust that they can and will hold me. But I put it all out there with him. I was afraid he would judge me as weak for carrying on, or that he would disappointed if I didn't go as far as he thought I could, yet I didn't push myself any further than I believed in that moment that I could go. I accepted my limits and I expressed the hurt when I reached them. I believe there is a lesson in this for me in "real life."

This scene was also different because my tolerance for pain has changed. I am far more sensitive. While I can still endure a lot, it feels like pain rather than intense sensation that can be processed and even enjoyed. We couldn't break through to the "forever place" (that magical transcendent bottom space that usually comes from an intense scene). In my head I asked myself several times why I was putting myself through it, why I kept surrendering to more hurt. I eventually refused to take any more. All I could see was fear of pain. I couldn't see the spaciousness on the other side.

I looked into the mirror of the experience and saw that I fear that the heartache I am currently experiencing around poly and my triggers will never end. I am afraid my wounds will never heal and it will hurt forever. And I am frustrated that either path I take -- staying with Knight in a poly relationship or giving him up -- both lead to pain. It feels like I have no choice about hurting.

But they are two distinctly different kinds of heartache. Giving up my relationship with Knight would be the loss of the greatest love I have known and tremendous grief. Facing my demons in poly relationship will (likely/hopefully) lead to more love and a healing of these gaping wounds I've been carrying around and picking at since my mom died. I will come out more spacious and joy-full on the other side.

I think I have become too identified with pain (read the link - it's really good!). I think I might believe that my wounds will be open wounds forever and evolving will always have to hurt. Maybe I believe life itself is painful. Maybe I even believe that I deserve to hurt.

From the link above: "Personally, I haven't run from my pain. I compensated for it. I spent so much time accommodating it, "working with it", paying attention to it –- NOT avoiding it, that I neglected my very agency and power: my joy. Unbridled, unabashedly sweet, essential joyousness."

I think I am afraid of my power unbounded by the limits of fear and heartache. I am afraid of my own bigness. I am reminded of this well-known quote:

“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. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I am interested in seeing what unfolds in the coming days because I have a sense that even though we couldn't move me into the "forever place," we broke something open in me energetically. I seem to be extraordinarily sensitive, not just to other people's energies, but the energy of life itself. Those ecstatic states I recently wrote about? More. Bigger. Deeper. I feel the Divine moving through me in strong currents, a sort of electricity through my body and my heart. I feel Oneness, my connectedness to all of life through my Divine Spark.

Lunchtime at the marsh today I really felt recognition that the God in me is the God in everything, which makes me as big as the Universe. It brought me to tears.

One of the things we talked about over dinner before our scene was my frustration with feeling disconnected from the Divine. Even with my new spiritual practices, I have been struggling with really feeling connected to God like I did when I was younger. My intuition is telling me that this new opening to the energy of life may be my door into the personal relationship with the Divine I have been craving.

What might life be like if we are capable of sustaining a sense of Oneness most or all of the time in all that we do? What might our relationships be like if we are aware that we are relating God to God in every conversation and in every touch?

It sounds so far-fetched, doesn't it? Who am I to talk about being God? Yet everything I have studied and experienced in my life has led to this and it is what I strive for -- to know myself and you for the delicious (and quirky) facets of God that we are.

On the practical level, there is something in this for healthy polyamory, too. When talking to my friend recently about my struggles with Knight's growing love for another, he asked the question: what if I see her as an aspect of myself in the Divine? What if I see her as an aspect of the God in me who will love and hurt him differently/uniquely, but just as perfectly as I do for his evolution into his own Divine nature? Where is the room for fear and jealousy in that awareness?

So many big questions. I look forward to living the answers.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon

I am really proud of myself for my courage.

Last night I had dinner with Knight and his new lover, whom I shall call Rose (we share a love of roses). I did not feel ready for it. I had strong urges to back out of it. But I did it anyway and am so incredibly grateful that I chose love.

Knight started talking about the three of us getting together within a week of their relationship beginning. I was hesitant for many reasons. For one, it feels like everything is moving really fast and the idea of meeting implied a bigness to their
NRE that I don't want to acknowledge. Knight and I didn't call ourselves a couple for nearly two months and I didn't meet his daughters for more than three months. Yet here he was asking me to invite this new lover into my heart only two weeks into their relationship.

Secondly, there is the bigness of my own process around accepting their relationship. I am still suffering from nervous belly every day. I am struggling emotionally every time they have a date. I have no idea what will trigger me. What if I was triggered by their interaction during dinner? How could I take the risk of exposing my shadow, or failing to have grace, with someone I don't know? How much vulnerability am I capable of?

I am capable of so much more than I imagined.

Last Friday, in my ecstatic state after writing the love letter to the Invisible Girl, I wrote an email to Rose. I desired for her to know that it is my goal to embrace their relationship, as well as some other details about my process. In her response she expressed a desire for the three of us to meet and talk as well, but was willing to respect my timing.

I thought it would be weeks before I would be ready to come face-to-face with their relationship. But the other day I felt an intuitive nudge to just do it, so I let Knight know I was open to it and last night worked out for us all.

Yesterday was difficult. My belly discomfort increased exponentially. The fear was huge. I came very close to backing out. But I chose acts of self-care instead. First, in the afternoon I followed a recommendation from a co-worker/friend to pick up an herbal de-stress formula that she had found effective during periods of emotional stress. I took it immediately. Within an hour my belly discomfort had subsided significantly and my emotional state felt more mellow. I also went home to relax for awhile and picked up The Places that Scare You again. This time I was drawn to the chapter called "Learning to Stay," which talks about staying with our emotional states rather than repressing them or acting out from them. I was in a fairly calm state by dinner time.

It started out awkward. We (mostly they) small talked during food preparation, but when we sat down together it got very quiet. No one knew where to start. But then Rose took the initiative and talked about her own willingness to be awkward and vulnerable, which led us into a two+ hour deeply honest conversation about poly, our desires, our fears, our histories and so much more. Although we are very different, Rose and I have some significant resonance in our histories. She is compassionate towards my situation and willing to honor my limitations for the time being (I know that I am not ready to see them be physically intimate beyond a greeting/goodbye hug and kiss). She also gave Knight and I gifts she had made.

We talked about having a once-a-month dinner with the three of us. We also talked about her and I spending some time together without Knight, which I think is essential to discovering if we have friendship chemistry.

Overall it was a great experience. While I don't believe my struggles with the fear are over, I do feel that this is a significant step towards increasing my comfort with the situation. I have a better understanding of what draws them to each other and what impact they may have on each other's evolution.

But most importantly, I feel my heart opening to Rose and her place in Knight's life, which I believe will lead me toward a deeper experience of Love.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cultivating Ecstasy

"We can learn to cultivate the quality of a great lover in the way we live our daily life. Ecstatic moments can be cultivated on a daily basis when we enter into a love affair with life." Margo Anand

To bring some Light into this story, I desire to illuminate the fact that not every day has been hard and painful. Some days have been full of joy and ecstasy.

In this amazing process of transformation, I am experiencing spontaneous ecstatic states. Moments or hours of pure bliss. A sense of being so very alive that I am literally buzzing with aliveness. My body vibrates. My heart and spirit feel so expansive I feel that I could hold the world in my love. I have had moments that are so joyful I am almost embarrassed to share them with people, because I'm not sure they'll understand.

Relationship is part of my spiritual practice. It is in intimacy with others that I have my deepest experiences of Oneness. I feel that I am cultivating my relationship to the Divine through my relationships to my self, Knight and others. In my morning prayers I pray to keep my attention on the Divine Spark in others throughout my day. I am also striving to nurture deeper connections in my friendships. Some of my ecstatic states are sourced in these rich interactions.

Sometimes the ecstasy comes when I'm with Knight or just after I've been with him. I am finding that as we work through the challenges of transforming our relationship and opening to poly, we are deepening in our intimacy with and desire for each other. Our time together is very rich and our sex has been phenomenal! I have opened up to a whole new experience of arousal and orgasm.

Sometimes the ecstasy comes after significant emotional breakthroughs. The day after I wrote the love letter to the Invisible Girl was an ecstatic day.

Sometimes the ecstasy comes from spiritual practice: prayer and contemplation, spiritual study, ritual, etc.

Sometimes the ecstasy comes from walking in nature. I have moments when walking at the marsh overwhelms all of my senses with beauty.

While I know that it is unreasonable to hope to sustain a permanent ecstatic state (at this point in my evolution anyway), I do hope to cultivate a deeper relationship to my ecstasy so that I can bring it to the surface at will.

"Let's toast Every rung we've climbed on Evolution's ladder. Whisper, 'I love you! I love you!' To the whole mad world." - Hafiz

Image Source: The Ecstasy of Alexis Amore James Roper

Monday, June 14, 2010

Heightened Neurosis

It has been a rough day. Knight was with his other lover for more than 24 hours and I have been struggling with my emotions and my fears all day. I have felt sad, almost depressed, and couldn't find anything in my reading or writing or anywhere else that would lift me up. But then tonight I noticed and picked up Pema Chodron's book The Places the Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.

I looked at the table of contents and was drawn to a chapter called "Heightened Neurosis." I am comforted by this:

"We might assume that as we train in bodhichitta, our habitual patterns will start to unwind--that day by day, month by month, we'll be more open-minded, more flexible, more of a warrior. But what actually happens with ongoing practice is that our patterns intensify...this is called 'heightened neurosis.' It's not something we do on purpose. It just happens. We catch the scent of groundlessness and despite our wishes to remain steady, open and flexible, we hold on tight in very habitual ways.

This has been the experience of everyone who ever set out on the path of awakening. All those smiling enlightened people you see in pictures or in person had to go through the process of encountering their full-blown neurosis, their methods of looking for ground...

A first step is to understand that a feeling of dread or psychological discomfort might just be a sign that old habits are getting liberated, that we are moving closer to the natural open state. Trungpa Rinpoche said that awakening warriors would find themselves in a constant state of anxiety. Personally, I've found this to be true."

I am still having nervous belly issues. While my rational mind has been trying to tell me that the physiological and emotional anxiety I've been experiencing is a sign that I am doing something wrong, my deeper self has been telling me that it's just heightened fear that I will eventually work through. It is so encouraging to find this passage, this validation, that what I am experiencing is entirely normal for the process of awakening. All I can do is continue to sit with it, hold space for it, rather than my habit of withdrawing, avoiding, and criticizing.

Even though today was rough and pervasive, it was different. Not as sharp, not as dark. Something is shifting.

I Imagine God Loves in Multiplicity

Holy Moral Dilemma

There is promise here, in this paired place,
of a safe ease without the buzz
of what next, what if, if only.

And yet here, I am sometimes restless.
As if my soul is wired for action, for split
second love and last minute partners,
adventure in each turning.

As if I am alive only
when I walk the edge
of maybe.
As if certainty
is certain death.

And I think to myself:
do I have "commitment issues?"

Perhaps I commit fully
to not knowing.
the way a warrior
commits to battle--
with my life.

Or the way a monk
commits to God,
in each holy moment
with no expectations
for exclusivity.

How special we make each other
when we promise to love
in twosomes, as if we
are the last pair on earth
and our narrow love
will save the day.

I imagine God
loves in multiplicity,
and with no conditions.
That God has figured out
that there is more than
enough of her to go around,
that love is never
in short supply.

I can't imagine God
saying, sorry,
I'm taken.

November 9, 2009 By Lori Lothian

Friday, June 11, 2010

Love Letter to the Invisible Girl

I feel lighter and happier today than I have since Knight started his new relationship nearly two weeks ago.

Those who know me well have heard me talk a lot about The Invisible Girl since my mother died nearly two years ago. The Girl is an archetype in me, the way that I have come to perceive my inner child. She is the part of me that never outgrew the pain of the invisibility that came from living in the shadow of a narcissistic mother. She is the part of me that doubts I can be seen and loved for who I am. She is the part of me that is terrified of abandonment, and becomes incredibly sad or throws temper tantrums when I feel unseen or I'm afraid I'm losing someone. The Invisible Girl is the part of me that gets triggered and overwhelms me with fear.

I have been trying to work with this part of myself, to really understand our relationship so that I can manage trigger experiences, and eventually learn to prevent them from happening at all. I have spent a lot of time observing her when she freaks out, especially since I have been in relationship to Knight. While I have had incredible insights into the source of my fears and the reactions they stir up in me, I haven't felt like I've made any real progress in managing the Girl or her triggers.

I've learned recently that the problem is when I observe her, I hold a lot of judgment about her, and even hatred for her existence. I have believed that her existence is evidence of my crazy brokenness. I've blamed her for making my emotional life so difficult. I have been incredibly unkind to her.

What I am learning in my studies into radical self-care is that my Girl needs to be me. I need to hold and comfort her when she is terrified. I need to accept our feelings rather than resist them. I need to talk her to with kindness and compassion. I need to help her understand that I don't need her to protect me any longer. I need to find out what we truly need to feel safe and secure (as opposed to what she thinks we need).

Yesterday morning Knight had a date with his new lover. I started out the day all right but by early afternoon, when I hadn't received any texts from Knight, the Invisible Girl started throwing fits. Before and after his last date we had flirted by text and it had helped me feel connected to him. I told him how much it helped. So even though I didn't outright ask for it, I expected him to do the same yesterday (unexpressed expectations = inevitable disappointment).

As the Girl started telling me stories about how he's forgotten me, how I don't matter, how he likes his other lover better than me, etc., I realized I needed to do something to shift the momentum. I drove to the marsh to change the scenery and connect to nature, which always helps calm me. As I sat in the car, I was suddenly inspired to write a letter to my Girl.

While I have resisted the idea of communicating with parts of myself through dialogue or letters, as has been suggested by a variety of sources but always felt sort of hokey to me, I'm beginning to understand what a healing practice it is. For the first time I accepted everything that I was feeling and I felt significantly different afterward. I felt lighter. I felt hope that this may not last forever.

I woke up this morning feeling expansive again.

Here is my letter...

Precious Girl -

I know you are scared. You feel like we are in the dark and it reminds you of the closet we used to sit in when we had no one and truly doubted we existed at all. You wonder if we continue to exist if no one is present to witness us. Do we continue to exist to our Love if he is seeing, touching, loving someone else?

But we are real and we are loved. We are a Divine Spark - a child of the Universe. Not only do we exist, but we are amazing. We are so very strong and resilient. We have overcome so much together. And our story is witnessed by many. We are loved by many. We have never been so visible or loved before. We have touched so many lives with our poetry, our art, our writing, our service to community, our friendship, our vulnerability, and our willingness to share our story to be a light on the path to healing for others. There is so very much to love about us.

We are not alone - even when we are. People do not stop loving us just because we aren't interacting. We are loved every minute of every day by everyone that we love every minute of every day, whether we are consciously thinking of them or engaging with them or not. It is no different for those we love than it is for us.

I know you're scared by this new relationship, but the truth is that Knight made us first, to his own detriment, and we still felt invisible. It isn't about his new lover or him. It's about us. It's about me. It's about how I have been rejecting you when you most need to be held.

I am sorry. I am so sorry for making you more invisible by rejecting you and believing I am broken because you are inside of me. I am sorry for hating that you are a part of me. I am sorry I haven't given you the love we need when you are only trying to protect me.

It's not our fault that mom couldn't see past her own crazy to really see us. It's not our fault that the fathers in our life could not see past their own fear and addiction to see that we needed to be saved. It does not make us unlovable that our parents could not love us well. They really did the best they could.

Mom's illness is not our fault, and it's not hers either. I think she was an Invisible Girl, too, and she never figured out how to heal. Let's love her rather than blame her.

Precious Girl - it's time to heal. It is time to believe in ourselves. It's time to believe that we are our own super-hero and we can save our self.

Really look at our life, our story, and see how we have been our own super-hero all along. We saved our self from insanity. We saved our self from violence. We saved my children from a legacy of brokenness. Now it's time to save our self from this fear of something that is no longer real so that we can have the fullness of love we desire.

It's time to rewrite our story together.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thoughts on Polyamory

Tonight my business partner asked me if I have really considered that polyamory may not be part of who I am right now. I have considered it, very deeply. What I am experiencing is excruciating at times. I have asked myself many, many times if it's worth it. And I absolutely believe that it is, not only because I believe polyamory is an authentic expression of who I am and what I know about love, but because I also know what I know about fear.

My emotional reactions to Knight's new relationship are all based in fear. The topsy-turvy feeling in my belly is fear. I will not live a life based on fear, especially in my relationships. I have already lived fear, contraction and making myself smaller than I really am. I have watched the people I love choose fear. My mother died at the hands of her fear. My ex-husband lives his life through a computer because of his fear. When any of us hurt ourselves or each other, it is always in fear.

I choose love and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get there. I will sit through the fear, the heartache, the bellyaches, the memories, the insights, the breakthroughs and everything else in order to have love. I will work, like I have worked all my life, to create a life of joy, intimacy and creativity with Knight, my tribe and all the loves who come into our lives in the time we are together.

I know that once I work through the fear, I am capable of compersion. I know what it is to be desired and loved by Knight. It's a gift and one that should be shared. I cannot possess it. I cannot ask him to hold it back from others, to diminish his light when he feels drawn to shine it in sexual and/or emotional ways. If the relationship turns out to be long-term, rather than fear Knight's new lover, I would like to get to know her and to understand the opportunity in her for his capacity to love to deepen.

I believe in love. I know with all of my being that love can overcome my fear. Not just the love between Knight and I, but the love for myself that I am slowly growing, and the love from my friends as they bear witness and support me where they can, and the love of the Divine that flows through me when I am not afraid to let it. I believe that God, my community and I can love me into healing. I believe that the light that Knight shines in his love for me inspires me to burn brighter in my capacity to love (and vice versa). I will not walk away from it in fear.


As I consider the work of my heart, I keep coming back to something a spiritual teacher told me a few years ago. I was in a state of self-pity about how much trauma I've had to endure in my life. He told me that he felt that my purpose was to learn how to live through these traumas and heal them so that I could help others navigate their way through. Instead of going to university to become a psychologist, I am living the life of healing so that I can share my story and the tools that I am learning to use along the way.

I have overcome so many things: emotional abuse and a neglect as a child, a mentally ill mother, an alcoholic/drug addict stepfather, sexual molestation at 11, teen pregnancy/motherhood, single mothering, a gun to my head, rape resulting in another child, more single mothering, Borderline Personality Disorder (and all the consequences of acting out), and an extremely unhealthy and violent marriage.

What I am experiencing now is nothing in comparison to those traumas. This isn't trauma, this is fear of trauma. I can overcome this incredible fear that came from all of those things I have experienced. What I am afraid of is what happened before, not what is happening now. What is happening now is that I am in the most loving and healthy relationship of my life (even with its issues). What is happening now is that I have found someone willing to give me everything I have ever wanted -- to be known and loved for everything that I am, light and darkness, and to grow consciously together towards less fear and deeper love.

Sitting with my fear and feelings while my lover has a joyful, loving experience with another person is not the most horrible thing in the world. Facing my fear so that I can have compersion for his other relationships is something worth working towards. I believe that all relationships have spiritual purpose--that we are drawn to people who can help us wake up to greater love, if we do the work in relationship to them. If this is true, then every woman that Knight is authentically drawn to has the potential of waking him up to more love, which then allows him to share more love with me. The same goes for me and my other relationships when they happen.

I have been looking for love, and actively desiring to overcome the fear in my heart and home, since I was 14 years old and started reading every book that Leo Buscaglia wrote. I have known about and believed I am poly since I was 21. If you look at my bookshelf you will find many titles with the word Love, or which have ideas about how to experience more love in life. My life is about love, experiencing it in every possible way, as deep as it can possibly go. I can't and I won't choose anything else.

I believe that everything about who Knight is, including his authentic desire for polyamory, is here to wake me up to greater love. I believe that what I am going through right now is absolutely necessary if I am to have the vibrant life of love and creativity that I desire. I also believe it's absolutely necessary so that I can help my community move into lives of vibrant love, too.

I had the thought today that maybe there are other people who struggle with emotional and mental health issues that desire to be poly, but maybe having a more difficult time like I am because of brain chemistry or really fucked up childhoods or whatever. When I read resources about polyamory, what I don't see is someone addressing the deeper issues that result in intense jealousy and fear-based reactions to our partner's other relationships. Some of us have psychological (and spiritual) work to do in order for poly to be workable. I wonder how many people might be giving up too soon because they don't know what they need to make it work?

Just questions for now, but possibly another piece of the puzzle. There are a lot of serendipities pointing the direction towards me doing work with people around emotional-mental-spiritual health.

Blessing to Lovers

My love, you are a river fed by many streams

I bless all who shape you,

The lovers whose delights dance patterns on your back,

Those who carve your channels deeper, broader, wider,

Whitewater and backwater lovers,

Swamp lovers, sun-warmed estuary lovers,

Lovers with surface tension,

Lovers like boulders,

Like ice forming and breaking,

Lovers that fill and spill with the tides.

I bless those who teach you

and those who please you

and those who hurt you.

All those who make you who you are.


Vigilance in the Face of Fear

"Since it is easy to start doubting ourselves when we encounter our darkness and demons, it is important to understand that a wholesome logic operates here: The brighter love's radiance, the darker the shadows we encounter..." John Welwood

I have been belly sick near constantly since my trigger experience last Tuesday. My fear is still manifesting physiologically. It's not so painful anymore, but I feel nervous (topsy-turvy belly), as if something is about to go very wrong. Having this physical sensation every moment of the day makes it difficult to stop thinking about my fear.

If this is the brightest love I have known, then it stands to reason that I would be facing the darkest shadows within; that this could even be the greatest struggle I've known since fighting for my sanity. But I can't seem to accept that it is o.k. for this experience to be so intense for me. I am experiencing incredible judgment and self-criticism for the emotional roller-coaster I am on. I am worried that I am feeling too much and spending too much time thinking about what I am feeling. I am still resisting the difficult feelings when they arise, damning myself for them rather than holding myself compassionately. I am still afraid to share them, especially with Knight since I don't want our precious time together to be dominated by my struggle.

Some moments I feel as though I am very literally fighting for my life. And I am - I am fighting for the life that I desire - a life full of love shared in some way with Knight. Other moments I feel like I am blowing everything out of proportion and that I should be moving through my process much faster. What if it takes months for me to overcome these feelings? What if I have a trigger experience every time he has a date?

Since last Tuesday I have been sitting with my own terror. I don't believe it's an exaggeration to say that I have been terrified -- terrified that I'm crazy, terrified that I'll lose Knight because I can't do poly, terrified that this ache in my belly will never go away. Several times a day it literally takes minute-by-minute vigilance to keep the fear from overwhelming me.

Yesterday I read this...

"I had to exert almost a physical effort when I felt the fear arise. Even in daily life, when we get into negative thinking, we have to direct our mind to something else, but sometimes just thinking alone doesn’t get you out of it. Sometimes you need to look at something written down or listen to something directly through your ears. When you’re crippled by fear, you can’t even make yourself think of anything else, because your feelings are so intense. Directing yourself out of your own thoughts is one of the most difficult things to do, even in regular moments of our lives.

When I was going through that much pain, I tried everything to help my mind break free of my fear. I wrote uplifting words on my palm and literally had to force my eyes to stare at it. If you can simply think positively and have it help you get rid of your fear, that’s great - then fear hasn’t found a way to destroy you. But if you can’t, then at least you can say, “I’m going to read this passage that comforts me,” or “I’m going to look at some uplifting words,” and you put your mind there. You keep digging into the words, trying to understand what they mean. If you find your mind taking you away again, then read the words aloud, so your ears and brain can hear something positive on a more physical level.

...You have to indulge all your senses - ears, eyes, touch - to things outside of your feelings and fight with those weapons...It’s up to us to say, “How do I get over it? What tools work for me?” You have to choose how you do it, and only you can choose to mean the words you say."
Immaculée Ilibagiza in Fear.less

I was struck deeply by this passage. There is so much resonance in my experiences and insights this last week, especially around trigger experiences.

This is why I am reading and writing so much. I am literally trying to rewire the neural pathways in my brain from fear to love. I read to inspire myself to think and feel different, to remind myself how I wish to experience life and to find insights into my experience. I write about how I desire to be living with faith, love and authenticity in hopes that the words will become my experience. This is why I am writing a letter to myself for when I am triggered (and have asked Knight to write me a note of what he wishes for me to remember when I am in the dark). Sometimes the only way to direct my thoughts away from the fear and darkness is to focus on something that tells me different.

I have to keep reminding myself that the fear isn't real, no matter how real it feels in my body and mind.

I fear that Knight will abandon me, yet my experience is that he stands by me no matter what--no matter how emotional I get, no matter how I've hurt him, no matter that he's shared his heart and body with another. He's still here. He still desires me. He still holds me when I cry. He still loves every single part of me.

I fear that I will become invisible if he has attraction and feelings for someone else, yet he shows and tells me how visible I am every day through texts or phone calls or time spent together.

I fear that I am crazy, yet despite my emotional roller-coaster I am still functioning and thriving. I am doing my best at my self-care practices. I am working every day. I am caring for my children. I am being a friend when needed. I am having good social time when I can. I am still capable of moments of joy and beauty. While this is big, it has not swallowed me, which means I am in control of myself and my life.

And the Universe keeps bringing me guidance and support on this journey...

"It’s what I most want and what I most fear. It’s what feels most true for me and causes me to doubt myself more than anything else. It lands me in places that show me my most profound strength and drops me into spaces of depraved insecurity. Faith is what’s needed. In the process. In myself. In the truth." Ronna Detrik

"We are not our stories." Mahala Mazerov

"I am responsible for keeping my inner world healthy and whole." Hiro Boga

Monday, June 7, 2010


"You will be called upon to account for all the permitted pleasures in life you did not enjoy while on earth." From the Koran (I interpret "permitted" only to mean it doesn't cause harm.)

If this were true, I would have quite an accounting to give.

In reading Love and Awakening by John Welwood at Harbin, I had a significant insight into my wounding. The idea is to look at what your partner triggers in you and then turn it back on yourself to look at how you are treating yourself the way that you are accusing your partner of treating you. It's not as convoluted as it sounds.

Here's my example: I have big triggers around feeling invisible and fear of abandonment. There are things that have happened with Knight that have made me feel invisible and/or terror that he will abandon me. These are the things that trigger my fear explosions. So I asked myself, how have I been invisible to myself? How have I abandoned myself?

The answer: I am almost completely unaware of my own needs and desires. Most of the time I live my life for meeting the needs of others, whether it's working an unhappy 9-5 job to keep my daughter out of poverty or working several volunteer hours a week to keep the Imps functioning. I live more often from a sense of obligation than genuine desire for what I am doing. Even when I make choices to serve, I look for where the need is (administrative leadership) rather than look at what I truly desire to give (creativity and emotional connection/support).

Then, when I am burned out from taking care of everyone else, I treat myself badly. Because I'm burned out, I choose to be lazy rather than take care of my self, my home, my creativity and my joy-full relationships.

Wow. I am astounded at how I have neglected and abandoned myself into invisibility. Of course I feel invisible around others; I am not seeing myself, so how can I expect anyone else to see me?

Today I started reading Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts. It's a little over the top but the Universe brought it my way and I'm beginning to understand why. The book is about women getting in touch with their desires in order to create a vibrant life.

I am beginning to wonder how few minutes a day I spend actually doing what I desire to do, rather than doing what I believe I have to do to meet someone else's needs? And how many minutes a day do I spend wasting time on unfulfilling activities because I feel burnt out or in order to avoid doing what I believe needs to be done? (For instance, when my house is a mess and rather than clean it when I have nothing else to do, I veg out on wine and Facebook or movies.)

At the end of the second chapter she has an exercise in which you are to have a conversation with yourself. You ask, "What do you have on 'desire'?" And then you keep answering until you get to the truth of what you desire, small things to big.

When I asked myself the question I realized I have a complicated relationship to desire, because I have been taking baby steps towards acknowledging and manifesting a few of my desires, especially sexually. I am just beginning to trust that not only is it ok for me to express my desire, but the people I love want me to have my desires.

I realize that the one thing in my life I absolutely desire is Knight and the time I spend with him. As we have re-evaluated our relationship the last month and I have really examined my motivations for spending time with him, it is nearly always genuine desire to be with him. I enjoy our conversations, from the intimate sharings to the philosophical meanderings. I enjoy how much he makes me laugh. I enjoy our flirting and near-constant touch. I enjoy all the little observations he makes about the beauty in the world. I enjoy going out and experiencing the world with him. I enjoy what I feel and experience when I am with him -- joy, love, confidence, desire, connectedness, intimacy, curiosity, and wonder.

Considering this desire makes me aware of others...

I desire more intimate relationship in my life, not just with Knight, but with others as well. Relationship is one of my greatest joys. I desire more intimacy in my friendships. While I love my tribe, most of our time together is spent in fun gatherings of various sorts. I desire more cuddling, more holding hands, more touching in comfort and support. I desire more talk about our passions and how we are making our lives more vibrant. I desire more heart-inspired conversations about who we've been and who we are becoming. I desire to talk about the important things in life--the state of our world, what others are creating (art and culture), and what's really unfolding in our own personal journeys. Talking about what matters doesn't have to be heavy. It can be inspiring and joy-full.

I desire intimate relationship with a woman. It has been many years since I have had any kind of on-going romantic or sexual relationship with a woman. (I actually acted on this desire over the weekend. Even if it doesn't lead to where I hope, the asking was empowering and makes it easier to ask in the future.)

I desire spiritual community to share and learn with. I desire people to connect with regularly who are on the conscious path and who desire to support each other with intention. I desire community that desires to learn through study and practice, as well as transformational experiences and intimate sharings. I have been talking about this with various community members for a year and a half. It's time to take action.

I desire more art. I desire the time and energy to create beauty from my own hands or to write about my story. I desire other artists to collaborate with and be inspired by.

I desire fulfilling work. I desire to be making a living from doing things I love rather than earn a paycheck for pushing paper/bytes, answering phones and being bored.

I desire a healthier body that isn't uncomfortable all the time.

I desire a new home to live in. We've been looking for another house for a long time. The house we are in is full of dark energy from my years with my ex-husband. And the landlords don't care for the house so it's falling apart. I desire a nice house surrounded by beauty with a good landlord.

These are all big things. I can't really think of any little things I desire right now, but I'll keep my awareness open. As part of my new daily practice in self-care, I hope to start checking in with myself regularly about what I really desire, especially when I do get to make a full choice about how to spend my time and energy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Faith (& Poly)

"Her wounds came from the same source as her power." Adrienne Rich - On Power

It has been an excruciating week...again. Last weekend Knight and I went to Harbin Hot Springs, which was a very healing experience on many levels. The first 24 hours was pure joy, feeling the love between us and the love that infuses the land and water of Harbin. Then because of a book I was reading, I had some significant insight into myself (I hope to write a separate post about that), which sent me on an emotional roller coaster for awhile, but Knight held amazing space for my process. As he held me, I recognized that I had been looking my whole life for someone to hold space for me to be the intensely emotional woman that I am. I've also been looking for someone willing to do the work of conscious relationship with me. Things were really, really good.

Until Monday. I had another significant insight that took me into some grief, right before I had to leave him so he could get ready for time with someone else that night. I had to go home with my pain while he went and had fun with another woman for the first time since our sort-of triad last year. That was really, really hard to sit with.

The next day, when I went to see him at lunch, he told me they had sex and my body went into immediate fight-or-flight response. My entire being buzzed with agitated energy and I felt like I just wanted to run and run and run away. I also became sick to my stomach. Knight tried to hold me in my heartache. He expressed every intention of being willing to bear through it with me, but I couldn't trust him.

I was triggered and once I am triggered, all I can see is the fear. For the next 24 hours the only option I could see was withdrawing from Knight as a lover. I told myself and him that I needed to listen to what my body was telling me (which was true, but I was misinterpreting the message). I told myself and him that I'm not ready for poly. I said I am too broken, maybe even too crazy. And I devastated him...again.

Then the fear-fog suddenly lifted and I started seeing clearly again. I paid attention to all the things I said to Knight and realized how caught up in the fear stories I had become. I was choosing fear all over again, but at least I am seeing more clearly what it is that I am afraid of.

I am afraid that I will die crazy and alone like my mother did. This is why I have been unable to find peace with my mother and her death. After years of struggle with depression, narcissism and addiction, my mother had a psychotic break in the months before she died. Constant pain issues that couldn't be resolved were part of her illness for many years. But then she believed that "fibers" were growing out of her skin and she created sores all over her body trying to remove them. It started on her head, so she shaved her head to pick at the sores and wore wigs out in public. It spread to the rest of her body, becoming more and more visible, and the school she worked for was about to make her go on leave because she looked so sick. My sister and I talked the week before she died about the possibility of having to take steps to take care of her because she was no longer able to take care of herself.

My mother died from an accidental prescription narcotic overdose. I can blame her mental illness for her death because it is the reason she was taking so many medications (although I also blame the irresponsible doctors who gave her meds to shut her up--sometimes meds that were actually contra-indicated and caused more harm).

I have a mental illness inside of me and I have healed myself; not only into functionality, but into a thriving, healthy and productive life. For years, rather than accept that my mother was mentally ill beyond help, I have told myself she just didn't try hard enough and didn't love herself or us enough to get better. I believed it was a choice for her just like it was for me. I have not been able to accept her crazy because if I do, I have to wonder if I might really be crazy in a way that can't get better, too.

I am so afraid of being crazy because crazy drives people away. My mother drove everyone in her life away with her crazy. We all gave up on her. I am afraid that my trigger events are a kind of crazy and that neither Knight nor my friends will want to continue holding me if they hear or see the truth of those experiences. I am afraid they will give up on me. So when a trigger event happens, I run away, telling myself and the other person that I am too broken and will only hurt them.

"...It's an act of faith to allow things to unfold and unfold and unfold, and to be willing to include in your life not just what makes you happy, but also your agitation, confusion, doubt, and personal displays of ridiculousness without drawing harsh conclusions. Actually, faith begins to look a lot like fearlessness. It looks a lot like genuine confidence." Susan Piver

I am not crazy.

I need to have faith and confidence that I am not crazy. Trigger events do not make me crazy, they just mean I still have wounds to heal. Getting lost in the fog of fear sometimes does not make me crazy, it makes me human. I always find my way out and experience more healing on the other side.

It is reasonable that my emotional evolution has been incredibly intense the last two years with the Imps, my mom dying, and trying to have the first truly healthy relationship of my life. I am in the midst of significant psychological and spiritual repair so that I can have a happier, healthier life. It will not always be this way. But I will heal faster if I stop resisting the experiences that feel crazy and learn to hold space for myself, which will allow me to trust others to hold space for me.

Healing comes from moving through the heartache, not resisting it. I need to have faith in my own strength. I need to have faith that the healing I have done is real and that more will come. It won't always be this hard and scary. It won't always hurt so much.

I need to have faith that Knight and my friends desire to hold all of me, including the most terrifying parts. I need to have faith that I am worthy of that kind of love. I don't think my friends realize just how scared I am that I will lose them or drive them away and why I try so incredibly hard to do relationship right (why it may seem like the only thing I talk about!). Emotional health is my mission (and obsession).


As far as polyamory is concerned, and Knight having another relationship, I need to have faith in our love. I need to trust in my knowings of what Knight and I share. What we have is unique. We cannot have it with anyone else. It doesn't matter what we call it. It doesn't matter what other relationships we have. What matters is that we remain committed to consciously growing into deeper love and healing with one another. What matters is experiencing the sacred purpose in our relationship.

If this relationship fails, it will not be because of another person or relationship. It is not other people who are acting out in fear and creating rifts in our intimacy. Right now it is me. I can blame no one but myself for pushing him away and undermining the progress we've made the last four weeks. Now it is up to me to repair the damage I've caused and work to heal the parts of me that get triggered so that I don't cause more damage in the future.

I choose love.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Unseen Forces

Sometimes we are not seen
for all that we are
and all that we give
for a very long time.

Sometimes it appears
our gifts cannot be given
and our offerings have no home.

But take heart, my friend~

For surely every soul who ever
tried to create something new
has felt the echo of her song
falter into silence, for a time.

Take heart, my friend~

For unseen forces are always listening
always at work,
making a place for you,
and preparing an honored seat
at the table of celebration
that is to come.

For now, it may seem no one sees you
no one knows you,
but it is not so, my friend.

I do.

By Robin Rice


This is a poem written for a greeting card company that they rejected as unsellable. If this were a card, I would give it to myself today.

There are storms moving through my heart-world, amidst the blissful memories of this past weekend at Harbin Hot Springs with Knight. I have so much to write about. But I am trying to give myself some space. I have had tremendous insights, deep emotional healing, and heart-breaking discoveries over the last five days. I am standing on the edge of my capacity to love, wondering if I am capable of more.

While it may seem that there is so much about me that is seen -- as a part of a large circle of friends, as a hostess for the Society, and now here as a writer -- the truth is that there is so much I have kept hidden, believing no one would want it. I have convinced myself that my offerings have no home. I have convinced myself of so many terrible things.

I am standing my own witness. I am seeing myself, as fully as I am capable at this moment. And what I see is a woman who has been hurting herself because she doesn't believe she is worthy of the same love she offers others, even strangers.

Image source: Jessica Harp