Be The Sea

“The birth of the human heart is an ongoing process. It is being birthed in every experience of your life. Everything that happens to you has the potential to deepen you. It brings to birth within you new territories of the heart.”
–John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

Four years ago, when I fell in love with a woman for the first time, one of my best friends warned me not to call myself a lesbian. I asked him why, and he said “why would you cut yourself from the possibility of love with half the population?” I responded: “Because I’m a lesbian.”

It is impossible to describe what the revelation of my own sexuality did for me. For the first time in my entire life, I felt I knew who I was—finally! Things in my life that had never made sense before suddenly did. As I told my daughter, recently, it was like a puzzle I’d been trying to solve all my life finally fell into place, every color where it ought to be, every part matched to its pair. I spent the next few months dismantling my life, piece by piece, and built a whole new one around this newly discovered identity. For the first time in my adult life, I felt completely at peace, as if, for the first time, I was exactly where I was supposed to be. When, two years later, I entered an abusive relationship, I spent the next year after our breakup working with a therapist to figure out what had gone wrong and how to heal so it would never happen again, and over the past few months I’ve come even deeper into that place of peace—that sense of knowing exactly who I am and what I need and where I’m going.

And then… just four short weeks ago, almost exactly four years after the day I fell in love with a woman and everything I knew about myself and the world turned upside down, the exact same thing happened in reverse.

I fell in love with a man.

Is “love” too strong a word to describe what happened between us, at least in the very beginning? Perhaps. We didn’t know each other when we met. We hardly spoke two words to each other the entire time we were together, on a motorcycle trip I’d been lucky enough to be invited on. But how else do I describe the fact that, the day we took a picture together, I embarrassed myself by standing way too close, because I ached to touch him? How else do I describe the fact that, on the day we rode home, I kept looking at him behind me in the mirror while the thought came, unbidden: “this is what I want, for the rest of my life. That man, behind me, on that bike, forever.” How else do I describe the tears that poured down my face the entire next day? Not happy tears, not sad tears, just tears, slowly marking a trail down my cheeks, over and over again? How else do I explain that while this was all happening to me, the same was happening to him?

In a moment much like what I’d experienced four years ago, I had come to yet another crossroads—only this one much more confusing than any that had come, before. Because THIS time I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted. This time, I was taking a beautiful, completed puzzle that I had built agonizing piece by agonizing piece and destroying it with my own bare hands to start all over again. Once again, questions haunted me, some the same, but some completely reversed:

How could I explain this to Jon?
How could I explain this to my children?
What would happen if I tried?
Was I gay? Was I straight?
Who am I?

I don’t have an answer to that question, and I’m beginning to think I never will. In the words of Jodi O’Brein, whom I quoted here just a few days before the trip that changed my life: “We are capable of creating, taking on, and casting off various identities and cultural institutions. Our potential is limited only by our imagination and our ability to assemble the materials necessary to realize our visions.”

“Somewhere, sometime, someone–for whatever courageous, miraculous reason–finally acknowledge her dragon. She decided to trust what she felt, to know what she knew, and to dare to imagine an unseen order where she might be free. She refused to contain herself any longer. She decided to speak her insides on the outside and just Let It Burn. She raised her hand and said ‘Those labels don’t feel true to me. I don’t want to squeeze myself inside either of those glasses. For me, that’s not exactly it. I am not sure what it is, yet–but it’s not that.’

Someone else heard the first brave one speak and felt electric hope flowing through his veins. he thought: ‘Wait. What if I am not alone? What if I am not broken at all? What if the glasses system is broken?’ He felt his hand rise and voice rise with a ‘Me too!’ Then another person’s hand slowly rose and then another and another until there was a sea of hands, some shaking, some in fists–a chain reaction of truth, hope, freedom.

Maybe we can stop trying so hard to understand the gorgeous mystery of sexuality. Instead, we can just listen to ourselves and each other with curiosity and love, and without fear. We can just let people be who they are and we can believe that the freer each person is, the better we all are. Maybe our understanding of sexuality can become as fluid as sexuality itself. We can remember that no matter how inconvenient it is for us to allow people to emerge from their glasses and flow, it’s worth it. Our willingness to be confused, open, and kind will save lives.

Maybe courage is not just refusing to be afraid of ourselves but refusing to be afraid of others, too. Maybe we can stop trying to find common ground and let everybody be the sea. They already are, anyway. Let it be.”

—Glennon Doyle

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Related Articles:

A Truth

Arrival

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The Risk it Takes to Bloom

As any action or posture long continued will distort and disfigure the limbs; so the mind likewise is crippled and contracted by perpetual application to the same set of ideas.

–Samuel Johnson

Several weeks ago, I wrote here about how we get to choose whose influence we allow to shape us, and mentioned that I will often read something that resonates with me and “try on” different  identities to see if they fit who I want to be in this world. Jordan Peterson, in his book Beyond Order, 12 More Rules for Life, lists rule number two as: “Imagine who you could be, and then aim single-mindedly at that.” In this way, he is encouraging us to be active creators in our own existence.

Today, I read something from my sociology textbook, The Production of Reality, by Jodi O’Brien that echoes this sentiment and I wanted to share it. She writes:

An important lesson of symbolic interactionism is that humans exist as embryonic potential. We are capable of creating, taking on, and casting off various identities and cultural institutions. Our potential is limited only by our imagination and our ability to assemble the materials necessary to realize our visions. As social beings, the ability to create shared meaning is the distinctive mark of our species,. However, the history of Western consciousness suggestions a somewhat paradoxical acceptance of this ability. We are eager to embrace our creative potential but at the same time reluctant to recognize our own authority as social creators and the responsibility that this implies….

Kahlil Gibran once wrote that pain is the experience of breaking the shell that encapsulates understanding. The implication is that, in the process of stretching one’s experiences, intelligence, and understanding, there will always be the pain of breaking old habits and relinquishing old ways of knowing. Mindfulness requires both critical self-examination and the courage to break step with known, predictable routines. This can be difficult. At the same time, the words of Anais Nin remind us that:

The time came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom.

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Related Articles:

The Other

“Is it safe for anyone to love you?”

Arrival

 

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John Gottman on Trauma and Relationships

I recently read an article by John Gottman that I highly recommend to anyone who has ever suffered from trauma (you can find it HERE). The article helped me to understand many things about my past relationship experience and why some of my relationships have been so vastly different from others.

According to Gottman, humans are wired for connection from birth, but trauma rewires the brain to seek protection instead, and we are constantly scanning the environment to determine whether things are “safe” or “unsafe.” Gottman says that emotionally safe people can help trauma suffers regulate their nervous system by creating a safe place for thoughts and feelings. He writes: “co-regulation happens when another person sees and hears your feelings and experience. This allows you to feel comfortable.”

This is so incredibly true and explains so much of what I have been through over the past few years of dating. I have been in relationships with people who were extremely capable of co-regulation, and I have been in relationships with people who were not, and the difference is night and day. Those who have been able to help me co-regulate were able to validate my feelings and walk me through my moments of fear and anxiety by expressing empathy and understanding (no matter how crazy my fear might have seemed to them), while those who were not capable of this would jump to defense and invalidation (“That’s ridiculous!” “I can’t believe you would even think that!”) With the former, I felt heard which helped me to feel safe. With the latter, I became even more anxious and afraid.

Unfortunately, the difference also affected how I acted toward my partners. With those who were able to help me co-regulate, my fear and anxiety dissipated quickly without descending into arguments. With those who were not, however, my fear became worse, growing to the point of total meltdown and horrific fights. I’ve written about this a lot over the past few months, because I am still struggling with feelings of guilt and shame regarding some of the things I did and ways I acted during a recent unhealthy relationship (I told a friend, recently, that it feels a lot like an identity crisis. Which person am I? The person I was in that relationship? Or the person I’ve been in relationships both before and since then? The fact that both versions exist within me is extremely unsettling). But I am also coming to understand that I must practice self-compassion (interestingly, Gottman talks about this as well), and part of that lies in recognizing that who I was in that relationship is not who I’ve been in all my relationships. (And even in the unhealthy relationship, my ex and I had many moments when we were capable of this and we both recognized that during the times when one of us was able to remain level-headed we were able to work ourselves through a potential fight without a catastrophic meltdown. Unfortunately, these times were just too few and far between to enable us to maintain a healthy balance). But even though that relationship wasn’t healthy, many of my relationships have been, and those were filled with empathy and kindness and compassion. After reading Gottman’s article, I realize that my recent ex and I were simply unable to consistently help each other “co-regulate.” This is no one’s “fault” and has to do with a number of variables, personality differences, and past experiences. But after almost a year of therapy and countless books, I have come to understand what a critical, crucial role this co-regulation plays for those of us who suffer from traumatic pasts and how vitally important it is to choose relationships with those we can do this with.

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India’s Tirthas

We have been studying the Hindu religion in one of my classes, and were asked to write a paper about Hindu pilgrimages, called “tirtha’s.” I find this idea of pilgrimage fascinating and thought I’d share some of it here…

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I recently read a short story by Stephen King called “The Reach.” In the story, the main character, a 95 year old woman named Stella, is prompted by her dead husband to cross a body of water called “the reach” that separates her island from the mainland. The reach is frozen and as she crosses it begins to snow, causing disorientation and making the journey extremely difficult. Still, she carries on, meeting other parted loved ones who help her along the way. The next day, her son finds her body on the mainland. In the story, the reach is both a literal body of water and a way to symbolize the crossing from life to death.

This idea of a crossing–journeying between two worlds–is fascinating to me. In their books Eat, Pray, Love and Wild, Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed describe journeys they took in their own lives that were not only spiritually healing, but also served to bridge a gap between who they were and who they later became. Even my therapist recently told me she wants to start hosting intensive healing retreats that include a sort of pilgrimage, as she believes there is a healing and transformative power that comes from such a journey. In the Hindu religion, this idea of crossing is embodied by the concept of the “tirtha.” In it’s simplest definition, a “tirtha” is literally a crossing place or ford, but in Hindu culture the word “tirtha” has come to refer not only to places of pilgrimage, but to the way one travels. Tirtha’s are believed to be “limens which link this world and the other,” and the journey itself is considered a spiritual transformation where one may “cross over to the far shore of the worlds of heaven.”

As this is obviously a practice that has endured for centuries with powerful effects, even in our modern culture which doesn’t typically operate within the framework of concepts such as tirthas, it begs the question: what makes such a journey so powerful?

Perhaps its power lies in the meaning of life itself.

I was recently speaking with a friend about Aristotle’s concept of “eudaimonia,” the pursuit of which Aristotle believed was the highest perfection of life. Often taken to mean “happiness,” the word is better translated as “the highest human good” and embodies the pursuit of goodness for goodness’ sake, rather than a means to some other end. In this line of reasoning, well-being is not so much an outcome but the process of realizing one’s own “daimon” or “true nature” and pursuing one’s own virtue. The idea resonates powerfully with me, because I have long believed that while in American culture we are indoctrinated toward the “pursuit of happiness” as the highest goal, the pursuit of “goodness” is, in my opinion, a much better one.* (Of course, how we define “goodness” is a topic all its own, but suffice it to say that the pursuit of “goodness” will often [and, I think, necessarily] be accompanied by moments of extreme UNhappiness). Unlike the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of eudaimonia is not one of pleasure, comfort, or ease. There is no instant gratification, no achievement of satisfaction through indulgence or entertainments. Like the tirtha, it is arduous by its very nature, and, according to Diana Eck, it is the difficulty which serves to multiply the rewards.

In this way, I believe the tirtha is not just the act of traveling from one place to another but the deeply symbolic physical manifestation of a spiritual truth. The tirtha is not just something we do, it is something we are.

*As an interesting side note, Aristotle believed that deep intellectual contemplation was necessary for the acquisition of a moral character, and therefore a requirement in the pursuit of eudaimonia. Hindu teachings echo this concept, as the world of heaven, according to Hinduism, is said to be a world “illumined by the light of knowledge.”

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Quotes taken from India’s Tīrthas: “Crossings” in Sacred Geography by Diana L. Eck

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Anchor Me Loving

“I forgive myself relentlessly. Just relentlessly. It annoys people how freely and relentlessly I forgive myself. The truth is that I just don’t understand living any other way. Shame is so… self indulgent and power zapping. It leaves us useless. To ourselves, to our people, to the world. Self flagellation is not a badge of honor. It doesn’t make us worthy It just makes us – kind of a drag. And It takes us out of the game. Who has time?
What are we doing here, if not learning and growing and trying again? Why can’t we do that with some lightness and tenderness and humor?
Who we were last year last hour last minute- it’s gone. We are new! Let us begin again!”
–Glennon Doyle

I recently asked an ex to forgive me for a series of hurtful things that I had done during the course of our relationship, and the response I received surprised me:

“I need to forgive myself for what I allowed you to put me through” (paraphrased).

This response not only left me uncertain as to whether forgiveness had been granted, but it also (and perhaps more importantly) made me realize all the ways in which I have not yet entirely forgiven myself. I typically do not struggle with forgiveness (toward myself or others), and I’ve spent quite a bit of time since then trying to figure out why there remain remnants of unforgiveness toward myself for things from my recent past. In considering this, I was reminded of another time when I struggled with forgiveness toward someone who had deeply hurt me and spent weeks lost in bitterness and resentment because, no matter how I worked the problem, I simply could not find empathy. When I later expressed this to my therapist she said:

“Maybe it would help if you could see the truth behind it all–that there are events from the past that have led to where this person is and how this person acts that they simply cannot help.”

In that moment, I realized that one of the most important aspects of empathy (and therefore forgiveness) lies in the acknowledgment of the fact that, as shame researcher Brene Brown once said, “everyone is doing the best they can.”

Sometimes our best sucks, but it is still our best.  The fact is, everyone has suffered in one way or another, and we often do not realize all the ways that suffering contributes to our actions and to those of other people. For months, I have struggled with guilt and shame regarding past actions, especially during moments when people share stories about my past behavior that are not true. But here’s what I’ve come to realize: those stories are a part of that person’s truth. They are, unfortunately and heartbreakingly, part of that person’s memory of me. And while some stories aren’t entirely accurate in the minutia of their details, they are absolutely accurate in the overall “big picture.” However we arrange the particulars, the truth is there have been a plethora of instances in which I was neither loving nor kind. Instances in which I was jealous, hypocritical, spiteful, bitter, controlling, manipulative, and hateful.

Why?

Because I was in pain. Right or wrong, good or bad, justified or not, I was hurting. The actions I took were the only ones I knew how to take at the time, and I take full responsibility for that. But what my therapist has helped me realize is that there are reasons I did the things I did, just as there are reasons others have done the things they’ve done. In every person’s life, there are events from the past that drive us in unhealthy, destructive ways.

This is not an excuse. Far from it. This is me taking full ownership for every hurtful, horrible thing I have ever done. But it is also me taking ownership for all the ways I am working—and making progress—to heal. As my therapist recently said to me: “It’s good to accept the truth about the unhealthy version of yourself you once were, but it’s equally important to acknowledge that this is no longer who you are.”

I have come to realize that the way I must work to forgive myself is exactly the same way I must work to forgive others:

I must find empathy.

And I must wholeheartedly embrace that empathy in an act of radical, relentless self-forgiveness.

“When you think that you’ve blown it in every possible way, that you’ve broken [your commitment to love and compassion] irredeemably, instead of becoming mired in guilt, view it as an incentive to spend the rest of your life recognizing your habitual tendencies and doing your best not to strengthen them.”
–Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully

“I have some issues with my past self, but she was young, and I forgive her.”
—Glennon Doyle

I forgive her. Whether anyone else ever does or not…

I forgive her.

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I’m done with the shame. Done
with the cage of self hate.
I know there are things I haven’t survived.
I know there are people in this world
who have been through hell because of me.
I don’t ever want to take that lightly,
but I want the heavy to anchor me brave, anchor me
loving, anchor me in something that will hold me
as I aim for my own goodness
until the muscle in my chest tears
from the stretch of becoming what I came here to be:
A lover.

(Modified from Andrea Gibson’s poem’s Ode to the Public Panic Attack and
Boomerang Valentine)

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The Rats in the Walls

This week in class we were assigned a short story to read called “The Rats in the Walls” by H.P. Lovecraft. One of the themes central to the story is that of family history and secrets, and, most likely because I’ve been thinking about these things a lot, lately, it resonated with me in a way the author may not have actually intended.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been seeing a therapist and working on some things from my past, and during the process of my own healing, I have come to realize just how pervasive family dysfunction can be and how prevalent and widespread the effects of it can become. In “The Rats in the Walls,” the main character, Delapore, begins researching his family history and moves into his ancestral home where each night he hears rats climbing inside the walls. Interestingly, only he (and his cats) can hear these rats, and they eventually lead him to the truth about his family’s horrific secret past.

Likely because of what I’ve been studying and personally going through, I took the fact that only Delapore can hear the rats to be the case because Delapore is a family member and a descendant of those who once lived in the house. Interpreting the presence of the rats in this way is meaningful to me for two opposing reasons. First, it signifies the fact that within each family, only the members of that family really know what takes place “behind the walls.” Conversely, it also signifies how each of us is often blind to our own family dysfunction, and even though we are literally witness to it every single day, we often cannot name (and therefore heal from) the dysfunction unless it is pointed out to us. For example, the emotionally incestuous father who casts his young daughter in a role his wife ought to play, depending on the daughter emotionally and spiritually for far too much. Or the perfectionist mother who teaches her son that self-worth is only achievable by being the “best.” In both cases, child and parent have no framework to recognize the behavior as abuse and therefore believe it to be normal or even healthy–the daughter’s actions toward the father considered loving and dutiful, the son’s perfectionism framed as “drive” and “ambition.” Meanwhile, none of them see the very real, and incredibly destructive, cycle of abuse.

In a similar manner, Delapore knows the rats are present. He can hear them, but they are hidden from his other senses just as abuse is often too obscure and covert to identify in anything other than the vaguest sense. Delapore spends most of the story searching for the truth of his ancestry and, in the end, accompanied by his friend, Norrys, he blindly follows the rats into those “grinning caverns of earth’s centre” where they are destined to lead. There, we find Delapore, aroused by the knowledge of his family history, eating the body of his friend while his cat—the only other witness to the rats—tears at his throat, presumably in an effort to stop him.

Isn’t this what family dysfunction does? It leads us deeper and deeper, entangling us further and further, until, if not seen and healed, the dysfunction spreads onto our adult relationships, damaging those around us as we “eat” our own. And isn’t there always some witness tearing at our throats, trying desperately to warn us of what is happening to us and those around us? Do we listen?

It’s a dismal look at the human psyche. But I think it’s also a necessary one.

Will we listen?

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“Is it safe for anyone to love you?”

I recently received an email from someone who had a few questions about my recent blog posts. I thought her questions were insightful, and wanted to post our correspondence here. In her email to me she asked:

I personally enjoy change and I have lost friends along the way because of that and even truthfully some family members to which I am okay with. But I wonder, if you are always evolving how does someone find true love and partnership?

Does there come a point in a persons life that they eventually know who they are and what they want? Have you reached that knowing? Or can a person never have a complete identity and they are just left grabbing a hold of ideas of others and trying them on? If the latter is true, then is it safe for anyone to love you?

This is my response:

You have asked an incredibly insightful question, and to answer it I would have to give you a little bit of background on my personal philosophy. I believe that we are given this life for two main reasons: To love and to learn. I cannot say I believe in reincarnation (although I cannot say I don’t believe in it, either) but in Buddhist philosophy, there is a belief that we are continually brought back to this earth to evolve further and further until, in our last incarnation, we reach “enlightenment.” I am not a Buddhist (although many of my beliefs and practices line up with Buddhism), but something in me deeply resonates with the idea that we are here to get as close to “enlightenment” as possible. I believe Jesus was speaking of something akin to enlightenment in many of His teachings. So that’s where the “learn” part comes in. The “love” part is a little more tricky, because most people’s idea of love involves finding that one special person who is going to fulfill all our needs and spending the rest of our lives with that person. I think this is beautiful and I honestly hope to find it, someday, but the hope of finding a “forever” love with one particular partner takes a back seat in my world to learning and growing. Not that love itself takes a back seat to growth (I view them equally), only that I believe finding one romantic partner isn’t the only way to love. So when given a choice between staying stagnant in order to hold on to one particular love vs. having the freedom to continually grow, I will choose freedom and growth. I am not saying this is the “right” choice or the “only” choice, just that it is my choice.

You ask “Does there come a point in a person’s life that they eventually know who they are and what they want?” I think the answer is: Yes, to a point. But I have always believed that if I am the same person today as I was ten years ago–if I have the same beliefs and opinions and ways of being in the world that I had a decade ago–something is wrong. So while I do believe you reach a point where you are solid in who you are, I also believe that there will always be parts of “who you are” that are ever-changing as you learn new things, explore new ideas, and discover new wisdom, and finding a partner who is able to roll with that may not be an easy thing. So to answer your question “if you are always evolving how does someone find true love and partnership?” the answer might possibly be: you don’t. I am well aware that it will take an incredibly special and strong person to be able to handle my ever-changingness, and I accept that I may never find that in this life. But… do I have to? In American culture, we are inundated with the idea that finding one “forever love” is the epitome of happiness. But is it? What if finding one person–as wonderful and beautiful as that is–is not the only wonderful and beautiful thing? I wrote this years ago and still believe it to be true: “Maybe love is not something that happens once in a lifetime. Maybe love is something we ought to give over and over, without condition, without reservation, without expectation.” I, personally, would absolutely love to find my forever person. That one person in the world who could accept my ever-evolvingness and possibly evolve with me and support me in all the ways I want to navigate the world. But if I can’t? If, instead, I find one who can love me and support me in this season, and then another who loves me and supports me in another season? Who says that isn’t just as beautiful? Who says that isn’t even more beautiful?

There are two things I’d like to share with you about this, each deal with this aspect of “forever love” vs “seasonal love.” They are both, in my opinion, absolutely beautiful and worth pursuing and I would be happy to experience either one. The first speaks of the more temporary love, the one that is seasonal, the one that says “this is who I am, but I reserve the right to be someone else, and if that someone else doesn’t work for you, we will gently and lovingly part ways,” and the second speaks of the “forever love” which, in my opinion, is much more difficult:

Seasonal love:

“The most awe-inspiring person I ever had the privilege of loving planted his feet firmly in front of me and said “This is what I want.” There was courage, transparency. There was declaration. There was no insecurity, there was no need to compare myself to others or compete. The most awe-inspiring person I ever had the privilege of loving chose me every single day, and I chose him. When that wasn’t the case, we parted ways. We didn’t drag it out, we didn’t try to convince the other. We didn’t feel the need to grip, and chase something that did not fulfill us or inspire us. It was natural, and organic, and it allowed for me to feel deeply and confidently. That is the kind of love you want.”
—Bianca Sparacino

Forever love:

“Relationships never stabilize. When you solve one problem, another arises. There is actually no way to finally get comfortable. I actually find this kind of heartening. Instead of constantly working to get comfortable in my relationship and feeling that something is wrong because I can’t ever quite get there, I can relate with the instability as a strange invitation to remain awake in love. There is something magical—yes, magical—about the discomfort. You are right there, never quite in your comfort zone. There is no possibility of falling asleep. You are always a tiny bit on the edge, as if you are trying something new for the very first time. When it comes to love, this is not such a bad approach. Brilliance and inspiration and everything fresh are discovered on this edge, including how to open your heart beyond what you ever thought possible.”
–Susan Piver

I think both of these loves have their place. And sometimes, even a relationship that was on track to be “forever” can–and should–turn into a temporary relationship if one person takes a path of growth that will keep the other from their path of growth. In that case, the couple, in my personal opinion, ought to part ways. But, again, this is because I hold the belief that romantic love takes a back seat to growth. But here’s the really beautiful thing: if this parting can be done with kindness and understanding and true support and encouragement, then it IS an expression of love. And, in some special circumstances, that love doesn’t have to end, it just changes form. And I think that’s a beautiful thing.

One last thing. You ask “is it safe for anyone to love you?” Let me answer by quoting yet another of my favorite authors (is it obvious yet, how authors make up a significant portion of my “generalized other?” 😆)

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries: avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
–C.S. Lewish

So… no… it is not safe for anyone to love me, just as it is not safe for me to love anyone. Love (and life, for that matter) requires being open to the possibility of pain. I would go so far as to say it requires being willing to accept certain amounts of pain. So there again, we’re speaking about life philosophies. Pain avoidance is nowhere near as high on my list of priorities as learning and loving. I expect to go through this life feeling pain. As Andrea Gibson once wrote:

“I don’t want to get out without a broken heart. I intend to leave this life so shattered there better be a thousand separate heavens for all of my separate parts.”

 

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