I broke up with That Guy. I think I’ll call him The Besticle. Actually, he broke up with me for various reasons that I’m still too confused about to get into — give me a few weeks to find a lesson and then I’ll be willing to share. Until then…I got nothin’…
Ironically, with the dozens of posts about forgiveness and healing surrounding my other ex, Dr. Dolittle, breaking up with The Besticle actually feels worse. I’ve been in denial for a long time, but it’s clear. I’m still adjusting…coming to terms with the fact that it’s over, and I’m really really sad about it. Like…really really sad.
Sometimes tho, sadness looks
like “getting back out there,” and in the wake of this turmoil, I found myself on Match.com filling out a profile and posting cute pictures. I added info: books I’ve read, favorite
movies, how much I love my life…blah blah. I can sound really cute and well-adjusted if I try.
Anyway, I’ve connected with a few men, winked at a few, but during an email conversation with one particular guy, I was at a loss when he asked: So, why are you on Match?
That’s when it hit me that — I have to get the f*ck off Match.
Why? Because intention is such an important component to action. And when asked about my intentions, all I could think was: It’s a few weeks into 2013 and I am lonely, feeling rejected and unlovable. I’m feeling ugly and unworthy and much like a failure.
Don’t judge me, you guys. I’m being honest…
I started my Match profile in an attempt to feel desirable. I needed someone to want me the way I thought The Besticle wanted me. Without knowing it, I was asking for someone to validate me. External validation is the Achilles heel of my effing life.
Anyway, I didn’t tell homie on Match any of this. I actually haven’t responded, but after I do, I’m going to disconnect my profile and try to heal…
This is the part where I should lament for a few lines about how I’m so ready and deserving “of something real,” but the truth is, I am deserving and prepared BUT NOT necessarily READY for my soul partner. I’ve done so much inner work, I own my own emotional baggage and I understand my purpose in this life. But the truthier truth is…. I’m a little heartbroken. The Besticle was the first person I thought, “wow…I could do this forever and actually be happy.” Like the first ever. In my entire life. So out of respect for the gravity of the “forever thought,” I have to take some time and sit this out. I have to honor the validity of my feelings as they move out of my experience. And…even more…I have to mourn the ending of possibility.
Sometimes the hardest thing to let
go of is a really good idea. The Besticle and I…were a really good idea. So I have to sit with the hope, hurt, anger and rejection…until it diminishes. I’ll take my time, then I’ll be prepared AND ready to get back “out there.”
I don’t have all the answers, and I wouldn’t say I’m handling this well at
all, but this is what I know for sure: clear purpose and clear intention are central to emotional freedom and happiness.
In order to move through life in a way that supports our growth, we have to be aware of our intentions. We can’t just act or react (though that’s often the appealing option). We have to be clear before we act. Don’t misinterpret me: we don’t have to know the outcome, BUT we have to make peace with our own feelings and intentions. I have to acknowledge my feelings before moving forward.
I’m uncomfortable today, but I won’t be forever. And, while I am certain there are other fish in the sea, if I cast my net with the wrong intention…I’ll bring back things I do not want. And, if there’s anything that MTV can teach me, its that I must be clear about my intentions if I’m going to date (on and off the Internets). I won’t bring any ANY MORE impurities into my puddle of love. I have no interest in compounding my sadness and isolation.
I am only interested in releasing.
“Think love. See love. Invoke love from the attic of life. You are in good company, you know. You have lots of support and assistance. This is where Christ loves. This is where Buddha loves. This is where Krishna, Muktananda, and the archangels Michael, Ariel, Uriel, and Gabriel live. This is where the wise old grandmother’s live, the medicine women and the healers. This is where White Eagle lives. This is the realm of Spirit. This is the highest faculty of your mind. When you make it though all of your human stuff to this level of consciousness, you are keeping company with the masters. You, my dear, have become the light of the world — the loving light. I beseech you to do everything in your power to let your light shine.”
So I was hanging out with my cousin and her newborn son, BOB, when my cousin needed to run an errand. She asked me to watch over him. Now I should mention that Bob is premature. He was supposed to be born on Christmas, but decided to arrive on Halloween (homie loves a good holiday). As a result, he seems small and breakable.
I’m really not good with breakables.
I’ve destroyed almost every iPhone I’ve ever owned.
My cousin gave me instructions (“If he cries a little bit, give him his pacifier. If he cries a lot, warm the bottle. If he REALLY cries give me a call and I’ll come home”). As soooon as she walked out of the door, Bob started to whimper. Then he started to cry. Then, he used his little arms and neck to wiggle his way upright and flail from side to side. I shit you not, I thought the kid was going to jump out of his bassinet and run.
I picked him up and he gripped my sweater (he’s got sharp nails). He wailed. He kicked his legs. I gave him his pacifier – he spit it out. I warmed the bottle — he
threw the bottle accross the room moved his head from side to side. The entire time my voice was trying to comfort him, my arms were moving frantically to warm bottles and follow instructions (all while he was in my arms), but in my head I was saying: He knows. He effing knows. The kid knows I’m useless. He knows that if ‘shit hits the fan’ he’s gonna be a goner.
Right after I called my cousin in a controlled panic (“Keeks, he won’t stop crying and he doesn’t want to eat”), I heard a rumble in Bob’s little belly. He was kicking his legs and straining his face. I knew the look on his face well: Bob was constipated! Bob had gas!
And so I did what I do best: I told him stories about my own personal struggles with gas and constipation so he wouldn’t feel so alone. I walked him up and down my cousin’s hardwood floors and rubbed his back. When my cousin came home (she was only gone like 15 minutes), she found a quiet baby and a calm Patia. She chatted with me for a second, got settlend, and when finally took her baby into her arms…I burst into tears. I was inconsolable.
I just didn’t want to kill him, I wailed.
I just didn’t want to hurt him.
I had all of this fear: fear that I wasn’t good enough; fear that I couldn’t take care of anyone; fear that I’d kill my newborn cousin. I’d been waiting my whole life for a newborn Bob to love, and here I was terrified I’d kill him. But underneath the fear, there was this overwhelming love. There was this desire to protect this kid, and love this kid and cherish him forever…when my tears dried and my cousin informed me that she would trust me watch her son again, I finally felt in touch with an indescribable love for Bob. Intellectually, I knew I loved the kid, but when I stopped crying and calmed down, I felt the love in the center of my chest. I was in touch with my feelings in this incredible way. I actually can’t wait to watch him again…
It’s funny, we spend our life trying to keep fear at arms-length, pretending it doesn’t exist, or trying to conquer fear like it’s our greatest adversary. But what if Fear is just Love’s ego. What if behind every single one of our fears, there is an energy of love just waiting to fill up the hallow space that fear carves out? If we all took a second to step into our fears, I bet we’d find a wild love that lights up the whole world. Behind the fear of rejection and vulnerability there’s a love so accepting it heals everyone it touches; beyond the fear of death, there’s an intense love and reverence for life.
So how do we get to the love?
I’m a huge fan of self-reflection: writing letters to fear or meditating on the feeling, but the most important tactic for understanding fear is to jump out and swim with it — to open your eyes, look fear in the face and do what scares the shit out of you. In swimming with fear… in the getting pulled under by the currents of fear and allowing yourself to drown a bit, you find fear that you can swim better than you think. Fear isn’t the truth — its just love. It’s always about the love. No matter what your fear — rejection, vunlerability, being hurt, killing babies — there is the overwhelming desire to be the highest expression of yourself. The overwhelming desire to live as you truley are. The fear that you can’t do it? That’s just love wearing a Halloween costume.
What’s scaring the shit out of you today? Go do that…immediately.
Another poem from a Sufi master. Enjoy!
My Sweet, Crushed Angel
You have not danced so badly, my dear,
Trying to hold hands with the Beautiful One.
You have waltzed with great style,
My sweet, crushed angel,
To have ever neared God’s Heart at all.
Our Partner is notoriously difficult to follow,
And even His best musicians are not always easy
So what if the music has stopped for a while.
If the price of admission to the Divine
Is out of reach tonight.
So what, my dear,
If you do not have the ante to gamble for Real Love.
The mind and body are famous
For holding the heart ransom,
But Hafiz knows the Beloved’s eternal habits.
For He will not be able to resist your longing
You have not danced so badly, my dear,
Trying to kiss the Beautiful One.
You have actually waltzed with tremendous style,
O my sweet,
Oh my sweet, crushed angel.
~ Hafiz ~
Once upon a time (4 years ago), when I was just a little baby writer preparing to start my MFA, I fell in love with Flannery O’Connor. For those of you who don’t know, Flannery O’Connor is this bad ass American lady fiction writer. She’s known best for these like laser sharp portrayals of unlikeable country ass folks. She’s raw and her prose is just….sharp. My journalism background pushes me toward writers who say what they mean. I’m not one for sprawling descriptions and flowery prose.
I like a chick that gets the point.
Anyway, for those reasons and more, I fell hard for Flannery O’Connor. I purchased her complete collection, I researched every little bit about her, I stared lovingly at her pictures and really, for a little while, thought I was her. [Update: I’ll never be Flannery O’Connor or James Baldwin for that matter.]
In the height of my delusion, I discovered a book of Flannery’s personal letters called The Habit of Being. I couldn’t find the book at The Strand. I couldn’t find the book on Amazon (believe it or not). And it certainly wasn’t in my local Barnes and Noble. And so, because I hate being denied the things that I want, I developed a three year pseudo-obsession with finding this book. One time, I saw it on a used book table, but I didn’t have five dollars cash (why God why!?). Another time, I saw it on Amazon but when I went back it wasn’t there (or maybe I forgot to go back and look).
For years, I’d stop in old bookstores, and I’d accost sidewalk vendors. I even looked for it in the Brooklyn Public Library.
No one had this book.
Year after year, I babbled about this book whenever I got the chance (or every few months when I remembered). And then, one day on the Upper West Side, I stumbled into a rare bookstore because it was cold out and I cannot resist a warm store full of old books.
And there it was: Flannery’s book of letters.
I was triumphant! I could’ve kissed the old wrinkled store clerk on the mouth! I paid my 22 dollars and, when I stepped back into the sobering tundra that was Amsterdam Avenue, I realized….
I don’t really give a f*ck about Flannery O’Connor’s letters anymore.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the indulgent, painful, obnoxious activity of longing that we forget why we’re fighting so hard. We can carry around these longings like scars, whipping them out at parties or when we’re alone and bored. We get stuck on ideas, on people, on the past. We miss a person so deeply, or lament over a period of our lives, but when we pause for a moment we don’t even know what we’re so attached to. We get so busy being victims and aggressors, that the objects our obsession lose value.
Half the shit we pine for is better off unrequited.
And so, while I probably won’t read Flannery’s letters for another five years or so, her bound letters are a decorative reminder to k
eep obsessing over dead white American writers always bring awareness to my longing and my pursuits.
Where is your awareness? Do you really want what you’re longing for?
So, I’ve noticed that God stalks my entire life. I’m sure He stalks everyone , but when I’m just tryna chill and escape my problems, he shows up. Recently, God found me on Miami Beach. I was parked on a Bob Marley blanket (with great company). I was about two frozen drinks in, four shades darker than usual, and rocking my favorite gold bikini. I was communing with Mother Nature and Captain Morgan when God showed up.
He was in disguise — he looked like my friend Tah who had showed up with a cute straw hat and a bucket of fried chicken.
“I was up at 7 am this morning,” Tah said. “I went to church because I had to hear the word.”
“What was it about?” I asked.
“The word was about restoration. About forgiving yourself because God forgives you, and forgiving others as much as God forgives your sins.”
Tah didn’t know that “Radical Forgiveness” by Colin Tipping was tucked into my beach bag. She didn’t know that I
feel felt angry and victimized and generally pissed off. She had no idea that my trip to Miami was very much about me trying to rejuvenate and heal my heart. All she knew was that I was in town, we hadn’t seen each other since 2008, and, for some reason, I’d suckered her into getting me some supermarket chicken.
I really love Miami’s supermarket chicken.
It’s amazing how God (i.e. the universe/your higher self) can find you in the bottom of a bottle or naked on a beach. The highest version of yourself won’t let you stray too far from your purpose. When you are being seduced by sunshine, or alcohol, or the general business of life — God sometimes brings the sermon to you.
He doesn’t discriminate or give up, and he speaks all languages (he got me with fried chicken).
I hear you Universe — loud and clear.
Despite my best efforts, I’ve come to accept that the beginning of this year is about re-remembering some life lessons: forgiveness, releasing fear, and expressing constructive anger. I am revisiting the old coursework one more time.
And so Tah, on the beach, reminded me: life is a spiritual classroom and God is a stalker with eyes in the backs of every head.
How is God stalking you today? What messages does he have for you?
Close your eyes and think of a person who triggers strong emotions in you. You know, that person who drives you crazy or makes you want to punch a baby. Maybe it’s your mom, a former friend, lover, or coworker. Either way, they piss you off like no one else.
Think about the person. Got it? Okay, Good.
Well, what if that person isn’t actually an enemy. What if she’s a spiritual teacher in disguise? What if that person, that annoying son-of-a-b*tch, was a gift from God — sent to bring you closer to yourself? What wisdom do your interactions hold? What feelings are stirred and what can those feelings teach you about yourself?
How would your approach to the situation change?
I’m not going to write a long post today. I’m not going to tell you a story about some
asshole person who taught me about myself. Forgiveness work is ongoing and somewhat tough. Sometimes it’s easier to see people as enemies instead of teachers, but keep this in mind: we only judge what we cannot yet accept in within ourselves.
A tough pill to swallow. I know….
So today, I open it up to you: If your enemy is actually your teacher, what lessons and blessings are your receiving?
“…Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the
Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.”
― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
In 2007, I left Miami after two years of living there. I left in the middle of the night. I don’t know exactly what time, but I remember riding to the airport in darkness. All of the windows of the spanish-style ranch houses were dark. The occasional lamp post decorated the otherwise silent streets.
There were no visible signs of life.
Besides the taxi driver’s eyes in the rear view mirror, there were no witnesses. I held back tears. The ride to the airport felt like a walk of shame. I had spent two years of living the post-collegiate dream — sun, beach, clubs and drinking — and I had to go back home to live with my parents. Again.
F*ck my life.
I felt like a failure. I’d done everything right — graduated early, done internships and held jobs in my field, but I wasn’t being compensated properly. I was dayjobbing as a manager at American Eagle. I was freelancing as a drinks columnist for like 2 dollars an article. I was writing music videos and being screwed out of my pay. I was living a life I couldn’t sustain.
I was certain, at 23, that my life was over. I would die a perpetual adolescent. I was destined to be that guy who was lived in her parent’s basement. My brother would be the successful one – the stock broker, day trader, accounting tycoon (clearly I have no idea what he does), and I’d be the slacker. The black sheep of the family. I was sure that coming home was proof: something was wrong with me.
I came back anyway.
Sometimes, we don’t know exactly why we are entering or exiting a place. We are pulled away kicking and screaming against our will. In those moments we fail to see the perfection of the Universe – the meticulous care with which God carries us all.
I came back to Long Island with my tail between my legs, but (as it turns out) I came home at a critical time. My mother was in the thick of taking care of my ailing grandmother. She spent five days a week at my grandmother’s house and only saw my dad on weekends. I’d like to think I came home to keep my dad company for those years. I didn’t really feed him or take care of him or anything, but we had breakfast together every morning and watched TV at night. I’d like to think I helped him adjust to his wife being away. I’d also like to think my mom liked knowing I was with him.
Time has passed: Grandma passed on and my mom has returned to her
nagging wifely duties (hi mom). I have moved out, and come back, and moved out again.
As it turns out, I’m not a slacker — I’m a writer (and sometimes I’m an English Professor), and so, after almost seven years away, I took an impromptu trip to Miami.
Returning to Miami (with it’s dated art deco architecture and obnoxious happy sunshine) is like visiting your drunk uncle who still wears the polyester suit he wore to your parent’s wedding. You love him, but you keep expecting him to change.
Miami was so the same and so different. Going back made me realize that endings are (kinda of) okay. While our egos protest, our souls push us into and out of spaces and, we may never truly know why we were called to be there. We don’t always walk away knowing our impact: who we were supposed to meet, who we were supposed to love, or how we were supposed to change as a result. We just feel like we’re getting a raw deal. We were happy (kinda), we were comfortable (sorta), and we were content (sometimes).
We don’t like when things have to change, and even when we know what we were called to do — change and movement still kinda sucks.
Miami also made me realize that change is uncomfortable and looking back is okay. When things hurt we have this urge to move forward — don’t think too long, don’t feel too hard, don’t grieve too loudly for too long. Keep your shame to yourself and march forward. As a result we’re are all emotional zombies — we are the walking dead and the walking wounded.
I’m no different, but I am learning that there is medicine in looking at the past. Looking backward helps you realize how far you’ve come. Looking back helps you realize that forward…no matter where it leads, is always the best direction. No matter how much you cried, or how shitty you felt — you are never really stuck — you are always only ever moving forward. As my parents like to say: Life is a terminal condition. We are always moving in the direction of our final destination — sometimes we take the longer route. So, to a certain extent, looking back is okay, as long as you keep breathing you will keep moving forward. You look back for a while and you take a deep breath. You wave and continue onward with your head held high.
You are always exactly where you are called to be.
So today, I recognize the divine perfection of all beginnings and all endings. There is medicine in everything that happens. If things were supposed to be any different, they would be.
When no one is looking,
I swallow deserts and clouds
and chew on mountains
knowing they are sweet bones!
When no one is looking
and I want to kiss God,
I just lift my own hand to my mouth.