This week has given me an opportunity to confront many things that I have not wanting to be processing: How I feel about my mother talking about her mortality… about news of my father losing his hair because of the radiation therapy to shrink what’s left of his brain tumor… about how I am feeling about my work … about how I still feel about Aaron…
Given everything, no one would blame me if I stuck my head in the sand or tried to escape. Yet, that is not what I am trying to practice. Rather, I am trying to bring true Acceptance to these situations. Acceptance isn’t about saying that something is fine or should be a certain way; rather, it is about really being powerfully connected to my life.
This evening, I ended up doing some major Work with cousin, Donna, around my underlying beliefs around the family and specifically around my brother, Jeremiah. I’ve had it that having to keep the family together requires too much of my energy and that I shouldn’t be the one who is constantly having to initiate much-needed conversations. After inquiring into these beliefs, I realize that I can only take responsibility for my part; that I can’t just sit back because it takes two to make any relationship in the family work; and that it is more my judgment about how the family should or should not be, and not the family itself, which causes me angst.
The inquiry led me back to another important relationship in my life: the one I share with Aaron. I realized all the ways in which I was so busy trying to make the relationship work (the way I wanted it to work) that I robbed myself of the joy of just being with him, of getting to know him. Now, I realize that, as much as our relationship might have been collateral damage in his departure for Glasgow, I now have an opportunity to just be in friendship with this beautiful man who is flourishing as the designer and creative that I have always known him to be.
When we can get out of our own way, we can finally be with the beauty all around us. We can see those in our lives with the purity of reality, of seeing through the stories we have about others to the truth of who they really are for us. And when we can do this, we begin to practice Unconditional Love. …
This morning, I had another fulfilling 2.5-hour Skype chat with Aaron. It’s so funny because when we talk, it feels like we cover so much emotional ground, and at the end, we’ve grown so much in our capacity to love. One of the things that I’ve been riding Aaron about is figuring out what the form of our new friendship needs to look like: What new agreements do we need to make? What new communication practices should we take on that will help us realize our commitments to each other?
On this end of things, it is clear that neither of us has the answer to this. Neither of us has had the experience of breaking up with someone we love, still loving them, and yet acknowledging that we can’t be together romantically. As I contemplate this conversation, something became very clear and obvious to me: A relationship doesn’t exist because we make good agreements with our partner; a relationship lives in the practice of those agreements.
Yesterday, I was reading from Don Miguel Ruiz‘s The Mastery of Love. He was telling a moving story that spoke to the danger of having love be an experience of someone being the source of your happiness. Although this is an issue that I have explored in the past, for some reason this time, it just resonated differently. The most immediate situation in my life to which this applies (not surprisingly) is the one with Aaron. How fair had I been in implicitly and explicitly charging Aaron with filling the ache inside with happiness? How fair am I being now expecting him to make our friendship such that it is a source of new happiness for me?
How, then, do I allow myself to be the source of my own happiness? How do I turn inwards to touch that part of me that is a deeper wellspring of happiness separate from the ephemeral in the external world?
Last night, I had a great conversation with my best friend. The conversation helped me to think through the ways in which I don’t know how to feel about the situation with Aaron. I know that I have accepted that we have broken up. I’ve even come to a place of acceptance around the ambiguity that comes up between two people who used to be romantically involved re-adjusting their relationship to just be friends. Yet, my recent communications with him have been triggering me, and I had to think through that with her.
She shared her experience with her last ex, and in her sharing, I saw something for myself. I realized that I’ve got this broken record in the back of my head saying over and over again, “You’re just the same… You’re just the same…” You’re just as inconsiderate, insensitive, etc., as I blamed you for when we were together. … The thing is there’s another track on that broken record: “I’m the same way I used to be. … I’m the same way I used to be. …” I’m just as insecure, jealous, irrational, etc., as I used to be.
Relationships do not have to be broken records on continuous replay. Our partners don’t have to occur for us the way they always have been. We can begin to transform our relationships in powerful ways simply be recognize that the broken record exists. When we can see that, we can choose to take the needle off.
Last night, I confronted a sad realization about myself that I didn’t like at all: In the situation related to Aaron, I am at the source of my own suffering. Not only am I the source of my suffering but I actually gain something from the suffering I create from myself: If I can suffer enough, then I will go pity from others. For someone who prides himself on being strong and independent, this is not something to admit.
Yet, I must accept: There is only one life I am living, and it is mine. I am always at the source of my life. I can be a passenger and continue playing victim. Or I can take the driver’s seat, set the intention for where I’m headed, and trust that as long as I’m headed in that direction, I will eventually get there.
I was listening to the Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith in his audiobook, The Life Visioning Process, talk about the power of forgiveness. I have heard many times before the truism that forgiveness is not for the other person but rather for ourselves. Perhaps, because I am ready for it, … perhaps, because of the circumstances of my life, particularly with Aaron, … I was more open to the truth of forgiveness.
As I’ve written before, the first side is that forgiveness releases what is bound. It frees up energy that is bound up in staying angry, … being right. Forgiveness allows me to let go of trapped energy, thereby creating space.
Yet, there is the other side: Forgiveness releases what seeks to be expressed. Having forgiven myself and the other, there is room for the One Love to come into my life and show up as that which I desire: More joy, more abundance, greater peace, etc.
Hence, forgiveness frees us up twice: first, we let go of the energy spent being angry; then, we invite into the space freed up by that energy, those spiritual principles and virtues that seek to enter into our lives through us. I forgive, and I forgive.