It’s time.

November 10, 2011

[Note: I wrote this post as though it applies to everyone, knowing full well there are always exceptions. I hope you'll listen to your own wise heart to know whether these words are for you.]

Just outside and below our kitchen window is a ledge. I’m guessing it’s meant for flower boxes, but the only thing we’ve ever used it for is jack o’ lanterns.

And since that ledge isn’t right next to our front door, it’s easy to, say, forget that there are pumpkins on it until the pumpkins have turned into gray-and-orange-and-black mush that’s slowly oozing down the side of the ledge toward the ground.

Yesterday I spent some time with a shovel, transporting pumpkin glop to the compost and then washing our ledge of decay.

And it occurred to me: this is not the way I want to deal with pumpkins next year.

+ + + + + + + +

I’ve been thinking about relationships this week, and how possible it is to get so used to dysfunction in them that we pour truck loads of energy (anger, fear, resentment, bitterness, regret) into that dysfunction without hardly batting an eye.

Because those truck-loads usually happen in a drip…drip form, so that we’re rarely ever doused like a coach with water post-game, waking up stunned to our dysfunction, but rather flicked daily in the face or heart or gut with mere drops of the Big Picture: a little resentment here. A little anger or child-like clinging there. A little conversational pattern that always leaves someone punchy or wilted or wanting to run away.

These drips feel terrible, but they come to feel normal and inevitable and the thought of actually making a move to stop them becomes way more uncomfortable than than just learning to live with the drips.

And I’m wondering: what if it’s time for all of us, myself included, to work to stop these drops?

+ + + + + + + +

I had an amazing conversation with a friend this weekend about relationships. She’s in a season of deep inner work around patterns she’s repeated in intimate relationships through her life. The work she’s doing is excruciating. And radiates more hope than I could dream up.

She’s walking straight through her fears. She’s letting anger and regret surface. She’s having hard, hard conversations.

She’s a phoenix in full flame.

And as I quieted myself today, listening for what to write here, I felt a surge of this:

We – all of us – are living and co-creating an amazing age of human history. We are facing jaw-dropping challenges and being offered (by the connectivity of the internet, by technological developments beyond the web, by all that’s come before us and all that pulses to get born) incredible opportunities to participate in the healing and awakening of our world.

And as far as I can see, there’s a massive shift afoot from emphasis on the mind to emphasis on the heart. An opening to the necessity (for wholeness and healing and health) of things like emotion and intuition and all that’s typically deemed feminine.

And as we face these current challenges and receive these wondrous opportunities and welcome (or chafe at) this shift from head to heart, the health of our intimate relationships feels like the heart of the heart of everything, the root of our most powerful future.

Because learning to love and be loved well is our way forward.

My body shakes with conviction as I write it:

Learning to love and be loved well is our way forward as a species. Is what it means to step beyond fear and into a landscape of trust.

And our most intimate relationships – the ones that we have, and the ones we only long for – are where we learn about love.

They’re where, in our moments of honesty, we come face to face with our darkest shadows – the self-protective patterns we’ve developed that no longer service our (or our world’s) thriving.

They’re where we learn compassion and humility and grace.

They’re where we learn to open ourselves to trust, again and again, and where we learn what trust even means – that sometimes it means staying with the loneliness of not having an intimate other or the challenge of togetherness with the one we do have long enough to see it all the way through, to learn the lessons our deepest selves know are ours to learn in that place.

And sometimes it means stepping off into the unknown of life-after-this-relationship or life-after-loneliness and toward something or someone our hearts have been calling us toward for some time.

I have this sense that finally naming the drip…drip of energy we’re individually and collectively pouring into intimacy dysfunction (and again, I’m talking about the dysfunction that’s had whether we’re partnered with someone or not – we carry our dysfunction within ourselves and the dynamics between two people are merely a place where it gets outwardly displayed) and doing something to stop that drip: I have a sense that the time has come for this work.

That the time is now.

That the universe is standing on a threshold, smiling, knowing we have lots of work to do (though when have we not?) and that all of it, all of the work that we’re beckoned to do, will be, is already, totally worth it.

+ + + + + + + + +

It scares me to face my intimacy issues. I’d much rather ignore them like the pumpkins on my ledge. I’d much rather will them to disappear on their own, to shrink them through lack of attention.

I don’t want to deal with my body image.
I don’t want to acknowledge how often I feel triggered into childlike feelings.
I don’t want to admit my part in patterns that leave me resentful and frustrated.

But good heavens, it fills me with every kind of hope to realize I can do so, and that on the other side of whatever hard work must (continue to) be done is more and more of what I want. More trust. More connection. More power. More health. More knowing how deep and vast and wide is the love that I catch glimmers of now, and trust we’re all swimming inside of.

And what is my alternative to this work?

What’s yours?

Is that more appealing?

+ + + + + + + + +

There are many ways to clean up pumpkins, to turn them into the rich and fertile soil from which new growth and flowering springs. Why not choose the path of least goo? Why ignore that necessary work any longer?

If you’re new here, welcome! I post articles once each week that explore trust, and how to nurture more of it. Signing up for my rss feed or free ebook are great ways to get a feel for what happens here. I used to devote each month to a different theme, so if you’re interested in seeing those themes and an annotated page of articles for each one, click here. Again, my warmest welcome!
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23 comments   |   Filed in: Meditations   |   Tags:   |  


  1. yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.

    Why, indeed?

    Thank you. Very much.


    Comment by Christa — November 10, 2011 @ 8:58 am
  2. Wow. I don’t have any words to add but let me just say that by the end of this I had tears rolling down my face and my body was shaking with the same conviction you cite. Thank you. xox

    Comment by Lindsey — November 10, 2011 @ 9:22 am
  3. yes, yes. and amen.

    Comment by JC — November 10, 2011 @ 11:16 am
  4. Christa, Lindsey, JC…thank you. It’s such a strange feeling to feel so sober and so hopeful at the same time.

    Comment by Kristin — November 10, 2011 @ 11:43 am
  5. Beautiful, heartfelt and timely words. Throughout my life I have had major problems with codependency and failure in the area of relationship, but eventually found that the one I could not be intimate with was myself. In my twenties I was obsessed with my partner and expected him to be everything for me. It is a horrible way to live. At a deeper level I knew this childlike state of being was destroying me so I moved on, eventually meeting and moving through years of fear and loneliness to find a place of connection and self acceptance. When I no longer felt lonely I knew I was ready to commit again. Being comfortable with ‘me’ is the basis for my current relationship. I am realistic. Intimacy is not something that comes naturally to two people who come from deeply dysfunctional families. While we are harmonious at the level of our lifestyle because we both love animals and living in the country there are times of anger and frustration. I have come to accept and embrace this as the shadow part of our relationship. Every day I am reminded to keep the focus on what is real, connecting with the intimacy that lies beyond the inner voice that speaks of wanting, taking, blaming, being right, controlling or being a victim. I am learning when to speak up and when to be silent and go within. Slowly we are learning to trust and communicate at a deeper level and for me this is a wonderful thing.

    Comment by Johanne — November 10, 2011 @ 1:36 pm
  6. Johanne, your story is so, so beautiful! Thank you for the gift of it!

    Comment by Kristin — November 10, 2011 @ 1:40 pm
  7. I’m struck by the concepts of hope and hopefulness within your words and ideas here. Yes, risky, yes, worth it, and yes, so full of hope. Earlier today I read this quote by Joan Chittister:

    “Hope is not a matter of waiting for things outside us to get better. It is about getting better inside about what is going on inside. . . .It is about allowing ourselves to let go of the present, to believe in the future we cannot see . . . . ”

    Thanks once again, Kristin. I’m always totally delighted to see a new post from you! And most often, deeply touched as well. . . . Blessings!

    Comment by Ellen — November 10, 2011 @ 1:46 pm
  8. Ellen, thank you. That Chittister quote is so great – I love that definition of hope: “getting better inside about what is going on inside”. I’m thoughtful about the second half of the quote, at the same time. What does it mean to “live in the present”, while also not feeling bound and controlled by it (which seems like the direction Chittister is taking here)?

    Comment by Kristin — November 10, 2011 @ 2:00 pm
  9. Oh my. This post is absolutely brilliant and perfectly timed.

    I am in AWE of your insightful words of truth and revelation.

    I cannot thank you enough for allowing the Universe to work through you in this forum ~ and for being a LIGHT to those of us who are digging deep to learn to heal and love.

    I am sending you a HUGE virtual HUG of gratitude, inner knowing, and support. :)

    Comment by Lisa — November 10, 2011 @ 3:25 pm
  10. Lisa, I’ll take all the hugs I can get! It’s an honor and joy to be doing this work.

    Comment by Kristin — November 10, 2011 @ 5:00 pm
  11. “Step beyond fear into a landscape of trust,” I just loved this whole article and that line in particular. I have soooo been confronting the fear that holds me back from being more of who I am, the fear that waters down my essence then leaves it in a stagnant puddle by the side of the road. It is tough but enlivening and empowering work to face my intimacy issues.

    The “drip drip” you speak of so eloquently is like the frog in a slowly boiling pot of water. I don’t want to be boiled alive by the drip drip and find that that more I approach my fears, the easier it is to just name the drip drip and then move forward.

    My alternative to this work? Sometimes it’s food. Other times it’s hours of mindless television. And no, these are not nearly as appealing as learning self-compassion and self-acceptance that is like a miraculous balm that soothes the sometimes fierce sun-burn I get from my inner critic.

    Thank you for your words and wisdom!

    Comment by Maira — November 10, 2011 @ 6:13 pm
  12. Maira, I love your line “the more I approach my fears, the easier it is to just name the drip drip and then move forward.” That feels like one of the most awesome benefits of doing the terrifying work of facing fears: IT GETS EASIER. And the changes feel so much more quick in coming.

    Comment by Kristin — November 10, 2011 @ 6:30 pm
  13. I have been stunned into silence and then spurred into action by these words. I have shared the link with someone who is doing the excruciating work you describe, someone else who is a phoenix aflame at this very moment, and she too was moved to tears. I have been looking at my own intimacy issues in unprecedented ways in the past few months, and this post has given me even more to consider and act upon. So many things in my intimate life aren’t working anymore, and admitting that is difficult, liberating, and challenging. Making more intentional moves towards a more fulfilling, loving, passion-filled future – either in a new realm within this relationship or after this relationship – feels inevitable now. Because what’s happening (and not happening) now in growing increasingly unimaginable and unacceptable for the rest of my life. And the entire process is rocking me to my core, scaring me half to death, and exciting me more than I could ever have imagined. Thanks for encouraging me to look deeper and dream bigger, to hope and trust more completely, and then to act on these discoveries more honestly.

    You’ve touched a lot of people with your trust-tending, your stories, and your life. Thank you for allowing Spirit to speak these words of wisdom through you.

    Comment by GailNHB — November 11, 2011 @ 4:36 am
  14. Gail, I feel silent and reverent as I read your words. Rocked to your core sounds so right. I’m sending love and a wish for much strength and wisdom for you through this time. It sounds like hope is already pulsing through it.

    Comment by Kristin — November 11, 2011 @ 6:00 am
  15. Yes! This is a wonderful post. Thank you for giving me so much to think about.

    Comment by Amanda — November 11, 2011 @ 10:02 am
  16. Thanks Amanda! My pleasure!

    Comment by Kristin — November 11, 2011 @ 11:01 am
  17. I am approaching that drip too, where I just face the ugly self-protecting which I got so used to over time. I hurt so many wonderful people by being so protective about myself (or careless about others). I am learning to love in every way possible. Fearless, fierce and each and every day a-new.

    Comment by Suki — November 22, 2011 @ 8:19 am
  18. Yes!!!! Thank you for writing it out!! I’m in the darker parts. I especially needed to hear: “sit with the loneliness.” Although I don’t actively look for a partner, and have been contentedly without a partner for three years now, it doesn’t actually change the fact that some part of me is longing for, waiting for, wanting, etc. The fantasizing keeps me from feeling the loneliness. The longing does, too. If I can feel the loneliness, I’ll be a little more content, and a little bit more energy will go toward my work. Thanks for the reminder!

    Comment by Jessica — September 13, 2012 @ 12:03 pm
  19. I think you’re so right, Jessica. Those feelings we push under the surface are often the ones that suck away our energy for other things. Sending warm thoughts to you as you sit with your feelings.

    Comment by Kristin — September 13, 2012 @ 8:10 pm
  20. Speaking as one who has no intimate relationship so how would I know, I think a good relationship gives energy more than it takes. If it is taking energy from you it is broken.
    Last year’s pumpkin

    Comment by third_stone — September 23, 2012 @ 7:13 am
  21. Last year’s pumpkin… Or, I would add, if it’s taking energy from you it’s inviting you to a deeper kind of engagement with it. :)

    Comment by Kristin — September 24, 2012 @ 6:28 am
  22. [...] I adore the work that Kristin is doing- you can sign up for her weekly emails, filled with encouragement and fantastic sketches.   Her original art work is just fabulous & you can even have a custom piece created after a Deep Listening session with her.  I think having somebody else interpret  my thoughts & emotions would be a valuable way to gain clarity on issues I’m working through.  I highly reocmmend you follow her blog, she’s writing some fabulous pieces like On Impact and It’s Time. [...]

    Pingback by Trust Habits E-Course — September 27, 2012 @ 3:48 am
  23. What a welcome surprise. Your insight has touched me deeply and forced me to look at myself as dysfunctional in my relationship. For years I have felt blamed, and realize now that I am a blamer. This brings me to tears and shame. I’m so sick of the blaming and lack of personal responsibility I see in others, but have not been fully aware of it in myself. It’s like a consuming disease in our society on so many levels and I want no part of it. I want to shed myself of it, so I can breathe, stand up straight and tall, smile, inspire, and enjoy all the precious little things in life. HELP!

    Comment by Kathy — May 31, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

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