[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.
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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?
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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.
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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?
Is that more appealing?
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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?