Lesson One: How to Handle a Woman

Oh boy, how does life work out for anybody? 

It doesn’t. We’re all just meant to love one another and eat meals with each other and talk, because getting to know people helps you love them.

But still. I mean, this being a human being shit is hard. Doing everything right? Being wise? Listening to your intuition, or your gut, or both? Trying to know everything there is to know before you’ve actually lived it? And then there’s no one you can turn to who has all the answers?

Sheesh.

Get me a cigarette.

Oh wait, I don’t smoke unless I’m in Europe. Sigh.

So one of my favorite movies keeps playing in my head, and I’m going to share it with you, because my friend Sara and I are in an argument about men and women and how they ever, ever, actually come together.

And because there’s no formula for any of this bullcrap in life, but most people at least want someone to hold them at the end of the day. Most people want to at least have this partner business taken care of before they deal, or as they deal, with all the rest of the stuff life throws at you.

The problem is, having someone hold you at the end of the day means there are all sorts of other kinds of expectations, and centuries of other people’s wounds and problems and assumptions get lumped onto an act like that, or any act between two people who are considering having sex. Getting intimate with another person kind of makes people go crazy. It’s the love drug, I guess, some chemical that rewires your mind and body. And this is why spiritual leaders all across the world are often single or celibate (yuck!), because they have to keep their heads on straight, or they’ll lose their minds and won’t be useful to anybody.

But I have a real problem with this. Because most of us are in relationships or want to be in one in some capacity, and why should we listen to somebody teach us what it means to know God—or whatever you want to call God. Goddess? Universal Love? Ultimate Reality?—and live in the world in a meaningful, life-giving way, if he or she doesn’t also know how to cook and clean and take care of kids and have sex and text ridiculous emojis in order to set up meetings with people. Or work the technology that is required to edit a podcast. I mean, I want someone telling me what to do who is also in the trenches! I trust that person more!

So anyway, watch this clip from one of my favorite movies, Singles, and then I want to discuss some things with you.

I just love this movie, and I totally love Steve. Steve wears his heart on his sleeve, and yet he makes a stupid mistake, because he’s afraid of getting hurt. We’re all afraid of getting hurt! Every one is a vulnerable person! Every one has feelings, even if they pretend they don’t! So Steve plays a little game, devises a little strategy that he hopes will somehow win the woman and keep him looking cool and on top of things. It’s a power play, essentially. (I’m doing a lot of research on this topic, so get close and listen.) In romantic relationships, we have a natural inclination to assume that the person who is less available has more power. The person who wants to connect, who wants to be together, is therefore more vulnerable and kind of needy, is our assumption. And so this story of hierarchy develops in our minds which is really all bullshit, but which we cling to, because we have egos, and we want to protect them when it comes to love. (And love can be crushing. Eek!) This hierarchy shifts at various stages of a relationship. And none of us wants to feel powerless, and none of us wants to admit he or she is vulnerable, so we end up playing all these little games, or doing things that don’t reflect our actual feelings or intentions, because we want to get the formula right. We want to come out above, in some way. We want to look cool and attractive and desirable, and looking cool and attractive and desirable means we have to be a bit distant.

Women have played this game for years. We are taught we have to be hard-to-get, and wait for a man’s call, to see if he really has intentions. And we want a man who is attentive, and how will we know if he is attentive if he can’t make some moves at the outset of a relationship?

The problem is, men don’t know what they’re allowed to do anymore. Because gender stuff is all confused, and women have made strides in all these areas, and men are still catching up. Is a man allowed to say a woman has nice earrings? Is he allowed to open a door? Women are all so different! What works for one doesn’t work for the others, and if you make a wrong move she might yell at you or get all hot-headed, so it’s best to just stay calm and do nothing, some men think. Let her take the lead.

Meanwhile, women are totally pissed that the man isn’t doing anything, and everybody’s super horny and annoyed, and no one’s actually connecting, because our whole understanding of how dating works nowadays is to swipe left and right on a picture of somebody like you’re flipping through models in a magazine, and you get addicted to the movement of your fingers rather than ever getting to know anyone in a real and intimate way. Which means many of us end up hungry for love and alone, and eating too many pretzels, and telling ourselves we’re all just going to focus on work, and shoving all our feelings down and being repressed inside like hermits or monks.

Sigh. Can we have a teacher?

I’m trying.

At the outset of any relationship are a lot of attempts at trying to dance together, but a lot of skittering away, too. A lot of “oh shits!” A lot of “ooh, hmms.” A lot of “I don’t know what’s what!”

And men and women are sitting on the other ends of their phones, totally frustrated and exacerbated and complaining to everyone else about how much people of the other sex suck.

What would happen if we all learned how to speak the same language? Like, if we didn’t strategize and try to think about what we wanted and how to get it, but instead just spoke from our hearts at any given moment, when we felt compelled, and allowed what comes to come, and what doesn’t come to move out of the way? Or we totally told someone what we thought at each and every stage, honestly, and saw what happened from there? Making no promises or commitments until that’s called for, but being real all the time?

What would happen if we just did our personal work so we knew were were in tune with who we are and what we want at various stages (and don’t skip this piece, because this is crucial) and then moved through the world cutting through any bullshit ideas or narratives that stand in our way and say how we feel and what we want? Spoke in a way that honors ourselves and honors another person, and doesn’t let ego dictate our methodology?

Ugh, now I realize that Sara’s right about something and this really pisses me off.

Here’s the thing: some level of ego is necessary to survive in this world. We need to have dignity, and discernment, and boundaries. All of us, men and women. It’s just that in this new world order we’re creating, and as everything is changing, we have to adapt and learn new ways. Old dating games, like that book, The Rules, just don’t work! (‘Member that book? I wonder if those women are still married. But is marriage even the goal? I’m kind of yuck about the government having any place in my pants.) Or, maybe the old dating games work for a little while, but then you end up snagging “the guy of your dreams” or “the most beautiful woman” and realizing later that the person is kind of shitty and all about outer appearances and games, when you really just wanted enduring love.

We are so worried about what people think of us. But just stop. You be you on any given day, on any occasion. (Eh hem, but first figure out who that is, please.) Say how you feel. If someone doesn’t respect the fucking bravery and strength it takes to speak your mind and speak your heart, fuck ’em. I’m serious. Then you know that person is not for you.

Sigh.

That’s how you handle a woman. That’s how you handle a man.

Let’s end with a really cute clip that supports all of what I just said.

(And don’t tell Sara I said she was right.)

 

 

 

Photo by Relevante design on Unsplash

The Man Who Is Good for You

I met a man recently who was obsessed with attaining his own enlightenment.

He is, and will always be (I suspect), a spiritual vampire.

On the outside is gentleness and calm. It is “inclusivity.” It is “diversity.” It is “open-mind, forward-thought.”

On the inside it is, Give me, give me, give me. 

It is, Let me drink from you. Let me eat from you. Let me make you mine. 

And then it is,

Once I have what I want, I will move on. For you are my conquest.

Be wary, daughters, of men like that.

You are not a conquest. You are not an object to be desired and fucked.

Figure out who you really are.

This is your Mother speaking.

The man who appears heavenly on the outside, who speaks to you in soft language, who even talks of God, at times, and acts with charm, but who, underneath, is a selfish beast, well-hidden?

Stay away from him.

Let’s talk about what a man who is good to you, and good for you, feels like.

In his presence, you never sense that something is off. There is no discord between your head, your heart, and your yoni. All three are in alignment, and calm. There is no subtle tapping that says, Um?

With the man who is good for you, it is not about how much money he has, or how big his dick is, or whether he has hair on his chest. Oh, please. Get over those stupid things.

The man who is good for you will give you space. He will honor and respect that you know your right from wrong, and he will allow you to own your yes, and own your no, and own your “maybe,” and you have no deep worry about whether he will try to invade you.

He does not try to steal your time or your energy. He asks before taking up your space.

In his presence and out of it, your head is clear. The man who is good for you does not lead to overthinking. Because he is solid.

This has nothing to do with his astrological sign. It has nothing to do with his job, his level of education. He does not strive to be above you, or underneath you, but is content and happy alongside you.

He does not need to be called your lover, or your boyfriend. He is a person, a person who is nice to be with.

But on our life paths, or our spiritual paths, there are plenty of men who say they’re all about Jesus (or heck, Buddha), men who brag about sitting in meditation, men who read a bunch of spiritual or intellectual books and call themselves “good,” call themselves “seekers,” call themselves “thinkers,” but have no idea how to actually truly give of their hearts and serve. Maybe they are men who throw money around like it’s water, calling it generosity.

Be wary.

I’m warning you.

Vampires. Reptiles. Spritualholics.

Don’t get drunk on that.

The wisdom of what’s right for you is already inside of you. She is there—your great serpent, your great knowledge who guides and shares and saves, again and again. We just haven’t been taught to listen to her. Especially women. We’ve been taught to give all our power and wisdom away, to look on the outside for true love, to turn to “elders” or “leaders” or “male gods” to teach us what is what, to set us free, to fix us and fill our holes.

So when you feel in your nether regions like something is off, it is because it is off.

Stop second-guessing you.

Go the right way. Save yourself.

Women can only take so much of being milked before we’re empty. Our mothers did not suffer and toil and die so we can follow suit.

And the Lord, who will always nurture and guide you and love you and give to you, needs you full. He wants you empowered so you can save this fractured world. He is the utmost in humility, the utmost in gentleness, the utmost in what is kind and true. That’s the man worth giving your heart to. That’s the best husband you’ll ever know. He comes first, my dears. Because he is the One most deserving of your trust, who will never let you down, who will always stand by your side and show you what is best for you.

These are the words of Your Mother.

Listen.

 

Photo by Arun Sharma on Unsplash

Your Vulnerability Is Your Strength

Love is recklessness, not reason.
Reason seeks a profit,
Love comes on strong, consuming herself,
Unabashed.

Yet in the midst of suffering,
Love proceeds like a millstone,
Hard-surfaced and straight-forward.

Having died to self-interest,
She risks everything and asks for nothing.
Love gambles away every gift God bestows.

–Rumi

“I want to know what love is, I want you to show me.
I want to feel what love is, I know you can show me.”

–Foreigner

“Sure!”

–MotherJana

 

Our culture teaches us how to live in reason and rationality, and not how to live in love.

We know we’re supposed to love. We know that the foundation of everything is love, or so we think. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is what we intellectually know when we sit in church on Sunday mornings. We sing along to John Lennon, “Love is all you need.” We sacrifice for the people we love, we fulfill duties and obligations from a place of love (or is it guilt? Hard to tell sometimes).

But no one has taught us how to love, and no one has defined what love is. So we have this huge undertaking within us and all around us, and the only way we know how to engage with it is through seeing some sweet face and thinking of sex. And so we become trained to think that the only way to get to love is through sex, and we’re sex-obsessed. Which causes us a lot of shame and guilt. And the spiral continues.

Boy, is this a mess.

Isn’t there some Mary Poppins figure who can swoop in and fix everything?

Yep. He-hem. That’s me.

Hi!

A big part of the problem of the dating game in our culture is that it is based on reason and rationality, on meritocracy, and not love. And yet we all want love. So we’re doing these backwards things to get what we want, and then we get what we want, and we’re left unsatisfied, so we start all over again. And we’re left with confusion, emotional pain, and no resolutions about what love actually is, since it seems so changeable and moveable and out of reach. But we’re dying for it. We’re hungry.

Where we’ve gone wrong is that we’ve applied a capitalistic, or meritocratic framework—the framework of “how to get a job” or “how to get a raise at your job,” or “how to get a better job”—with how to love. And the two are extremely dissimilar.

In a work environment, our toughness and our diligence usually equals reward. If we seem calm, cool, and collected, if we seem sure of ourselves, we are likely to earn the respect and admiration of those around us. And if we can excel in our tasks, we are likely to get noticed, to get an increase in pay, to get moved into a position of leadership.

But this doesn’t always translate to the environment of love, romance, and relationships. Because love, romance, and relationships is not about a series of tasks. It is not a business. It is based on feeling and senses, not rationality. And unless we know ourselves on a very deep level, we are not always clear about what’s driving us toward someone, or away from someone else, when it comes to love. We operate, often, from desire instead of love, and desire is a hunger for what is out of reach. And so necessarily, then, what we desire and what we love is out of reach, and we’re doing marathons and completing tasks to attain it, to finally win it over so it feels like a prize, and so that prize makes us feel special and validates us. Only when we get it can we become whole. Only when we get it are we fully human. Only when we get it have we arrived. All because the person who was out of reach is now within reach, can we be healed and move forward in total happiness.

But wait. That record has a scratch. Because this is a person, and not a prize. People are not trophies. People have a whole set of complicated emotions and histories, a lot of messy thinking, a lot of hangups and boundary issues. So when we operate from a space where love is a game, and we have to win it, we rest in ease for a little while until we fall flat again, and we’re left scrambling how to figure out how to revive love and passion and magic and mystery, because the person we worked so hard to attain is not playing by the rules anymore. The rules have changed. Or there are no rules. And this sucks. So fuck it, let’s just go look at a lot of porn, or stay single forever, because people suck.

What’s beautiful about the Rumi poem above is that it is so true, but it defies our sense of what love is, because it suggests and shows that love is widely available. She comes on strong. She is not elusive and mysterious, hidden somewhere, busy with other things. She’s just hanging out, ready to play. So we think there must be something fishy here. What is love, if it’s right at our fingertips, all the time? That person must be undesirable. We back away. Love and desire are somehow opposing forces.

What’s happening, is what we’re actually desiring is to validate our own egos and sense of self-worth. We are desiring to fulfill a fantasy, perhaps, and usually that fantasy is based on a belief system we hold very deep, in our bones and our yonis. So when we desire what is out of reach, it is based on a belief that we’re not worthy of having what we want, that we don’t deserve it. We have to manipulate and strategize to get it, so when we do have it, we can now believe we are worthy and deserving. Only, the thing we’ve desired, a person, has a whole lot of opinions and beliefs, too. She or he is not a robot. She or he may not know how to play our kind of ball.

Oh my God, is anyone still reading this? Who the hell wakes up on a Saturday morning and opens their laptop to read this shit?

Anyway, what I’m trying to say, for starters (because I have a lot more coming surrounding this topic), is that many of us are very uncomfortable with vulnerability. We think that we cannot show vulnerability, because it is weak, and because we must be strong in order to survive. And if we’re uncomfortable with our own vulnerability, and we haven’t really explored what it means to die and to be alive, we’re going to panic and feel icky when someone presents herself/himself as vulnerable before us. It’s going to show us something that exists within us that we don’t want to see, that we don’t want to be reminded of. And that fear may make us run.

But when we have a fundamental belief in our own worthiness, in our own beauty, in our own power and capability, and we’ve wrestled with demons and fear and the knowledge that we’re going to die at some unknown time, in some unknown way, we see vulnerability as simply what it is: truth. We are vulnerable, all of us. We are dependent upon people. Thinking the opposite does not make the opposite so.

 

“Heart and Hand” by cogdogblog is licensed under CC0 1.0

FirstDay Sermon: Unconditional Love

“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation…. Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over, and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate—?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world for himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.” –Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Last night, I sat in a bar in Philadelphia and listened to a man on the other side talk very loudly about the education system, about credit cards, about politics. He really seemed to want attention. I had an inkling he was single, and he was sending out signals that he wanted a woman to talk to him, to be rapt by his knowledge and conversational skills (which involved a lot of talking and no listening, mind you). I wondered whether he was on a dating app, what his profile might look like, shuddered once again at the very prospect of writing a profile as an inducement to love, and waited for my friend David to arrive.

When he did, I asked him this question: “Why is it so important to us as human beings to have a relationship? Why do we seem to think it’s the most important thing in the world, that we can’t fully rest until we’re in one?”

David didn’t know. Neither did I. But we mined this question for a while, because that’s what we do. We take a topic like an onion and explore its many layers, talk about our experience, try to come up with solutions, fall flat, do it all over again the next time we see each other.

The only thing I can come up with in answer to this question is that there is something primal in the desire for union, and there must also be something spiritual, too. In a primal way, we want to have sex. It’s a powerful urge, a natural urge to want to be touched, to want to experience physical pleasure. But in a spiritual sense, we want to merge and connect on another plane. A union with another person is like building a fort, having a place to land for a while after being at sea. It’s an opportunity for someone to truly get to know us, in all kinds of ways. And it seems to be the foremost way for us to learn about love on this earth, about what love means, about its many layers, about what it takes to keep the flame burning.

For me, a romantic partnership (I don’t know what other word you use to describe it), is about being seen and known on an intimate level, a level others do not have access to. (And I suspect we could say this about other kinds of relationships, too: colleagues, parenthood.) A romantic partnership embraces a vulnerability unlike other relationships in life. It doesn’t mean it is the only relationship, but the inclusion of sex into all the other parts of daily existence means that this person gets pretty darn close. And so that relationship has to be special; it has to be both unique and familiar at the same time.

And the choices you make about whether to invest in that love must be your own, wide-eyed, deliberate, thoughtful. Because that is unconditional love. It’s not an overwhelming feeling that takes over your body. It is a care-filled decision beyond obligation, beyond societal frameworks and expectations. You need to know what you’re doing, the potential that you’re taking on, in order to love someone in any real way. And you must do it not out of loneliness, or desperation, or weariness, but instead with conviction, curiosity, bravery, a willingness to try.

As a parent, I love my children unconditionally. I know that they only live with me for a time, and it is my job to give them the best rearing to prepare them to flourish in life. It is my job to teach them and be a rock for them to come home to, a place they feel safe and loved and nurtured. But it also means that in wanting what’s best for them, I cannot love them by only focusing on what’s best for me. I cannot grasp at them, want them to define my role in this life, desire that they fill some hole or ache inside me that wants to be filled. So much about being their mother is about letting them go so they can explore and learn, and decide on their own what they need me for, at the same time as I create a structure for them to flourish.

When it comes to a partnership between two people, I don’t know that we have the same idea that love is unconditional. I think, instead, we want someone to provide something for us, a service, perhaps. And we are not always clear on what we can provide for them. It becomes transactional, capitalistic, instead of a dance or exchange of being in a person’s space and sharing nourishing energy. And so failing relationships end up with two people pondering, consistently, whether they are getting their needs met, going over a tit for tat, a list of pros and cons. But true love is a delicate dance of knowing that we both choose to be here, and we are both strong enough and confident enough to walk away, and yet we like this experience so much, it adds so much to our lives, that we want to stay.

I don’t know how it all works. This is conjecture, this is rumination, this is earnest seeking. I just know a lot of people are unhappy in their relationships. A lot of people feel stuck. And yet we all, at the same time, yearn for the union of a partner, the intimacy of being held and danced with on many levels.

 

“love”by Hc_07 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Don’t Call Yourself a Giver

I keep running into people throughout my life who are trying to find their way and avoid making mistakes. Often, these people are generous and loving (or at least consider themselves to be), but they feel they have given too much in past relationships, so they put up a guard and a defense, and move through life with armor and a hard shell, thinking they need to be very strategic for every step they take on their paths. As though love works according to one’s ego. As though a relationship based purely on strategy could ever actually make anyone happy. Often, these people are so consumed with their own concept of identity as a “giver,” that they can’t see what it is being offered, consistently, for them to receive. Their hands are up, preventing anything new or contrary to come in, because they assume they know better than anyone else about how the world works.

These people really piss me off.

But I still love them.

So much about intimate partnership involves a dance of giving and receiving. It’s cyclical. If we are a loving person, we naturally want to give. But if the person we’re with doesn’t know how to receive, we feel like a spout pouring with no bucket to collect our many gifts. So we have to know how to do both if we are going to enter a partnership. We need to be aware of what’s being offered. Two people have to really know themselves and the way they function, so that the other person can be made aware of what’s operating on a deeper level. That way, instead of looking around blindly for what you expect or want, you begin to recognize how to receive when a person’s gifts are being offered, and you enter into the flow with respect and mutual understanding.

Because that’s how a partnership works. It is not about intense love and passion. It’s just not. That’s a fling. A partnership is respect and mutual understanding, with hopefully a lot of dirty sex and laughing thrown in.

Respect and mutual understanding needs to be established at the outset of a relationship, within the first few weeks. It happens through observation, patience, and generosity. You need to check each other out, the way two animals do when they meet for the first time. You have to get a sense of what’s happening. And then (not too soon!) you begin to communicate about what you see, what are your assumptions, what you believe you need, whether things are functioning well. No one would start a business or a new job without having weekly check-ins, without seeing how it’s going, without giving feedback. And yet we want our relationships to be only sweet passion without recognizing there needs to be some sense involved. We cannot become consumed by our emotions, just like we can’t be consumed by emotions at a job, but we also have to recognize they are there. Because if we want our lover or partner to give us something they can’t give us, to fill an emotional part that we believe is missing, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. So you have to keep doing the internal work that shows you’ve healed old wounds so you’re not assuming someone else will do it for you. That may take longer than you anticipated. But it’s necessary for any relationship’s success.

And usually, God sprinkles people in your path to help you along, to give you advice, to smack some sense into you, if you’re getting off course.

Because here’s the other thing that we often forget. There is so much love. There is so much to give. And a confident person who has done their soul-searching, who has done their inner work, knows what they have and what they don’t have. And they also know how to fill their own cup when it’s empty. A confident, mature person recognizes that a relationship, while nice, is not the center of the world. It deserves investment and time, but other things do, too. Because there is no guarantee of forever. There’s just not. And if you tell yourself that, you’re living a lie.

So what the hell am I trying to say? I kind of forget.

Oh, the people who I’ve met who call themselves “givers,” who talk about how much they share and give, are usually holding back in a whole other, much bigger way. They are often narrow-minded thinkers, focusing so much on what they did, or what they gave, or what didn’t work out, than they are open to the callings of the soul and the universe and opportunities to grow and heal. They don’t know how to accept an amazing gift when it’s looking them in the eye, because they have convinced themselves they always know what that gift is going to look like. Living a full life involves a large degree of humility about how much you can’t do, and how much you can’t know. And so it helps you to see. It helps you recognize beauty and surprise when it shows up in front of you. And that’s what living in the present moment is all about, instead of going through life blind.

And humility, or generosity of spirit, means you let people in. That’s the greatest giving of all, if you want to know the truth.

A lot of people don’t want to know that.

 

“Hands”by marcgg is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Dating God

It wasn’t until last week, paging reluctantly through the Old Testament for a prayer group I’m in, that something clicked into place about that fickle, angry Old Testament God who I could never previously relate to.

She’s like a scorned woman/mother/burgeoning-entrepeneur/creative/hot single chic doing a lot of important shit and getting no respect. She’s like, I told you what I like. Aren’t you listening? I was so nice, wasn’t I? I was gentle! I was kind! I had patience! And now you’ve really gone and pissed me off!

And when I thought of God as someone like me, who’s been through some shit and has a lot of wisdom and yet keeps getting bombarded with assumptions that she doesn’t know very much, I could relate so much better.

What brought this to light for me is dating, because our relationship with potential sex partners is the source of a lot of beauty and frustration, and it uncovers some of our deepest wounds, namely the ones we began to accumulate in childhood. So I can’t cut myself off from the waters of dating, even though I keep wanting to. If I do, I’ll prevent myself from learning a lot of valuable lessons about who I am as a person. If I’m open to learn. If I don’t want to continue to make the same mistakes. If I’m willing to open up and see the fullness of who I am.

Pain in the ass, this learning/growing bullshit is.

When I’m dating, or browsing through men like they’re in a fucking catalog, I realize that my bad-wiring, my old programming, can sometimes kick in. And that old programming is the way I protect myself, the way I avoid hard truths.

For instance, I grew up without my father, and this absence of strong fathers pervades my matrilineal line. So from a young age I carried a seed that never had time to sprout: understanding a father’s love. Understanding the way a father cherishes his daughter. Understanding the way he can lift her up and help give her the confidence to make wise decisions, to trust herself in challenging times. Instead, what grew in me was a desire to make the unavailable become available, the false idea that once I attained what was absent, all my cares and problems would melt away. My deep hunger for a childhood safety and security I never had made me look for men who my soul knew would get attached to me and never leave. And those men didn’t fit my needs. Those men and I were not compatible. We were just hungry for something a sexual partner couldn’t ever provide.

So over and over again, I was drawn to emotionally unavailable men, without even realizing it. And I was invigorated by the conquest of having them be mine. On the outside I was kind, nurturing, encouraging. Patient and thoughtful. (And I truly was all these things, because I’m a loving person.) But from other depths, from a shadow place that hadn’t healed, I was grasping at them, wanting to secure them in place, wanting to make them a fixed mark in my life that wouldn’t leave me so I could feel the safety I hadn’t felt growing up.

Surprise! It didn’t work. And that’s bad karma, besides.

Healing wounds of childhood, healing old trauma, is not about just mentally recognizing it’s there. (This is why counseling doesn’t always go deep enough.) If I have a gash on my leg, seeing it and knowing there is a gash doesn’t make it disappear. Talking about it doesn’t heal it. Knowing it takes time isn’t the same as applying the salve. We need healing on a physical level and spiritual level, not just a mental one.

And deep healing means we actually unravel a bit before coming back together again. We have to go to the source, uncover.  We need to see, wholly and clearly, how it has been at work in our lives. And then, once we’ve grieved, and made peace, we can begin to live from the ground up. We are a new temple, ready to love.

This is what it means when we read that Jesus cleansed Mary Magdalene of seven demons. It does not mean she was more sinful than anyone else. It just means that Mary Magdalene was the kind of brave soul who went all the way, who kept seeking until she could release all parts of her shadow side. She did not just get a taste of Jesus’s healing powers and move on. Her warrior spirit meant she pursued his healing in all seven energy centers of her body—her seven chakras—and was cleansed from past traumas and wounds. This is why her loyalty to him was fierce. This is why they had such a special relationship, even partnership. She experienced his power more intimately than most. She moved through so much fear and societal mores and let him challenge her in all kinds of ways. She met him in every place a human can meet the divine. And for this, she learned how boundless his love was, and she would never forsake him when the other apostles did.

I speak from experience. He did this for me, too.

I do not think Jesus is the only way to worship God. I respect all other religions, their beauty and what I can learn. But dammit, I just fell in love with my guy, Yeshua, Rock-Star, Wild-Man, Reiki Healer, Compassion Fully Realized. My loyalty to him is fierce, and my love for him abounds, and I will follow him anywhere. His goodness is mine, and his will is always what’s best for me. I trust him implicitly in every aspect of my life, because he taught me I could trust myself. This does not mean I implicitly trust church leaders, or those who call themselves Christian, or those who assume they know the will of God. Pompous! The One I trust is Jesus, and there is a difference.

I finally got that illusive figure I was always looking for, but it wasn’t in the shape of a sex-hungry man. (Though sex-hungry, when it’s added to the whole package, ain’t bad.) I got that figure through bowing down and falling in love with the brightest, vastest, juiciest, sexiest, all-encompassing spirit that lifts me up and shows me the vastness of who I really am, and what’s possible in life. And he’s mine, and I’m his, and that’s that.

Now, for what a lover can do?

We’ll have to see.

Treat a Woman Like a SmartPhone

When it comes to men and women, there is a lot of mixup in communication. We all have needs and wants and desires and goals, and yet we’re primal people with physical and sexual urges, too. Add kids and careers and hobbies and friends, and the prospect of a true loving relationship feels completely a mess. How does one make it happen? If we’ve been single a long time and know what makes us tick, know how we like our lives to be, we wonder about how much to settle for when diving into romantic love.

Because, contrary to my point last week, dating and entering into romantic love is not always like buying a car. It may seem that way at first. But people are more complicated than cars. And they have a lot of complicated emotions. And if they’re actually growing and changing and committed to their own uncovering throughout life, to fulfilling the best of what they can be, there’s the potential for a lot of change, which makes a person less predictable than a car.

So let’s try this metaphor: maybe dating someone is like getting a new smartphone.

Just go with me for a second.

I can’t speak to dating women, because I haven’t done that. But I can speak to dating men. And I can speak to what happens when a man dates me.

For me, if I get a complicated new piece of technology, I treat it with care. I try to learn about it. It might feel overwhelming at first, so I often ask for help in learning, because I can’t figure everything out myself. I take some time away from it so I don’t get addicted. But I enjoy having it with me, the convenience it provides, even though it is often frustrating, too. Still, I prefer having it over not having it. It makes life easier.

I worry that men take care of their technology, get excited about updates and new apps, but don’t treat women the same way for the long-term.

I can only speak from my own experience, so take my experience for what it’s worth. (I try to learn fast and not make the same mistake over and over again.) When I meet a man, I think he’s excited by something new and sleek and nice to look at. Other people, a lot of them, also have this sleek new thing (a phone, in this metaphor), so now he feels satisfied. But he’s a little lazy and doesn’t want to learn about all the features. It’s not like he has to know them all at once, in the beginning, but it’s helpful if he recognized they are there, to be uncovered at a later date. And then there are ways that the smartphone is adaptable, ways it can change and look different. Cases. Screen covers. Pictures and backgrounds and the organization of apps. There’s a lot you can do with it. You can’t overuse it and you have to treat it with care, not drop it or be haphazard about it. You have to keep it in safe places. You have to appreciate all that it offers. But then there are updates, and there is maintenance. If you don’t perform these acts of maintenance, the phone will eventually stop working so well, and it will lose its luster, and you’ll start wanting a newer model. And then you’re at risk for the whole problem starting again.

But if you take care of the phone, it can last you for a long time. And that’s a good thing. Because it’s a hassle to buy a new phone and transfer all your data and get used to it all again.

Is this metaphor working? I don’t know. I just think that we live in a society that doesn’t know how to take care of its things and its people. We don’t know how to take care of ourselves, either. And if we don’t know how to take care of ourselves, and at the same time can’t acknowledge that there is mystery and so much more to the universe that we don’t know, we can’t be effective in relationships. If people are happy and thriving in their relationships, that’s great. If they have a good sense of what they have given up to be in the relationship, and they’re okay with that because the positive outweighs the negative, that’s great. If they like the stability it provides and it doesn’t feel like it’s holding them back from being fully themselves, perfect. But not all relationships are this way. And the divorce rate shows it. And I’m talking to a lot of college kids lately who have no fucking idea what they’re going to do, what they should be aiming for, what love actually is.

My definition of love is that you accept every part of a person without expectation of anything in return.

So that means that love and partnership are very different things. Because we want more out of a partner. We do have expectations. We do need our partner to measure up in some way, to satisfy certain cravings within us that make us want to make sacrifices for the long haul. And when we do that, when we dive in, we have the propensity to grow and thrive even further. We learn about all the many layers of love, that it requires constant maintenance and communication, the way our bank accounts work, the way we pay our bills, the way we update our smartphones, the way we clean our houses.

We can’t treat a potential romantic or sex partner like a shiny new toy who is exciting at first but whose maintenance we don’t want to invest in. That’s just cruel. Unless both people truly know themselves, are crystal clear on their wants and needs, and the attraction is handled by both parties with a deep level of non-attachment. That’s possible, but rare.

Some men I come into contact with in dating situations, men who have been married before or in committed relationships and the relationship hasn’t worked out, have operated as though a woman is an object that, once obtained, is just there to serve his needs and make everything function more smoothly. There is a fundamental lack of respect that she is a separate person who may have wants and needs of our own. But in situations like this, when a woman is insecure and wants love and is also generous, she gives pieces of herself away before she knows what happened, and then she feels stuck and scared by the prospect of anything else. So she stays. And suffers. And hands over her life to someone else.

So if you’re a man, and you’re having a hard time making a relationship work, treat a woman like a smartphone. Yes, she provides convenience. Yes, she serves needs. But there are updates to consider, and time away. There are new applications all the time you need to download and learn about, and keep adapting to, because she is not the same thing every day of every month of every year. If you feel that you can’t live without one, make sure she gets treated that way, with care and attention.

 

 

“Jupazip NeverDie Smartphone Case”by TheBetterDay is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0