Monsters Need Boundaries

Confession: There is a monster living inside me. She is a lurking, tricky, messy girl. This dark, fiendish one is a part of me. Right now, she is small and almost completely harmless. She sits like a tiny seed inside my brain and has the capacity to break open and sprout. If she is watered with attention, she springs forth an invasive species, consuming me, choking me, and spreading her wretchedness toward everyone I love.

Her name is Suspicion.

Like all shadowy beings, my monster is born of pain. She used to trust people too much. So when the tower of security came tumbling down, she learned fast: Do not be so naive; do not be so cocky. Be something else. Be suspicious.

Then a new day dawned. Years ago, as I became more invested in my then romantic partner, my monster took over my life. I began to investigate, and I began to snoop. Once I had a taste of uncovering secret information, I couldn’t get enough. It became an obsession. The monster now dominated most of my thoughts. It’s sole target was my lover. I knew something was up and I proceeded to prove it. I would wait for him to leave and I would read his journals. I began sneaking onto his phone when he was in the shower, or visiting with others on the patio. At first, it was just a few pages, or an overview of his texts. It was strangely exciting. It made me feel empowered. Eventually, I took great risks to view his photos, his social media messages, his journals and belongings from his past. Suspicion was in charge. Not me.

I learned so much too. I learned that he had been cheating on me. I learned he was hiding drugs in my home. I learned he had almost zero interest in me. He had noted that I was terribly unremarkable. It turned out that my search for the truth was fruitful. The monster inside me was relentless now. I felt justified.

But I wasn’t justified.

I was a monster.

My monster was destroying my spiritual core, the knowing that everything will go as it will and I will be okay no matter what. I had come to think I had to control the outcomes. I no longer believed that fate was going to intervene on its own.

Once I was single again, there were a few lessons I came to understand when I finally contained the monster, having crammed it back into it’s little space, hopefully never to be poked again.

I learned that the facts are not always necessary to justify how one feels. Just feeling that way is enough to demand a change. I don’t need to prove to someone that they cannot be trusted. I need to honor that I do not find them trustworthy, period.

I learned that when someone hides things from me, it is not mine to reveal. It is theirs to carry. They can walk around with that filth. I can just keep living my life free of such burdens.

When a person refuses to mind their own business, they shatter what is sacred – another person’s privacy, sure – but more so their own self-worth. The madness that ensues from distrust is horrific and staggering. The craziest thing about my own situation is that I slowly realized he was purposefully leaving his things out, tempting me to look, and thus sabotaging us in some twisted form of righteousness. You see, my investigations only proved how important he was to me, in fact, more important than my integrity. I’d have benefitted from caring a little less.

Today, I know I am separate from others and their choices. I can keep my dignity. I won’t let Suspicion take me over anymore. My monster is bored, but I like it that way. I know deep down that she is just waiting in there.

Tap tap tap.

Nope.

Awaken, Dear One

Well, it is March and Spring is here. This is a time, particularly in the American Midwest, when nature awakens, an extreme shift in the warming of the earth and a resulting higher vibration in its people. We come out of the mental cave, casting off the cozy blankets and heavy wool. We pause in the doorway to take in the nuances of nature’s greetings: puddles, birds, tiny buds, and longer days. We drive faster with the windows down. We stand outside and talk to people until we are done.

This begs the question: Are you really awake?

I am nudging you now to consider the difference between being awake, and being awake.

This spring, make a choice to truly awaken in the spiritual sense. This means allowing your natural surroundings to tap into what we all possess: the spirit within. There are endless ways in which to do this, my lovely friends. I am going to share a few to get you started.

First, consider your senses. To be intentionally sensual will promote your awakening.

Smell the air and notice the way our earth has melted into a watery garden of brewing life. Smell your mother’s hair when you hug her. Smell your pillows, your skin, your coffee.

Listen to the sounds of the wind, the animals outside your window, and voices of strangers. Give words to the sort of laughter you hear. Let the music move you. Stop for thunderstorms and raindrops.

See the colors your child likes to wear, the things you place on your walls, the way your cat looks at you, and how your neighbor walks across the yard.

Taste the food you are eating. Really consider what tastes satisfying and why. Taste your paper cuts and salty lips. Taste your friend’s name as it leaves your mouth.

Touch the varied textures around you. Notice the rough grit of the sidewalk, the way your pillow supports your cheek, the delicate skin of your belly. How does it feel to have a breeze on your face, or water pressure on your neck, or an orange burst in your mouth?

Let your senses matter. It is the seed of a spiritual moment that must be purposefully planted into your soul. This. This is what it is to be awake.

Next, attach each natural element to your knowing. Vigilant focus on these elements allows a growing awareness of something often overlooked. To be awakened is to pay attention to what we often dismiss, and thus we remain asleep. Don’t miss the lessons of simple elemental experiences.

Fire, in all its forms, conveys your passion, your drives. A candle, a bonfire, a grill, a sunrise, a spark of electricity. It burns and it fuses and it warms and it lights the way. Notice how fire represents our desire.

Water holds your emotions. Boiling, bathing, stirring, flushing, lapping, dipping, splashing water. Consider its temperature, its purpose and its healing quality. Water represents the simmering and pounding waves of emotion.

Air brings intellect. Messages upon the wind. Stillness on the front stoop. Blowing a kiss. Your breathing while you climb a hill. The rising and falling of a lover’s chest. The long deep sigh as you surrender to something difficult. A gasp as you realize something new. Air and breath allow room for ideas.

Earth is the physical realm of the body. Cold grass under bare feet. A smooth rock inside your palm. The ash of a burned log upon your fingers. The blood and bones of a burial. A silk scarf and linen pants. The coffee grounds you pour into the grinder. The raspberry you pluck from the vine. The earth’s soil, rocks, plants and species are entirely connected to the life form of a human being.

It is our divine right to be connected to that which inspires life. Our rudimentary needs are natural, not that of technology, finances, or progress. Spiritual awakening requires the answer to primal callings. Our spirit is fueled by conscious contact with the rhythms of nature within us and beyond us. Make the choice to wake up!

Why Online Dating is a Spiritual Experience: Part Four – Take the apple, Eve.

I’m no saint, and I always resonated far more with the defiance of Adam’s first love, Lilith. But let’s face it, even Eve was tempted to know more, and plucking fruit from the tree of knowledge was inevitable. According to biblical wisdom, not everyone wants to be submissive, nor blissfully ignorant!

My pursuit of finding love via an online dating site was in many ways my bitter fruit. At night I would lay awake and consider the bones of the dead. I was sincerely sad that I was unable to really love so many men who wanted to love me. I too felt the burn of rejections, even though I understood that these things are rarely personal. Chemistry was a wicked beast. I would stare at the ceiling and imagine this very specific love that I hoped would transcend the electrical wires and universal airwaves and land smack dab on my profile, the absolute result of divine power and an extra kick from my own earnest intentions.

He would be in many ways my twin. There would be sentences we didn’t have to finish and serendipitous events that made me gasp and sigh. We would often be content to watch Netflix and eat our dinner on the couch. We would play hard in the outdoors and always talk about what we were reading. There would be an incredible sense of safety and a comfort I had never known. Oh to be held in my sleep! I would not worry about my aging body or morning breath or foul moods because he would be blinded by his love, and I would finally experience a mutual devotion. He would be unique and emit an entire world of splendor. He would be devilishly witty and he would have all the strength that comes only with a person who had truly suffered, endured and rose from the ashes like an immortal god!

I was always nervous though, since I had in fact had that sort of love twice before (once in college and once in my late 40’s) and then later came to see that it wasn’t real. It was an illusion, and it was deeply painful to be ripped back to reality. Thus, I was doing my best to have faith and yet not be fooled again.

Then in early February, I met him. His name was Samuel.

Samuel and I met for the usual 40-minute coffee date. Three hours later, he walked me to my car and unexpectedly kissed me in the middle of broad daylight. I was stunned. But as I drove home, I found myself slowly forming a smile on my weary little face.

Sam was very smart, educated, undeniably handsome and tall. He was responsible and reliable and deeply committed to his community. He was cultured, well-traveled and had an interesting past. He lived in the city where I was moving in just a month’s time. And he was a writer.

We emailed long and intense exchanges then for almost two weeks. Sparks were flying! We agreed to have our second date the night after Valentine’s Day, to take the pressure off the holiday angst. He made me dinner.

At first I felt like a stranger again, but we warmed up and eventually began sharing lots of stories and opinions and shedding the strains of …well the strains of dating! Two people agree to face each other and try to form something that will be ultimate and profound. That is a lot. And I think we felt it all. But I truly liked him, what he stood for, the way he lived, how he moved and what he wore. He was really amazing!

Until he wasn’t.

I think this is where I would like to turn back the clock and insist that he stop talking. I would like to control the things that he shared so I could remain in this bliss a bit longer. My spiritual core understands that there was no way we wouldn’t always end up in the same spot – in the truth. Because truth is all humans really want in the end. And Sam chose to tell me the truth right then and there on the second date in his darling apartment.

It was dark, disturbing, traumatic.

I cannot even go there. You must understand. When a person shares these things, the most spiritual reply is to honor it by keeping it safe. And he trusted me to do that. What I can tell you is that some people, like Sam, have experienced some very traumatic things and they have to walk the earth with it. They have to get up every day and make their way and find some tricky way to be okay and to manage and to live.

But the one thing that can really get in the way of that coping and survival is the harsh reality of a romantic intimacy, where someone will demand a part of your heart that is mangled and protected.

We stumbled for another month. We pushed and pulled on the phone and through emails, only securing one more brunch in person. But Sam was unwilling to do what I felt was an honest and thorough look at his past. Some part of him began to shut down the moment I suggested there was work to be done. He never really let me back in. I moved into the city and invited him to visit. He muttered something about how the pandemic was just too much. He had expected me to live with his gaping open emotional wounds, the same wounds that destroyed his marriage, or I could just move along.

I chose the latter.