Intimacy brings up vulnerability, an all too excruciatingly edge where I can be loved or rejected.
Just before spring
The rains have begun in earnest and the soaked earth is offering up succulent new green things daily. Today, it’s sorrel, rosemary, mint irises and daffodils. The fecund earth is like an age defying Dakini, generous, brimming with life force, and boundless creative energy. By contrast, I have withdrawn into a small, critical place where I am sustaining myself on a thin soup of self-doubt.
I’ve lost touch with the spark and flow of creative juice and am restlessly “working” my way through this barren stretch by keeping busy. But I “can’t get no satisfaction” anyway.
So, what is at the root of this discontent and holy longing to be free? This is not a new pattern, nor is the way I am distracting myself with TV, or projecting my malcontent on my best friend and lover, Andy.
This much I sense: I haven’t fully dropped into the feelings. I recognize this by the way I pressure myself to get things done and then try to convince myself the pressure is somehow a virtue. Along with that, I feel alternately stuck, critical, restless, stressed, sad, and up against a hard, cold edge. I wouldn’t allow anyone else to treat me the way I treat myself.
Then just as I begin to settle into a hopeless resignation, my inner landscape shifts a bit and a softer, kinder, more spacious place opens up inside myself. Out of the shadows reluctantly creeps shame; I feel it as a visceral contraction in my core.
What is this shame about?
I’ve had a long relationship with shame. Even before I found a familiar voice to identify with in mystics like Rumi and Hafiz, I wrote poetry and poured my longing for romantic/spiritual love out in my journals. My family teased me for being “in love with love” and I was afraid they might be right, that I might be someone who could love but who wasn’t any good at relationship.
I didn’t want to risk humiliation so I pushed away the vulnerability of wanting so much. Instead, I became self sufficient and independent. Eventually, when the armor I created to protect myself was keeping more love out than letting in, I turned to my own therapy, personal growth work and spiritual practice. Ultimately, I became a therapist who helped my clients with their love and relationship issues and I wrote a relationship book based on the Kama Sutra, which, no surprise, means the teaching on Love.
If you’ve read this far you know that even though I made a career of helping people discover more love and truth in their lives, the longing for self-love, to be enough, to let myself be, continues to be a reoccurring theme.
When a client is being as hard on themself as I am right now, I suggest they call on the inner voice of the Good Mother who brings loving kindness. So, I remind myself to do this. Reliably,
Good Mother arrives and reminds me to be gentle with myself. She tells me it takes some habits and patterns a long time to unravel and that self-hatred and shame, like self-love, is multilayered and reoccurs many times along the way. “Breathe,” she says. I do. My heart feels softer. “Again,” she says. The hard edge melts a bit. I feel tender, vulnerable, and grateful for the kindness.