Practicing unconditional, inclusive love

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I was cheated out of the title “daughter-in-law” because of mental illness.

It’s okay; I’ve made peace with that and I harbor no ill will toward those who should have considered me as such.

My life is rich, full of love, support, and loyalty, and I know theirs is not.

It’s enough to make you question the fairness of the world (it isn’t), the justice of loved ones not accepting the help that is needed, and where an all-powerful, omniscient being is when there is so much hurt, pain, betrayal, and anger in just our tiny microcosm of the universe.

But I don’t focus on that. I can’t. I won’t.

Instead, I’ve chosen to stretch myself past being comfortable, ask the tough questions, analyze my thought patterns and habits and break most of them, consider very carefully before letting individuals into my life (I’m still not good at that), and actively decide every day to be the most authentic me I can possibly be.

In the midst of all of that, I can no longer harbor anger or hurt toward the two who have effectively splintered this family. I rarely consider them at all for my own well-being. When they do flit across my mind, I whisper “namaste” and move on. Sometimes I breathe a metta meditation to them and others who are in hurt:

May all beings be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

May all living beings be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

May all breathing beings be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

May all individuals be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

May all beings in existence be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

And sometimes I simply hover above the sadness, acknowledge it, allow it to twinge for a second, and blow it away.

E is for Estrangement

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It’s apparently not entirely our fault anymore.

Now it’s someone else’s fault.

Because reality has been rewritten again. And again. And again. And probably a couple thousand more times that we don’t even know about.

I’m amazed that I had any shock left in my system to experience. But there it was…making its way from my heart to my head as I uttered, “Are you f**king kidding me?”. And then I laughed.

I know that memory can be a faulty thing and that we shouldn’t rely completely on it, especially after 10 years.

However

I remember 10 years ago. I remember 14 years ago. I remember what was said, what was accused, I remember the shock of two people who were (and still are) sadly incapable of unconditional love, one by one, pushing most of us away. And then rewriting what happened to make them the unaccused, the blameless, the victims.

And now we’re entering script rewrite #278.

But here’s the thing: I’ve thrown away my script, I’ve purposefully forgotten my lines, and I’m not playing that role anymore. I was cast as “daughter-in-law” at one time in my life, but my obligation to that play has ended.

No regrets, no tears, just happiness, health, strength and love.

We’ve fought damn hard for it.

Learning new words

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How much love is one person capable of giving and receiving?

We are taught that we have our one knight or queen in shining armor out there for us.

That this is enough for us. To pursue love or empathy or compassion with anyone else on a similar level is wrong.

Cheating.
Selfish.
Inconsiderate.
Guilt-ridden.

I learned a new word the other day that I’ve been mulling over and letting marinate in my mind:

Compersion

A feeling of joy when a loved one invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship.

Commentary: Compersion can be thought of as the opposite of “jealousy;” it is a positive emotional reaction to a loved one’s other relationship. The term was coined by the Kerista Commune. It differs from candaulism in that compersion does not specifically refer to joy regarding the sexual activity of one’s partner, but refers instead to joy at the relationship with another romantic and/or sexual partner. It is analagous to the feeling of joy a parent feels when their children marry or that best friends feel for each other when they are happy in a romantic relationship.

This word is closely related to polyamory, obviously.

But can it be something everyone experiences? Should it be? What would this world and our society look like if we were able to put this into genuine practice?

I’ve never been the jealous type. I’m not sure I even understand it. But in saying so, I must also explain that I have a partner (16 years and counting) who has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have nothing to be jealous about. We are committed no matter what. And we’ve been through plenty of “no matter what”. We find other people attractive sometimes and that’s okay. We relish friendships that stretch us, deepen us, and encourage trust and love.

I had no idea the opposite of jealousy existed. Now I do. I feel relief and joy that such a word exists.

At the same time, however, this can open you up to more pain. Questions. Even more communication and explanations.

Maybe that isn’t a bad thing?

Breathing lessons

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(Breathing in)

I infuse my body with sunshine, the scents of those around me, incense, flowers, food aromas, and coffee.

(Breathing out)

I let go of stress, anxiety, the questioning of a friendship, and I feel my chest concave completely, with a slight shudder at the end to indicate another breath is coming.

(Breathing in)

My thoughts scatter like monkeys and in one moment, I am thinking about my plans for the day, what to eat for lunch, if he’ll call today, and how blessed I am to walk in sunshine with my love on our day off together.

(Breathing out)

Refocusing, yet honoring each thought as it comes.

(Breathing in)

That blissful moment of pure oxygen when you fill your lungs completely and right at the tipping point of full capacity and letting it out, you feel a slight dizziness.

(Breathing out)

Thankful for those around me, those who shape me, those who challenge me, those who love me, those who are no longer here, those who won’t just let me be.

(Breathing in)

I am breathing in.

(Breathing out)

I am breathing out.

There is nothing…

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…more important than identifying someone in your life who is need of

reassurance
love
confidence
safety
loyalty
a helping hand
a long hug
courage

and then being the sort of person who can hold their hand while they find those things. You may be the only person who has noticed and the only person who can change darkness into light, starvation into being well-fed, death into life. Their very eyes may twinkle for the first time and the spring in their step may be a lightness they haven’t felt in awhile or ever. Where before they felt weakness, now they feel strength. And you have the power for this change.

This you can do. This you should do. It is our greater good.

What if?

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What if…

I was actually someone you wouldn’t fully recognize because I’ve hidden some of myself, my desires, and my interests for so long I’m not even sure she can boldly live on the outside?

I brought her to the surface anyway?

I wasn’t actually vanilla, but rather a cosmopolitan of laughter, abnormality, secrets, love, and questions with a  healthy smothering of chocolate and maraschino cherries?

my thoughts on sex, relationships, religion, and the big topics of life actually made you uncomfortable?

the way I would like to follow my passions in life would possibly disappoint you?

I did anyway?

this new chapter in my life is all about retrieving that which I closeted away and slowly hanging small articles of clothing out to soak in the sunshine?

I told you I was really nervously excited about fulfilling some odd goals in my life but in doing so, I would change people’s perceptions of me?

I told you that despite all of the growing pains and the questions, I’m the happiest I’ve been in my own skin yet?

What if

none of this actually mattered as much to everyone else as I feel it does and I’ve been holding back for years because of assumptions? Because I’ve done that hundreds of times before.

I went for it?

Lessons from spring rain

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The rain has been washing a lot away lately.

Most of it has been good, some of it has been bad, and all of it has been a learning experience.

I’m back in the place I’ve been for most of my adult life and it feels new. It feels unique. It feels open-ended and scary yet full of possibilities. I’m resolving many aspects of myself I’ve been afraid to admit to all these years. I won’t apologize for any of them, but then again, I won’t be advertising them from the rooftops either. I’m allowed my privacy for the good of myself despite wearing my heart on my sleeve.

It’s been quietly assuring that I still have a path to follow, loved ones to hold my hands, and questions still to ask.

Birthday Eve

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On the eve of a 35th birthday, she wonders about growing up, feeling like an adult, having a savings account, and all the other intangible things she expected to have figured out by now. She glosses over the idea that she could have her own children who are teenagers (in high school even!) and is thankful for her solitary 14-year old cat instead. She hears her husband’s voice in the other room, talking to a friend on the phone, and she’s thankful she at least got that right.

Thirty-five.

Renting the downstairs of a house, starting over again for the third time, and living with borrowed furniture wasn’t exactly the utopia she imagined when she was playing with Barbies and plastic dinosaurs. But on the other hand, she wouldn’t trade any of her experiences for the world: living in five different states, working a plethora of unique jobs alongside boring ones, and recently traveling with a circus.

She’s more secure in herself than she’s ever been before though her anxiety hasn’t diminished. She’s comfortable with being a stay-at-home woman, snuggling her husband and her cat while watching copious amounts of the British show, Are You Being Served?, while eating cookies and drinking almond milk. She wishes she had more in her refrigerator (lots of bread products from her job and a few condiments), but starting over has its limitations. She must be patient.

She will grow a garden this spring and summer. In this way, she will regain a part of herself that she lost. And with that part fitting back into her puzzle, she will focus on the other pieces that she discarded over the years. Many of them are private and won’t be shared with the world, but she knows. She will know when her puzzle is complete.

So light some candles, sing softly, and whisper your wishes into the wind. They will float with the strands from her prayer flags on her front porch.