Sometimes people create stories out of thin air and anger. Maybe they’ve been hurt or disappointed, maybe life isn’t unfolding the way they wanted it to, maybe they can’t stand facing the consequences of who they are or who they’ve been or what they’ve done just yet. Self-loathing is brutal, it’s a prison, and so many people think they can find liberation through blame and rage, denial and numbing out, but that stuff keeps us stuck. Horrendous things may have happened; unfair, heartbreaking loss, or neglect or abuse. The work is to heal, and to decide what we’re going to do with what we’ve been given, how we’re going to take charge of our own life and create something beautiful — what seeds we’re going to plant now, so something amazing and unexpected might grow, like the lotus flower emerging from the muck, gorgeous and unscathed and strong and also soft, able to soak in the light, and reflect it back out. We have to figure out how we’re going to refuse to let our past ruin our present, or dictate our future. We all have our stuff, and it takes courage and determination and support and desire to face it head on. Mostly, you have to want to do that, and you probably won’t, until you try everything else first.
I received an email from a woman yesterday who’s going through a very painful break-up, and is devastated because her once-love is now calling her all sorts of names, and practicing revisionist history. Of course, I’m only hearing from her, he may have an entirely different tale to tell. Regardless, intimacy isn’t easy. You have to be able to stand naked with all your beauty and all your flaws and all your history and absurdity and fear and longing and love and vulnerability. You have to be willing to offer up and acknowledge the stuff you might prefer to hide, given the option. If you want to be known, you have to drop the armor, and expose the stuff you wouldn’t put in a status update. Intimacy isn’t easy unless you’re ready for it, unless you want it. So many people think they want to be seen and understood and truly known, but then when they get into it, when they understand the piercing nature of the thing, they feel scared and trapped. They just want the good parts to be known and seen; they aren’t ready to shine a light on the raw parts. If you’re ready, if you want it, you’ll embrace the demands of being brave and soft and accountable and honest about where you have healing to do, where you might still strengthen and grow, where you tend to deny or diffuse or keep the peace instead of confronting those painful truths. We all want to hide our shadow side sometimes.
A lot of people want the movie version. Give me the heat and the love and the joy and the laughter and the montage with the great music in the background so we can all thump to the rhythm and grin like idiots, but don’t expect me to do the work of facing my dragons when they rear their spiky heads and breathe hot fire all over everything, scorching the curtains on a sunny Tuesday morning, or a cloudy Saturday afternoon, because someone said something that landed in a way that felt like an attack, that brought out something hard in me, that exists because something soft needed to be protected. Let’s not go there, shall we?
Anyway, sometimes things end in that fire, and a person has to create fiction around it to survive. That seems easier than walking back into the fire at the time, maybe. You can’t make a person want to do that. Maybe they need you to be the villain, even if you aren’t. Even if, actually, you loved them and you tried with everything you had. Even if you apologize for every way you also blew it. It feels horrible to walk away from a person with whom you were once close, with whom you were once trying to build something, knowing that they’ve created a character that bears very little resemblance to you. It would be nice if both parties could honor what once existed, and allow things to end with dignity and even love, but if a person can’t face their own flaws, sometimes someone needs to be the bad guy. Try not to worry about it too much, even though it isn’t easy. I know what it feels like when people throw daggers at you; even if you know there isn’t any truth to it, it’s hard not to defend yourself when spears are flying through the air. You won’t win that battle, because it isn’t between you and the other party. It’s between them and their pain. That’s a battle only they can fight.
Sending you love, as always,
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