Out to Sea

When I was seventeen I began dating a man who was twenty-one years older than I was. My parents tried to stop me, but they have nineteen years between them, and even though they divorced when I was four, I was positive my relationship was different, because I was seventeen and thought I had all the answers. My previous boyfriend, who had been kind and sweet and awesome in every way, also tried to stop me, but he had moved across the country to go to college, and the truth was, I was heartbroken. I felt abandoned, even though he was talking about Christmas break, and calling every day. No matter; he’d left, and it stirred in me something old and raw and completely unhealed. So I let this guy who was so much older come at me with his cars and his boats and his private plane to his house in the Hamptons. He had a terrible reputation for cheating on everyone he dated, and I signed myself up for the task like I’d be able to fix that. Also, something inside me was believing the idea that I was the kind of person someone could leave, so who cared, really?

The first time we were together it was strange and sad. We flew out to his house, and went directly to the beach where we got in his speedboat. He drove us out to the middle of a secluded bay area. I knew he’d done it before, all of it. It was like some kind of ritual, something to get out of the way. I knew he didn’t love me. That came a few years later, after he’d broken me and it was too late, but I let him have me, even though I felt nothing. I was hooked in, I was playing out all kinds of ancient history, but I wasn’t in love with him, and I certainly wasn’t loving myself, not even a little. When it was over and I was swimming in the ocean, tears came streaming down my face, unexpectedly, without permission. I dove underwater, trying to wash them away, trying to wash the whole thing away. I don’t remember much else about that day, or that night. I think he spent most of the afternoon working, and I curled up in front of the fire with a book. I felt dead to myself, and also strangely satisfied that I’d done something so unlike me.

I stayed with him for three years. Once he had me, he kept a tight leash on me. It’s funny how people without integrity assume other people also have none. He was threatened by the guys at Columbia who were my age. He’d drop me off on campus sometimes and get upset if I was wearing lipstick, or tight jeans, or short skirts, or pretty much anything that wasn’t a sack, but he cheated on me regularly. He was good at it, I could never prove it, but I always knew when he was with someone else because it hurt. It hurt in the way that sends you under the kitchen table, holding onto yourself as you sob and wonder what the hell you’re doing in this situation, and why you don’t get out. Getting out wasn’t even possible at that point, because I was so attached to getting my happy ending. If I could just be perfect enough to get him to love me, if I could just hang in there long enough he’d finally realize I really did love him…because after awhile, I did.

I began to see this insecure guy who felt he wasn’t enough, regardless of how many women he took to bed, or how much money he had, or how many sparkly, shiny toys. Nothing did it for him, not even the unwavering love of a good girl. I can’t call myself a woman when I think about this experience, because I wasn’t yet. I had a lot of healing to do, and a lot of growing, but I was very kind to him. The longer I stayed, the more he gave me reasons to leave. For his fortieth birthday, I planned an elaborate surprise party. I rented a pool hall, had it catered from his favorite sushi place, and ordered dessert from an amazing pastry chef. I sent invitations to all his friends. I made a reservation at a new restaurant that had opened downtown that he was dying to try, and planned to take him to the pool hall from there. I ordered a bottle of champagne to be waiting at the table. It took me months to save up the money to pull it off.

A week before the party he confronted me in the kitchen in East Hampton. He told me he knew about the party, and he wanted to see the guest list to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anyone. At first I tried to deny there was a party, but he kept coming. He laughed at me. He knew it was at a pool hall. He wanted to know if I’d ordered food, and all the other details. He didn’t want to be embarrassed. I stood there in that kitchen and I felt everything fall away from me. I felt like I was made of bones that could disintegrate into a pile of dust on the floor, that his housekeeper could just come along and sweep away, out the door, into the ocean, to meet up with those tears I’d cried the first day. I told him every last detail. He took away any shred of joy I might have felt at having been able to give him something. Three days before the party, he went to the restaurant I’d made reservations at a few months before, so that the night of the party, the only surprise was that sad bottle of champagne, waiting at the table.

You cannot save anyone. All the love in the world won’t get the job done. You can’t make someone faithful or kind or compassionate or sensitive. You can’t make another person happy. They are, or they are not. You can harm yourself. You can allow yourself to be abused, mistreated, neglected and betrayed, but I don’t recommend it. A healthy, happy, secure person wouldn’t have been on that boat with him in the first place. Of course, he preyed on a seventeen year old, and when I look back on it I have all kinds of compassion for myself, but it took me years to get there. It also took a lot of yoga, therapy, weeping, writing and reading. Anything you repress, run from, or deny, owns you. It owns you. If you don’t turn and face that stuff down, you’ll call it into your life in other ways. The truth wants out. Your heart wants to heal so it can open for you again. Whatever is in your past does not have to define your future, but it probably will if you don’t do the work to liberate yourself. We have such fear. We think these things will overwhelm us, that we won’t survive, but what you won’t survive is the not facing it. That’s the part that kills you. That’s the part that makes you feel you could be swept away in the wind. Looking at your stuff hurts. It’s painful and deeply uncomfortable, but if you trust yourself enough to lean into all that pain, you’ll find it loses its grip over you. If you let yourself weep out the searing heat from those wounds, your whole being can take a real, deep breath, maybe for the first time in ages.

You can forgive those who let you down, who didn’t or couldn’t show up for you the way you would have liked or the way you deserved. You can forgive yourself for choices you might have made that were harmful to you or others. When we’re in pain, we don’t tend to treat ourselves well, and sometimes that also spills onto the people with whom we’re closest, but life can be beautiful. You can close the book on the old, painful story that was just a replaying of your past and you can start working on this new creation that gets to be your life after you’ve healed. Not that the old pain won’t show up from time to time when you’re feeling triggered or tested or vulnerable, but it won’t grab you and knock you off your feet and show you who’s boss, because it won’t be boss anymore, it won’t rule your life. You’ll just see it for what it is, an echo of a very old story that came to completion. It can’t be rewritten, it is what it is, but you get to decide where to place your energy and your attention. I highly recommend you direct it toward love; that’s your happy ending, although it doesn’t end. You get to keep choosing it every day. If you do that, you’ll never find yourself sailing out to sea with someone who doesn’t know how to do anything but hurt you. Your own ship will have sailed, and maybe someday you’ll pass your seventeen year old self, weeping in the ocean next to your ship and you’ll pull her on board and show her your future which holds so much joy, gratitude, meaning and fulfillment, maybe she’ll weep there on the deck with you, not in sadness, but in relief. If you’re allowing yourself to be mistreated and you need help, feel free to email me at ally@yogisanonymous.com.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here <3

It’s Not About You

Some-changes-lookOnce in awhile, I re-tell the story of the scorpion and the frog. If you don’t know it, it goes something like this: Once there was a scorpion on the side of a river bank, and it called out to a passing frog, “Excuse me, could you please give me a lift across the river? I can’t swim, and I’m meeting a friend in 20 minutes.” The frog looked at the scorpion like it was crazy and replied, “I’m not giving you a ride! Do you take me for an idiot?! You’re a scorpion, you’ll sting me.” And the scorpion said, “If I sting you, you’ll drown, and we’ll both die. Please, I’m going to be late.” So the frog thought this logic made sense, and he didn’t like the idea of making the scorpion late, so he said, “Okay, climb on.” Halfway across the river, the scorpion stung the frog. With his dying breath, the frog said, “Why? Why have you done this to us?!” And the scorpion said, “Dude, I’m a f&cking scorpion.”

This tale has always helped me when I’ve felt stung and confused by another person’s actions. When I’ve felt hurt or betrayed or discarded or rejected. None of these things feels good, and it’s very challenging not to take it personally if we’re hurting at the hands of someone we care about. If you’re feeling rejected, it’s natural to think it must be because you didn’t measure up in some way. Depending on your history and your personality, you might really internalize the experience. If you have doubt about your self-worth, if you think there could be something at your very core that is just not lovable, having someone leave you or abuse you or ignore you might look like a confirmation of your own doubts and fears.

Most of the time, it has very little to do with you. Sometimes you’ve simply gotten involved with a scorpion. People can only be where they are; a person has the tools he has. That doesn’t mean he might not pick up some new tools as he heads down the river; a scorpion has the potential to turn into a frog if he works at it, but if you happen to cross paths with someone when they’re in darkness, you’re probably going to get stung. It’s personal only in the sense that you’ll now have healing to do, but it’s not a reflection of your lovableness. You are love. You’re made of love, I truly believe that.

If you’ve been stung, there’s only one thing for it — you’re going to have to bleed out the poison. The fastest way to do that is to lean into the searing pain of what you’re feeling. Instead of running or denying or repressing, you simply say, “This is how it is right now, and it will not always be like this, and it will not kill me,” and you breathe. You hang out with other frogs who love you, and who will take you to the river and help you see your reflection clearly so you can remember how special you are.

I know sometimes it can feel like you’ll never get over someone. I don’t just mean this in terms of romantic relationships. This happens in families, and it happens with the closest of friends, too. Sometimes the only way you can take care of yourself, the only way you can love yourself, is if you create distance between you and the people in your life who just don’t know how to love. Maybe at some point they will know. You don’t have to be hopeless about it, but until that time, your job is to keep your heart open, and you simply can’t do that if you keep allowing people to sting you. Your heart can only take so much before it starts to close in on itself and that’s just too sad. Your heart is so gorgeous. You are the only one of you that exists, the only one of you the world gets. You’re a gift, and if you allow yourself to drown in the river of sorrow, you rob the world of a gift only you can bring. Hop up on your lily pad and feel the sun on your little froggy face. Wish the scorpions well if you have it in you, but don’t carry them across the river anymore, and don’t mistake the intensity of your feelings of pain as a reflection of the depth of your love. It’s much more likely that scorpion reminded you of another scorpion you knew a long time ago, when you were just a tadpole. Heal that sting, and the other scorpions won’t look so appealing.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here <3


If-youre-reading-thisNothing stops you from pursuing your dreams like the weight of hopelessness. It’s so heavy, it makes it hard to get out of bed, or meet your friend for a tea, or even pick up the phone. Sometimes people write to me and they feel desperately alone and sad. They’ve given up on themselves, on other people, on life itself. Most of them include the same question, “What’s the point of it all?” When you’re feeling off-center, life can really take you for a spin.

So many experiences befall us as humans that are hard to bear, or even to understand. There’s no shortage of things that can happen to bring a person to this point; most of us will feel this to some degree at one time or another. After all, there are times things seem so absurd. Can there really be 108 million people in our country helping the weight-loss industry make $20 billion dollars a year, when a billion people on the planet are undernourished? Is it any wonder when we feed ourselves a steady diet of, “you’re not good enough”? Do you ever stop and think about the messages we’re bombarded with all day every day, even if you do your best to watch what you feed yourself? I’m not talking about just food. Even if you don’t watch television, standing on line at the checkout counter at your supermarket can be a depressing experience. Catching just one awful headline about someone screwing up their life can be enough to lower your own vibration, or catching a glimpse of someone’s glossy, “perfect” life can also make you feel badly about yourself if you’re feeling vulnerable. Social media can be amazing if you’re selective about what you like and what you read, but it can also make you feel like crap if you aren’t careful. There are all kinds of ways you might allow yourself to be pummeled by the idea that you suck, and that could suck the hope out of anyone. A deluge of that stuff, day after day, year after year takes its toll, especially if you’re going through challenging times.

Your personal history comes into play here as well. We all have pain, but some people have more than others. We all have healing to do, but if you’re coming out of abuse or neglect, it’s very likely you’ll have to do some work to unlearn the lies you may have come to believe, such as, you aren’t worthy of love, or you’re a mistake, or no one could ever love you. You might think people suck, or everyone cheats, or everyone leaves, or you can’t trust anyone. You might believe the idea that the trauma you’ve been through has rendered you broken and unlovable. Those are all lies. You might need some help to look at things in a different way if that’s what you’re grappling with; sometimes we’ve been in defense mode so long, we don’t know how to open anymore. Maybe something has happened that’s turned your world on its head — maybe you’ve lost your job, or you’ve been betrayed, or you’ve lost someone you don’t know how to live without. Any of these things can make a person feel hopeless, and doubt not just their ability to face reality as it is, but also to ever enjoy life again.

The tendency when we feel hopeless is to deny the experience, to numb out or run away, or push it down or sleep it off, or to throw ourselves into work or relationships with a kind of desperation. Please let someone or something save me from these awful feelings that make my heart hurt and my head explode. No one can save you, nor can you save anyone. Everyone has to save themselves, and that means everyone has to figure out how to open to the truth of their own experience. If you can’t sit with your deepest pain and lean into it, it will own you, and you’ll never know yourself, which is the loneliest feeling in the world. That’s a hope-killer, being a stranger to yourself. If you aren’t able to examine your feelings as they arise, you’ll never release the heat of them, you’ll never find the freedom to open to love, and that is also a hope-killer. Without hope and without love, life is dark and something to endure. When you take that route, it’s guaranteed suffering and isolation. Running from yourself is like running from your shadow. You’ll never get away, and you’ll never be able to stop and rest.

If you want to find your hope again, you’ll have to sit through the knifing pain, first, or the discomfort, rage, shame, guilt, fear, doubt, or grief of your current reality, or your long-ago past. Things that help: people in your life who love you, real moments with people you know, or absolute strangers, taking the time to breathe in and breathe out consciously, reading, writing, hiking, weeping, anything that brings you into your body, whether it’s yoga, or salsa dancing or swimming. Being kind to yourself, and remembering to turn your attention to anything good that is happening, that you do have, no matter how simple or small. The ability to watch the sunrise or sunset. Food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a place to call home, at least one person who knows you and accepts you as you are, who really gets you. (You can be that person for yourself). We all have work to do. Feed any tiny bit of gratitude you can, because hope lives there. Give it even the tiniest bit of foundation, and it will start to grow for you. Hope brings energy. When you have energy and just a sliver of hope, you’ll probably get out of bed, and maybe you’ll even make it to the shower. Perhaps you can look out the window and let in the light. Eventually, you’ll find you want to take that call, you want to meet for tea, you want to believe that people are good, and you are good, and life is good. Which is nice, because those are not lies. As long as you’re breathing, there’s still the hope of turning things around, and finding your way back to love; that’s your center.

Sending you some right now,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here <3

It’s in There.

You-know-youre-in-loveWithout your memories, beliefs and opinions, without your experiences, who would you be? Without your name or your job or your house, without your particular clothes or tattoos or car, without that first girl or guy who broke your heart, who would you be? If you didn’t worry about what was expected of you, what would you do? If you dropped all of it, even for an instant, what do you think you’d feel? Freedom, maybe? Peace, expansion, oneness? It’s weird, right? Without all these things we cling to, all the countless ways we create an “us” and a “them” we’d be each other; we’d be so much the same.

If you struggle with the question, “Who am I, really?”, if you feel cut off from your own intuition, the best thing you can do is get quiet. The answer to the question of who you are is there inside you. No one else can give it to you, but you don’t need it from anyone else, anyway. Sitting quietly, just breathing in, and breathing out, is the simplest thing in the world, but so many people resist it. There may be a huge gap between your authentic, unadulterated self, and the “you” that’s out in the world, kind of living your life. I say kind of, because if you aren’t in touch with your deepest truths, if you don’t really know yourself, life will feel foggy, like there’s a veil over it. As you travel along your way, your choices will be shots in the dark guided by impulsivity or desperation, or you’ll take the routes that seem safest. You may feel like you’re waiting for life to begin, like it’s out there, somewhere ahead of you, and you just need to accomplish a few more things to find it. Life is not in the doing, though, it’s in the being. What are you being? Busy?

So many people fill their days full of stuff to fill the void, that abyss that exists between their true self, and this struggling personality which may be full of constructs that have little or nothing to do with their heart or their inner yes, and everything to do with how they’ve been programmed to think. In our culture, we’ve been taught that external stuff will make us happy. Do you know how many commercials are geared toward little kids? Look at this shiny new toy, look at this happy kid who has it, don’t you want to be that kid? Don’t you want to feel that way? And it never ends. We’re all programmed some way or another, and at a certain point, you want to look and see if those ideas are actually yours. If you sit and get quiet and you do that consistently, anything that is not you will fall away, and that experience can be terrifying for people, which is why so many resist it. Who am I without all those ideas and plans I’ve been clinging to? Who am I without my anger or blame or shame? Who am I if I’m not on this particular track I’ve been walking for so long? Don’t you want to know?

We create borders and try to organize things. It’s perfectly natural, we want to bring order to this wild, gorgeous, sometimes piercingly painful world, but love has no borders. It’s the most freeing, borderless thing in the world. I guess I should have said, “spoiler alert” because when I sit and get quiet, when I let all that noise drop away, do you know what I feel? Love. Sometimes lots of thoughts have to drop away before I feel it, sometimes my mind is crowded and clinging and really loud. Other times I drop right in, but underneath everything, that’s what’s waiting for you. If you drop the stories and the opinions and the borders and the fears, you’ll hit pay-dirt. Once you know what you are, once you hit that foundation, a whole new world opens. You won’t have to agonize over choices, you’ll be moving with love. It’s a flow. You won’t wonder what you’re doing here, it will be obvious that the best use of your time is just to spread what you are in whatever gorgeous ways you can. You won’t wonder what the point of it all is, you’ll be too busy loving, and loving life, for as many loving days as you’ve got. If it’s too loud in your head, take five minutes to get quiet and just breathe. Here’s my tagline for you: Can you hear me now?!

Sending you some love (It’s in there!)

Ally Hamilton

You’re Always Beginning Again

The-feeling-is-less-likeSometimes I get emails from people wondering if a lack of love is enough of a reason to end a relationship. Questions like these usually come from people who’ve been with their partners for years. Sometimes children are involved. My short answer is yes. Yes, a lack of love is enough of a reason to end a relationship. I think when we’re in relationships for a long time, when we’ve taken vows in some cases, it’s difficult to figure out what “justifies” ending something, as if your partner has to be abusive or unfaithful for you to feel it’s okay to walk away. Guilt and shame are debilitating, and few people would thank you for staying out of pity or obligation; to do so dishonors the genuine gift of the human being with whom you’ve built a life, even if that life has been crumbling around you for some time, and the gift they are is now lost on you. Everyone deserves to be cherished. There are all kinds of situations that fall short of physical violence or infidelity (and infidelity isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker in certain cases) that can be crushing to the soul. Feeling invisible will do that to a person. Feeling unheard, neglected, dismissed, or verbally and emotionally abused will do it, too. So my short answer is yes.

However, I think it’s really important to dig a little. I think we throw each other away too quickly, we give up when times get tough, we drop the thread of the story we were creating. I also get emails from people who feel everything would be great if only their partners would change. Sometimes there’s a laundry list of things the other person does or doesn’t do that seems to be the reason it’s all falling apart. It’s important to remember that the mind is easily snagged on what isn’t working — what we don’t have that we want, what isn’t happening yet, the breaks we aren’t getting. It takes effort and practice to train the mind to focus on what we do have, what is going well, and the same thing can happen in relationships. Where once we saw and celebrated all that was right and beautiful about the person with whom we share a home, a life, maybe more, now we can only see the flaws, disappointments and aggravations. Sometimes people project their self-loathing onto the person closest to them. When you get to that eye-rolling place, that head-shaking, defeated place, you can be sure both parties have dropped the thread. It’s good to ask yourself what you’re doing to increase the love quotient between you and your partner. I’m sure you did thoughtful, sweet, surprising things in the beginning of your relationship, just because. What are you putting into the mix now? You can’t change other people, but you can inspire them. Perhaps if you start to focus on how you can uplift and delight the person you’re with (even if you don’t feel like it, and think they don’t deserve it), you might be very surprised by the results. Most people just want to feel seen and understood and appreciated. A little of that goes a long way.

It’s never one person’s fault if a relationship fails, and regardless of what happens, knowing yourself is the key to being at peace. The story to look it is the story of your participation. I know sometimes we want to cling to the list of ways we’ve been wronged, our chronological tale with highlights of places the other person failed, and maybe your partner did blow it. Maybe they haven’t seen you, and by that I mean really seen you, for ages. Maybe you gave them the gift of your tender heart and they weren’t gentle with it. Maybe you’ve been trying to communicate for years, and they just wouldn’t go there with you. Not everyone is ready to be vulnerable and brave at the same time, and that’s what love requires. Nonetheless, you participated, you contributed something. That’s the plot-line you want to study and understand.

If you chose someone for life when you had no idea who you were, that’s rough, but it happens every day. If you don’t know yourself, it’s very hard to choose a partner with whom you can build something solid, so that would be something to examine. Just, who am I? What lights me up, what are my particular gifts, and how do I best uncover and share them? If you don’t know the answers to those questions, I’d really start there because I don’t think you can be happy if you have no idea about that, whether you’re in a relationship or not. A lot of people expect their partners to make them happy, but no one can do that for you, and you can’t make other people happy, either. A person is at peace within themselves, or they are not.

Maybe you weren’t feeling good about yourself and threw yourself into your relationship to avoid doing your own work to heal, or perhaps you grew up thinking your role was to take care of everyone else, and you chose someone who needed you. There are all kinds of ways we can pick people for the wrong reasons, and all kinds of ways we can grow and learn from that, but if you can remember back to the beginning and there was anything good and healthy there, any spark of genuine connection and respect and understanding, then I think there’s hope. There’s potential, if both people are willing to dig and to feed that spark again.

If it was never a match, or you’ve grown in such different directions, or damage has been done that seems irreparable, then there may not be hope, but I’d check yourself thoroughly, because you want to really know why you’re ending something if you end it. If you’re not sure, if it’s unclear, that murkiness will show up in your next relationship, and the one after that, too. Anything you deny or numb out, or run from, owns you. It won’t go away just because you leave a relationship.

If there are children involved, I have to add a few things. If there’s physical violence or abuse, you have to go no matter what, and there’s no way around that (whether you have kids or you don’t). Short of that, if you’ve genuinely tried with everything you have to save your relationship and there’s just no hope, you have to go. If there’s meanness and fighting and that’s really the best you can do, you have to go. If you’re living like roommates, I don’t believe that’s sustainable either. If you haven’t given it everything you’ve got, if you haven’t exhausted every shred of potential, do that first. If there’s any chance you can save it, save it. If there’s any love between you and your partner, try to feed it, truly, because having parents who live separately is not easy on children, and if you split, it won’t be easy on you, either. I say this to you as a divorced mom of two small kids. I know so many people in this situation who say, “Children need two happy parents.” Yes, of course that’s ideal, but it’s not that simple or easy.

Children need stability, too. Going back and forth and back and forth takes its toll, it really does. I realize sometimes it can’t be helped. I grew up that way, so I can speak to you about this from inside the experience. It took me over thirty years to feel like I had a home, and that’s something I had to do for myself. It took a lot of healing and a lot of work, and a lot of screwing things up along the way. Relationships where I played out ancient history, trying to get my happy ending, learning all too painfully that’s not the way. Relationships where I was so focused on not being left, I forgot to think about the million other things that matter. The “happy ending” is inside, and it’s not an ending, it’s a daily choice. It’s doable no matter what kind of history you have, of course, but it’s not easy. If you have to split and you have children with your ex, do everything you can to ease the burden and create a schedule that puts their needs first, so they’re not pulled this way and that, week after week, year after year. Ask them what they want if they’re old enough to tell you, and give it heavy consideration. I’m not telling you to let your kids run the show, because that’s no good, either, but they aren’t possessions, they’re people, and they ought to have the feeling that they have some say, that their feelings matter, that they have some power in the way their life looks and feels. Get creative and work together if at all possible. Don’t fight in front of your kids, and don’t ever speak negatively about your ex in front of them.

Kids feel everything, even if they can’t articulate everything they feel. So if you’re in a loveless marriage, they’re feeling that. If you’re allowing yourself to be mistreated or abused, they’re feeling that. You’re teaching them with everything you do, and everything you don’t do. If you split and meet someone new eventually, they’re going to feel that, too. Will it be good for them to see what a healthy, loving relationship looks like? Of course, but along with that comes loyalty issues they’ll have to grapple with, confusing feelings about the new person in mom’s or dad’s life, what it all means for them, and how they fit into the new picture. If they have to go through that again and again, they’ll get cynical. They may worry about their other parent, how they’re feeling about all of it. The last thing you want is for your child to feel they have to take care of you. That’s a scary feeling for a kid, and they won’t thank you for it later. They’ll have to deal with different rules and different energy in each house, with not having all their stuff in one place, with a sense of powerlessness over their comings and goings, with missing one parent when they’re with the other, with chaotic holidays and a fractured life.

I know this is brutal to look at if you’re in turmoil with your marriage, but I think it’s important to face so you really know what’s involved. Think about adults you know who don’t have good relationships with their mothers or fathers. That’s pain that never goes away, and you can’t want that for your kids. Support a healthy relationship between your child or children, and their other parent. Validate their feelings when they tell you they’re sad or angry or confused. Understand you’re trading one set of painful circumstances for another. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it consciously and as well as possible, I’m just letting you know there isn’t a pain-free way. Do I think it’s better for kids to see their parents living authentically, in alignment with what’s true for them? Feeling inspired and grateful about life, fired up about their time here? Of course. I’m just saying, make sure you can’t feel those things in the context of your relationship before you give up on it. Examine your own part and be certain you’ve done all you can to clean up your side of the street before you forge a new path that will affect your children’s paths, too. If you’re steady for them, if you always meet them with love and teach them that home is on the inside, they’ll be fine. Just be sure, that’s all.

As always, facing reality as it is is your best bet. And there’s no avoiding pain in this life, so try not to beat yourself up if you’ve made a mess of things. Sometimes we have to make a huge mess so we get the lesson that what we’re doing isn’t working, and so we develop the tools to do things another way. Longing to be seen and understood, to be wanted and cherished and held are all completely human and beautiful feelings. Love and connection are the best things in life. Sharing and laughter and tears and hugs, and feeling like you’ve got at least one person in this vulnerable thing who’s with you, who gets you, is absolutely understandable, but I don’t think you can find true connection with anyone else until you’ve found it with yourself. So start there if you haven’t already.

Sending you love, as always,

Ally Hamilton

When Your Heart Breaks, It Opens, Too.

Some things in this life will just break your heart. The beautiful and extraordinary thing about the heart, though, is that when it breaks, it opens more if you let it; it expands. There are things that can bring us to our knees. Losing a loved one too soon, that’s at the top of the list. Going through a divorce, a breakup, any kind of rejection from a person who was once a lover and/or a friend. Being fired from a job. Being abandoned, neglected, discarded or betrayed. Dealing with someone who won’t or can’t communicate so you’re left to grope for the answers yourself, and have to learn the painful lesson that some things will never be explained, that the only closure you’ll get is acceptance.

For so many of us when we’re hurt like this, when we’re grieving and there’s nothing but tears and despair, there can be such a desire to shield the heart; to build up walls so we can’t ever be hurt this way again, to decide we won’t be putting ourselves out there anymore, we won’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable. There’s no way to be a human being in this world without being vulnerable, though, it comes with the territory. We all have a finite amount of time, and we have no idea how much time we have. The thought of that can shut you down or open you up. When you’ve learned firsthand that those you love beyond words can be ripped from you with no warning and no chance to say goodbye, you know the truth of this all too well. If you board up your heart, you serve no one. No one who loved you would ever want you to do that, because it’s a half-life. It’s not even that; it’s an existence. If someone was taken from you, live for them. Honor them by celebrating every moment you have here, and by celebrating the fact that you loved so deeply. No one is ever gone from you. You can close your eyes and be with anyone you’ve ever been close to right now if you try. I realize it isn’t the same as being able to hold the people we long to hold. It isn’t the same as being able to hug them or hear their voices, or see their eyes light up, but they aren’t gone from you, they live in your heart.

If someone has left you of their own volition, allow yourself to feel all the pain around that. Rejection makes us feel like we aren’t worthy of love. It makes us doubt ourselves at the deepest level, but if someone couldn’t see you, or treasure you or understand you, if someone couldn’t receive the incredible gift you are, allow yourself to be released. Everyone deserves to be cherished. Every single one of us is a miracle. You aren’t likely to feel that way if you’ve just been left or betrayed, but you are, truly. Seven billion people, one you. Only one.

If you’ve been fired, that can reek havoc on your self esteem, especially if you identify strongly with the kind of work you do. It can make you feel like you’ve been cut off at the knees. It’s hard to imagine it when we’re in the midst of turmoil and stress, when we’re trying to keep a roof over our heads and food in the refrigerator, but sometimes it’s a gift when our plan gets turned on its head. Maybe eventually you’ll see that this was a catalyst for something beautiful and unexpected to emerge, but in the meantime, lick your wounds.

Whatever you’re going through, keeping your heart open is so key. Shut yourself down for awhile if you need to; if you’re going through the kind of loss that’s so knifing you’re struggling to breathe in and breathe out, then just surviving this period is enough. Just crack the door open so you can receive love and support, because you’ll need it. Some things will never be okay, but accepting that is often the thing that enables you to open your heart again. Life without love is cold and dark; it’s not natural to us, we thrive on connection and closeness. Everyone is in this thing together. Some people face pain that’s hard to endure, and others face the “normal” amount of suffering, but no one gets out with zero suffering, and no one lives forever. With the time that you’ve got, live all the way. Embrace it all and try to trust in your experience here, even if you don’t understand it all the time. Just being a human being is such a gift. Just getting to have this journey is something extraordinary. Even when you feel completely alone, you aren’t. Keep your heart open and you’ll feel that reality.

Sending you so much love (and a little yoga to support your healing process.)

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here <3

Compassion: Tastes Great, Less Filling

Once when I was fourteen, I walked to the front of the room in my science class to hand in a paper, and I heard giggling. When I returned to my seat, this girl I had always liked leaned over and loudly whispered, “You can see your panties through your skirt. Nice flowers!” And then she and another girl I’d also thought was a friend, snickered. One of the guys in my class leaned forward from the row behind me and said, “Don’t worry about it, you’re looking good,” which only intensified my embarrassment. Shame is such a powerful, uncomfortable, debilitating feeling. It hits you in the gut and makes you feel wrong and bad and unworthy of love or kindness. I remember being annoyed with myself for blushing and making it obvious I was bothered. I wanted to be tough, to act like it didn’t phase me, to deny those girls the feeling that they had any power over me; things like that seem such a big deal when you’re fourteen. My heart was racing, and I was cursing myself for not having checked my reflection before walking out the door. I felt betrayed and confused by these girls I’d considered friends, who now seemed to be taking pleasure in humiliating me. Beyond that, I wanted the world to open and swallow me so I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of the day with people laughing because they could see through my skirt. I think about it now, as a grown woman, and shake my head. I wish I could go back to my teenage self in that room and say, this is so not a big deal, but it’s funny that it stands out, all these years later.

We all have moments when we feel exposed, when we’ve shown our fallibility and our vulnerability more than we’d intended; when we’ve accidentally let people see the flowers on our undies. There’s so much I could say here. We tend to be so hard on ourselves and on each other. Gossip magazines (which I never buy and encourage you to boycott along with beauty magazines which are anything but) are nothing but mean girls gone wild. Look at this awful thing this person is doing! Here’s someone else with their life falling down around them. Here are ten ways you really suck, and even though you’ll never measure up, here are ten things you can try so that you won’t suck so much, with an occasional story about a person with a fairytale life you could never hope to live. It’s a big plate of awful.

The thing is, you’re always feeding yourself. You’re feeding your body, but you’re also feeding your mind and your heart with everything you watch, read, or dwell upon. You know the old saying, “You are what you eat.” If you focus on all the things people are doing that are terrible, and all the ways you’re disappointing yourself, it’s so defeating. You really don’t want to feed the idea that, “people suck,” because they don’t and you don’t, either. It’s simply not an easy gig, this work of being human, especially when you’re trying to be kind, conscious and compassionate. That’s why it’s important to be vigilant about what you feed yourself. If you look around and find you have contempt for people easily, it’s probably time for a change in diet: Compassion: tastes great, less filling. When you have some for yourself, you’ll find you have some for other people, too. We all make mistakes, every single one of us. We all have choices we’d love to make over again. It’s easy to be the person who points a finger and has that snarky, biting thing to say, but I don’t think it feels good at the end of the day, and it definitely doesn’t up the happiness quotient. Choose love, feed that.

Sending you some right now,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here <3