Pants on Fire

Im-not-upset-that-youPeople lie for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they can’t face themselves; they can’t reconcile what they want with what they believe they should want, or think other people think they should want. Sometimes people want to do what they want to do, and understand they might meet with resistance if they talk about it, so they lie to avoid confrontation. People lie when they feel trapped, or when they know they’ve done something wrong and don’t want to face the consequences. People lie when they’re afraid, or ashamed. Sometimes they lie when they want power, or adoration, or control. There are people with personality disorders who lie and believe in the lies they’re telling, at least to some degree–dissociative lying. There are people who lie pathologically, or compulsively, and people who lie because they’re addicted to something and don’t know what else to do.

It feels terrible when our trust has been violated, and this is especially true when it’s at the hands of a family member, loved one, or someone we considered a friend. If you’re in a close relationship with someone who lies habitually, you can start to feel like a crazy person. Most of us can feel in our guts when something is off, so when our intuition says one thing, and the person we love says another, it can really throw us into a tailspin.

I don’t think there’s any need to demonize people who are lying, for whatever reason. A person who’s lying can’t face reality as it is, or they’re struggling to face themselves, or they’re living in pain or fear or deep confusion or shame or guilt, or they have a big, gaping hole they’re trying to fill. That doesn’t make lying okay, I’m just saying it’s painful to live life in a way that makes you feel you can’t speak about what’s true for you. Keeping secrets is exhausting, and without trust, there’s no foundation for a relationship, there’s no safe space, there’s no room to be vulnerable. You’d have to be reckless or grappling with very low self-esteem to make yourself vulnerable to someone with a track record of lying to your face. I’m not talking about a one-time thing. Sometimes people do things that are completely out of character in a desperate moment, and then they don’t know how to undo them. I’m talking about a pattern.

If you’re in a romantic relationship with someone who won’t or can’t be honest with you, you’re going to have to gather the strength to get out, because that’s a painful way to live, and you’ll end up feeling alienated and depressed. How can you feel good about yourself when you know in your heart you’re with a person who doesn’t have the respect to tell you the truth? (Assuming they can discern what the truth is. If they can’t, there’s no hope for intimacy, anyway.) There are some people we can love, who simply cannot be in our lives. If you’re dealing with a family member, a colleague, or an ex who has to remain in your life because you share children, it’s harder.

In those cases, I think boundaries are your best option. You cannot control other people, you can’t manage the other person’s side of the street, you can only work on keeping your own side clean. Try to limit contact to those things which must be discussed. ┬áIf it’s someone who has power over you (like your boss, for example), it’s time to start a job-search. If it’s a family member, create parameters that protect you to the best of your ability. Communicate how you’re feeling and how things have to be in order for you to feel comfortable with a relationship, and then stick to it. Don’t be surprised if you’re lied to; part of the pain of betrayal is that we don’t see it coming, so we end up questioning our own judgment. If you know someone struggles with honesty, but it’s someone you still want or must have in your life, remember the Coco Chanel quote, “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” People are who they are. That doesn’t mean you should close the door on hope; transformation is always possible unless you’re dealing with someone who really doesn’t have a firm grip on reality. Just don’t allow yourself to get lulled into thinking there’s change unless there’s been serious effort and a long record of consistency. If you’re dealing with an ex, that’s probably the hardest, if children are involved. In that case, you have to make sure your children’s safety is not an issue; try to keep all interactions centered around the kids.

Short of that, distance yourself from people who have a history of deceiving you, because that isn’t loving. It might not be intentional in some cases, but it still feels terrible. It’s funny, but so many people chase happiness like it’s this thing out ahead of them that they’ll get to when all the pieces fit together in this particular way; I used to do that myself, it’s what we’re taught culturally. It just happens to be a lie. Somewhere along the way I began to understand that the more I opened to the truth, and by that I mean, what was true for me, the truth of a particular situation, what was true for the people in my life, the less I had to grip, the more I could relax and breathe and accept and move forward with ease. That’s happiness — being at peace with yourself and with those in your life, discerning what is real from what is not real, knowing yourself, and seeing other people clearly. I realized happiness, in large part, is the result of facing reality as it is. There’s so much liberation in that, of being at peace with the truth, even when it breaks your heart. Understanding that everything is in a constant state of flux, and how things are now, is not how they will always be. Don’t betray yourself, and don’t allow other people to deceive you. That’ll crush the light right out of you.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Want to Have a Happy New Year?

What-the-New-Year-bringsThere are four main tools I think you need in order to be happy. You can cultivate all of them on your yoga mat. Just four, not so bad, right?

The first is a kind and compassionate internal dialogue. I really can’t emphasize what a life-changer this is, especially if you’ve been sharing your inner world with a harsh critic. Sometimes people tell me they believe they need that nasty voice in order to get things done. Without a relentless battering, they feel they’d just be sitting on the couch, letting life pass them by. But I respectfully and passionately disagree with that view. I used to have an incredibly unforgiving inner voice. If I screwed up, even in a small way, I’d berate myself for hours, days, sometimes longer. That, to me, is the definition of prison. It’s so debilitating and painful, it’s a wonder anyone can do anything that way. Full of bitter disappointment with themselves, disgust, frustration, contempt. You really want to feed and nurture a kind and compassionate inner voice. One that roots you on, not one that tears you down. None of us is perfect. We will all blow it sometimes– say or do something we wish we hadn’t, betray ourselves to avoid hurting someone else, lie to avoid confrontation, run, deny, or numb out so we don’t have to look our pain in the face. This is called being human. The idea is to learn and grow and develop tools to make the best choices you can, so you can show up the way you want to for yourself, and for everyone in your life. You’re not going to get it right every minute. Let go of perfectionism, starve a shaming inner voice, and grow a loving one.

The second tool is related to the first. Choose one thought over another. There’s so much power in this. Much of our suffering in this life comes from our own thoughts. Not all of it, and I think that’s really important to acknowledge. There are truly some things that will never fall into the category of, “thank you for this experience.” But short of those devastating losses, we can go a long way toward inner peace by choosing thoughts that strengthen us over the ones that weaken us. There’s no benefit to letting yourself spiral and agonize over something behind you that can’t be changed. And nothing fruitful is gained by obsessing over what could go wrong in the future. Training yourself to pick up your mind and bring it back to right now is like a superpower too few people are using. You don’t have to lose a day, an afternoon, an hour making yourself sick over something you can’t undo or control. In yoga, we use the breath as an anchor point. It’s always occurring in the now. You could pause, close your eyes, and become aware of your inhale and your exhale. Just like that, you’d be present. Awake. Engaged with the moment.

The third is the ability to sit with intense sensation, calmly. What are intense sensations, and what do I mean by “sitting with them”? Loneliness, rage, grief, jealousy, insecurity, shame, doubt, fear, feelings around being betrayed, abused, neglected, abandoned, rejected, or ignored. Those are all intense sensations. On your mat, you can practice breathing through intense physical sensation. Your quad may be on fire from holding Warrior II for twelve breaths, but if you train your mind and your nervous system to stay with it, you’ll find you can face those other emotional intense sensations off of your mat. I’m really talking about non-reactivity. So many people go through life feeling like victims of circumstance, happy when things are going according to their plans, and suffering when they are not. There’s no power in that. You can’t control what life will put on your path. You can’t make someone be something they aren’t, or want something they do not want. But you can work on the way you respond to what you’re given. On the ability to stay centered no matter what is coming at you.

The fourth tool is facing reality as it is. It’s not always going to be the way we want it to be. Sometimes we’ll be lost, heartbroken, confused. A lot of people run when they feel those feelings. Of course we all want the good stuff. We want to feel happy, in love, joyful, inspired, understood. We crave those feelings, and want to avoid the painful stuff. Life is full of both. You’re going to get all of it. You cannot outrun that reality, or deny it, or numb it out, but you can die trying. People tend to think facing those feelings will kill them. It’s the not facing them that does it. Yoga by its very nature is confrontational. Sometimes you’ll show up on your mat full of energy and feeling open and strong. Other days you’ll feel tight and tired. There will be certain poses you love, that feel great in your body, and certain poses you don’t like. The ones you don’t like are usually the ones you need. They’re reflecting back a place where you might be holding tension, physical or emotional. Practicing how we face confrontation is good, since life is full of them. Learning to listen, to respond with honesty, awareness, patience, breath, kindness–these are tools that will serve you well. If you learn to listen to your body that way, if you can give yourself the gifts of respect, understanding, nurturing and acceptance, you’ll be able to do that for other people, too.

Four tools. If you want a happiness guide from me, there you have it. Wishing you the healthiest, most loving, joyful, inspired, HAPPY New Year, yet. If you want to cultivate these tools with me online, just shoot me a comment below and I’ll give you a coupon code. Lots and lots of love, Ally

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

Sing it Out

I think there are two essential questions to answer if you want to be at peace in this world–what are your gifts, and how will you share them? If you want to feel like your life has meaning, and you want to feel a sense of purpose, that’s at the heart of it. Giving feels good; to feel like you have something to offer that is of value, creates a state of inspiration and gratitude. It lights a fire under your a$$. It could be as simple and profound as the love you give to the people in your life. I don’t know of anything, really, that feels better than giving from your heart, with everything you’ve got.

There are questions in this life you’ll never answer. How much time do you have? How much time do the people you love, have? What happens after this? Some people experience “paralysis through analysis” in small ways and in large. You can think a thing to death, but your intuition never lies. There are people living in quiet agony because their heart is crying out for something, but their mind is overwhelmed with the complications around seeing it through; with can’t and shouldn’t, and who am I to think I could pull that off?

It can be challenging to separate things out sometimes. What you really want, versus what you believe you should want, or what other people want you to want. If you can quiet that storm in your mind, you’ll know what to do. You might not know how to do it, but you won’t be confused about what’s real for you. The rest of it is finding the strength to face it. It’s not always easy to accept what you know, because often that means change is necessary, and even though everything is in a state of flux, there’s a tendency to resist that. We like stability so much, we can be willing to sacrifice the song in our hearts. Sometimes people become paralyzed in a larger sense. The big questions are so overwhelming, the lack of available answers so profound, a person is left unable to see the point of being alive at all. Hopes, dreams, intentions, plans, all seem absurd, and many people end up just existing, instead of living.

There are things you can know. You can know yourself, for example. You can figure out what triggers you, where you still have some healing to do. You can figure out what lights you up and feeds your soul. You can allow the unanswerable questions to motivate you, so you don’t waste the time you have. Fear is a perfectly natural feeling we’ll all experience, but the more you allow yourself to open to it without letting it stop you, the less power it will have over you as you move forward.

Obligation is a terrible motivator. Too many people get caught up in “should.” There’s something burning within them, but they push it down or deny it because they don’t want to hurt other people with their truth. When you deny what you know in your heart to be true, it’s just soul-crushing. You get one go-around in the body you’re in, I think we know that much. You have a finite amount of time. How many years do you allow yourself to live halfway? What do you think happens to those dreams you don’t pursue because you tell yourself you shouldn’t? Where do you carry the pain of that? Somewhere in your psyche, and I’d suggest you’ll also carry those things in your body. A life half-lived will make you heartsick. Every wasted day has a pull to it, a weight, a dread, because somewhere you know this is not it, and time is passing.

The vulnerability of this thing is real, you might as well open to it. In fact, I’d say the more you embrace it, the more you liberate yourself, the less likely you are to become paralyzed. Since there are some questions we’ll never answer, live all the way. Give every last bit of love you’ve got every day, for all the days you’re here. Leave nothing in the tank. Who knows what happens next, but at least your now will be amazing, at least your now will be on fire.

Sending you love, and hoping you light it up, and sing your song,

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

Sometimes No is What You Need

Sometimes a big part of learning to take care of yourself has to do with the ability to say no when necessary. There are so many areas where this comes into play. If you say yes to everyone all the time, you’ll find you have nothing left for yourself. You can only run on empty for so long; at a certain point you’ll need to replenish your tank if you want to have anything to give. If you neglect yourself for too long, you’ll end up feeling resentful and angry, and playing the role of the martyr, as if other people are creating your exhaustion and despair. It could be that you have some idea that your value as a human being, as a friend, as a family member or partner has to do with what you can offer to other people, and that you, showing up just as you are, could never be enough. That unless you’re doing something for those you love, they’re likely to abandon you or neglect you or stop seeing you. One of the best feelings in life is to give freely from your heart, and to give because you want to, and not because you’re expecting something in return, or because you want credit for the good you’re doing, but if a relationship is totally unbalanced, where you’re doing all the giving and the other person is doing all the taking, that’s simply not healthy.

There are times when “no” is needed to create or protect your boundaries. Not everyone is ready to move from and toward love. It’s highly likely you’ll deal with people who are in the grip of fear. When we’re in fear, it can take so many forms; sometimes we try to control or manipulate or manage other people’s feelings or choices or behavior. You can have compassion for people who are scared of being hurt or disappointed, and I hope you do, but that doesn’t mean you want to allow yourself to be ruled by someone else’s inability to deal with their own vulnerability. It’s not okay to read your partner’s emails or text messages because you feel insecure. It is okay and important to talk about what you’re feeling. I hear from people who’ve given over all their privacy, all their passwords, all their free time just to assuage their partner’s insecurities. Playing into someone’s feelings of unworthiness will never help them rise up, and allowing your lines to be crossed is not loving yourself well. If you can’t trust the person you’re with and they can’t trust you, your relationship needs serious work, and you and your partner would do well to seek some help with that. You really need love and trust in the soil if you want your relationship to blossom.

Sometimes family members feel entitled to cross boundaries. I have a friend whose parents came to stay at her house for a week while she was away on business, and she came home to find they’d purchased all new furniture for her living room and dining room. Her parents thought they’d done this wonderful thing, buying her brand new pieces, but my friend has her own style and was very upset to learn her overstuffed couches and antique hutch, her funky dining room table and chairs had all been picked up and carted away. She had a hard time telling her parents how she felt, because she knew they meant well, but she also wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t okay with her. Her father called her ungrateful, and her mother didn’t speak to her for a couple of months.

Standing up for yourself isn’t always easy, depending on your history and your personality and the nature of the situation you’re in, but in order to heal, and in order to create a life that feels good to you, you’ll really need to learn. You have to be able to trust yourself. You have this gorgeous heart, and you have to develop the tools to take care of it well if you haven’t already. Sometimes that means you’ll have to say no to yourself, in order to maintain your own integrity and self-respect. Part of it requires your ability to know when you need to nurture yourself, and to feel it’s okay for you to spend some time and energy doing that.

You may have grown up feeling that love is conditional and must be earned. In that case, saying no when you need to probably won’t be easy, but you just force yourself at first. Your “no” may come out more strongly than you want it to if it’s new to you. If you’re trying to make a shift in this area, telling the people closest to you is a good idea. If they love you, they’ll want that for you. If they love you only when you do what they want you to do, they’ll probably push back, hard. That’s fine, though. You can’t change other people, but you can change your own behavior and your own actions, and that will inevitably shift the dynamic between you and anyone in your life. Those around you may be uncomfortable or even scared at first. They may think they’re losing you, but if the relationship has legs, you’ll learn to dance together in a new way, and if it doesn’t, you’ll figure out if it’s time to take your legs and start walking in a different direction. In order to follow your yes, you’ll have to learn to say no sometimes.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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

Some Things Will Never Be Explained

When it comes to a mental tailspin, few things drive us there faster than the feelings of being misunderstood, rejected, excluded, judged, or absolutely invisible. Sometimes we feel this way at the hands of someone with whom we were once close–an ex, an old friend we thought we’d always know, a family member. Other times it can be someone we’ve just met– a new romantic interest, someone at work, or, occasionally, a complete stranger. Whatever the source, it never feels good, but the more we value the opinion of the person rejecting us in one way or another, the more we suffer.

Some things will never be explained. I feel like I should almost write that twice. There are relationships that will deteriorate suddenly and with no explanation, and the only closure you’ll get is your own acceptance of the situation. Things happen, and sometimes you’ll find you’re dealing with someone who simply cannot or will not communicate. I don’t think there are too many things worse than ignoring someone, but you cannot force a person to open up. They’ll show you the respect to do that, or they won’t, or maybe they truly can’t. There are people who just will not go there, and it could be because “there” seems a very scary and vulnerable place to head. If you’re dealing with a person attached to never rocking the boat, you may have to sail away and leave the mystery behind you.

This occurs in so many contexts. Close friends of mine used to see another couple every weekend. Their kids grew up together like brothers. There wasn’t even conversation about whether the families would see each other Saturdays, there was only talk of what the plan would be. They vacationed together, their kids went to school together, most afternoons the moms would rotate taking the kids home so the other could have some free time. One week it came to a halt. At first it seemed okay. The friends were just unusually busy that weekend, but then the afternoons weren’t working out, either, and another weekend came and went with vague excuses of tons of work, and the need to have some “family time.” My friends thought perhaps the other couple was having marital issues. They waited, confused, trying to be patient and sensitive, but weeks went by, with no straight answers, just lots of avoidance. Finally, they asked about what was happening directly, but were still met with nothing solid. So after months of wondering and worrying and questioning and obsessing, they gave up, even though the kids didn’t get it, and they were at a loss as to what to tell their son. Of course the mystery around it is the thing. It’s so hard to let go when you don’t understand.

Another friend received a letter letting him know his business partnership of almost a decade was ending, with no conversation and no kindness. When he went to talk to his partner, he was met with rage over something that had happened years ago, and his partner had held it in so long he exploded, said horrible things to all their mutual friends, and turned the whole thing over to lawyers, with gag orders and all kinds of moves that prevented honest, open communication. People leave room for forgiveness, or they do not, and it’s not like his partner lived in a glass house. We all make mistakes. People who lack compassion for others tend to have very little for themselves, and it’s sad, because righteousness doesn’t cuddle up very well at night.

People write to me about amazing first dates, when they’re absolutely certain they’ll be going out again, only to start to question themselves days later when there hasn’t been any contact. When you’re left in a vacuum and the other party won’t talk to you, it’s just natural to start to spin–to replay things in your mind, to wonder if you were misunderstood, to second-guess the things you said or did, or to start chasing, to see if you can fix your imagined mistakes.

Here’s what I want to say about all of it. Your opinion of yourself is the one that matters. You have to be you. You will find there are people who will see you and embrace you with all your flaws and all your beauty and all your pain. People who will not give up on you or throw you away, not ever. Stick with those people. Not everyone will be able to see you clearly, and not everyone will dig what they see, even if they are seeing clearly. It’s okay. It doesn’t feel good, but it really is okay. Try not to waste too much energy on people who won’t communicate with you, because there’s no potential there, and try not to give too much time to those people who won’t forgive you for being human and therefore fallible. There’s no potential there, either. People who misunderstand you or judge you or exclude you are also human and fallible. That’s how it is. Not everyone handles their pain well. A lot of it is not personal, although rejection surely feels personal. Keep your center. Remind yourself of who you are. If you screwed up and have owned it and apologized but have not received forgiveness, at a certain point you have to forgive yourself. You know who you are. You do the best you can with where you are and what you’ve got, and you put one foot in front of the other. As long as you’re doing your best to move from love, you won’t go too far astray, but don’t allow these unexplained mysteries to rob you of too much now. Now is precious, because it won’t come again. There’s so much love in the world, and it would be a shame to miss it because you’re boiling yourself. Shake yourself off and pick yourself up, and remind yourself, if you need to, that this business of being human is not easy. Send compassion to those around you, and send some to yourself, as well. Do your best to direct your energy forward. You never know what beauty is around the bend.

Sending you so much love,

Ally Hamilton

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