Water Your Plants

Any living thing you feed will grow and strengthen, and anything you starve will die. This includes relationships. If you don’t put any effort or energy into it, it won’t sustain itself, and that happens all the time; that’s why our divorce rate is so incredibly high. A relationship is a living, breathing thing that exists in the space between two people. It’s a third thing, a singular creation that could never have occurred without the intersection of two particular lives.

I’m not just talking about romantic relationships, but also familial ones, close friendships, acquaintances, colleagues, strangers. Two people come together and each one contributes something. If you put your boredom, frustrations, rage, thoughtlessness or fear into the space between you and another person, that’s a choice you’re making. No one is perfect, and no one is going to choose well, or operate from their highest selves in every moment. Sometimes we’ll regret our contribution. That’s when the words, “I’m sorry, I blew it” are brilliant. If you’re in pain, chances are you’ll spill some of that into the space between you and the people in your life. You won’t mean to do that, it’s just natural that we spread whatever is within us. This is why your healing process is so critical. It’s not just something you do so you can be a peace within yourself, it’s a gift you give to everyone you encounter. When you’re filled with love, you’ll spill that, too and you won’t have to be sorry about it.

The thing is, it’s easy to point fingers and hard to look in the mirror sometimes. You can blame the other party if things aren’t going well, or you can choose to try adding something new to the mix. Maybe your lover or friend or mother or brother has been careless with you, or neglectful or cruel. If we’re talking about abuse, you create as much physical and emotional space as you can between you and the person who’s in that kind of pain. Short of that, you could just try a different approach. You can teach people how you want to be treated by example. You could plan something special for no reason, even if you feel the other person doesn’t deserve it. Sometimes we shut ourselves down or close ourselves off. We erect barriers because the pain has become so great we don’t know what else to do but defend ourselves against it. Walls shut out the love, too. They close off the possibility for understanding, connection, intimacy. That’s not sustainable; being in a relationship where you feel unseen, unheard and unloved is so much worse than being on your own, but sometimes we give up too soon, and miss a huge opportunity to grow.

Growth hurts. This is why we have the term “growing pains.” Blame is easy. Making ourselves right, feeling victimized, bitter, resentful, those are all stances we can choose to take, but curling up with your righteousness isn’t comforting. Making yourself powerless is draining, not inspiring. You can’t control other people, or save them or make them happy. Each person has to do her or his own journey, but you can grab someone’s attention by doing something loving and unexpected, and maybe they’ll feel so grateful, they’ll see it doesn’t take much, and they’ll grab your attention next time. That’s generally a better way to go than a constant stream of criticism. Most people will not be able to take that in after awhile. Instead of listening to you with the intent to understand, they’ll shut down or storm off or go on the defensive, and you might have discovered people on the defensive have their hands up. They don’t outstretch their arms. I’m not saying you shouldn’t communicate honestly, because of course you need to do that. I’m just saying if that hasn’t been working, try something else, something completely different. Just to see. We all just want to feel like at least one person is getting us. At least one person has our back, accepts our flaws, celebrates our beauty, cherishes us. Of course we can all have at least one person in ourselves, but connection between two people is some of the best stuff in life.

When people stop feeding the space between them it becomes empty. The roots dry up, and the plant shrivels and dies. There’s no bond left, eventually. There’s just painful history, defense mechanisms, anger, justifications, and attachments to a particular version of the story of what went wrong, and it isn’t easy to come back together at that point. It won’t save every relationship, but the more you decide to offer love, the more it will blossom up around you. You can’t control what other people will want or say or do, but you can work on the way you show up, and what is is you give. You have a gorgeous heart that was built for love. If you’ve erected walls around it, you can tear them down, too.

Sending you love and a hug,

Ally Hamilton

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

Head for the Eye of the Storm

Many of the feelings we’re going to experience in this life are not comfortable — rage, grief, shame, fear, doubt, jealously, envy, loneliness, bitterness, feelings around being betrayed, abandoned or neglected — none of these are easy feelings. Sometimes we’re in so much avoidance around this stuff, we flee. We keep ourselves insanely busy, or we numb out all the time, or we cling to a false reality and insist those who are close to us do the same. None of that works, assuming you want to be happy and at peace.

The desire to feel good can be so strong, we excuse and explain behavior of others that we really shouldn’t tolerate. Forgiveness feels better than rage. Gratitude feels better than the feeling of lack or bitterness. Being in love feels better than acknowledging something at the core is just not right. What we know is more comfortable than what we don’t, even if what we know doesn’t feel good, but forced joy is not the same as true joy. Should you be happy because it’s the holiday season? Should you get married because you’re thirty and all your friends are doing it? Should you be careful around the word “should”? You feel how you feel, and your best bet is to deal with it.

If you’re enraged because your spouse had an extramarital affair, you can’t race to forgiveness; you have to be with all the other messy feelings that come up first, and see if you can work your way toward forgiveness later. If your grown child is determined to head down a painful path, you do a disservice to everyone if you deny that reality and insist everything is okay. Clinging to positivity is a sure recipe for suffering. It’s not all positive and light, some of it hurts like hell. Some of it makes your blood boil. Being spiritual does not mean you shun those feelings or push them down or feel shame around them, either. The greatest gift of a spiritual practice, whether it’s yoga or seated meditation, hiking or salsa dancing or cooking or whatever speaks to you (and yes, anything that you do consistently that helps you quiet your mind and tune into your own intuition, that helps you become a part of the flow, and lose your sense of separateness, can be defined as a spiritual practice), is the ability to face reality as it is. It’s not about being positive and thinking positively every second and clutching at the light like it’s going to save you. Being able to be with the darkness can save you. Sitting with what is real for you and owning it and allowing painful feelings to arise so you can understand yourself is incredibly liberating. If you don’t do that, you’ll be driven by unconscious forces, and wonder why it is you keep making choices that send you headfirst into brick walls.

The pressure to be happy is enormous. It’s all around you. Watch what you feed yourself, and I don’t just mean food. Everything you take in through your eyes and your ears is food for your mind. If you feed yourself a constant diet of “everyone else is happy and I suck”, you’re probably going to feel pretty badly. Not everyone is happy, many people are suffering in silent agony because they don’t know how to get from here (despair) to there (peace), and very few people talk about the shadow stuff. I think it’s the responsibility of people in the spiritual community to get their hands dirty and shine a light on the stuff that hurts. Knowing yourself can be a deeply painful, lonely process. You may have made a series of choices based on what you thought you should want, or what other people wanted you to want, and you may have a lot of unraveling to do to get back to what’s true for you. That hurts. You may have old wounds that are unhealed that need your kind attention, and that hurts, too. You may find that certain relationships need to be examined from the roots up, and that they may not survive the move to new soil. Birthing anything into existence is uncomfortable at best, whether it’s a new way of being, or a new life that feels more authentic to you.

Too many people are hopeless and numb, internalizing their own rage, walking around feeling depressed, and wondering how all these shiny people on Instagram are doing it. No one posts the pictures of days they shuffle around in their pajamas, feeling lame and alone. You don’t see many status updates that say, “I feel scared because my life is going by and I don’t know what I’m doing”, but everyone has pain, fear and questions. That’s the stuff you run toward, although that might not be intuitive. If you want to be at peace, you have to be willing to walk through the storms, too. They don’t kill you, they don’t wash you away. Avoiding them does.

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

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

Plan for Change

Embracing the vulnerability of being human isn’t always easy. Most of us want to feel some sense of stability and order while we’re on this spinning planet, in these bodies with their unknown expiration dates, loving people who also have a finite amount of time, so we make our plans, and we have our routines and habits, and we try to envision the path ahead. We imagine that we are in control, at least to some degree.

Sometimes the desire to create stability is so intense, we start to push things down — feelings that challenge this plan we’re working, truths that would create the necessity for change. Just as the earth is spinning away, everything living is always in a state of flux. The desire to grasp and control is understandable, but it leads to suffering. If you do have feelings, pain, ideas that are dying to burst from deep within you, they really need and deserve your kind attention. Sometimes the plan needs to be scrapped so a new path can emerge. The birthing process is many things, but easy isn’t one of them, and any change, even the most positive, has some loss attached to it. In order to open to something new, we have to let go of something old.

If you want to be at peace, and you want to be able to offer everything you’ve got, every inspiration, every drop of love, every creative spark, then the ability to sit with your feelings, and not ON them, is really key. To be willing to look fearlessly at what is within you, and also what is within the people around you, without resistance, without argument, takes incredible courage, but it’s also so liberating. You don’t have to act on every feeling you have, and you don’t have to give weight to everything you think, but if you want to know yourself deeply, and you want to know those closest to you as well, you have to be able to open to it all, especially those feelings that might turn your plans upside down.

Human beings are complex. We all have our experiences, our pain, our hopes and fears. We all have a lens we look through that is sometimes clear and sometimes very foggy. As we grow and evolve, what we see and what we need may shift; life is always bringing its twists and turns. Fear of change and fear of death can be crippling, but clinging to a stagnant plan isn’t living and it isn’t loving. Working on the ability to sit with intense sensation calmly is so worthwhile. People run from the discomfort of confrontation and never know themselves or the people they love most, and life passes them by.

You can create a container for all your feelings so you can hold them without worrying they’ll overwhelm you. That’s a huge part of the yoga practice, the ability to be less reactive and more responsive. Wishing you the strength to face your deepest truths and to live your life in alignment with them, and to be able to honor the same in those you love. May we support ourselves, and each other. That’s the stability we have on this spinning planet, in these bodies with expiration dates.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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

The Capacity to Love

Not everyone is able to love freely. Life can do funny things to people, and sometimes the damage is deep. This applies to all people, whether they’re family, friends, or romantic interests. When someone can’t or doesn’t love us the way we want them to, it’s very painful, but it’s part of life. If it’s a family member, a parent or a child or sibling, it can be brutal. It’s so hard to separate out what belongs to us, and what belongs to other people, to recognize that a person’s capacity to love is not a reflection on you. If your mom or dad couldn’t love you well due to their own limitations, the timing of your birth into their still-forming lives, or their own history with neglect, that’s a wound that will need some serious healing. As a kid, it’s impossible not to take that personally, not to take it to heart. I hear from people every day who were abandoned by one parent or the other, sometimes both. Who were told they were worthless, an accident, a burden. Any parent who can say that to their child is very damaged, indeed.

If you grew up in an environment where you doubted whether you were loved, where you didn’t feel secure or valued or protected, it’s very likely you’ll be drawn to interactions with the same dynamic as you go out into the world. Most people will choose what they know over what they don’t but there are times when learning something completely different would serve a person well. When you find yourself working too hard, bending over backwards to be enough for someone, that’s a burning red flag because real love doesn’t feel that way. It doesn’t diminish you, it emboldens you to be more of yourself, to open more and share more and learn more as you evolve. True love is the most liberating thing there is. Conditional love is not love. It’s control. If you do X, then I’ll love you. If you show up the way I want you to, and you give me what I want, then I’ll love you. Hmmm, really?

When you love from your heart, you give. Not because you want to get, although receiving love is lovely, but because giving comes naturally. When we love someone we want to see them happy. I see so many people enter into relationships projecting all over the place. Jumping in head first, swimming in hormones, having decided this is it!! Attributing all kinds of things to their partners that may or may not be there, instead of allowing the person they’re just getting to know to  reveal what’s there. When we’re attached to an idea, like the idea of being in love, or the idea of a particular person being in love with us, it’s blinding. There’s no way to see what’s real, what’s right in front of you because you’re already ahead of yourself. That isn’t loving someone.

When we love and it’s real, we’re seeing the other person clearly, and we’re saying yes. Yes I see you, and I love what I see. Or we’re seeing clearly, and we’re saying no. No, this doesn’t work for me, after all. I see you, and I accept you as you are, but I know myself well enough to recognize this won’t work, and I respect you enough to tell you. Love is the foundation of freedom and acceptance. It’s not a choke-collar and you won’t have to chase it down like an overly excited puppy. Sometimes we get so attached to the idea of being loved by someone, we lose touch with what is. If a person is feeling what you’re feeling, you’ll know it. It won’t be a mystery. If someone wants to be with you, they”ll find a way. You’ll hurt your heart more if you lie to yourself about that. You won’t be waiting for the phone to ring and you won’t have to sell yourself, or obsess about every little thing you said or did. True love gives you permission to relax. It’s an embrace. If someone can’t embrace you, you may need to take your beautiful heart and move in another direction. If it’s a family member, you may have to love them from afar but your heart is precious. Don’t give it away lightly, and don’t ever sell it. If a person can’t see your beauty, walk in the other direction. If your heart wasn’t protected as a kid, you get to protect it now, as an adult and that’s a privilege, don’t you think? Wishing you the strength to walk away from anything that makes you feel diminished and the intuition to walk toward the people who see you.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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

Stop and Think

Once when I was about twelve years old I saw a group of kids huddled around a bucket in a courtyard I was passing on my way home from school. Some of the kids were younger than I was, and a few were older, or at least bigger. Some of them were laughing, some were just staring, and a couple looked scared. The biggest one, a boy, was holding a broom upside down, and thrusting the end of it into the bucket over and over again. There was something squealing in the bucket, and I found myself walking over without thinking about it. Some of the smaller kids saw me coming and took off, but the boy with the broom had his back to me, and didn’t notice me until I was right up next to him, peering over the edge of the bucket at a small, white, terrified mouse. It was covered in some kind of powder that smelled like bleach. “What are you doing??!!” I asked him, shocked. He stared at me, and so did the other kids who were still there, frozen. “I don’t know, ” he finally mumbled. “We found this mouse and didn’t know what to do with it.” He looked horrified and embarrassed, but he said, “Fine, you take it,” which I did, bucket and all.

There’s so much I could say about the cycle of violence and abuse. Hurt people hurt people, as the saying goes. If the people who were meant to love, nurture and protect you, didn’t, due to their own limitations or history of abuse, that’s a wound that needs healing. Few things feel worse than the belief that you are somehow not lovable or that you don’t matter, that you’re invisible. Most people experience times when they feel like that mouse. Terrified and alone and confused, trapped and running in circles, shrieking for help, the end of a broom handle coming at them without any cause. Grief and loss can feel that way. The why of it can strip a person down to her bones. You might believe in karma. You might think everything happens for a reason, or we choose the experiences we need for the evolution of our souls, or we arrive here with debts to pay from past lives. You may believe in chaos theory, in the butterfly effect, or that we turn to worm-food when we die and that’s that. You may think you create your reality with your thoughts. It doesn’t really matter. You’re a human being, and when you experience devastating loss, violence or the kind of pain that makes it hard to breathe in and breathe out, it becomes obvious that we are all equally vulnerable. People cling to beliefs as if they’re shields. If I’m a good person and I do good things, I’ll be rewarded, but life doesn’t work that way, as any number of good people can tell you. Sometimes horrendous things happen to the most beautiful human beings.

We want to believe we can control things, and that our good behavior will guarantee us freedom from suffering. There’s no such contract. You will lose people you love beyond words simply because you’re a person with an expiration date and so is everyone else, and then there’s all the stuff that life brings. The fact is, we need each other. We come into this world needing to be held and fed and cared for, and that need for connection doesn’t end when we learn to walk and can feed ourselves. The joy in life comes out of love. If you didn’t have a foundation of love, you can create one for yourself, but it takes time and work and a willingness to sit with all your pain until the heat of it dissipates. You may need some help with that. You don’t have to repeat what you know, especially if what you know breaks your heart; you can learn something else. You have a choice in life, you can be the person with the broom, or you can be the person taking it away. I believe we all come into the world as people who’d take the broom and save the mouse. I think we all come from love, but if you were taught fear and pain and that people will hurt you and life will hurt you and you cannot trust anyone, then you really need to unlearn that because it isn’t true. If you learned that you are not lovable or that your feelings don’t matter, you need to unlearn that as well, because those are also lies. No one owns you and your past doesn’t own you, either, unless you let it. We belong to each other, but it’s the kind of belonging that’s based on absolute freedom.

It’s my belief that you’re here for a reason. The odds that you are the only you in a world of seven billion people and it’s some kind of accident or coincidence seem extremely low to me. I believe you have a particular song to sing, and that if you fail to sing it, the world is robbed of a beauty it can’t create any other way. Your song may be buried under rage, grief and disappointment in which case it’s your job to start digging for yourself, for your own peace and freedom, and for all the people in your life.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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