Your Heart is So Precious

caringformyselfA couple of days ago I wrote about someone suffering over the loss of a painful relationship and I’ve received a torrential downpour of emails from people in similar situations since then. A man wrote in and said his wife had invited a man from work to a party at their house. She spent the whole afternoon with him, introducing him to all their friends, sitting next to him, endlessly putting her hand on his arm or leaning into him, swimming in the pool when he wanted to swim. He said the vibe was definitely flirtatious, and that many of his guy friends asked if he needed back up. Some of the wives asked him if he was okay. He pulled his wife aside at one point and told her he was extremely uncomfortable and so were many of their friends, but she rolled her eyes and said he was just being jealous again.

He told me the last time this happened he’d discovered she’d been texting and emailing with another guy from work who lives in another state. She sees him at conferences, but for the most part their relationship was happening over their laptops and cellphones. He told me he had checked her phone and her emails, because he had a very definite feeling something was off and he found pictures she’d sent of herself in a bikini sitting by their pool, and pictures of her curled up on their sofa. He saw an email in which she told this guy her husband was very possessive and she might not be able to write as much because it was making him crazier than usual. When he confronted her about that, she again said he was being jealous, and that it showed a real lack of integrity for him to be checking her emails and phone. She put passwords on everything, insisted this guy was a friend, and carried on. Anyway, at the end of the party, it was just the husband, the wife, and this guy left alone in the pool. The colleague did make small talk with the husband, but his attention was definitely on the wife, as hers was on him. She opened another bottle of wine and handed this guy a glass, and asked her husband if he wanted one, too. He said he was tired, and she told him he could go to bed anytime. At that point, he asked the guy to leave. He said he was polite, but he just told him it was late, and he needed to kick him out. That he had to get up early to drop their boys off at school. The guy gets his stuff and goes, and the wife goes to bed without saying a word to her husband. They’re in therapy because she thinks he needs help. As far as she’s concerned, she doesn’t have any problems.

Someone else wrote in feeling pain because she’s in love with a man who wants to keep their relationship hidden. He told her at the outset that he wasn’t looking for anything serious, but she fell for him anyway, and now when she runs into him in public, it crushes her that he acts like she’s just a friend. That he could go from being so close to so cold in a matter of hours. It’s brutal when someone pulls you in and then pushes you away, and for some people that’s their modus operandi. If you get too close, you’re going to get burned because for some, getting close is a dangerous proposition. There’s the possibility that you could find a tender spot and tap into something so painful they fear they couldn’t survive it. Or it enrages them that you’re asking for that kind of intimacy. Not because they don’t want it, but because they aren’t willing to be that vulnerable. If you fall in love with a person’s potential, that’s not the same as falling in love with them as they are. Accept people as you find them. Not as you see they could be or might be one day, and either love them the way they are, or set them free. Otherwise the love you’re offering is a form of rejection. It’s a kind of manipulation. It assumes your love will be enough to save them or change them. You’re going to break your own heart that way. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing where a person has room to grow, but it’s not loving to expect and ask someone to be somewhere they aren’t.

Lots of people wrote in saying they know they’re in something that isn’t healthy but they can’t get out. Some of them have children, and that always complicates things and in those cases it makes a lot of sense to go slowly and make sure you’re clear about the impact your choices are going to have on those around you. Counseling is a really excellent idea, because sometimes your feelings are so intense, they cloud your vision. This is true whether there are kids in the picture or not. How you see a person is not necessarily how they are and how someone sees you isn’t always accurate. A third, objective and compassionate set of eyes can be incredibly helpful. Two people can weave a very intricate web over time, and untangling it is not easy. People frequently become attached to their list of wrongs. Dig their heels in and recount every awful thing that’s ever happened in the history of the thing. The anger is so great, it colors everything.

If you know you’re in something that isn’t growing and isn’t loving, if you’re allowing yourself to be degraded, disrespected, neglected or abused, you really need to find yourself some help and support. Sometimes the way we’re coloring things in the rear-view mirror is also really inaccurate. When I finally left that much older man I dated when I was in college, I suffered intensely for over a year, and he was pretty awful to me. Not because he was a terrible person (although in retrospect I think it’s very selfish for a 37 year old man to chase down a seventeen year old girl), but because he was in an incredible amount of pain himself. Nonetheless, I loved him and thought I could save him and I tried to heal some of my deepest wounds in the context of that relationship, but instead, I drove the stake into my heart a little more deeply. We suffer those relationships the most because not only have we lost this person we thought we loved so much, we’ve also betrayed ourselves. The tendency is to look back and think, “If only…”, this, that, or the other thing. If I’d said this, or done that, or been more this way or that way. You know I’m going to say the work is always inside. You have to wrangle your own dragons and know yourself if you expect to be able to handle yourself well in the context of intimate relationships. If you don’t know who you are or what you want or how you feel or what makes you happy, it’s very hard to figure those things out as you try to factor in what someone else wants or needs in order to be at peace. There are exceptions to that rule. I know a couple who’ve been dating since they were fifteen years old and now they’re thirty and married with kids and very happy. They grew up together and figured it out together, but it’s highly unusual.

The bottom line is if you’re suffering it is your work to solve that and heal it, on your own or in the context of a relationship. You can’t wait for your partner to fix it, nor can you keep pointing your finger in their direction. You have to take care of yourself if you want to be able to nurture anyone else. If you’re depleted, you won’t have much to give. Please don’t allow yourself to be abused. Life can be so beautiful, but not if you allow yourself to stay stuck. Reach out if you need help.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

No One Will Fix This For You

If you find yourself chasing after someone who isn’t making time for you, isn’t treating you well, or seems to be on the fence about diving in or taking off, listen up. When we aren’t loving ourselves, it’s hard to imagine why anyone else would love us, either. If, at your very core, you doubt whether you are truly lovable, you’re going to be susceptible to people who don’t seem overly interested in being your friend or your lover because that tiny part of you that worries you may not be enough will want to conquer the people who are reflecting that doubt back to you. If you can convince them, maybe you can convince yourself. Except it doesn’t work that way. We all want to heal, and we all want to feel worthy of love, but you can’t chase that down. You’ll never find the satisfaction you’re looking for in another person, because that need is too big, that hole is too deep. You’ll drive people away if you look to them to solve that for you. It’s like getting to know someone and asking them right away to please carry a huge elephant around for you. The weight is crushing, and the burden is too much to bear.

It’s easy to see when a person is coming from that fearful, longing place because there’s a desperation and a neediness that’s palpable. It’s a very different energy than a person who’s in love. That requires vulnerability, bravery, and a willingness to be soft, to open and to trust. There’s an excitement to that because you can’t feel it by yourself when it’s real, both people are going to feel it. When there’s something else at play, there’s a sick feeling to it. The need for a fix. The hope that you’ll get that call instead of the confidence to pick up the phone and make it yourself because you know the person you’re calling will love and want to hear from you.

I have two children, a son and a daughter. I look at them with such total love. When they speak, I want to listen. I don’t take a smile or a laugh or a scrape that needs a band-aid for granted, because I treasure them. I cherish them. Everyone deserves that kind of love, but maybe you didn’t get that growing up. Maybe your parents weren’t loving themselves well, and didn’t understand how to love you well, either. Or maybe nine hundred other things happened. If you somehow got the message that you weren’t enough (and if you’ve ever watched television or picked up a “beauty” or “health” magazine, you certainly haven’t been helped with your doubts and fears), then you really have to unlearn that. Because if you don’t, you’ll keep trying to chase down love, and let me just let you know, in case you don’t, love is not something you can own. It’s something you give and you receive, but you don’t get to own it. Even if you heal yourself and make the world within you a loving and beautiful place, that’s not a possession. It’s a gift, and your job and your joy will be to give it away freely. So you can run as fast as you like, but all you’ll get for that is your exhaustion, and a broken and battered heart.

If you need unconditional love twenty-four hours a day, go rescue a puppy, and after you do that, get yourself a great therapist. There’s my Rx for you. Don’t date for awhile, don’t chase after friends who are “crazybusy”, just work on your relationship with yourself. I did that for a year and a half many years ago, after another relationship crashed and burned in the aisle of Whole Foods. I did my practice in the morning, taught all day, took my dog hiking in between classes, and came home to my dog and a good book at night. I wrote in my journal and I meditated and I got my sh&t together so that I truly enjoyed being on my own. It wasn’t comfortable, and I’m not going to tell you I didn’t spend the first few months of that time weeping a lot. But after that, it was actually quite nice, and then it became awesome, and then it became so awesome, I thought, only someone amazing could make me want to change this up. That’s how you enter a relationship coming from a place of curiosity, and not need, so it’s a choice you make and not a problem you’re trying to solve. If someone is running from you, by all means, let them go. You have you. You get to have you. Make that a great thing. Realize what a gift that is so that you value yourself, your time and energy, and would never dream of giving any of that to anyone who wasn’t running in your direction.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here, and my yoga classes and courses here.

Let Go or Wear Bananas

When my son was about two years old, I began going to the Mommy and Me parenting group at his preschool. We met once a week to talk about child-rearing issues, but in actuality they turned out to be mostly mom issues. One woman was having a very tough time with her son in the mornings. He wanted to pick out his own clothes, and when she resisted he’d throw himself on the floor and scream until he was blue. It had been going on for months, and by the time she basically sat on him and got him dressed in the clothes she’d picked out he was exhausted and angry and wouldn’t eat breakfast, he’d throw it at the walls. Then she’d have to wrestle him into his car-seat, and once they were at school, he’d beg her not to leave. So she was pretty beaten down and most of the time she’d arrive with some kind of food in her hair. Banana, or eggs.

I’d experienced the power-struggle over getting dressed with my kid, too, and had finally just gotten him a stool so he could open his dresser drawers. I figured he was becoming autonomous, and dressing himself was part of the process. Plus, he was making it pretty clear with his exclamations of “MY do it!” I don’t mind telling you he picked out some pretty interesting outfits for awhile. There was also a period of almost a year when he wanted to be called “Kobe” even though that’s not his name. (Yes, the Lakers games were on in the house at the time.) So there he was dressing himself outlandishly, and everywhere we went, my friends good-naturedly called him Kobe. Once at a supermarket, a woman began talking to him as he sat in the cart at the checkout line. He was wearing one of his hand-picked outfits, a green and white striped shirt, some kind of plaid shorts, and black socks pulled up to his knees. The woman told him he was adorable and asked him his name and he said, “Kobe”, and I didn’t correct him because, really, what difference does it make? I’ve been enjoying my kid from moment one, and I love watching him unfold. But this woman looked at me like I had three heads and said, “Unbelievable. Good luck with your kid,” and huffed off to another line shaking her head. I started laughing, mostly from the surprise of it, and Dylan started laughing, too. I leaned down and told him my name was Derek Fisher, and we went about our day. But the mom at school wasn’t okay with letting her kid dress himself which is fine. We all have our non-starters and not everyone wants to walk around with a kid who looks like a color-blind/pattern-blind very short golfer.

However you do it, and wherever the lines are for you, you have to pick your battles and I don’t just mean with parenting, but in life. It’s important to know yourself, and to figure out what is and isn’t okay for you. If you think you can control what life is going to send in your direction, or what other people will say, do or want, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of pain. I understand that accepting the uncertainty in life is not easy. We all want to feel some sense of order in the chaos. In the, what am I doing here, and how did this come to be, and how long do I have, and when will it end, and what happens when it ends, unknowing, unknowableness of life. So we make our plans and we have our schedules and our routines. We go to yoga on these days and we put our mats in this spot, and on this day we go grocery shopping. We have our kids’ soccer practice Tuesdays, baseball Thursdays. We plan our vacation for these two weeks. We go to work and we go here for lunch and order this, or we go there, where we order that. If the person who takes our order knows our name and what we like to eat, even better.

The truth is everything can change on a dime. Your careful planning and reassuring routines can’t save you from that reality. Not everything will go the way we want it to, and sometimes our plans will get turned upside down and inside out. A few years ago I went to a meeting and this person asked me what my five year plan was. I started laughing, I think I might have snorted; I didn’t mean to, it just struck me as absurd. It’s not that I don’t have intentions, or that there’s anything wrong with a five-year plan. It’s just that she happened to ask me this not long after the birth of my son, and nothing at all went according to my carefully written birth plan. So I think it’s good to have a vision, but also important not to grasp it, to allow some room for a different plan to emerge.

Everything is in a state of flux, and we really don’t know how things will be next week, next month, next year. We don’t know how we will be, either. There are things I’d like to do, but I try to take it one moment at a time because I don’t want to get so caught up in a plan that I miss the pure joy that can happen in any moment, or the absolute heartache. I don’t want to be so focused on working my plan that I forget to live my life, or leave some room for life to surprise me. It’s not happening five years from now. It’s happening now and I can’t control whether I’ll get to accomplish every single thing I’d like to, I can only do whatever I can possibly do today. I can use every moment I’ve got wisely, and I can try to pack as much love into each moment as I have within me and as I’m ready to receive. That’s the only power I have.

I can’t control my son’s path or my daughter’s, nor do I want to. Of course I want to keep them safe, I want to nurture them and teach them to be strong and to love themselves, and to go for it in life all the way. To figure out what lights them up, and to move in that direction with everything they’ve got, but I don’t care if they wear orange and green and decide they want to be called names that never would have occurred to me.

An attempt to exert control over other people is really something to examine if you experience that pull. Love doesn’t manipulate, force or reject. It’s not conditional. This is why it’s essential to choose wisely. To know yourself, to understand what’s important to you and what you need, so that you can recognize a person you’ll find easy to love. When we love well, we liberate the objects of our love so they can be their best selves. So they can follow the pull of that inner yes and fly. When you’re loving someone, you’re wanting their happiness the way you want your own. You’re wanting them to discover what ignites them if they haven’t already, and then you want to get busy helping them stoke that flame. Loving someone well helps them become more of who they are, not less.

If you love someone and you’re afraid, then there’s a good chance you’re not loving yourself well, or you may not have chosen wisely. Perhaps you’re being reckless with your heart. Or maybe you’ve been hurt before and you’re scared you’ll be hurt again. If you keep picking people who hurt you, you have some healing to do. It’s also possible you’ve picked someone in a lot of pain themselves. Loving people bent on harming themselves is heartbreaking, and sometimes the only thing you can do is love them from a distance. Of course you try to support them and get them help if they need it, but you can’t control anyone, or manage another person’s path. You can’t save anyone, you can just love people. If you’ve picked a keeper, don’t allow fear to dismantle it and crush that liberation that could happen for both of you. Yes, love involves risk. People grow apart sometimes. Life brings pain that can change a person. We never know what’s going to reveal itself down the path a stretch. If you’re not willing to be vulnerable, you’re not going to be able to love because it requires your willingness to release control. That means you’re going to expose your jugular, the soft underbelly of your heart, but it also makes you human. If you look down and you see opposable thumbs without fur, then you know you’re human already. So you might as well get in the game.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here, and my yoga classes and courses here.

Saddle Up!

Fear is a perfectly natural feeling none of us will escape. There’s that fear that makes the tiny hairs on the back of your neck stand up because you know you’re in danger. Then there are the very human fears we all face to some degree or another. Fear of losing those we love. Fear of saying or doing something we’ll regret because it makes us look stupid or feel ashamed. Fear of being hurt, betrayed or left. Fear of rejection. Fear that you’ll take a chance with all your heart and fail. Fear of being alone. Fear of committing. Fear of success. Fear that our past can’t be overcome, and our future will be more of the same. Fear of screwing it all up. Fear of never being seen, known or loved. Fear of death. Fear of really living. Not everyone will experience all those fears, but most people will face at least some of them.

Fear isn’t a problem, but repressing it is. “Don’t be scared” is a common mantra we’re taught in childhood, but you can’t be other than what you are, ever. You feel how you feel and denying your experience is the issue. Thinking that a feeling we’re having is wrong or that it’s socially unacceptable is where we get into trouble. It would be better if we were taught, “Feel scared, but do it anyway.” There’s an elation that comes when we head into the center of our fear, flip it the bird, and dive in. A confidence in ourselves that can’t be gained any other way. There are few things as disappointing in life as when we let apprehension, the loud voice of “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t” stop us from doing something our hearts are crying out to do. When we feel paralyzed that way, our hearts get crushed because it’s a missed opportunity to grow, learn and strengthen. To know ourselves more deeply, and to be able to move in the direction of that inner yes.

People write in with all kinds of fears. This guy is afraid to ask this woman out. This girl likes this guy but doesn’t want to tell him because maybe he just wants to be friends. This woman has a dream, but it isn’t realistic and everyone would think she was nuts for pursuing it. This mother lost her first baby and is terrified it will happen again with her second, so she isn’t loving her baby the way she could. This man wants to reach out to his dad, but they haven’t spoken for thirty years, and what if he doesn’t want to talk? What if he’s dead? This woman lost her husband and her children and is afraid to move forward because who wants to risk that kind of loss again? This guy doesn’t go to parties, ever, because he’s convinced he’s so utterly unattractive no one would want to speak with him. This man is in a marriage without any love, but is afraid to tell his wife how he feels because what then?

There are some situations in life that are so complex, you really do have to move slowly and think clearly before you head off and make decisions that will affect other people in your life, but living in fear feels terrible. It shuts us down and makes us feel there isn’t any hope, there aren’t any options, there isn’t a path that could lead us to something different. I do not believe anyone can flourish from a foundation of fear, and if you’re withering, you really can’t nurture anyone else, including yourself. If you feel stuck in fear, reach out. Get yourself some help and some support if you need it, so you can start to face it down, which is totally different than pushing it down. The very funny thing about fear is that when you have your back to it, it feels like this raging, huge, fiery dragon that could take you down with one big exhaled flame. But if you’d turn around, you’d see it’s just a huge pile of blocks you’ve erected in your mind. The kind you used to play with when you were a kid. The blocks are mostly made of pain, and the tower is teetering. You could, if you found the courage, reach out and knock the whole thing down. Then you could look at the pieces, and start to build something new. Maybe a bridge. I’m not saying the fear isn’t real. I’m just saying it’s not going to kill you.

Sending you love, and the hope that you’ll saddle up if you need to,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.

Happy Mother’s Day

youaresolovedIf you want to know the absolute truth about mothering from my perspective, it’s the most opening, amazing, humbling, beautiful, vulnerable experience I’ve ever known. It requires you to bare the softest underbelly of your heart and offer it up, along with anything else you’ve got. It’s a giant mirror in your face that sometimes reflects back those places where you still have healing to do. It changes your outlook about life. Before I had kids, I can remember long teas with girlfriends talking about…whatever. This guy or that guy or this issue, or something someone said that hurt, or some pattern or another dogging one or the other of us. After I had my son, there wasn’t time for that anymore, nor much inclination on my part, because 90% of the stuff we dwell on is really meaningless. I’m very grateful I had my kids when I did. A decade earlier, and who knows how badly I’d have screwed things up. But it happens when it happens, and you are where you are, spiritually, emotionally, developmentally, financially. Most people do the very best they can with what they’ve got and where they are.

Motherhood has taught me forgiveness, because it really isn’t easy. And if I’d had my kids at 24 when my mom had me…wow. Disaster. (Way to go mom, and Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.) A lot of people carry so much rage. There are countless jokes (if it’s not one thing, it’s your mother), and Freud and Jung certainly spent a lot of time dissecting the importance of a person’s relationship to their mama. Harlow’s famous wire/cloth “mother” monkey studies showing the need for affection. Attachment Theory, and the incredible difficulties that ensue if a baby can’t attach to at least one nurturing adult. The effect of human contact on newborn babies, and how a lack of it can prevent normal development and lead to illness and higher rates of infant mortality. Soldiers dying with the words, “Tell my mother I love her”. There’s no doubt when you become a mother it’s an awesome responsibility, and you simply do your best. And if you find you need help, you reach out and get it.

I know of nothing else that can break your heart wide open, inspire you to be your very best self, and occasionally bring you to your knees with the awareness that you can’t protect your children every moment of every day. I found a lump in my breast last weekend (it’s benign), and although I’ve been through it before, I still felt that grip of fear. I managed to go about my business, being there for my kids, and teaching my classes, and writing (I know I was a little quieter this past week, this is why), and for the most part I had the mantra, “I’m okay” going in my head. But three times I broke down and all I could think was, “I don’t want to leave my children.” Because that’s what fear does to you, and even if you’re incredibly healthy and take very good care of yourself, you simply never know. That’s the kind of vulnerability we all live with, but when you have little people who depend on you, the reality of it is shoved in your face a little more frequently. There’s no point in succumbing to fear. None of us knows from day to day, so I think you go the opposite way. You go toward love. And you open and you share and you laugh and you listen and you go deeper, and you leave absolutely nothing in the tank. That to me is motherhood, but I think it’s the only way for everyone, whether you’re a mother, or father, or great friend, a son or daughter, sister or brother. Live with your heart open. Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mothers out there. And if you can, please send love to those mothers who don’t get to hug their babies this year. Sending you love. Ally

Throw Some Luggage Overboard!

losingsomeofthebaggageOne of my oldest girlfriends, I’ll call her Sue, is incredibly self-aware when it comes to identifying her “stuff” and owning it when she doesn’t show up the way she’d like. She started going to therapy when she was thirteen years old due to her parents’ ugly divorce, and as she got older, for her own relationship issues. She had watched her parents tear each other down directly and indirectly, through her. Her mom said horrendous things about her dad and her father said awful things about her mom. When they each remarried (which they both did, more than once), the bitterness was quadrupled.

Her stepmothers made snide remarks about her mother, her mother couldn’t stand her father’s new wife, either time. Her father thought her first step-dad was not very bright, and her step-mom said he laughed like a woman. I witnessed a lot of this myself, as did all our friends, at sleepovers and afternoons at her mom’s or dad’s house, and once, sadly, during Sue’s sweet sixteen. Her dad got drunk and took the mic to toast Sue, but it somehow deteriorated into a tirade about Sue’s mom. Not so sweet, and Sue ended up in the bathroom, with a bottle of champagne that she downed and then threw up all night. And so it went.

In high school Sue struggled with an eating disorder and I watched her turn herself inside out trying to be perfect, to control the little bit she could. She was smart as a whip, but sometimes she’d play dumb because she thought guys liked that. Her family has a lot of money, and Sue would often buy lunch for a whole group of us. Or more accurately, she’d pay for lunch with her American Express and her dad would pick up the tab because her parents believed throwing money at the situation would somehow make it okay. We went to college together as well, and as we grew up, a pattern emerged for Sue that was no surprise to any of us who’d watched her struggle over the years. She kept picking guys who ended up hurting her. Not the typical stories of ways men and women can misunderstand each other, or not show up all the way, but deep, “I just realized he’s been stealing money from me for months” kind of pain. The relationships were usually high-drama, and there were many times Sue showed up at my house unexpectedly, eyes puffy and red, sobbing in the middle of the night.

Sue started drinking heavily, first a couple of nights a week and then most nights. Eventually she cleaned that up. If you were to talk to Sue, you’d know within minutes you were speaking to an awake, aware person. She’s intelligent and funny and kind. She can tell you exactly why she’s done the things she’s done. She can give you the whole road-map to explain all her choices and all her behavior. But so far, it hasn’t helped her resist the pull of acting out these dramas. Sue wants a happy ending, but she keeps trying to go back and carve one out of her past as if she could rewrite history. As if she could change her parents into people who were mature enough and loving enough to put her first, to love her well.

Time and again, Sue ends up crashing into the brick wall she keeps choosing, even though the crashing part sucks. A few years ago, I really worried for her. She’d hit such a low point I wasn’t sure she was going to be okay. I went back to New York to teach and I saw Sue for the first time in many months. She was gaunt, and her nails were bitten down to the quick. Her eyes were dull and so was her spirit. Through it all, Sue has always been a force. So I was really disturbed to see this lifeless person who looked like Sue sitting before me. She’d just had another painful breakup and I could see this time she was taking it particularly hard. She started to relay all the details of what had happened. What she’d done. What he’d done. What she said, and why she felt the way she did. I listened as I had so many times before and when she was done, I looked at her and said, “Sue, I love you. You’re an incredible person with such a beautiful heart, but you have to put the baggage down now, or it’s going to destroy you. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re as lovable as a person gets. Your parents did the best they could but their best kind of sucked. You have to stop letting this own you.” And Sue started sobbing, right there at the restaurant. People looked over at us and Sue apologized to me for making a scene. I went to her side of the table and hugged her, and told her to go ahead a make a scene. Because sometimes you work your sh&t out on a rainy Tuesday afternoon at a Thai restaurant downtown. Sometimes you’re just sitting there sobbing with chopsticks in your hand deciding it is finally enough.

Carrying your old, painful stories around with you wherever you go is exhausting, back-breaking work. At a certain point, it simply drains the life out of you. Everybody has pain. Everybody. Some people have more than others and some are better equipped to deal with the everything that life brings. The heartache and disappointment. The trauma and abuse. The neglect and loneliness. The confusion and shame. We’ve all experienced at least one of these, some people have seen all of that and so much more. I once met a girl at a workshop I taught, who told me she had to stay angry at her father so he’d pay for what he’d done to her. I asked her how that was making him pay, since she never spoke to him or saw him. I said I was pretty sure she was the one paying. Your past will shape you and inform the way you think about yourself and the world. If that way isn’t loving, you’re going to have to unlearn some stuff, which is, of course, harder than learning it the right way the first time. If you think people suck, for example, you’re going to have to unlearn that. If you think you suck, you’re going to have to unlearn that first. Have some compassion for yourself. Be kind. In some way or another, we’ve all been Sue, collapsed on the bathroom floor, throwing up our pain all night long. If you want to travel back to your past in a productive way, go back there and give yourself a hug. Re-parent yourself if you need to, but put some of the heavy stuff down. It does not have to own you. The destination that really counts is your journey to inner peace. You’re going to have to throw some bags overboard to get there.

Wishing you strength and love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.