Love must help us to be ourselves

True union . . . doesn’t turn its respective participants into a blob, a drop dissolving into the ocean. Rather, it presses them mightily to become more and more themselves: to discover, trust, and fully inhabit their own depths. As these depths open, so does their capacity to love, to give-and-receive of themselves.—-Cynthia Bourgeault   from the thoughts of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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Real love, wants more than anything, for us to be truly ourselves. If the person we are with only wants to mold us into someone else then we had best back away.

In my life I have known people who have created themselves to mesh perfectly with another person. They have submerged themselves and little of the true person is visible. Their ache for love is so great that they will do anything to get it. They will even betray themselves. The sad part is that they are not being loved for themselves but for the person they created.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet

Sometimes we want so much to be loved that we are willing to give up ourselves. This may seem ok for a while but eventually we will feel the strain of it and end up knowing that is it not the right thing.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love. Kahlil Gibran

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In any relationship we must love ourselves. We have to be able to accept who we are with all our warts and scars. Then with that love we can reach out to another person.

 

There is love

graffiti_text_loveOne of the most important things to accept and understand is that each of us is loved. I am not talking about the love of another person but the love that surrounds us. For me, there is a love that pervades the universe. We learn to accept that each of us is unique and as such never to be again. Our time on earth is a gift. We have to make choices about how we use that gift. We didn’t seek that gift. It was given freely and without expectation of some sort of return.

If we can accept that we are loved then we have love to give away to others. Not just people but also to the earth that we inhabit. There are times when we don’t feel any love directed toward us. We feel alone, alienated, and abandoned. We must learn to pull away from this idea. Regardless of how unimportant or unnoticed we feel we must accept the fact that we matter.

where there is loveTo me this feeling of being left out, ostracized and without meaning is insidious and can trap us in depression. Sometimes it is hard to believe that love surrounds us. You can see it as God, or whatever form you accept but it is there.

When you are in a bad place and can’t see your way remember the love and know that you can reach out and find a way out of the darkness. There is always a way.

We want what we can’t have

Today I feel written out. My brain is just sitting and doing nothing. I think having been at home and not getting out I am feeling dull. I have binge watched some TV programs, cleaned out some drawers, and sat looking at the marsh. We had a thunderstorm and I love watching storms.

Generally I am down and need to do something to pull myself up. My husband has been easy to care for, helpful when he can and pleasant but being in is getting to me. I have asked myself what I was doing before and I really don’t know that it was anything spectacular. I don’t know that I was out that much it just may be the feeling that I can’t.

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It’s funny how our minds work. We always want to do what we can’t have. If I had to be out every day I would be fussing about not getting to stay home. So I will stay in as long as necessary and get out when things settle down. After all, there is nothing else to do and why complain about it.

Can we love?

Today I have thinking about my dogs. The two of them are such a joy. They have me get up laughing and go to bed laughing. They are so loving and caring. No one else greets me at the door so excited to see that I am home. They sense when I am happy and when I am sad.

If only we could be as kind and loving as my dogs. Most of us realize how much of an example dogs are for us. It seems they are the best of us. They have been exposed to humans for so long that now we are seeing them with the same illnesses that we have. My daughter recently adopted two bonded dachshunds…Lucy and Cash. Both dogs must have had a terrible life. They are both so stressed that they are on multiple meds for anxiety. Lucy is afraid of everything…especially men. Someone was very cruel to them.

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It almost seems that we humans created such horror for those dogs that they have PTSD, were abused and hurt beyond imagining.  We humans suffer too when life has hurt us so badly. We also suffer when, for no reason that we can see, anxiety, depression and other forms of anguish cause us to struggle to cope.

My daughter and her family are working hard to have those two dogs understand that they are safe and loved. Life would be better for everyone if we could all feel loved and safe.

A letter to my grandchildren: Part One – Love

I have decided to write some thoughts for my grandchildren over time. This is the first.

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I think that I have lived long enough to share some things that I have learned in my life. As we grow and age we learn from everything we have been through. We probably learn the most from our mistakes.

LOVE

As I write this only one of you is married but I want all of you to take this to heart. Love and living together is a tricky thing. We are joined to another person whose upbringing and life experiences are different from ours. They have had good and bad in their lives and some things will trigger memories that will translate into actions and reactions. The same is true of you.

The things we have been through in our lives can cause us to react in ways that don’t actually fit the current situation. It happens because that memory has left scars that hurt when exposed. Think about how hearing a certain song can take you back to the memory you have of that moment. For a brief time we are back there experiencing those feelings. Another description might be that we have recorded certain events with their feelings attached and they will pop up when triggered.

When there is a reaction to something said or done that surprises or hurts you see if you can discover what is behind it. You may be angry but let that go. If you can spend the time to discover what is underneath your significant other’s or your action you may be able to understand and accept it. This is not easy in the heat of argument or upset but it can save so much pain in the long run.

As an example, someone in pain may be negative about everything. This may not be normal for them but they can’t help it at the moment.

There will be days when you may question your love for another. This culture has taught you that love is a feeling. That is NOT TRUE. Love is a decision. Never ever forget that. That excitement that you felt when you were first together may come and go through your relationship. Time spent on your relationship can help to keep that feeling in your love….but not every day, every moment. It can come and go. That does not mean that the love is gone.

Being with someone long term is work. And it is worth it. Today people jump from one person to another looking for something that they may never find….wanting to hold on to that passion and excitement…..like cows reaching under the fence to get the grass on the other side. The problem is it will not be better forever.

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Each morning you need to make the decision to love that person and then act on it. Having been married for 56 years I can tell you it is worth it.

(Obviously, there are exceptions to this. There can be truly bad relationships that need to be ended but I think today we are too quick to run away.)

For further thought this is part of the Greek’s description of long standing love:

  1. Pragma, or longstanding love                                                                                                           …..described it as a mature, realistic love that is commonly found amongst long-established couples. Pragma is about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance.

The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said that we expend too much energy on “falling in love” and need to learn more how to “stand in love.” Pragma is precisely about standing in love—making an effort to give love rather than just receive it. With about a third of first marriages in the U.S. ending through divorce or separation in the first 10 years, we should surely think about bringing a serious dose of pragma into our relationships.

from: https://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life

 

 

Do children feel secure?

Today at lunch with friends we were told about a family who lost a 10 year old son to suicide. He shot himself in the head. Later the family lost another son to drugs. This is a loving family and their relatives say there was nothing wrong with their childhood. The younger child was bullied and I don’t think the other son ever got over his brother’s death.

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It scares me that suicides are occurring in such young children. It’s hard to know why. I know that our exposure to so much data may be part of the answer. A child growing up when there was no media would probably never know anyone who committed suicide and certainly would not be bullied on line. There was some bullying in school when I was a child but it was nipped in the bud by the teachers. This was also the era when parents believed the teacher and usually there was some sort of punishment to follow for the child. Things have really changed.

Now we are so exposed to all the terrible events around the world that to take a gun and shoot oneself or someone else is not unusual. Exposure desensitizes us.

There is so much anxiety and depression in children. I have mentioned that I see it as being related to parenting in such a way that children do not have a safe base….a place where there are rules and secure love. Children need limits. No limits is a scary thing. It means that no one cares what you do. No one loves you enough to set limits for you.

safe child

I can see some changes in parenting recently and I hope that the changes are for the better. I so want to see children grow up loved and secure.

The Beautiful Death

My friend Deirdre loved and cherished all those who crossed her path. She welcomed people from different faiths and different cultures. Her death was so amazing with people of many faiths joining together to send her on her way. I wrote this poem following that experience. The “all shall be well” is a loose copy from Hildegard of Bingen.

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The Death of De

The light is waning and the gloaming is here.
There is a hush in the turning of the earth
it holds its breath for just a moment.

We stand watch sensing each breath
matching it with our own
anxious with each pause
while darkness encompasses the room.

Her soul loosens but holds
I sign the cross on her brow and Christ is here
A Hindu friend joins and her prayers are added.
Another comes and the prayers to Allah are lifted up.

With loving hands we anoint her with sweet lotion
brought from France by another.
All faith is here, we can feel God's gentle breeze,
there is true communion

My friend is held in the arms of love
She is suspended between life and death 
through the night.

As the sun lifts itself into the heaven
love lifts her on her journey
and with the smallest wisper
she is gone.

Behind her from the air come the words...
All shall be well
and all shall be well
and all things shall be well.