The Road to Enlightenment Was Never Smooth 2.5

900 yearsIf you judge people, you have no time to love them. – Mother Theresa

Over the course of my life, I’ve tried to not pass judgement on anyone. The old adage “don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins” has held with me ever since I heard my Grandma say it. There are days when it’s easy to do, when my heart is open and my feet feel light. Then there are the days when the world is falling down around me and the application of this is almost impossible. I’m not perfect…I’m human but at least I try my best and admit I’m wrong when I realize it.

I was wrong.

This time, I’m actually glad that I was wrong and caught it early. I’ve been stuck in this crazy loop of not opening myself to love, not just on a romantic level but on a universal one, which has caused me to judge and shut down my ability to love. It’s a tool to protect myself. Note: not a good tool, but one none the less.

He’s too emotional.

He’s an ass.

He’s a frat boy.

He’s too hipster.

He’s so cynical.

He’s too young.

The list goes on and on…but where does it stop? It stops right here with me. I can choose to not get stuck at the first impression, to take the time to actually see someone, to walk in that person’s shoes. At the same point, both parties have to be open to letting their guards down, putting their egos away, and just being who they are. It’s hard to invest time in someone if you’re always afraid that they might break your heart, whether they are just a friend, a colleague, a love, or family. Remembering to not shut down after being hurt is important for healing. As cheesy as this sounds, remaining open to love is the best way to heal. Accept long hugs and gentle kisses. If you have friends that are cuddly, invite them over for movies and cuddles. Be around the people who love you and want you to grow as the wonderful human you are.

Don’t turn away love and support but being aware that you need time to grieve in a healthy way is also important. Of course only you know how and how long to do that, but don’t let it consume your life. I have heard of cultures that once a loved one dies, you choose how long you grieve for. Once that time is up, you’re done. It doesn’t mean that you forget the person, but you finally pick up the pieces and move on. I feel that a grieving period should be applied to all grieving situations that do not involve death, such as a breakup either romantic or other. That sounds a lot better to me than just bottling it up because we’re supposed be “strong” or going on a drinking binge.

A few peeps recently have schooled me once more in my lesson of judgement, acceptance, and patience.

It’s funny, actually. Once I got past the frat boy, I saw a sensitive, loving, giving, witty, charismatic, cuddly, innocent, front-range sprite. I’m excited to go run amuck with him or just lay down in soft summer grass and look at clouds while pondering the universe. The ass: he just looks at the world with a twist and isn’t scared to say it. I also think he’s there to shield the sprite, in a greater universal concept sort of way. Sometimes bright souls need protectors to ensure they stay bright. The cynic: some hurts go so deep, it’s hard to see the light. I would never have known how much hurt this person went through and how hard he’s struggled to come back to feeling okay.

These are things I would never have seen if I had stayed in that place of judgement. Being in a place where I do not judge, to be accepting of others’ paths, to be compassionate, to hear the stories, to be patient enough to let the stories unfold when they are supposed to, to open my heart, to give love (agape, eros, philia, or storge) and to accept love, has ultimately made me a happier, healthier human being, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.

Sometimes this way of being brings me sadness and grief, but it’s always worth it.

Always.

Being an “Adult” Sucks: Round 2

I love you, but you’re going to hell.”

Those were the last kind words the woman that I called my mother said to me.

All because I would not let her convert me back to being a Catholic.

The past 4 days have been a serious trial for my roommate and I with her staying at our house. We’re both very relaxed people, accepting of a lot but we have our limits too. Robin can take care of herself but to see my mother rail into her like she does to me…that is unacceptable.

I’m not against people having faith in any religion. What I can not stand is zealotous behavior that goes against the basic principles of someone’s chosen faith, especially when it’s aimed at my loved ones and I. A healthy conversation about spirituality, faith, or religion is always welcome but it seems that so few people can actually do it without getting their panties in a bunch.

I should have listened to my instincts.

I should have told her that coming for Christmas was a bad idea.

Maybe this was supposed to happen so I could finally let her go and say no.

All my life, it felt like I was never good enough for her. The realization that most of my self-esteem issues originated from her hit me on day 3. I can accept that maybe she did that to me because she wanted me to be happy and work hard to have a better life. At the age of 37, I don’t need her telling me that I’m living in sin and leading a horrible life. 

So what if I don’t have a car? That’s my choice. To have her keep digging me about not having one, telling me I’m crazy for not wanting one, and saying she’s buying me a car that I don’t want because I obviously don’t know what’s good for me…

That’s the tip of the iceberg.

The look of pure anger on her face when I “sided” with Robin about how rude she’s been as a guest in our house to us and Robin’s brother dissolved the last shred of guilt I had about being a bad daughter. Whether I am or not, it doesn’t give her the right to treat me or anyone else that way. Telling Robin she’s to blame if I don’t go to heaven is not cool. That is not her job or anyone else’s. 

After watching her get in the cab, I hugged Robin and started to cry. I felt horrible for letting her come into our peaceful, happy home. I felt sad that Robin was subjected to such disrespect and outright meanness. I was relieved that we didn’t have to do 4 more days of that. I felt pity for a woman who was so unhappy and angry she didn’t realize it.

Family isn’t always defined by who you share genetics with.

It’s who you share love with.

Being an “Adult” Sucks

Friends“She’s had a few really bad boyfriends…”

Being an adult sucks.

Kids, put it off as long as you can because once you start acting like one, everything changes. I’m not saying to be irresponsible or a fool. Do all the cool stuff that comes with being over the age of 18 but don’t buy into the “adult” mentality. It sucks all the fun and awesomeness out of life.

You start forgetting what inspires you. You forget how to have a good time without booze. You stop appreciating the small things. Having wonder in the world around you goes out the window. You forget how to be open and love. You start pontificating about bullshit. You wait to speak instead of listen. You accumulate baggage and don’t know how to let it go.

Last week I got schooled, yet once more, in how bad it sucks to be an adult.

There are only 3 people in my life right now that I would go to hell and back for. Two are childhood friends. One of them basically told me that we can no longer be friends due his dating situation. The amazing amount of sadness and heartbreak that I’ve been feeling is overwhelming. I could see how horrible he felt as he told me this. She has never met me. Quite oddly, I saw this coming.

But nothing really prepares you for the blow.

It’s like being in that scene in A Fish Called Wanda where Ken rolls over Otto with a steamroller while he’s stuck in the concrete. I was stuck in the concrete of my own shock, unable to move my feet, just nodding, smiling, and as the steamroller of his words and the look on his face crushed me , said:

I understand.

You’re in love.

I’m okay, really…

She’s important to you.

I’m happy you’ve found someone.

You have to do what you have to do.

I was good. I didn’t cry. I try not to in public especially when I’m at a fundraiser. I kept my game face on and did my best to keep my emotions in check. Because that is what adults do. Since I get to see him only a few times a year these days, we kept talking like nothing had happened. I wanted to enjoy probably the last conversation I would ever have with him. I wanted to remember each moment.

Then it hit when I least expected it. My fidgetting and looking up at the ceiling failed my eyes and I wept a little. It was the thought that I might never see him again and if he married to her, I probably would not be invited to the wedding. Not seeing someone because they are dead is one thing. Knowing they’re alive and healthy and wondering how they are but you’re not allowed to be friends anymore…hurts more than you can imagine. I tried to quickly wipe away the tears. I tried to force myself into a different emotion. I prayed to a mericiless Universe to not let him see those tears.

Of course my prayers fell on deaf ears.

That moment went by like 50 years. It was just a few tears but it felt like they just wouldn’t stop. I didn’t want to be sad. I wanted to part ways with a smile on my face and happy he’s in love. We’ve known each other over 20 years with ups and downs. We grew up down the street from each other. Our mothers were friends and worked in the same factory. He saw me get married and divorced. He was always there, even when he wasn’t physically there. This is NOT how I wanted it to end. Not this night and definitely not the friendship. After I quickly wiped away the tears, it was the reassurance again:

I’m okay, really.

No really, I’m okay.

I just got a little verklempt.

I’m fine.

Just like the adult I’ve learned to become. We continued catching up and discussing as we have for the past 20 plus years.

I went dancing later that night. Promised myself that I would go at least once a week to shake my groove thang from now on. It used to be the best way for me to figure out life. Just the music, my thoughts, and my friends. He used to be my best buddy for going out dancing. Not that night and never again. That night I let the music drown my thoughts. I allowed it to silence everything and just take my feet and body on a journey out of myself. That was the last place I wanted to be: inside my own thoughts and emotions. I wanted solace from this storm. I wanted to just curl up, be held and cry for a while. Since that wasn’t an option, dancing was my best bet.

All you readers out there, I hope the last words you say to one of your best friends never has to be this:

“I love you. If I never see you again, I hope you have a good life.”

I’d still go to hell and back for him.

An Atrophied Love Muscle Works Out

It was hard figuring out where his body started and mine ended.

That’s how comfortable I was sleeping with him. His strong arms and legs wrapped around mine, bodies spooning perfectly. I didn’t want to leave. This…I could do every night. There was no promise of kisses. No “I’ll call you later” lies. No yearning for more than what I received or gave. In this one moment, it was pure and perfect. As if it were the last good beer I’d ever drink, each moment like a sip to savor, to put into my memory to last me a lifetime. The way he smelled, the curve of his nose, the softness of his skin mixed with mosquito bites, the weight of his limbs on mine. Even the gray showing in his hair was endearing.

The best part: it was sensual not sexual.

It’s been along time since I felt safe in someone’s arms. He wasn’t going to try to feel me up. He wasn’t expecting me to give him head. Sex was not on the plate. It was pure unfettered cuddling. It made me feel like I was 4 years old again. I rode my bike away feeling happy, elated, and with a great sense that everything was perfect in the world. I sang songs and did a little bike dance

It was better than sex.

Hard to believe, I know. It’s been mystifying me. I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions in the past 2 months about love, but this cuddling moment has brought up the most interesting one.

How does a person realize they forgot how to love?

After so much heartbreak, relationships, longing, even getting beaten down by disappointing dates, I didn’t realize how big the wall around my heart had grown. It’s almost as if every guy that has ever hit on me put one more brick in it, a little more mortar, until it became big enough for me to paint it all pretty with excuses and lies to myself so I wouldn’t notice it. Even a pretty wall is still a wall and I’ve been hiding my heart behind it.

I still show my friends and family love, but I’ve been noticing that has been limited too. Walls don’t discriminate. You can throw ropes over them, reach a hand over, set up a ladder, even jump to the other side for a while, but it’s still there. Until you take a sledgehammer to it, that wall will always be an obstacle. It took a long time for the Berlin Wall to come down. So does one around a heart.

Realizing that I’ve forgotten how to love feels like the first good blow to my wall. It’s like looking to the other side through the chink I’ve made and seeing how beautiful it is. I’ve been remembering what love used to be for me, what it’s turned into, and what I’m going to do about my wall. This is what I came up with:

Love like I’m 4 years old.

Be innocent. Let go of the unnecessary. Observe my heart’s interest with wonder and joy. Be playful. Give and receive openly and honestly. Say “I love you” or “I like you” when I feel it. Laugh a lot. Be affectionate. Become best friends.

All these adult concepts in magazines about love and how to attract the right partner and what size your engagement ring should be and what size his penis should be….it’s all bullshit.

My best relationships have been the ones where I felt like a little kid. When I really look at them and how they ended, the reasons are all different but they all boil down to the same thing: Society (and/or hormones) got into my head, told me I was supposed to be an “adult”, and I obeyed. How sad is that?

What is even more sad is being afraid to express emotions of endearment. This one has messed with me for a long time especially in the past few boyfriends I’ve had. I’ve become so scared of my words being taken the wrong way I stopped saying the “I love you[s]”. Well…except after a few drinks, which my friends can attest to. When those words somehow escape my vocal cords to run amuck in the real world, they seem to play havoc with the other person’s emotions due to my lack of using the biggest of those 3, love. Most people will say they love a band, a kitchen utensil, a pet, a TV show, whatever, but I don’t unless I really do. I can say I LOVE DeVotchka. They really are my favorite band. Everything else I just like. If you ever hear me say after a few drinks “I love you” it doesn’t mean I want to marry you and have babies. If I’m sober and saying it to you with that look of pure love, adoration, sincerity and wearing my heart on my sleeve then you can take it as “she’s in it”.

I would like to get back to the way 4-year olds say I love you. With openness, unafraid of how the other person is going to take it, completely honest, throwing it out there as a statement of affection with a smile on my face and laughter in my heart. Followed with a raspberry to the cheek.

Love shouldn’t feel heavy. It should make us feel lighter. It should make us laugh more. It should fill our hearts to the point of exploding but the cool thing is that they never do.

Love is the quintessence of renewable energy.

Break down your pretty walls. Be like a 4-year old. Say “I love you” with laughter and a smile. Be affectionate without strings attached. Sing at the top of your lungs.

Give your love muscle a good work out.

You might realize that it’s much stronger and resilient than you thought.

Rule #1:Drastically Different Religious Beliefs

Me: “I still don’t get it. Why?”

Him: “When we were sitting at Stueben’s, God was screaming in my head that I shouldn’t talk to you unless it was about Him.”

That was the last time I saw Jake as he walked out my door without shoes on and half-dressed last December 4th.

Because dating is soooo easy, it gets only better when the person you’re dating has a drastically different religious background from you. I highly recommend it. I don’t know why he just didn’t understand that we were a perfect match even though he was seriously Christian and probably a Republican. During a serious make out session, he stops and the let down went like this:

Him: “I can’t date you anymore.”
Me: “Why?”
Him after a seriously long pause that made me wonder if he was dying with a non-catchy terminal disease: “You don’t bring me closer to God.”
Me: *Blink. Blink. Blllliiiinnnnk….* “…what? Wait. What do mean?”

This is where the story began.

Maybe I should have taken into account that he was 22 and I was 36.

So about 9 months later, I get a text from him. This was the most romantic thing a guy has ever sent me. You should DEFINITELY do this to win a woman’s heart back:

He’s such a gentleman.

That sounds like a GREAT idea!!!

Not really. Thanks for playing the Worst Dating Advice Ever!