“So you go to therapy too huh?”
“Nah. I used to. I’m just waiting for my friend. What brings you here?”
“Well, I’m closed off to them. I don’t think I’m good enough so I don’t even put my self out there. I’m 38 and I get lonely, you know? I want someone to share my life with, go to the movies with, cuddle with on a rainy night like this…instead I’m here talking to a complete stranger about how I can’t connect to another human being. It’s sad really.”
‘But you want to.”
“What to connect? Boy do I!! I’m just not sure I can anymore. It’s like someone has broken in and stolen my human connection device, leaving me robbed and helpless. You ever feel that way?”
“Not really. I am a master in connection, I open up like a flower in bloom. I attach like glue, I’m like a magnet when I find someone I like, I go where they go, whether they feel me or not, whether they notice me or not, even at a distance, they move I move. It’s sick…Or used to be. I’m not like that anymore.”
“I’m not sure. But I think I finally found someone who actually gives a shit about me. Which means no more chasing, adjusting, adapting, pretending to be someone I’m not, sacrificing, hiding. You know, there were others before, who claimed to care but I know they didn’t. They either didn’t have a clue about who I really was or they were too busy focusing on themselves and their selfish needs to really give a fuck about me. It’s a sad realization to think I have wasted the past 8 years invested in people who were at the least invested in me. Funny thing is, now that I’m with someone who really cares, I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I find myself wanting to break it off, sabotage, you know? But I don’t have the heart to do it. I know this is my last chance at not ending up alone. I hope for my sake I don’t blow it.”
“What’s wrong with being alone? I have for the past 2 years and it’s been great. I can do whatever I want, sleep with whomever I choose, not have to respond to anyone or take their wishes into consideration. It’s just me and my needs. It’s great!”
“Yeah, so great you ended up in therapy!”
“It’s OK. You know what I think? I think you should find someone who is OK with your independence, who doesn’t bug you 24/7 or pressure you to be someone you are not. Someone who understands that you are your own person, with a free will and a free spirit. Those are rare, you know women who don’t take shit personally? But they are out there, if you are OK with them being as independent as you are.”
“I’m not jealous at all. I swear sometimes I wish I was. It’s like that’s the standard for caring, if you’re not jealous then you don’t care. Which makes people pissed off at you. And I hate when someone is pissed off at me. I find it my duty to fix it for them. I’m rarely successful.”
“I’ts called boundaries. You are NOT responsible for other people’s feelings. Only for yourself. You can’t fix others. Nor can you make them understand. You just have to focus on you and be the happiest, best person you can be. And hope one day someone will come along who really appreciates all your hard work. Someone who really gives a shit. Just hope you are wise enough by then to take it all in and not screw it up with your bitterness and cynicism.”
“I do have hope. And even though I’m bitter I try not to show it. What can I say, I am a work in progress.”
“Aren’t we all?”
So, why does good sex so often fade, even for couples who continue to love each other as much as ever? And why does good intimacy not guarantee good sex, contrary to popular belief? Or, the next question would be, can we want what we already have? That’s the million-dollar question, right? And why is the forbidden so erotic? What is it about transgression that makes desire so potent? And why does sex make babies, and babies spell erotic disaster in couples? It’s kind of the fatal erotic blow, isn’t it? And when you love, how does it feel? And when you desire, how is it different?
This is an invitation to look within. Forget about the pain and the joy in the world. Forget there is a world outside of you and befriend the world within.
Have a seat. It will be a wild ride.
Find a quite place, sit your body. Tame your body and your mind will follow.
Sit with it.
Sit with it.
Feel it fill your heart with blackness. Pumping blackness into your body, your mind, poisoning it.
Sit with it. Welcome to the human suffering.
Joy with be next.
Take a deep breath. Sit with it.
Close your eyes. Breathe. Imagine your heart turning fiery red.
Feeling alive. Rushing through your body.
Desire will follow.
Sit with it. See your Ego judge every moment you sit. Every word you speak.
Calm your mind.
Sit with it.
Everything is transient. Like the trains at a station.
Through your breath discover the truth. Everything hurts. Everything is joy. Everything is transient.
Open your eyes. Stand up. Stretch.
Go about your day.
Do it all over again.
“Speak to us of Love.
When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.
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.
For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips”
This is a great day to write about love. In fact, what day isn’t? Second to living it, the best way to celebrate love is to write about it.
But first let’s talk about me. I have fallen in love many times. In college, I had many love affairs. One of them was with a wonderful man named Erik Erickson who also happened to live in Boston but way before I was born, in the 1930s. Of course, I would never meet him. But I knew I loved him the moment I read about his life and work.
Erickson once wrote:
“Every adult, whether he is a follower or a leader, a member of a mass or of an elite, was once a child. He was once small. A sense of smallness forms a substratum in his mind, ineradicably. His triumphs will be measured against this smallness, his defeats will substantiate it. The questions as to who is bigger and who can do or not do this or that, and to whom—these questions fill the adult’s inner life far beyond the necessities and the desirabilities which he understands and for which he plans.”
Erickson is best known for introducing the concept of the adolescent identity crisis. His most famous work was his theory of personality which included Erikson life-stages and virtues. He believed man go through 8 stages from childhood to adulthood. These are more like challenges, games almost, you either win or lose. If you triumph, the virtue is the prize you get and you get to move on to the next challenge. If you fail, all the challenges ahead are potentially compromised. It’s like a video game except there’s hardly a do over. Except for stage 6: Love.
In brief the stages are as follows:
1. Hope: Trust vs. Mistrust (Infants, 0 to 1 year)
2. Will: Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt (Toddlers, 2 to 3 years)
3. Purpose: Initiative vs. Guilt (Preschool, 3 to 5 years)
4. Competence: Industry vs. Inferiority (Childhood, 6 to 11 years)
5. Fidelity: Identity vs. Role Confusion (Adolescents, 12 to 19 years)
6. Love: Intimacy vs. Isolation (Young Adults, 20 to 40 years)
7. Care: Generativity vs. Stagnation (Middle Adulthood, 45 to 65 years)
8. Wisdom: Ego Integrity vs. Despair (Seniors, 65 years onwards)
If you are stuck on 6 don’t panic. A lot of young adults are. Yesterday was a harsh reminder of that. Here’s the good news. Love is a game. Different from the other stages, this is the only stage you get a do over, or two. Guaranteed. The childhood shame, guilt or doubt, the adolescence confusion, the infants mistrust often stay with us as adults. Because as children we had little control over how adequate our caregivers were. But love is all on us.
What are you choosing?