Archive for self-love

What Sucks and Saves, Simultaneously?

Apologizing.

Ugh. I so totally hate to have to admit to another person (or persons) that I’ve acted in a way that was, let’s just say, less than becoming. But in my life, I’ve had to apologize to friends, family members, clients, and colleagues for many, various transgressions, some intentional and some innocent and accidental. But while I was I was creating a list of the errors of my ways in order to illustrate my point, it occurred to me that each and all of these offenses, as different as they might seem, fall into one category.

I have offended by not showing up.

Literally.

I’ve not shown up by not calling, writing, or appearing when or where I said I would, or when it was just the right thing to do.

Figuratively.

I’ve not shown up by being there in body, but not in mind. I don’t know about you, but I can be in the same room with someone, supposedly engaged in a conversation, and yet be miles away. I don’t do it all the time, of coure, but I can be thinking of just about anything other than the topic of conversation. Thinking things like:

  • “What’s for lunch?”
  • “Why am I here?”
  • “I wonder how the dogs are reacting to this thunderstorm.”
  • “Wow, look his outfit.”
  • “Ooh. That’s a good topic for a blog post.”
  • “Who’s that over there?”
  • “Oh! I need to talk to her.”
  • “I’ve got to add ink to my office supplies-to-buy list.”
  • “Speaking of lists, I’d better go. Today’s list is so long, and I’m never going to get this time back.”

All of which lead to the next set of thoughts:

  • “Stop that, Laura. You get back here.”
  • “Now, what what was I just thinking about?”
  • “Darn it. How do I get that thought back?”
  • “I should have written it down.”
  • “Was it about something I’m supposed to be doing right now?”
  • “Who was it about someone I was supposed to write or call today?”
  • “Oh, no. Who is it I’m going to let down this time?”
  • “Crap. What is wrong with me?”

Can you relate?

I hope so, because that would mean I’m not alone. I hope not, for your sake and for the sakes of the people in your life.

Today.

This morning I wrote an apology letter to someone I really care about, and yes, it sucked. You know, all that grovelling, explaining my actions (or my inaction, as it was in this case), asking for forgiveness, and hoping beyond hope I’ll get it.

But while writing that letter, I began to experience something else – something in addition to the angst. What was it?

Relief.

I don’t know how this person is going to respond. Certainly, I hope she can find her way to forgiving me. What I didn’t do is kind of a big deal, and so it would be a big gift to get a sincere pardon from her.

But in a way, I’ve already received a gift. A gift from myself.

Apologizing and asking for forgiveness has already saved me. Saved me from having to slip out the back door of our relationship and then avoid her for the rest of my life. Saved me from the debilatating self-hatred that comes from not showing up for the people I care about, including myself. Saved me from all of the self-destructive behaviors I would eventually engage in as a result of that self-hatred.

So yes, apologizing sucks and saves, simultaneously.

Can we do better?

I believe we can. I believe that when we acknowledge what we’ve done, feel the impact of that (on ourselves and others),  and ask for forgiveness (from ourselves and others), then regardless of the other person’s response, we get relief. We can change. We are saved from being who we’d otherwise have become.

We can do better. We don’t have to spend the rest of our lives all twisted up – running, hiding, performing, hustling, and pretending to be someone we’re not, because we hate who we are.

We get to do better.

We get to be with the people who are important to us, really be with them. We get to connect on a level much deeper than we could the other way. We get to see and be seen, hear and be heard. We get to truly be with ourselves, too. We get to have different conversations in our heads. We get to love ourselves.

We get to be realAnd what a gift that is.

As Is

By guest blogger, Andrea Lea

Last night I had a gentle aha moment… usually they slam into me and I am juiced and invigorated by the energy of them, but this was different. It kind of slid in like mud under a closed door. I was feeling resistant to it and defeated by it – it felt like an impossibility for me. It was too obvious. I should have mastered this already. One of those teachings that we’ve all heard so many times that we are numb to its power (at least I was).

No matter how hard you push, you will not move forward until you accept yourself HERE in the moment of NOW.

Oh no. Wait, wait, wait… Really?

I have no shortage of ideas or enthusiasm – ever. I am gloriously tapped in to Grace and am able to channel wisdom and universal love and non-judgment for everybody else. I will risk saying that I am an inspiration to many around me, and it is no risk saying that I am completely sincere in all my efforts. But I have placed such conditions on my love for myself that I can never ever feel safe there.

I am so harsh – mean, even. I am racked with a guilt that is a near-tangible, very conscious part of my every day life. Guilt is not God-energy. Guilt overrides joy and blocks flow. I put myself down and belittle my own efforts before they’ve been made. I shoot down my ideas and place them under the category of “Excellent and Profitable Idea for Someone More Capable and Valid than YOU.” I have frozen myself – paralyzed my progress – with the kind of pressure you see rich white parents in the movies put on their kids to move in a certain direction or else.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a miserable person. I’m just stuck. This week a dear friend who is stuck in a different way reached out to me and I told him to try to picture himself where he wanted to be. We talked about some of those details and I said to him, “For me, this requires no imagination. That is who you already are. That is how I see you.” It was very powerful for him to hear that. My love for this friend is unconditional. When he achieves what he is striving for in life, I will not love him any more or less than I do right now. My love for him is as constant as time. I will be happy for him. But he is right now the person I love.

I have a beautiful life, one for which I am limitlessly grateful. I have the most amazing and resilient family. My daughter is such a gracious teacher for me, and so beautiful look at and soft to hold. My dad is a present and loving parent and grandparent who moves quietly beyond the usual parameters of those titles with joy and non-judgment. My boyfriend is a true love; supportive and creative in thought and action, shares my core beliefs, and remains completely calm when I am stormy (a miracle in itself, I tell you), and is my most fun playmate ever. My home is warm and open and comfortable, full of kids and dogs and friends and family. My cupboard is full and there’s always something delicious on the stove.

I am surrounded with so much love. But right now, I need to learn to love myself in this moment. There are so many things I want to do… but I cannot withhold love and acceptance until they are all done… Until I’m perfect!

Today I am going to risk calling in some help. I am going to borrow the love and the vision my dear ones hold for me, and start seeing myself and loving myself the way they love me. They know my imperfections, and they place no conditions. I am going to do my best to do unto myself the way I do unto others: that means no judging, only encouraging and loving. Sometimes moving forward means standing still and accepting not only what the moment of now brings, but also accepting yourself, warts and all, in that moment, right where you are on your path.

Holler if you hear me…

Andrea Lea is a writer who is cracking the code of the symbolic and recording the spiritually hilarious. Her adventures so far have included several years and a cooking show in post-Apartheid South Africa, a stint in rural south Georgia, a brief but sparkling singing career which she intends to revive, and a glorious indigo daughter named Dom. When she’s not painting, taking photos, writing, singing, or doing laundry, Andrea can be found in her kitchen, channeling her grandmother through new recipes, and feeding folks.

This post was originally posted RiskADay.com.

Are You Accepting The World’s Invitation?

It was February 19th. I glanced up from my desk and my eyes rested on the lovely rose that my partner gave me for Valentine’s Day. “One more day, and I’ll have to throw it out,” I thought to myself. Then, I continued the one-way conversation in my head, “That’s how it is with fresh flowers. I have to make sure I really enjoy them while I can, because the window of opportunity is very slim.” I was referring to the fact that I had waited several days after receiving this exquisite gift before I realized that I needed to put in my office. Given that my office is where I spend the majority of my working hours, having the rose there, and sooner, would have allowed me to enjoy it even more of the time, before I could enjoy it no longer.

That’s how it is with life, too. It brings us lots of presents, and not just on the designated present days, but every day. Inherent in those gifts are myriad opportunities to experience life more abundantly. That’s only if we fully receive them, however. Otherwise, we miss out on all the richness they, and life, have to offer.

In a sense, the world is inviting us, always, to take in what it has to give us. And I don’t mean physical things. Goodness knows, most of us have enough stuff. (I know I do.) No, by saying “take in” what the world gives us, I am suggesting that we see past the stuff, and/or the circumstances, and glean the meaning from what we have been given. And, I’m suggesting that we do this no matter how we label the new item or occurrence.

Of course, when we experience something we perceive as  “bad,” meaning unpleasant or painful, we must first acknowledge those feelings. No amount of glossing over them will make them actually go away. In fact, quite the reverse will happen: If we don’t allow ourselves the emotions that immediately follow such experiences, then those emotions will begin to cloud everything that we do, even while we are trying to avoid or deny them.

Then, once we have fully owned the truth of our feelings, we can respond with a wholehearted yes to the invitation  and  ask ourselves the following questions (in addition to any of your own):

  • What, if anything, is there for me to learn ?
  • What might I have done differently?
  • Is there a metaphor that could apply here that would enable me to see a different, deeper meaning what I first supposed to be true?
  • Is there an action that is appropriate for me to take now, given this new knowledge?

The most important thing for us to remember when engaging in this process is not to judge ourselves! This only serves to keep us stuck in the muck and will not only not allow us to move forward, but it will inhibit any kind of real learning and/or change going forward.

So, the next time the world outside you offers you an invitation to go inside, I hope you’ll take it.  I think you’ll be glad you did.  In fact, I believe that we must go within or go without all the rich beauty and meaning there is – all around and deep inside us.