Sunday, June 13, 2010

Love and Healing

We all have walls we’ve built around our hearts.  We built these walls for protection from all the people in the world who have let us down, rejected and hurt us.  And, within those walls lies a veil that separates the true “us” from the world.  We let certain people in from time to time like our children, pets or parents but if someone else gets close, those walls can seem to be spring-loaded popping into action in a split second if someone gets close enough that we have to decide to trust or that we may want to let in.  I’ll let you in on a little secret, I grew up in life with not one but two alcoholic parents, and I had to learn very quickly that you not only need to build those walls but you must permanently live inside of them never letting anyone in for any reason.  It’s a defense mechanism.  It was a matter of emotional survival while I was young.  However, holding on to those walls needed for protection as a child while you are a full grown adult can lead to nothing but a long line of failed relationships or empty ones.

Please understand that I love my parents very much.  I always have, but they did the only things they knew how to do and did not force me to create these defense mechanisms I carried with me into adulthood.  Yes, they were the cause of the root of my relationship problems but it is only me that decided whether to keep the impenetrable walls in place keeping everyone on the outside, trusting no one.  It’s a very lonely existence pretending to be so strong that nothing hurts you.  It’s a painful existence never allowing anyone in close enough to trust them.  I went for years this way without a clue as to what was destroying every relationship I held—friendships, marriages and other relationships.  That is until someone suggested that the disease referred to as alcoholism did not just affect my parents.  It affected me too.  Although they were alcoholics, I had become sick as a result of growing up in an alcoholic home.  This beautiful soul turned a light on in a very dark tunnel and showed me a path that lead to the rooms of Al-Anon.  In those rooms, I learned about the disease that affected my family and ultimately took my father’s life.  I learned about choices, defenses and what it is like to develop healthy coping mechanisms while letting go of those that kept me unhealthy.  I began to see the world as this bright, beautiful and amazing place instead of a scary world filled with untrustworthy inhabitants.

Through the program I learned how my own sickness developed into what they termed “co-dependency.”  To me, co-dependency is just an umbrella term that is used to describe a host of behaviors employed by individuals to emotionally survive the unpredictability of alcoholism (but this can also be applied to aggressive parental figures, emotionally abusive or just abusive parental figures).  We should be proud that we somehow developed these coping mechanisms, whatever they have come to be.  They helped us to survive in a tough space growing up.  But, as adults, we really no longer need to go so far into ourselves that the light of day—the light of love truly cannot penetrate the walls we built.  I will tell you that working through the program and understanding the reasons for my own behavior lead me to a place in my own impenetrable seeming walls where I found a crack.  When I found the crack, I began to pick it apart and disassemble the walls.  My relationships changed at this point.  I began to choose differently, I was able to set boundaries and I began to learn what unconditional love was and wasn’t.  It was an amazing journey and that journey continues today and will for the rest of my life.
For the most part, I live completely outside the walls.  My relationships are richer, more meaningful and for the first time ever, I can tell you not only what it feels like to love unconditionally but I can tell you what it feels like to receive unconditional love.  I would never have known these things had I not taken those first few scary steps outside of the walls.  I realize now those walls were nothing but a self-imposed prison.  I imprisoned myself while trying to protect myself and now I see how that is just no way to live.  When you love with all of your heart without condition, you leave people free to love you for who you are and it becomes easier to separate those in your life who really love you versus those who really just want or need something from you.  You begin to love and trust yourself more as well with each step you take.  Some folks fear that a broken heart is literally the end of the world and that fear keeps them from loving with all of their hearts unconditionally.  I was one of those but I’m so pleased to tell you that I have been reformed.  I’ve seen the light on the other side of the walls and I will never go back.  Even if I risk pain.  I do not fear pain.  Pain is a process.  If you feel pain, you are alive and breathing and your heart is open somewhere.  Going to that place and applying as much self-love as you can is the key that unlocks the door towards healing.  Sometimes the fear of potential pain keeps us from love.  It’s fear and only fear that keeps us from loving and being loved.  How silly is that?  The only thing we have to fear is fear and the funny thing, love is the answer—love is the antidote—love is the cure for fear.

Through other works such as A Course in Miracles, I learned that fear and love cannot exist in the same space.  Where I think I am in a loving state but I am feeling fear, I now know that love is not present.  When I am feeling fear, I do my best to climb right smack into the middle of it, feel it, embrace it and then love myself enough to make that fear go away.  I do not depend on the outside world to give me that because I know that ultimately such actions will lead me right back inside the walls I worked so hard to tear down.  I know that no matter how I feel at any given time, I have choices to make and that I truly have all I need to make myself feel okay in any situation.  A simple walk in nature and seeing beauty is a great way to restore a sense of love, appreciation and self-loving thoughts.  I’m not sure how that works but I know that it does.  My thoughts written this morning are really intended to open the eyes of those who keep themselves from loving and being loved.  Everyone needs love from the time of birth.  Maybe some didn’t get it while young, maybe some feel unworthy to have it in their lives.  But, I tell you, no matter how tough you think you are or need to be—you need love.  So, start by giving it to yourself—start by being loving towards something or someone.  Do it for no other reason than just the sheer joy it will bring you and no matter what, do not fear pain.  Pain can sometimes stem from a fearful ego that remembers abandonment.  But, YOU, do not ever have to abandon you.  No matter what lead you to an unloving space within, YOU have the power to bring true unconditional love back into your life.  YOU have all the tools you will ever need to venture outside the walls, to tear them apart if you want to and decide to trust yourself enough to trust the right people.  More food for thought.

I wish for you all today much love from the inside and out.  I pray that you find a healing space for all of the wounded places in your heart.  I wish for you the pure joy of finding some place in your life where you can give and also receive unconditional love. 

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