What name would you give to yourself?

We are lonely because we are ashamed, because we believe we are a mistake.
We are planted here, strangers to ourselves. Even our name was chosen for us.
What name would you give to yourself? What words of recognition can you speak to the stranger in the mirror, who has suffered the way you have?
What do we really know about this inner being, mute and wide-eyed?
The combination of wanting to explore but being hindered at every turn by our own severity is too much to comprehend for our animal being.
It howls in confusion and then grows silent, the deadly kind.

You watch everything in nature being simply itself and it burns a hole in your chest.
This is too much to bear. You need distraction, you need to be lulled back to sleep.
You crave the warm presence of others, others who see you and admire you and lovingly reassure you that this stranger that you are has somehow, miraculously and naturally, turned out okay. Yet doubt always remains. Others disappoint you, are cruel where they should be kind, withhold where they should abundantly give. You lose trust and can never be sure that you are in fact, okay.

In fact, you have a hunch that life doesn’t really want you here, that you are a mistake.
Your desires, the thoughts and doings that put you on fire, scare the hell out of you.
They require open, free, vulnerable exploration, something your wild being has taught itself to avoid at all cost. The stranger in the mirror exasperates you and again you crave reassurance that you are okay. You watch everything in nature being itself and the anger you feel surprises your peaceful exterior. God in His infinite mercy withholds the assurance you crave and your anger and bitterness intensifies. “Very well then,” you mutter through gritted teeth,“I will not pray, I will not praise You while I suffer so!”

Yet outside the spring blossoms are blooming again and there is something tender about that. You contemplate tenderness and hold it in your heart and mind for a bit. Then you encounter this wide-eyed stranger again and it takes a moment longer for you to avert your gaze. You know you are unhappy, but you start to wonder if life would really thwart you if you tried something new. Despite yourself, your need for God increases, but you hear no easy answers to your pain. The only thing you notice is the harshness of your own thoughts and it all seems rather hopeless.

As spring progresses, buds everywhere burst open with green miracles. (Could they have been a mistake?) There is an opening in your mind that wasn’t there before. You think about the womb that held you and how tenderly and patiently life was given to you. Could that have been a mistake?

 

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The Mystery of Love

There is a silence behind everything where one can find peace.
It’s always there, waiting for us to notice.
It is the source of all that is, all that has passed away
and all that will be.
In the silence there is no time, only presence.
Everything is brought back into balance,
we are made whole again by breathing in this silence.
There I find You, You who I have lost so many times.
“Where is Your mercy?” I ask angrily. “Why can’t You give me what I want?”
There is no answer.
I take my next breath, outside the spring blossoms are blooming again.

A space to belong

You don’t know how lovely you are
the way you tenderly hold space for me
Slowly helping me heal.
I know there is nothing wrong with me
and others can’t fill that primordial void.
But you give me a sense of home
a space to belong
in this vast, seemingly cold world.

Let us rest and whisper our own name

Dear One,

Let’s stop this frantic, desperate search for Love.
Let us stop chasing phantoms.
You are here,
home.
You are held in God’s loving embrace.

Let us stop trying to impress others,
you are a miracle and Life itself.
What can others offer you
that you do not already possess? 
They are only mirrors
for your radiance and pain.
As within, so without.

So where in your precious body
are you refusing to look and spend time?

Let us give up on running away,
begging others to love us.
Let us rest and whisper our own name.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
In sickness and in health.
Through joy and bliss and agony.
Even if you never find the ‘One’,
I have already found you
and you are wonderful
and magnificent. 

 

Your absence has wrought itself into my being

After everything, I still have my memories
of a thousand ordinary moments together,
your radiant smile, your burning anger,
our stubborn longing for each other.
Your absence has wrought itself into my being,
more so than your presence ever could.
It has been the most unyielding teacher.
This inhumane patience with all my suffering
is what turned my heart to dust.
Then the first searching rays
of the golden, faithful sun lifted me up,
showed me how to carry you with me as I
live through my days and breathe the breath of life.
The memories become lighter, no longer a source of vexation,
but welcome, like the familiar timbre of a beloved friend.
The tears still come, the deep well is not dried out,
but rather pulsing with life and a clear, unrelenting love.

Simple Pleasures

Sitting in the garden, I soak up the gentle warmth of the sun.
The magpie picks at the grass, her tail the colour of deep water,
a brilliant mixture on the painter’s brush.
I clutch my coffee and leave my book on the table,
for there is nothing that urgently needs fixing today.
The patient pine trees shake off their sweet scent,
yellow flowers rest in the caress of the bees,
until they burst from happiness.
the lilac bushes are breathtaking with their maidenly abundance,
as if we humans could ever be worthy of such magnificent extravagance.
“Look here! And here! And here!” Nature cries playfully,
the wind her good-humoured accomplice.
Just breathing then, one breath at a time, is enough.

Why be ashamed of what you want?

In the beginning of February of this year, before the lockdown, a friend and I ventured to the cinema after a good while of not going, to see the movie we had set our hearts on: Little Women.

I just had my heart broken – a little bit – from a long anticipated date that went sour and was also full of questions regarding my professional life. As the movie about these four women distracted my friend and I from our extraordinary, ordinary lives which we had shared for well over a decade, one phrase struck me particularly. It was uttered by Amy, one of the sisters, in quick surprise, and therefore easy to overlook if my eager heart had not jumped to attention by all the implications this phrase contained.

Why be ashamed of what you want?

The way Amy said it was perfect: without thinking, uncomprehending of any other mode of living. It was this way of delivering her message that struck me the most.
Without a doubt there is a deep fear inside of me of even admitting to myself what my deepest desires are. It’s hard to believe I’m worthy or even capable of pulling off my ambitions, of succeeding where I most want to succeed. It takes a great amount of courage to let ourselves be free in that way: to dream without check, to follow without shrinking that train of thought which expresses clearly and confidently what we need in order to find even an ounce of true satisfaction. How much of the way we live now is determined by that “sensible” voice which checks us at every turn? That will never work. You will be sourly disappointed. It’s too painful to hold this dream. It’s safer to just do what other people do, or less, since most people are more confident and capable than you.

To this voice that strangles all true and meaningful life, I repeat Amy’s words of incomprehension:

Why be ashamed of what you want?

Your Natural Belonging

What if you could look at your life through the eyes of love?

What if you could consider, seriously consider, that there are many things in your life waiting for your attention – the yellow flowers, the way the sunlight kisses the white wall, the unread book, the silent comfort of rinsing the dishes, the echo of your neighbour’s laugh. What if God placed them there deliberately for you to enjoy? How would that change how you feel about yourself, about the value of your happiness and and the naturalness of your belonging? 

You say it’s selfish to think like that, that there is too much suffering to live like that, in rapture, with an open heart.

I say, why hurt yourself more by denying the goodness in your life, by letting a harsh voice rule your tender soul? Why not let gentle murmurs of love and belonging pass unobstructed into the river of your strained endurance? Tell me, what joyful exuberance would be released into the stale, brown stream?

Like a hidden flower you are desperately waiting for the sun to trick you into the wild audacity of blooming. But you don’t see, oh worthy one, how you are clenching the stem of your own growth, obstructing the life-giving flow that would easily nourish you into a relaxed belonging and contentment. Understandably and oh so humanly, you are afraid of empty hands and a broken heart. And so you hold back. And so you tense and hide.
But confound it! Let your heart be broken into a thousand pieces and see how easily tears of joy come to you when a bird presents itself. All these are gifts, all these wonders need you here. Tell me how you see the world when you can allow the thought that another creature’s beauty was meant for you?

Will I Ever Be Happy Again?

Healing from heartbreak

Nothing is urgent. You have time to figure it all out.

Dear friend,

If you are not being honest with yourself in some way, if you stay in a place that’s bad for you, that is harming your soul, there will always be a reckoning. We can postpone it, but we can’t escape it forever. It’s scary, it’s heartbreaking, it’s here, slumbering, waiting for us to see the truth.

You’ve had your heart broken. Grief is good, grief is honest. It’s better than living in an illusion and recycling the same old, harmful patterns. Grief is an opportunity to change, to come back to yourself and listen. For a while, do nothing but listen. Your body needs you, desperately needs you to see the truth. You were harming yourself by staying. You are more than this relationship. You are lonely because you are estranged from yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s completely understandable. You have done the very human thing of grabbing all your painful emotions and memories and asking someone else to hold them for a while. So you can breathe, so you can feel safe. So you can belong.

Yet somehow handing this kind of power to someone else only offered you temporary relief. Sometimes they would understand, other times they would criticise you or appear indifferent. The understanding felt good, but it only deepened your hunger for love.
Sometimes they would move away from you, distant and cold, and you would panic. You needed them to regulate you, to help you calm yourself.

Now they are gone and you feel anything but calm. You feel lost, alone, desperate, miserable. You need them in your life to feel okay. All this is very normal. You are not weird or wrong for feeling this way. Your barrier between the alive, raw world and yourself is gone. Your distraction from the state of your life is gone. It’s right there, you can see it, and it hurts. You can see how afraid you are to live, to try new things, to stick with them. You compare your own messy life to how other people seemingly have it together and you feel like such a failure. How will anyone ever love you? How will you ever feel happy again?

These are good questions. The future might look bleak. Don’t worry though about that big chunk of life that you envision in your mind as “the future”. Just think about how you can make today a little better. Crying is good. Screaming in your pillow is good. Not wanting to go outside is good. Grabbing a pen and paper afterwards and writing a love letter to the person you lost is good. Crying is good. Watching a movie to distract yourself from the pain is good. Everything has its time and place. What can you do for yourself today? How can you show yourself that you have faith? Faith in your own strength. In the fierceness of life. Faith that each day will bring something good, even if it’s just the relief you feel after a good cry. After a while you might start to see that the only question that really matters is: how can I show myself that I’m worthy of love? How can I be brave and allow myself to trust that I know what makes me feel alive and happy? How can I forgive myself for the stumbles on the road? How can I open my mind and my heart to my full self?

Dear friend, of course I’m jumping way ahead of myself. You are feeling lonely and broken. You desperately want someone to tell you that you will get back together, that you won’t have to live alone. You would rather skip this business of having to carry everything by yourself. You really, really love him/her and it hurts to breathe. I know. It’s okay, totally okay to feel that. Can you take a few deep breaths? Can you trust me when I say that it’s not so important whether you get back together or not right this instant? Can you breathe a little deeper still? That’s the only thing you need to know right now: there is time to figure it all out. It’s going to be okay even if you don’t contact him/her today. There is time to breathe, to cry, to watch a good movie, to read a book, to take a walk. You are not alone. Life will always carry you, it will not let you fall. Trust me, there is time.

Now that you know this, what is the next right thing you can do for yourself?

Healing is

Healing is

taking all the time you need to recover, to discover all your buried feelings and desires.
to not rush into decisions out of fear,
to not delay on decisions out of fear.
to give yourself space and stretches of time where nothing has to happen,
where you can just sit and listen to the silence.
Let your emotions go through you,
I know they can be very scary.
The panic, the hurt, the fear and despair.
But do you remember the feeling of relief when the sun appears proudly
after a whole day of rain, and brightens up the whole room?
That’s how joy will return to you when you face those scary feelings
and give them room.
Some days you’ll desperately want to distract yourself
and that’s okay too.

Healing is
taking responsibility for the things you can change,
believing that you can change,
that nothing is hopeless,
that there might be a brighter future ahead.

Healing is
being okay with not being okay all the time.
crying when you need to.
putting yourself first
saying goodbye



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