Everyone who knows better than me is telling me just how volatile and confused this time can be. I spoke with someone today I’ve been wanting to speak with, but shy about. Partly I assumed that, since he seemed likable, he is probably popular and can’t handle talking to yet another person.
But instead he spoke with me in a more connected and attentive way than anyone has in a long time. Maybe that was just for today, but his presence gave me something to aspire to. Which I had sensed when I first heard him speak a year ago, which is why I wanted to talk with him, and also why I was terrified. People of presence are frightening to the ego?
He spoke to me of this period being like you’re trying to cross an ocean from New York to England, and you’ve made it half way, and you’re tired and it’s challenging and you maybe just want to turn back, you maybe are finding a lot of unexpected troubles come up and you maybe are finding it difficult to even stay afloat. But he urged me: keep going. Pick up the oars that brought you this far and keep going. Which reminds me of a mantra that Josh Korda uses that I like, “I love you, keep going.”
He told me something else that I needed to hear. He said that we get into relationship with others in order to heal. I take that to mean both “to heal others” and “to be healed.”
This jives with my past life’s casual reading into kinship, where my favorite framework is John Borneman’s that it’s about human needs “to care and be cared for.” This is the benefit of the secure connections Josh talks about a lot. Which touches on the psychological/spiritual experience of individuals around kinship, where we experience limerance and attachment and sympathy and bonding in friendships as much as romantic entanglements. All of which serve to put us in relation, in connection, in order to care for each other. Past traumas and caregivers who couldn’t be there for us leave us with poor defenses and strategies that hobble our ability to connect with others, and basically make the mutual caring of kinship synonymous with mutual healing.
It sets up a catch-22 where we may have difficulty connecting with others, yet that connection is the thing that can heal us best towards being able to connect better.
In the past I have mainly connected in the abstract to these ideas, but bringing it home to my personal life and the feelings of healing, support of growth, and care that I have experienced in good relationships, allows me to more personally and mindfully state that it’s true, I seek to be connected in order to heal and be healed. And that this should be my relationship to myself, as well. This is a powerful thing to be aware of.
My new friend today reminded me so, so kindly of just how much things are not about me — of just how much other people have their own stories and their own healing trajectories. This is a compassion I seek to embody more automatically in my life as time goes on.
It is helpful to be readjusted to the idea that I am not here to cling to things that bring me pleasure, but to serve and heal others and to receive through the giving. And to rest in the flow of what is, not thrash about creating turbulence. I know if I start lingering over questions of “what might I lose?” I am doing something wrong; the counter-intuitive antidote, for my own well-being, should be, “what might I give?”
Thus begins part of my homework for year two.