I have been trying to write for days now about the experience of turning corners, of coming back home, or starting to grow a little lighter. I have been trying but words have been escaping me, so profound and deep and yes scary this experience is, this coming home to myself. I don’t know how to write about something so big.
I stayed for days in a dark quiet place, knowing that the reason I was there was that I was facing a great big fear–the fear that is my great foe, the monster that lives in my closet and hides under my bed. I felt that if I could stay there in the dark and not hide under the covers, if I could stare her down, sit with her and maybe get to know her that maybe I would just finally get rid of her. And so I did. I sat with the fear of being abandoned. I sat with the fear of being left vulnerable. I sat and I sat. And I felt the fear flood me and fill me and rise up into my throat. I had no energy for triumph or overcoming. So I just sat.
And then, the day after the full moon, as the moon started to wane, a tiny light started to grow in my heart. A light that allowed itself to spark when a friend invited me out to a swanky party and I allowed myself to say yes. Coming up for air and being with my dear ones, allowing them to express their love in the simplest of gestures–shared scotch, stolen conversation, a late night walk–it a gave me peace. It whispered to me that I knew the way home. I did. I really did.
The light grew stronger over the weekend as I sat at the pool, flanked by two of my favorite guys. One who brought me a latte, fresh from the coffee place down the street, another who loaned me his magazine, played with my child and brought me bottled water. I noticed that though I had not left my chair for hours, all my needs were met and I felt held, cradled in the simplest manner, like a child.
It grew the night I ate two dinners. One with my child, his friend and mine. To strangers we must have looked like we were a family on a Sunday night outing but we were pieces of three families merged into one. We were family–just not the nuclear kind. We were my family. We were out but I felt at home. Later that night I ate the best steamed mussels I have had in a long time and salad from a neighborhood garden, roasted asparagus and ripe yellow tomatoes–I was not hungry for food but I was for the love with which it was prepared, the pleasure with which it was plated just for me, there spontaneously. I ate it with a side of laughter and a bit of girl talk and felt a bit brighter all the while.
Two days ago I sat at an acupuncture appointment and told my partner in healing, my beloved teacher and guide about my descent into the fear of abandonment and my humble return home. She sat quiet for a moment, contemplating what I had told her and then she asked me to think about something while she left the room. She asked me to think hard and to answer from my deepest darkest place. She asked me if it was OK to be needy.
By the time she got back tears streaked my cheeks. I wanted to say yes, for when crisis has rocked my world, I have appreciated those who sheltered me and took care of my needs. I wanted to say yes because I loved to be there for those who needed me, their neediness was not a burden but a gift to me–a gift that allowed me to be my best self.
But I couldn’t say that it was OK for me to be needy. Because in the end, I want to believe that I, and I alone am all that I need. Needing others, allowing them to love me meant that maybe they wouldn’t and I would go without. Incomplete.
I wanted to believe, I needed to believe that I could do it all on my own–that I would never need to depend on anyone again–that I would never need fear abandonment. That I could pull the covers over my head and make the monster disappear.
She looked at me with great love in her eyes but her voice was stern and strong. She essentially said this: Meg, when you give and give and do not allow those who love you to give back to you, when you take care of the needy but do not allow yourself to be needy in return, you rob your community and you set yourself out of balance. And the universe is going to kick you in the ass to set it right again. You need to receive love and if the only time you are going to allow yourself to be loved is when you are recovering from a crisis then you will be hit with crisis after crisis. Its just that simple.
The thing you need to do to heal is simple but not easy: Allow yourself to be loved.
Allow yourself to be loved.
It is so easy for me to love others, it is so easy for me to see the beauty that they bring to the world and to appreciate it for the rough, cranky and imperfect gift it is but frankly if I am completely honest I have a lot of doubts about whether they will love me in return. Not because I don’t see myself as loveable but because, perhaps I doubt whether I can count on them to rise to the occasion of loving me completely.
I trust myself to love them, but I do not trust them to love me back. I dance around the doubts, while I make excuses for my dear ones–all the reasons why love, fearless true love is hard. I tell myself all the reasons why I shouldn’t expect it while I prepare myself for disappointment. I tell myself how hard it is for them to see me completely. I compensate in my mind and in my heart for all the ways I anticipate that they will let me down.
I really sell my dear ones short.
And yet, every time I need them so many of them rise, rise, rise to the occasion. Not all of them mind you, but the good ones. The ones I call tribe. They always do in the smallest and simplest of ways. A shared drink, a sweet song, a movie ticket, a tea, painting my toenails, making me a salad, making my bed, bringing me a latte, loaning me a book, telling me a joke, sending me an email, a phone call, a secret whispered message while lighting a candle for me. There are the big ways too–the ways so big, and wide and open. They rise, they always rise.
And if I am honest, they rise everyday whether I need them or not. And maybe the one who fails to see completely is me. Maybe it is I who fails to see them and how they would cradle me if only, if only I let them.
And it is this, this simply complex and impossibly easy thing, that is blocking me.
As we talked, as I struggled to wrap my head and heart around her words, as I struggled to understand how I failed my loved ones by not allowing them to love, the most amazing thing happened.
Over her shoulder a rainbow appeared. It stretched fully across the horizon and filled the picture window. I stopped her mid sentence and told her to turn around. We both walked to the window, with mouths agape and gazed at the rainbow. And then, we witnessed a second rainbow hover over the first. It was a miracle, nothing I had ever seen. It was brilliant. It was perfect.
That pair of rainbows stayed with us through the rest of my appointment. As she took my pulses and inserted needles. As I lay on the table, I gazed out the window at its brillance. It was a message, a punctuation mark, a song, a miracle. It said YES. It said WHAT SHE SAID. It said TRUST. It said OK, DAMN IT IF YOU NEED A SIGN HERE IT IS.
As I drove home I was sure that I was changed forever. And in some ways I suppose I am. But in other ways I see how this fear is sticking with me still, how stubborn I am. How hard it is to let go of fear. How this journey does not end at the rainbow, but how the rainbow is just the beginning.
Tonight, the one who loves my child so dearly got another lecture from me about how he needs to let me know if its getting to be too much, this adoration, this affection, this responsibility. He looked at me with patience but I could see he was tired of this conversation and I saw in his weary face how I was selling him short again. How I was doubting how much he could love. How I failed to see him with his big heart for what it was–big and wide open. How scared I was that his love for Max would change. How scared I was that if we asked too much of him, his love for us would change.
And I asked myself, can I trust my dear ones to love us completely? Can I trust them to see me and still stay? Can I leap unafraid into their arms? Can I really do that?
And I thought about the phrase, FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY. And I wondered if I could? Really. What would it cost? Everything and nothing and everything again.
I don’t know how to end this post. Because I don’t know how to write about coming home. It don’t know how to write about something that feels so big and scary and beautiful and bright. I don’t know how to end something that speaks only about beginnings.
So I will just begin again. And begin again. And again.
With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always —
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
-TS Eliot, The Four Quartets