Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: January 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Chinese Wall

In business, when there’s a conflict of interest within an organization, the accounting department will establish something called a Chinese Wall, which is essentially an information barrier. Like the brain barrier, it lets nothing in—especially if it could potentially harm the other entity or the organization as a whole. Forgive me in advance for this metaphor, but marriage is much like this and I recently ran smack into the wall, not really understanding yet that it was there. Now, I’m a woman who has studied the Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, especially in regard to the women’s teachings, back and forth, side-to-side, every which way—I wrote a book about it for God’s sake!--and still, I found myself running smack dab into the wall at full speed. And now, bloody and bruised, I’m not only enraged that the wall exists, I’m even angrier at myself for forgetting it was there. It’s proof that you can know this stuff intellectually, you can have it nailed down, so you think, and then life happens. And until you experience it, it’s all fruitless information. It’s not wisdom. Although I’m certainly not on the other side of the wall yet and so have no idea what lies on the other side, I have some experience with the wall itself at this point. So know that I’m reporting from the front lines—not from the safe distance of the peace treaty already signed, sealed and delivered. Once in every woman’s relationship to these teachings and to 3HO in general, she will confront the uncomfortable truth within herself that these teachings put in your face and won’t go away until you accept it or turn to the side (not necessarily rejecting it outright, but not necessarily drinking the kool-aid either). That truth is this: As a woman, I am entirely responsible for my experience—100%. I am the creator, the sustainer and the destroyer or deliverer of everything in my world. Period. Now, this is tremendously heavy to take on; but it’s also tremendously liberating. Because once you own it, you can change your life. But until you own it, it feels like a curse—and not that monthly gift, but the daily duty of taking responsibility for our own experience. Yuck! Who wants to do that? Nevertheless, this is the work. And for the most part, I can report that I reached that point where the Truth was in my face and I eventually surrendered to it. Now to the Chinese Wall that makes a marriage. Here I find myself once again with the truth shoved into my face demanding that I swallow it and I’m just as mad as I was the first time. I’m just as full of outrage and disgust. I’m just as terrified of what will happen when I surrender to it—if I surrender to it. But here’s the real rub: you see, in a marriage, you don’t have a choice, if you want to stay married, that is. What is this mysterious Chinese Wall you ask? Well, you know how you, as a woman, want to communicate and listen and share your process? Men want nothing to do with it. And the especially sharp and pointy part of this for me personally is that my definition of love has always been “to be seen.” But how can I be seen if I’m not heard; they are intrinsically linked in my mind. And if I can’t be heard, and I can’t be seen, then how can I possibly be loved? How can he possibly love me when he’s unwilling to listen to me, see me? This is the narrative in my own head, mind you. Meanwhile, my loving husband just looks at me alternately confused or disgusted by my commotions—and the love we do genuinely feel for each other comes dangerously close to being lost. Yogi Bhajan once said that if a man truly loves you, he’ll never listen to you. So here’s the bitter pill I must learn to swallow. Love in a marriage is nothing like we think it will be. It’s nothing like we want it to be. It’s another animal altogether—and the Chinese Wall is a part of that animal. And from here, at the base of it, all broken and battered, it seems to be the very heart of the beast. Back in high school, when I played volleyball (very poorly), we had a play that we laughingly called the Husband/Wife play and it referred to that moment when the ball dropped invariably to the floor between two available, capable and ready players—no communication. Communication in a marriage is still a mystery to me. And who knows, perhaps someday I’ll have something wise to say or words of council to offer. But for now, here I am, licking my wounds and wishing, hoping and praying that the wall would come down, all the while knowing it won’t. It can’t. It’s a load-bearing wall; it is his strength even as it is my weakness. Meanwhile, I chant Rakhe Rakhanhaar and hope for a way to place my prayers, my hopes, and my wishes in the cracks of the wall and trust that somehow, someway, they will be heard, as will his.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mastering Love

“I am mastering my love for you and turning it inwards as a constituent element of myself.” Sartre I found this quote today and it reflected back to me the path I must be willing to take if I am to master the art of loving. When I was younger, I would lose myself into the other, the lover, and every time, wake up 6 months later, or 2 years later, or let's be honest, two weeks later sometimes, and wonder where I had gone. I couldn't remember any of the things that used to animate my own life, I had so lost myself in the other. Apply this habit to a marriage and you have a recipe for disaster, or do you? Even as I have watched for it and been ever vigilant, it happens--and the inescapable fact to me now--at a ripe old age of 45 in a brand new marriage--is that it's supposed to happen. I am supposed to loose myself, lose myself, in the other. I am supposed to drop my own ego and attachment to what I want in order to seek a mutual happiness, a shared joy, a journey together. And yet, the older pattern, the one in which I don't recognize myself any longer and have nothing reflecting back at me to acknowledge this self-sacrifice still haunts me. So this morning I find myself lost and feeling separate from and yet somehow drowned at the same time in the other. And this is the hallmark of the older pattern: standing in front of the mirror and not recognizing who is reflected back, not recognizing myself. So what would it look like to take that same practice of loosing myself into the other but elevate it into the perfection it must achieve in order to sustain a marriage? The first test is to not loose oneself into the role. If I don't behave as I believe a wife should, I can't automatically assume that there's a breach in the relationship. That's what's happened this morning; I slept in and he went to work with hardly a word. And I spend the morning feeling I've failed in some fundamental way and create the separation within myself. Whatever I do or don't do as "wife" is not who I am and it is not the mutuality we share, not immediately and directly anyway. Serving those roles nurtures the bond, but assuming the role is the relationship is a conflation that destroys intimacy. Allow the role to serve you, not the other way around. The second test is to love in the face of getting everything you want, or nothing you want; it cannot be dependent on circumstance--good or bad. Love must remain steady: through good moods and bad, through the bottomed-out sense of identity and loss that quitting one's job brings to the creative exploration that sends you out into parallel universes that you cannot share, through everything that a day to day relationship brings with it: making the bed, scrubbing the toilet, washing the dishes, making the breakfast drink and so much more. Finding the mutuality--actually looking for it--is the daily task. This is the love--to look for it and to see and in seeing to understand. This cultivates empathy and mutuality, which in turns, creates the love. The third test is to as Sartre states so brilliantly, to somehow incorporate the love I feel into a sustaining food for myself. To somehow embody that love for the other (in this case my husband) as myself--the two become one--and so the love that flows outward must also flow equally inward. If not, then we create an imbalance. We never feel loved enough. And this realization comes the morning after my somewhat reserved husband said more than once last night how much he loved me. So the insecurity comes from within--no fooling myself in that regard. Mastering love is a life's work. And I'm making every effort to be compassionate to myself for you see, I've never done this before. That is, I've never remained myself and loved another person. And that's the only way for love to remain. Yes we change. Yes, we loose and lose ourselves in the other. But if there's no there there, who can he then love in return? I must remain and incorporate, literally give body, to this love I feel so that instead of consuming me in a bright flash of fire, it instead warms us both in a steady flame.