Most of my life has been difficult and painful; I made it that way, but I have chosen something different. Transitioning from a life of pain and suffering into a life of love and possibility involves a powerful chain of events. It is a gradual process not unlike peeling back the layers of an onion. When all those layers are peeled away, there is literally nothing left — nothing but space and love.
The first layer for me was recognizing my own co-dependency manifesting as a need to do for others what they could do themselves. I thought this was love. It is not loving to rob someone of his opportunity to learn for himself. It was predominantly my children who bore the brunt of this unhealthy thinking, and it caused many problems for my oldest son. Seeing his suffering forced me to begin seeking ways to heal myself, and I grabbed at anything that offered hope: therapy, Al-Anon, unhealthy friendships, and lots of books. My first marriage left me disillusioned and in a lot of pain, but I so wanted to be married – to experience a truly loving relationship. My Al-Anon sponsor encouraged me to write down exactly what I wanted in a partner and give my desire to God. I found a small wooden box in an antique shop and placed my list of all the qualities I wanted in a husband in the “God Box.” This was the first time I trusted the Universe to bring me my desire. I chose to believe that the love of my life was “out there.” If I just continued to believe, I would find him. I wouldn’t let myself believe otherwise.
The second layer required turning my attention to myself and figuring out how to make myself happy. I went to college, dated a LOT, learned to ride a motorcycle, participated in support groups, and began a teaching career. I found great joy in learning and peaceful solitude in riding my Sportster, but teaching seemed to take over my life. I wanted to be the best teacher I could be and even earned “Teacher of the Month,” but the personal sacrifices began to take a toll on me. It was at the end of this time period that I met this man I had trusted the Universe to bring me. When he proposed, I knew he was the one; he is definitely the love of my life. It would become clear to me during my next phase just how much I needed his love.
The next layer opened my mind to the idea of letting go of my dependency on antidepressant medication. It was something I felt called to do, and when my emotions began to seep out of me uncontrollably, I left teaching — so committed was I to the process of healing my need for this drug. This time period was my darkest, and I began to seek healing through spirituality in earnest. Ironically, it was during this time that my husband’s love for me carried me. I can remember days where I dissolved into tears and nights when I struggled to pull myself out of my depression. My husband never put me down, never criticized me; he just loved me though all of it. For the first time in my life, I saw love in action. He cooked for me, brought me coffee in bed, made me laugh – God, how he made me laugh! I can still see the compassion in his eyes as I struggled to process all of the emotions I was feeling. I had married my best friend.
Peeling back the next layer revealed a lesson in self-trust as well as trusting the Universe to meet our financial needs without my teaching income. I learned just how strong I was and how capable of meeting every single financial obligation. It was during this time that our business was born. In hindsight, I believe that I was beginning to give back to Terry all of the love he was giving me. I reminded him of how much talent he has and that he should not settle for less – that he deserves an abundance of money for his work. It was my vision that drove the engine of our business success. I knew that Terry had the ability; we just needed to somehow attract the work. We kept telling ourselves, “Our bills are always paid; we always have all of the money we need.” Miraculously, we have attracted work since that time and our income has doubled! Within a year, we were debt free (with the exception of my student loans).
As I move closer to my center, this next layer involves letting go of the negative relationships I have attracted to myself. A long-time acquaintance has said many times, “another person’s reaction to me says a whole lot more about them and their history than it does about me and mine.” She is wrong. This particular acquaintance was not always kind to me, yet I chose to call her “friend.” The fact that I would allow another person to treat me with contempt and disrespect definitely says more about me. Because I am a divine expression of God, I deserve to be treated with love, kindness, and respect. I choose to surround myself with people who value the privilege of friendship with me — who respect my boundaries, my feelings, and my inherent worthiness. I release all who do not. I choose people who see my talents, who support my dreams, who love me in even in my madness.
In peeling back all of these layers – the need to control others, the need to numb my pain, the need to “put up with” to fit in, indeed a need to hate myself all revealed deep down a need for self-love. We cannot love others when we cannot love ourselves — quite simply because we do not know how. Loving the self, forgiving the self for all of the flaws, the mistakes, the shortcomings, the embarrassing missteps is the gateway to attracting all of the love into your life you can stand! When we can forgive ourselves, we most definitely can offer forgiveness to others; this is the birthplace of compassion and of love.
What does love look like?
Love shows up in what we do for others.
Love forgives faults and imperfections.
Love is a warm hug or a hot cup of tea given with nothing expected in return.
Love respects another’s need to “go it alone,” to make one’s own decisions.
Love says, “You can do it! Let me tell you how wonderful you are!”
Love allows for differences of opinion.
Love respects all races, all beliefs, and seeks to see what we have in common rather than what divides us.
Love sees the value in every person no matter their education or skill set or history.
Love sees the beauty in every person.
Love is a gift we bring to the world.
Sending big ole’ bushels of love,
A TDL Reader