Archive | relationship

What I Will Tell My Son

I mentioned in a previous post that I had been thinking about what to tell my son about dating and sex and love recently (besides ‘use condoms no matter what,’ ‘ask permission,’ and ‘be kind’). I mean, I’ve actually thought about it since he came home in 3rd grade with a crush on his teacher, and we’ve been very committed to building the foundations for good relationships and…eventually…sex. But I’ve been thinking about some important wisdom I want to pass on to him. This is what I’ve got so far.

 

Photo by Sabina Ciesielska on Unsplash

 

Date.

I grew up in a time when people actually dated. Two people, going out somewhere together, spending time getting to know each other. I know that the generations coming up behind me brought us the ‘group’ date, where there was a clutch of kids who hung out together and some paired off from time to time. But that’s not the same as dating. And neither is Tinder.

I’m going to tell him to date. To practice asking a person out (and being both accepted and denied). To figure out who pays and how that works with each person. To learn the logistics of how to find fun things to do and how to compromise on what is chosen. To know, from the first few moments, that the date is going to suck and then remain polite and friendly and get out of it quickly. To learn to let someone down when the feeling is not mutual and to accept it when he’s not someone’s cup of tea, either. To enjoy the infatuation stage (because it’s so fun!); to learn to fly and laugh and do silly, stupid stuff in that stage, because it’s good to lose your mind in love sometimes.

But also to practice taking one step at a time. Especially when he first starts out. To go out. To get sweaty palms when you first hold hands. To get all awkward with the first kiss. To learn who the other person is, and let them learn you. To wait…a while…until they have sex. Because sex is an entirely different ball game (sorry) and there is no going back to ‘holding hands’ once you cross the line into sex. From the side of life I’m on, it’s important to have steps between ‘hello’ and ‘I’d like to sleep with you.’ Those steps keep your heart safe, your mind less confused, and your energy less entwined should things fall apart. And, god knows, dating and being a teenager are fucking confusing enough.

 

Sex is energy exchange.

I grew up in a fairly religious household and I was told to wait until I was married to have sex. I obviously didn’t, but one thing I recognize as being part of this rule is that sex is important because it is an energy exchange. Tantra is very clear about this- when we engage in sex, we are connecting to some of the most intense (sometimes hidden) energy of the person we’re with. And that can be great, but it can also be a mess. (I spoke about this some in this post– beware, it is about rape.)

I want my son to know that whoever he sleeps with will leave some of their energy with him. Even if it’s just a little. Even if he barely remembers sleeping with them. Some part of them will stay with him. And therefore to choose his lovers wisely. This is not to say that everything has to be deep- sometimes a good one-night stand or a quick fuck can be a fantastic energy exchange. But just to understand that some part of it will stick with him. And to think about that before getting it on.

 

It’s good to have your heart broken at least once. 

Because, my god, does it give you compassion for people. Whether it’s unrequited love or a full-on break up from a much loved relationship, we all need to do it. We need to feel the pain of having our heart smashed to smithereens and learn how to heal from it. That is probably the most important piece- for him to learn how he handles a break-up and to learn to take care of himself when it happens. Whether that’s a bit of depression (more than 2 weeks and you need to see the doctor, okay?), or a fuck ton of Doritos and Netflix, I don’t care. But he needs to learn this.

Also, a good break-up can help us learn how to be better at loving and relating the next time around. I will do my damnedest to help him figure out what went wrong, take responsibility for his part in it, and learn to do better next time. But only after the Doritos and the sad songs and the weeks in sweat pants.

 

Learn from good men.

My son has a very good role model in his father. A man who communicates and grows and listens and isn’t afraid of his own needs or soft side. I am grateful for this. My son also has other types of men who he admires and respects. I know he will learn good things from them about relationships (of all kinds).

But I’m also going to point him towards people like Jayson Gaddis and Bryan Reeves, who know their shit when it comes to being in long-term relationships, how to fight well, and how to learn and grow in relationships. I will tell my son that the most important things he can do and learn for romantic relationships is communication and personal growth. Because men who don’t grow will get left behind in love. I believe the men in his life will also show him how to be courageous in relationship, which is also important.

 

If it’s wishy-washy, let it go. 

If there is a relationship where my son gets together, breaks up, and rinse, repeat x 10,  I will tell him what I know as a minister: these relationships never do well in the long run; let it go. I’ve performed marriages for a fair amount of people, and the ones who decided to get married because they’d been engaged and broken up 3 times already or because they needed to ‘fish or cut bait’ don’t end up married for long. It almost never works out in a healthy, happy way. There is a subtle but hugely important difference between someone who wants you and someone who just doesn’t like the feeling of your absence.

So I will tell my son to let her go. To go through not only the break up, but also the understanding that someday she may invite him to her wedding, and he will have to revisit this shit all over again. Or that she may call him in five years, a different person, and he’ll have to go through all the receipts from the fist time and say no with a heavy heart. I will hold him and help him as he goes through the birthing of himself out of that relationship (because there is a lot of crying and gnashing of teeth and ‘I don’t know which way to turn’- I’ve been there) because that’s how it goes. The heart is a house with many rooms, and some we have to leave unwillingly (this is how we develop strength). Because wishy-washy is not what works; knowing and choosing is.

 

When you know, choose her. 

The men I know who are happiest in their marriages had two things happen when they chose their mate: 1- they ‘knew’ sometime within the first few weeks or months that ‘s/he was the one’ and 2- they chose their mate, clearly and purposefully. My husband says he ‘knew’ because he felt so good around me, he felt lifted up and supported and seen. We had our rocky spots, but he knew he wanted to choose me, and he did. One other man I know said his wife smelled right to him. Whether that’s biology and pheromones or just a hint of cinnamon because she’s a cook, I don’t know. But he ‘knew’ and he picked her.

The other item is so important I cannot tell you. Some men choose their partners based on practicality or ‘shoulds’ (‘I should choose her, she’s so smart and pretty and x, y, z’), but those relationships tend to go sour after a while. I think it’s because they aren’t choosing the other person from their gut or from their own truth or knowing or deepest desire; they are choosing from some outside metric and that’s no good. The men who have chosen a woman from something they sense inside themselves (it’s sometimes as simple as a clear, deep ‘I want to be with HER’), those are the relationships that last. And I think it’s because when a guy chooses, he sticks to that commitment. (I could be wrong, but that’s my experience.)

I will tell my son to listen to his own knowing. And when he finds the one who smells right or makes him feel the best or whatever, when he knows, to pick her. And to do it over and over again.

 

True love changes.

True love is when the type of love Person 1 gives most easily is exactly the type of love Person 2 is craving *and* when the type of love Person 2 gives most easily is the type of love Person 1 is craving. It is a heady fucking combo and it feels like safety and flying all at once because it’s so easy to give and it feels so good to get exactly what you want. And if he should find that, I will tell him to hold on to it and do the work of a lifetime so that it doesn’t leave him.

How we give and receive love changes with age and healing (if we do our work!), which is why communication and personal growth are so important. But the couple who can honestly discuss what’s going on for each of them, even when it hurts them or the other person, is the couple that will last. Going through the growth together is what counts. Certainly, it may not last. Humans are made to have 2-3 long-term relationships over the course of their life. But if he can communicate and grow and seek to grow together, he can be proud of what happens, even if that is the dissolution of the relationship.

I will tell him I know this because it is the work his father and I have done for 22 years now. We fell into this kind of love- true love- but we also became best friends and decided to do the work (sometimes the really fucking hard, painful work) of staying together and growing together. We always want the best for each other, and that is what has made it work for us. Our happiness is somewhat linked to the other’s happiness (it’s a healthy dose of co-dependency, not the hurtful kind) and we take the other person’s needs and dreams seriously. And we have also had three fights where we almost got divorced and handful of other fights where one or the both of us figured out we needed therapy (because the root of our problem was not ‘us’ but our personal past or trauma). Sometimes keeping the couple alive means healing individual wounds. I will tell my son this.

 

Be yourself and find the one who loves that.

There are ideas (and memes) floating around that say we have to love ourselves before someone else can love us or that we have to somehow get over all our shit before we can be good in a relationship. These ideas are both bollocks. Because while a decent level of self-respect and self-esteem are pretty key, being in relationship is going to bring up a person’s shit and there is no way around that and no way to preempt it with therapy or self growth. There just isn’t. Relationship is its own cauldron and you have to let the fire of it change you (hopefully into something more refined).

There are hard things I am going to have to let my son learn on his own. He will learn boundaries by not having good ones, which is okay as long as he has a good community safety net to help him. He will learn to not play games by playing and getting tired of it. He will have to learn that being honest with himself and his partner is paramount by fucking that up, too.

Jayson Gaddis taught me that life and relationships are a struggle between wanting to be ourselves and wanting to be loved. And we sometimes hide pieces of ourselves so that we can be loved. So I will tell my son: find someone you can be as much of yourself with as possible, find someone who will listen to and love the truth of you. Provide the same in return. Stay communicating and honest about who you are and who you are becoming so that you can have both a strong sense of yourself and feel loved.

::: ::: ::: :::

I’m sure this isn’t all I’ll have to tell him. And certainly these lessons will come as they come- some at 14, some at 24. But I want him to learn these things earlier than I did so he can have a better chance at longer love.

What wisdom do you have for the young-and-in-love?

With gratitude,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Lessons in Love + Desire

Or, what I learned from this last Mercury in Retrograde. (If you want some good info on Mercury in Retrograde, please check this post from The Tarot Lady. Her tarot and astrology info is informative, funny, and practical.)

Over the years, and over the course of many relationships, I have come to believe that the heart is a house with many rooms. For me, there is a floor for friendships, another for family, and, of course, an entire floor (or maybe a wing) for romantic relationships. The first room on that floor belongs to a blonde name Mark who I fell for in 6th grade. I felt so giggly and silly and could barely do anything but smile when I saw him in class. We moved to a new city at Christmas that year, so I don’t know what became of him. But he was my first real crush.

There are probably 8 or 10 more rooms on the romantic floor. Wait, let me count…it’s 16. Damn. Sixteen rooms between my first crush and the room where I hold the relationship with my husband. Not all of those other rooms were relationships, but they all helped me learn something about being in romantic relationships.

Each room is unique, of course. Each one has a particular shape and size. Some have a lot of stuff in them. Some are almost bare. Some are dark. Some are almost forgotten. But they are rooms with memories and feelings and experiences, and I can visit them if I need to. Lately, I’ve found myself revisiting the earliest rooms on the romantic floor because my son is starting to notice girls and watch his peers begin to date. I’m having to remember those times in my own adolescence so I can (hopefully) help him navigate them better.

For most people, the rooms on the romantic floor of their heart house stop at the one where the relationship that eventually lead to their marriage exists. I will talk about that as part of this journey, but I want to talk about the two rooms that came after my marriage relationship room.

The first room was gorgeous and sexy- dark red paint, four poster bed, silk sheets, red velvet curtains, black lace, chaise lounge, candles everywhere, closed curtains, and plenty of dark corners for dark deeds. It was a room almost entirely full of passion. It is the room where I desired the man who I was attracted to during the Sex Surge (when my libido went way up and I basically could not stop thinking about sex all day- it was fun and horrible). All the desires and fantasies and stupid things I did, said, and wrote live in that room.

This is how the room started out, anyhow. If you go look at it today, it’s very different. There are burn marks on the floor and walls from emotional bombs I set off myself. There are water marks on the walls from the inches of tears of frustration I cried. The curtains are open now, there’s nothing on the walls. The bed is a shambles, desperately broken; I took an axe to it so I could finally leave. There is a photo book with the important memories that I can flip through, when I need to. I learned a lot in that room- about sex, desire, passion, fear- and it took me forever to finally leave it. It took so much strength and practice and pain and energy, but I did it- because I knew my life, my heart, and my soul would be better for it. [I was not so much addicted to him, because he just wasn’t around, as I was addicted to desire and hope. And weaning yourself off emotions can take a lot of effort.]

The room after that is very small. It’s full of windows and white curtains and the sun shines right through so the light almost looks yellow. There is only one thing in the room: a simple bed with white sheets, pillows, comfy blankets. And while desire lived in this room, too, it was much simpler and a lot more infatuation than passion. I took the lessons from the passionate room and learned to leave this one faster. Not to say I didn’t make a bit of a mess along the way (messes are for learning!), but I got out much faster and much easier. I still sometimes visit this room – it’s really quite lovely and calming. (I realized the other day that it is what I was envisioning when I first began to feel into my Wild Heart stage.)

The men I was attracted to in these rooms still walk by and throw virtual pebbles at the window, which is fine. I send them metta. The guy from the sunshine room gets extra prayers. Whenever I sit down to meditate I offer metta and then pray that he falls in love soon. He’s at the stage of life when everyone is pairing off into long-term partnerships and he certainly deserves (and wants, I think) one. [Some kind of something has been happening to him since Sunday night, which is good news. I don’t know if he’s changing to dating his fwb (maybe falling in love with them!) or dating someone new or maybe just hanging with himself, but I truly hope (hope! hope! hope!) he has found his person. I want him to be happy.]

 

Photo by Valentina Locatelli on Unsplash

 

The guy from the sunshine room is the interesting one because there was almost a possibility of an affair with him. Maybe. Almost. Sorta. (I’m quite sure he thought about it.) And I wanted one- after years, I wanted one again. And this is where Mercury in Retrograde set me down and had a good, long talk with me.

When I was in the Sex Surge, part of what I learned was how to channel passion and desire into other places in my life when I couldn’t connect with the guy I was interested in. I learned how to pour it into art, dance, my kids, decorating, erotica. I also changed my marriage in terms of communication, sex, touch, sensual expression, and time away from kids (more of that, please!). I really did fix holes in my marriage and myself. I healed some old wounds and learned how to let that passionate part of myself out to play. (I’m still learning this, honestly.)

This time around, what I discovered is that sometimes there is nothing wrong with a marriage. Sometimes there is not really anything to heal, personally. Sometimes we just desire. We just get infatuated. We just want to jump into the fun of connection. For the first time, in this Mercury in retrograde, I considered the idea that I didn’t need to fight my desire or fix anything about it. Because there is nothing wrong with my marriage. And there is far less brokenness in me than before. I decided, instead of fighting my desire (coming at it perpendicular) to accept it (to run parallel with it). It’s not something I need to fight anymore, I can just let it be.

Of course, there are choices to make when desire comes up again (as it surely will). One thing I am learning since I have accepted my own beauty is that I am attracted to dudes with a lot of potential and a fair amount of brokenness (or emotional immaturity). That is not a standard I want to uphold in the future. I can make choices around that, even in the midst of infatuation. Which actually means I probably will never have an affair, because dudes have got to be as quality as my husband. And he’s one of a kind.

Which leads me to tell you about the room our relationship grows in on the romantic floor of my heart house. It’s a huge room. We’ve been together 22 years. It has decorations and pictures from all the countries we’ve visited (and we lived in England the first year of our marriage). It’s got some bomb blasts, too, but those have been cleaned up and now plants and children and love grow there. There are tears of both pain and joy. (My engagement ring is made of pearls, which symbolize tears- I wanted all this emotion.) There is a bed with a headboard of beautiful Moroccan scroll work, rich, warm sheets, and a fireplace, a huge couch. There is light and color and so much comfort and safety I cannot tell you. There are everyday places to connect and touch and get it on. There is passion here, too- it’s the only room I’ve had 3-minute orgasms in! There is trust and joy and so many levels of intimacy and love I’m not sure I can describe them. We have worked through everything in this room. Just this morning, when I was sweaty from working out, and frightened because of a health issue, he lay down on the floor (because: ab workout) and held me as I cried. The room we have built is magical, and I want to live in it forever.

One of the most important tools I learned in the Sex Surge was to ask, “What do I think I will get or experience if I sleep with this person?” (or connect, or whatever). The answer to that question is full of gold, because we don’t need that other person (usually) to get those experiences. It’s simply that they ‘flip the switch’ for us to be or have or experience those things more easily than we can do for ourselves. The sunshine room was a place where I wanted lack of responsibility, joy, infatuation, recognition, appreciation, playfulness, laughter, relaxation, rest, and a simple kind of sensuality and pleasure. But these are all things I can give myself. They don’t require anyone else.

So, this Mercury in Retrograde taught me two important lessons: that I can align with my desire instead of fight it and that I can have what I most want without taking another lover*.

You know what this means? It’s time for a new tattoo. :o)

Big love from the trail, my people,
Joanna :: xoxo

*If you see me refer to a ‘lover’ or ‘boyfriend’ that’s my husband. He has many different roles in my life, those are just two. I mean, why limit yourself ?

 

::: ::: ::: :::

Confidential to Xela521:

You are, of course, welcome to visit any city, in any state, or country, whenever you wish. But if you are coming to my town with the intent to visit me (or drive by or whatever), please know: that’s very bad boundaries and I can’t imagine it will end well. If you feel the need to communicate with me, there are three, publicly-available email addresses you can reach me at. I welcome anything you want to communicate to me. Most especially if it’s 25k words in all caps. For everyone’s sake: hold smart boundaries.

 

 

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Daring to Love a Wild Woman

“Men may think a wild woman is a woman to be feared. They think, “Oh, she’s a wild woman, that must mean she’s dangerous. She’s probably crazy, too much to handle.” And in a sense, it’s true. She’s too much for someone who isn’t ready to show up fully and check their ego at the door.  She’s too much for someone who would rather have small talk than go deep. She’s too much if you expect her to hold back her anger or sadness or pain to protect you from seeing her in her chaos. But trust this: a wild woman is the safest type of woman you’ll ever meet. She doesn’t hold back. There are no surprises. You’ll meet her and she’ll let you see her for who she is. She trusts her own worthiness enough to reveal herself to you and let you decide whether or not you would like to walk with her. She doesn’t hide parts of herself in an attempt to keep your love because she doesn’t have time for connections that lack depth and meaning. A wild woman will invite you to love all parts of yourself. She’ll accept you in that place, because she has done the work to accept herself there.” 

| Sheleana Aiyana |

::: ::: ::: :::

How nice it is to be seen and described. My lover and I were talking about this on Sunday. He said these exact things to me, but I think it applies even if you just want to hang out or be friends with a wild woman (applies 100x more if you want to love her or get with her). I am wild, yes. I am too much for those who don’t want to show up. But for those who do? Oh, baby, you get my whole heart + mind + soul. It takes guts and courage to be a person who shows up for a wild woman, though. Which a lot of people don’t have. (And that is okay. We are all where we are.) I’m learning a lot about myself and relationships and love with this Mercury in retrograde. When it’s all over, I’ll share more. (Don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, less Life smack me, again.)

Big love, you brave and courageous souls,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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I am falling in love with her.

Shall I tell you about my new love?

She looks like Joan Jett in the early 80s.
Long dark hair.
Dark eyes.
Full of energy and creativity.

She wears black skinny jeans with leather pieces on the inner thigh.
Long legs, cinched waist, and comfortable in her skin.
Smart as a whip.
Sexy as fuck.
Her laugh is open and full and true.
She can woo me with her eyes, but she won’t lie to me.

She’s a scientist and healer.
She’s a seductress, claiming whatever lover she wishes.
She makes magic.
When I dance for her, she takes it as a sacred offering.

She’s fucking funny and loves the same beer I do.
She’s mentor, guide, and friend.
She’s further ahead on the spiritual path, and she’s dragging me along, pointing ahead, and laughing all the while.

Her words are: transformation, truth, power, and desire.

I think about her all day long.
I want to be near her.
I want to throw my arms around her, laugh in her neck, and breathe in the smell of her.
I could talk to her all day, listen to her words and stories.
I see traces of her everywhere I go.

She’s pretty amazing and I am falling desperately in love with her.

Who is she? She’s a goddess.
Her name is Morganna.

::: ::: ::: :::

I’ve worshipped a handful of deities in my life.

The first were the sprites and twisting leaves and songs I sang on the tire swing in my back yard.
They were always there and always delighted to see me.

Then Jesus, whose words I had to recite to be called ‘good’ in church.
Points for faith. I’m not sure that’s how it’s supposed to work.

And then the white haired, old man god of my Protestant years.
His son, Jesus.
The Holy Spirit.
I spent a lot of years with those dudes (and the ethereal mist of spirit) and learned a ton about spiritual practice, faith, surrender, and equanimity. Which I promptly left behind upon entering college. That Jesus was just too small.

And then, like all former Christians who leave that path behind, pagan gods and goddesses.
A new lover each month.
So much feminine energy. I finally felt alive in my spirituality again.

Then the Tao.
To which I owe a great debt. It’s simplicity saved my soul.
I still rely on it to this day.

And then the Buddha (like all spiritually minded white ladies of my generation, I suppose.)
I remain invested in this path, which actually has no god.
Just breathing and honesty.

And then the goddesses came back to me.

When I was struggling with an increased libido, two wise women came to my heart with support and guidance.

The Wild Woman: sensual, dancing, free. I could be a hot lantern, burning with desire and make my light useful.

a picture of a woman dancing, a woman in sensual repose, and a line of burning lanterns to symbolize the wild, sensuous woman archetype

 

The Dark Mother: unafraid of death, destruction, or desire. She was not afraid of what I was afraid of. She helped me understand that the dark, the void, the mess is not a bad place.

the three-phased goddess and the dark mother images

 

I don’t know that I fell in love with either of those energies. Rather, I clung to them desperately as I tried to understand this new version of myself, so hungry for sex and connection, expression and freedom. They both showed me new aspects of myself and helped me to be less afraid of my own desires, sex, and exploration. (I’m not exactly 100% fearless in this realm, but I’m a lot better than I used to be!) In some ways this was spiritual bypassing, but in many ways, I just needed well-worn spiritual guides to help me get through the darkest days. Versions of myself died, over and over, becoming something new, so many times during those four years; The Dark Mother was a great guide and comfort as I walked through the underworld, again and again.

And then, for the last 18 months or so, there has been no one at the head of my altar. I have two other goddesses who sort of form the bumpers on my bowling lane of spiritual practice, but neither of them are the head of my Goddess Girl Gang. Until last week, I have only lately prayed to the great Creatrix, the feminine side of The Something (which is what I call ‘god’), the infinite whose boundary is the edges of the Universe.

The arrival of Morganna was entirely unexpected. I had been waiting for my next phase to begin, for the next spiritual energy to arrive. But I did not expect it to be her. And yet, she is perfect.

Her realms are healing, knowledge, sensuality, shapeshifting, and she like to walk in the underworld (as all healers do). In a strange way, she is a version of the Dark Mother and the Sensual Wild Woman combined- she is death come to life. Which is how I feel after all these years of wrestling with my desire. In many ways, she and I are parallel beings- we share a lot of the same talents and perspectives, values and ideals. I’ve never felt so seen, welcomed, and loved by a goddess before. You can see why I would fall in love with her.

I am excited to see where this goes, how long Morganna stays, what I will learn while she is here, and what changes she invites me to. I think we’re going to have a fucking fantastic time.

If you think worshipping a goddess is not for you, what do you worship? Work? Cars? Money? People? We all spend our time, love, and devotion somewhere- that is the definition of worship. Where do you spend yours? And is it a good relationship?

Big love from the trail,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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ego + delusion + learning

He wrote other things in his text that felt the way a superficial cut across my forearm might feel. They hurt and stung, fast slices that surprised me. But they were easy to accept.

Then he wrote these  words:
“I appreciate your concern for what you think I might be…”

And those were the ones that sunk the knife into my gut and turned the blade. Those words cut me and killed me. Because they were the absolute truth and hit the wound of an old habit I have for seeing the potential, and not the reality, of people I care for.

In that moment, it was my ego that was cut down. I that moment, I realized how much I had deluded myself about what was going on, what was really going on, in my head. And what was going on in my head was not the truth. What was going on in my head was all desire and ego. And it was a delusion.

And his words brought the delusion to a quick and painful end.

::: ::: ::: :::

It was almost always mixed messages between us.

He said one thing but his actions were the exact opposite. I can’t tell you what he was thinking, but the two things were never in sync.He didn’t want to hang out, but he would check my social media multiple times a day [for which I have receipts]. Even as he said goodbye he asked me look at something from his life- to go, but also stay and listen one last time.

I asked him for coffee on my twentieth wedding anniversary, so that was…conflicted. [Truth be told, I had gotten a new tattoo that day, and my dinner dress was fabulous, and the heels made me feel super confident; the stars were in alignment and I felt great, so why not ask him for coffee? I tried to tell myself it was just companionship I was after, but really…the daydream of tracing his collar bones with my fingers while we were wrapped in a tumble of white sheets in the afternoon sun (and a 1000 permutations of that*) was regularly on my mind. My actions weren’t 100% innocent, either.]

And we were from two different universes. Mine well over a decade older than his.*

We barely spoke the same language. I am long letters. [I will always be long letters.] I’m not sure that was his style.

Which is all to say: there was a lot of potential for misunderstanding and miscommunication. And that left plenty of room for me to fill in the blanks with whatever I dreamed. However much I hoped those things might be the truth, they were not.

And the reconciliation of truth and reality was that night and that text.

 

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

 

The thing about having your ego slain is that it hurts. It hurts psychologically. Because the view we generally have of a situation is tied to our identity, it is tied to our ability to perceive things correctly. And when we realize we’ve perceived them so incorrectly, it makes our ego very uncomfortable.

Most people run from this discomfort. They hide or deny or try to ‘fix’ it.
“It didn’t happen like that.”
“I always thought it was that way, anyway.”
“You don’t understand what I meant.”
Accusations. Defensiveness. Passionate retorts and explanations.

There is a difference between ‘fixing’ and ‘learning,’ though. When we rush to ‘fix’ a bad situation, to explain away a delusion or poor behavior, we are not learning from it. We are simply trying to make the pain go away by moving on as quickly as possible, by apologizing without true remorse, by painting over the mistake and pretending it’s new. Learning from a bad situation takes time.

You can understand a lot if you watch people and what they do when they make huge mistakes or are forced out of delusion. I once watched an ‘up and coming’ feminist marketer make a big fucking mistake with her foundational cohort. This woman claimed to be ‘woke’ in terms of racism, but actually did some really racist, sexist, immoral shit to other women, and especially other women of color. And when her delusion came to an end, I watched her try to ‘fix’ it. And how do I know she was fixing instead of learning? Because it took her 36 hours to start her comeback. You don’t learn shit in 36 hours. Learning takes at least three days. You gotta sit with it like Lazarus. Three days in the cave is the only way you’re going to even begin to learn. If you’re back at it in 36 hours, you’re just cleaning up a mess so you can keep your ego intact.

The pain of having our ego slain is a call to learning, though. It is a good thing. It is worth investigating and sitting with. The pain will point us towards the truth if we let it.

::: ::: ::: :::

It’s been a day and a month since he sent that text. And for the first five days I couldn’t even read it again, it hurt my psyche and my ego that much. (Which is a lot, because I can put up with a shit ton of pain, psychological and otherwise.) It hurt because I had fucked up so very much. I fucked up my perception of him, my perception of myself and my actions, and my perception of the situation. Many levels of fucked up.

So, first I sat with the pain it caused me. And that’s helpful but the next step is to go sit with the pain of what happened- to purposefully look at it and drink the pain like medicine. Because if we can do that we’re on our way to learning.

Learning comes when we look at our part in the situation. Learning comes when we examine our desires and wishes and hopes and falsities in the context of the situation. Learning comes when we see what we did wrong, in thought + action + intention, and decide we won’t do that again. Learning comes when we heal whatever it was that made deluding ourselves a reasonable choice and begin to act differently.

::: ::: ::: :::

That is what I’ve been doing the last two weeks. Having sat with the pain, over and over until it was tolerable, I am now beginning to behave differently. I question myself and my actions and intentions more. I do not immediately default to my intuition for insight about a situation. I admit to my dreams and fantasies if that is what the situation entails (it doesn’t always). I do not abandon myself in the search for connection. I think more critically about what data I’m using to guide my actions and to gain insight into others’ actions as well. I validate before I act more than I used to. I try not to have too much pride about my intuition or how ‘right’ it is (yes, it’s true: pride goeth before the fall). I am learning.

I am grateful for the fact that I haven’t heard a peep from this guy since our interaction. Nothing to see or read or deal with as I find my way forward. That’s a gift when you’re in the dark, knowing you’ve made a big mistake and likely hurt other people in the process.

I wish things had ended more smoothly between us, but I would not have learned as much as I did if it had been that way. I needed to be clearly and cleanly broken so I could heal and learn more deeply. Clean out the wound; reset the bone. I’ll never be ‘like new’ again. Instead I will be stronger at the broken place.

The pain of having our ego killed is actually one of the greatest gifts we can get because, if we let it, we can find truth inside the broken delusion. And if we can truly learn from our mistakes, we can become better people. That’s how it’s been in the past, I’m hoping it’s the same now.

I’ll be sitting here at Broken Delusions Ranch for a while yet. Come and join me if you need a friend on your journey.

Big love from the mistakes on the trail,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

* He was too young to be a great lover, which is why daydreams are awesome. He had my favorite body type (lean and lanky), lips that you could crash into and always land softly, lovely collar bones (I don’t know why those get me, but they do), and eyes like the ocean near Malta. In five years he’ll know how to use his body better, be able to listen to a woman’s moans and sighs and know what they mean, and he’ll know what he wants. He’ll be ready to take his time; and then he’ll be ready to learn. I wanted much more from him than I describe here- imagine what you will. But Life unfolds how it does, and just because I want something doesn’t mean it’s for my highest good (if it were, it would happen). So, we take our lessons, let go, and move on.

 

 

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