Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Alone With Love

Ash Wednesday is almost upon me.  The first day of Lent.  A day to begin forty days of fasting.  What for?  What is the purpose of this?  Self-deprivation.  It's no fun.  I face Lent each year with a kind of dread.  Why do this to myself?

Today is Mardi Gras, the feast before the fast. I don't feel inspired about what I'm giving up this year.  I don't feel ready.  I've dedicated this year to quiet love, and I'm giving up bitching for Lent.  I'm giving up negative expression, but more than that, deeper than that, my goal is to give up negative thought.  So what should my "feast" be?  A bitchfest, no doubt.  Which, come to think of it, puts me in the great biblical tradition of people like Job, who mightily complained to God when things didn't go his way.  

There are so many things I can bitch about from traffic to the uncertainty I feel in my own heart.  But what I really want to focus on is the unfairness of the blindness it seems I'm doomed to wander through life with.  The inevitable pain and sorrow, the intolerable length of time it takes for any real healing to occur, despite my unending attempts to focus on this healing.  The fact that all I've wanted for years is a true partner in life, someone to raise my children and build a home with, and that I still don't have that, and it's increasingly looking like I never will.  One of my children has already grown up and moved out and another one will in a year.  I'm on my own.

Despite knowing what holds me back from the kind of love and partnership I want, I find myself unable to make the changes that would allow this.  At least not fast enough.  And the irony is that these very issues are the ones my last potential partner could least deal with because of his issues, which in turn were the last I could deal with.

Why is life this way?  It's a mystery, a paradox, and very often I find beauty and comfort in this, but, honestly, sometimes IT JUST SUCKS.

And at times like this, it becomes completely obvious that it's all about death.  The destination is the grave for the body and the refiner's fire for the ego.  I can go kicking and screaming, or I can go willingly.  But seriously - who is going to go to the fire and the grave without a little kicking and screaming?  Does it even really matter?

Of course it does.  The grace with or without which I submit to these things makes all the difference in the world.  And I know this, but sometimes it's still impossible to find that grace, to live it.

I look and look for the love that will make me whole, but death reminds me, the fire shows me, that there is no other option but to find it in myself.  The wellspring of love is within me, and I will be comforted and healed by it there, or not at all.  I am alone with love, or I am just alone. 

So this is the purpose of Lent.  To deprive myself of external things that only seem to give me what I want and need, in order to be less distracted from the true source of love.

And while I'm feeling sorry for myself because I'm not in Louisiana for Mardi Gras, and try to find the Mardi Gras Mambo on YouTube to cheer myself up, instead I find something that reminds me in more than one way of how little I truly have to bitch about:


  1. I read this last night before bed but didn't know what to say.
    I think I may have shared this before, but I wanted to remind you: Be Gentle With Your Beautiful Self!
    "The wellspring of love is within me..." Yep! That's IT!!

  2. That is a sentiment worth repeating. Thank you, Jenny.

  3. Have you run across Byron Katie's Work?

    She wrote a book called "Loving What Is." It offers a set of four questions plus turnarounds. Her "Work", as she calls it has really helped me release stressful thoughts and learn to accept, no, love what is.

  4. Dan, thank you so much for pointing me to this! I'm printing out resources from her website as I type this. This is EXACTLY what I need.

  5. Your worries and mine are similar. I think you're still a bit early to give up, though. Even though your kids are moving out and it looks as if the chance has passed, all you can do is expect the worst.

    But keep hoping for the best, huh? It may not be the ideal, but if you try (and keep listening to that wellspring within) I think you'll find a happy medium somewhere.

  6. I'm not giving up, just facing the possibilities. I won't stop hoping because I CAN'T.

    This post, bitchfest that it is, reflects a negative moment more than a constant state of mind.

    I've only caught myself starting to bitch once today!

  7. polli - this sounds like a very healthy "bitchfest" to me... i often find that when i voice something that's bugging me, it miraculously (?) seems to lift the weight of the "bug(ger)". will look forward to the lenten journey (& further) alongside you. best, lucy

  8. Thanks, Lucy. It did feel rather cathartic.

  9. I think you gave me the urge to bitch by way of osmosis. I was in a funk all day today, thinking about my personal relationships.

    Okay, romantic relationships.

    Okay, FAILED romantic relationships.

    Some of them still haunt me. I had a devil of a time getting things worked through, my head cleared, and my mood perked back up again.

    It felt good to have it all out though, and bitch and whine and moan, sometimes out loud (good thing I take walks out in the middle of the desert where nobody can hear me).

    Thanks. I'm glad you're not giving up.

  10. I love the honesty of this post (and of everything you write about). And a bitchfest is necessary sometimes. I agree with Jenny, be gentle with your beautiful self. And I am busily exploring Byron Katie's site as well. I learn so much from all these little virtual mini-communities we've built up!

  11. My acupuncturist says that bitching (and cursing) are one way that we try to accommodate for an inner climate that isn't as powerful as the external world. He would definitely be interested in treating your urge to bitch in a clinical way.

    For a few years I've been working with the idea that my negative thinking has deep roots but can be dealt with like any other habit. I try to catch myself when I get into a certain pattern of thinking, then just STOP. Then see what happens next. It's not about the particular thoughts, but rather the habit of negativity. I call my habit The Voice of Collapse.

    Little by little I am making inroads into breaking this life-long habit.

    Sending love on Ash Wednesday. xx

  12. I feel it is good to bitch, to write the bitching so that later, when some reasons to bitch are gone, you can look back and smile.
    You have come across the wellspring of love within... It seems to me that you're set for Lent, even if you don't quite feel ready.
    And yes, do be good to yourself. You're special, you're precious, and infinitely lovable. Every cross-pollination says it. Soak it in :-))))

  13. Postie - Oh no! See, this is why I'm giving up bitching, because it infects other people. You're so young - you'll find someone when the time is right.

    Tess - Thank you - I do value honesty, but there's a fine line sometimes between being honest and just spilling one's guts. I'm not sure I always know where that line should be.

    I'm finding Byron Katie very helpful. It really is wonderful the way we connect and share in this blogging world.

  14. Reya - Thanks! I've always wanted to try acupuncture.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who can call it a "lifelong habit."

    Claire - Thank you! What a wonderful blessing.

  15. Polly,

    I like to call you "Polly" with a "y". Nonetheless- "We all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

    "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come."

    "Let us number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."

    Just a few of the scriptures that came to mind reading your post.

    I'm thinking though, wondering, if talking over our problems with people is not really bitching as much as it is comforting? Releasing? Needful?

    But I agree, no one wants to willingly transform themselves into The Bitch that no one wants to be around.

    When I was sick, I find it impossible to just be sick without complaining or, explaining? (Now my pain feels like this, now my pain feels like that...)

    I feel it's needful information that Tony needs to hear! Hahahaha.

    I wish I could just shut up sometimes.

    This love thing mystifies me regarding you. You are an awesome woman!

  16. Those scriptures are very much in line with the direction I'm moving right now, which is away from the external and temporary, toward the internal and eternal.

    I agree - there's a difference between bitching and discussing problems with a friend. But it can be a fine line, and has a lot to do with the spirit in which it's done - and the purpose.

    Thank you for thinking I'm awesome - you're pretty awesome yourself!

  17. Polli, you're one of the wholest people I've ever (virtually) met. And if you think that's bitching you are definitely no bitch. I know what you mean though.

  18. Thank you, Eryl.

    Given your blog title, I suppose you're the expert on bitching. Keep in mind, though, this is only virtual bitching. I can definitely bitch up a storm in "real life." Just ask my kids.

  19. Hey you, My blog feeder hasn't been picking up your posts so I'm catching up this a.m. - I sort of wondered at the silence and here you were all the time.

    This is a powerful post because you've so openly shared such important feelings - with me - albeit with others - but it feels written to me. Not because I'm in the "same place" but because I have a couple of kids who might be considered in your same place. I know they feel lonesome and want to throw up their hands some times. They don't share enough of their feelings with others as I think they expect they will "break down" if they do. I agree with Lucy when she talks about the importance of "naming" a thought or feeling (she was more eloquent than I'm stating) but it's so true for me and maybe for you too. Naming it is often the first step to releasing something. Again, thanks so much for this honest and heartfelt post. Your blogger pals had some great wisdom to share and I find their comments very positive and helpful to me too. P.S. Sometimes a bitchfest is just what's needed to get it all out there!


  20. SS - I guess it's all about keeping it flowing - letting these feelings flow out in expression, but not hold on to them. In this case, it really worked. I feel much better now, lighter.

    I wonder why you haven't been getting my posts? Well, I'm glad you found me anyway. Thanks for the visit!

  21. "I look and look for the love that will make me whole, but death reminds me, the fire shows me, that there is no other option but to find it in myself. The wellspring of love is within me, and I will be comforted and healed by it there, or not at all. I am alone with love, or I am just alone."

    This statement has a lot of very powerful self realization and nurture.

    When I really got down and dirty with loving myself and crawling out of needing others to feel worthy or whole it was and in fact is the most liberating factor of my life. I have all that I need within me. A source beyond any power that man can create lies within my essence. For me I feel that is GOD.

    I also believe this is in everyone. I know you feel this too, but there seems to be something missing in us that we think to feel this wholeness someone else has to validate us or see our worth.

    This is not so. WE MUST SEE THIS. We must see this singularly as one and for our own self, that we are in fact enough.

    Since learning this and walking in this for myself a strange phenomena has occurred I am finding more and more love from others and toward others. It is a quandary and mystery - and there lies within it GOD...WOW!

    I know you are on the cusp of something...I am anticipating something astounding.

  22. "On the cusp of something" is exactly right - the cusp of the core.

    Thanks for walking with me.



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