Love is not the Absence of Fear

IMG_2515Love is not the absence of fear. Like joy and sadness, love and fear are dualities that live in the same chamber of the heart. When we love another deeply, fear will rear its head. Designed to protect the vulnerable heart, fear is the sentry who guards the sacred entrances. The way past fear is not to engage in battle; that’s a war you’ll never win. The way to enter into love’s passageways is to call fear by name. We all need to be seen and heard, and fear is no exception.

When we call fear by name, we befriend it. And when we befriend it, it’s no longer the enemy, something to be avoided or conquered. Befriending fear means allowing love to make room for all of fear’s manifestations: doubt, disconnection, uncertainty, lack of attraction, irritation, lack of the feeling of love, fantasizing about the perfect partner or an ex. These are the ways we know our heart is closed. When we buy the belief that real love doesn’t include these manifestations of fear, we believe that something is wrong when these feelings arise. Nothing is wrong. These states of being are all part of love. When we widen our definition of love – literally expanding it out like a giant balloon to include these more uncomfortable and certainly less glamorous feelings (not what we culturally associate with romantic love) – we feel our heart expanding as well.

Befriending your fear means getting to know it, just like you would get to know a friend. When you befriend fear you learn that sometimes fear is a wall; other times it’s a curtain; still other times it’s a layer of silt across the soul. From the mindset of curious exploration, you would learn that your inner world is not a stark and defined place, as the ego would like to believe. It’s not comprised of sharp lines and definite answers that, once established, exist across time and space. The inner world is a mercurial, watercolor landscape where fear and love blend and collide and ultimately stand face to face so love can embrace fear in her soft wing and make a place for it at her long, wooden table.

When we deny fear, we perceive our partner and the world around us through fear eyes. Fear distorts perception. Or, rather, the denial of fear distorts perception. When we deny fear and banish it from our table, we see through eyes of lack: not enough love, not enough attraction, not enough humor, not enough conversation. There is no loveliness, no softness, no quality of allowing. It’s the ego’s world of harsh lines and its need for unilateral certainty. But when the wall or curtain rises up and you can say, “I’m feeling on edge. It’s not you,” the naming and the owning allow the barrier to melt.

And then a rush of essence. You see through clear eyes again. Your own essence appears like the river reeds in spring, and you see your lover as beauty on the banks. You see the intrinsic, unchangeable qualities of essence. You see his warmth and kindness flowing like a clear river. You see her honesty and passion unfold and bloom before your eyes, as if for the first time. It’s first love all over again, or perhaps for the first time.

It would be so nice to remain in this open-eyed, open-hearted state always; but then we wouldn’t be human. Being human includes closing up and shutting down. It includes retreat and withdrawal. It is almost defined by our separateness, as opposed to the oneness that apparently defines another realm. So as separate human beings, we will disconnect. But when we do so with consciousness – with a willingness to name those states as they arise – we return more quickly to the openhearted state we so long to inhabit, to live out our days on the green grass and butterfly wings of spring.

Turning Five

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“Were you in labor at this time five years ago?” my husband asked tonight as we were cleaning up the kitchen after our early Passover dinner.

“No, not yet. I didn’t go into labor until 4am.”

April 14, 2009 – 4am

I’m awakened by a puddle of warm liquid gathered around me. Although unlike anything experienced in normal life, it’s familiar, as it’s exactly how I was awakened by the onset of Everest’s labor, and at the exact same time: 4am at 37 weeks. My body seems to gestate babies like clockwork. I get out of bed slowly so as not to wake up my sleeping four year old and husband and walk downstairs. My entire body is trembling, shaking with the terrifying and exhilarating awareness that I’m about to enter the fire of labor and be initiated into the dark and magnificent forest of childbirth. My second son has Click here to continue reading…

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Dealing with Disappointment

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The theme of disappointment emerged last week in my sessions with clients. Some were disappointed by the reality that there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. Others became aware of how scared they felt about the prospect of disappointing their partner. Others felt disappointed that their child was different in some way from their fantasy child. They covered the range and types of disappointment: the type disappointment that occurs present-day as a result of what’s happening right now – ie. My partner is half an hour late or Oh, shoot, I just dropped my ice cream cone – and the disappointment that results when our expectation of how things “should” be doesn’t match up to reality.

How you deal with disappointment is directly correlated to how your disappointment was handled when you were a child. If you learned that disappointment was a normal part of the human spectrum emotions … Click here to continue reading…

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You Are Whole

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I have several clients currently pursuing their graduate degree in counseling. While they’re enjoying their studies and learning a lot, they’re also coming up against the rigid and, at times, judgmental model that informs most Western-based schools. For the foundational textbook for all accredited programs is the DSM-V: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. As evidenced by the title, the main purpose of the manual is to learn how to diagnose your clients, which basically means looking for what’s wrong.

We all have plenty of things “wrong” with us; it’s a sign of being human. But we have so much more that’s right. And what I know in my bones is that people are inspired to change and grow in an environment where they feel accepted and loved. We are intrinsically whole, and that place of wholeness dwells undisturbed beneath the walls and wounds of our defenses and … Click here to continue reading…

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So Precious It Hurts

As my dear friend drove our two families up to Walker Ranch for their quarterly homestead day a few weeks ago, I looked in the backseat at our three sweet and precious boys. Their faces were alive with excitement at the prospect of “going back in time,” as my little one said. Three beautiful, kind, creative, alive boys. The angles of our hearts. And, knowing that we would be driving up a steep and winding road seven miles into the mountains (not my favorite kind of road), an awareness of their vulnerability pierced through me. An awareness that one wrong move, one random boulder, one unaware driver careening on the other side of the road…

“They’re so precious,” I said to my friend. “Why does anyone do this? To love them this much and to know that something could happen to them… sometimes it just feels like too much.”

“I … Click here to continue reading…

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