Posts Tagged ‘love’

Crimes against the Heart, Part 1

December 20, 2016

In the dating world, there are many ways to commit crimes against the heart–the hearts of others and your own. Some are serious offenses, malfeasance. Others are minor offenses, misdemeanors. But crimes they are.

The concept of friends with benefits is a good example of something fraught with possibilities of doing damage. First, there is no real consensus about what a friends with benefits relationship is, let alone what the difference is between this arrangement and a f*** buddy. Some believe you must be friends before you can have a friends with benefits relationship. Others believe it is foolish to believe there is any friend component to a friends with benefits relationship. There are numerous and diverse “rules” about these relationships, and depending on who is coming up with them, they can be contradictory. In some quarters, it is believed that there should be no cuddling after sex, no sleepover, and no daily texting in a friends with benefits (FWB) relationship. Why? Because it is thought to be a short road between these things and both intimacy and emotional connection. And a friends with benefits relationship for many is, in theory, one that involves sex without the impediment of feelings, let alone deep feelings.

The problem with this is that the human being is a fourfold one with mind, body, spirit, and emotions. The head might be totally on board with the concept of a FWB relationship. The body will definitely be on board. If it is not, there is no point in such an arrangement. But what about spirit and emotions? Can you disconnect mind and body from spirit and emotions? If you can, for how long? And if you can, what does that say about you? If you cannot really disconnect them, what are the consequences of trying to do so?

My own view of what might constitute a FWB relationship was a work in progress. I didn’t necessarily think one had to be long-term friends to have such a relationship. I did think it needed to be between two people who had no expectations of one another, including no expectations of long-term romantic relationship, apart from the expectation of behaving with respect and human dignity. Compassion, kindness, affection? Yes. Bells-and-banjos love? No. Chemistry and sex? Definitely. Friendship or at least friendly connection? Yes.

I had seen Jake twice, and we had over a thousand texts between us. Despite the fact that we had not really known one another beyond a phone conversation and some messages before our relating went from dinner to dessert, I thought of the connection as a friends with benefits one, in part because there was an underlying kindness in his behavior towards me, in part because I gave a damn about him beyond the bedroom, and in part because we had actually conversed about things other than sex. I knew he did not see me as a potential long-term partner. As far as I could tell, some of that hinged on the age difference between us and some of it hinged on the fact that I was not connected to the dance world that was so important to him. Beyond those two things, I had no idea.

Did I view him as a potential long-term partner? No. It wasn’t about age. It was more about lifestyle. I doubted that Jake had the breadth of interests I need in a man. And I doubted he had the depth I need either. But I liked the handful of things I was coming to know about him, I had affection for him, and I had a level of trust in him as a sexual partner. For me, trust in the bedroom is related to what happens outside the bedroom. If I am dismissed, disrespected, or demeaned by a man outside the bedroom, there is no way that man is going to be invited into my bedroom. There will not be enough trust to get him there.

Was a friends with benefits arrangement or something similar sustainable between us for anything beyond the very short term? I knew that some people had sustained such relationships for a matter of years, though I doubted there were many such people.

My heart had cracked open a long time ago, and every time I thought it could not crack open any further, I was proven wrong. The heart, it seems, has an infinite ability to expand. Thus far, I had been able to feel affection and compassion for Jake without any sense of attachment but with a desire for his happiness, whatever that meant to him. I wasn’t concerned about committing a crime against my own heart or his. And I knew that if I began to feel I was at risk of committing such crimes, I would end the relationship.

I wasn’t so sure about Jake, though. I was pretty sure he would drop me like a hot wire if he thought I was getting too attached. And I was pretty sure that he thought he had command over his own emotions, at least where I was concerned. But what about the state of his heart?

Jake professed to want a long-term relationship, and he had what he frequently referred to as parameters for that relationship. It had been a dozen or more years since his divorce;  he’d been single for a long time. From what he had told me about his experience, I knew  he’d formed his own rules around whatever casual sexual relationship he had with a woman. A kiss, a hug, getting naked, and going home afterward were the essential components of it. In his way of thinking, the next time he saw a woman might be the last time, either by his choice or hers. He should not get too close. Which was why, I suspected, he used diminutives when referring to me instead of my name. But he was sufficiently savvy to figure out enough of what a woman’s boundaries and needs were  to stay within her good graces, at least for a time. Still, he was very self-protected. He attempted to keep things completely out of the emotional realm.

The problems with that were three-fold. First, the next time we see anyone in our life might be the last time we see them. Life is fragile. So are human relationships. Any attempt at utter control is futile.

Second, he was not just a nice guy, he was a basically kind person. To the extent that he could keep his heart and his sexual contact with a woman bifurcated, he risked committing a serious crime against his own heart. I did not believe it was in his nature to be hard-hearted. And the longer he tried, the more calcified his heart was going to become.

The third problem was that he had spent enough time attempting to keep emotions out of his sexual relationships that I had serious doubts he could effortlessly turn the emotions back on with a sexual partner he loved and wanted a long-term relationship with. He wasn’t risking a Madonna-whore complex because this wasn’t about a woman he would necessarily have a child with. He was risking something more fundamental: a beloved-whore complex. Would he be able to have abandoned, fun sex with a woman he saw as his beloved after keeping his heart out of the bedroom for so long? I had my doubts.

Jake was at risk of malfeasant crimes against the heart. And if he committed them, he would get a ticket from the karma police he might not want to pay.

Note: The name Jake is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.

 

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

My Reply

August 9, 2016

Whether it was inspired or as insipid as Derek’s message, I did not know as I hit the send key. I probably would never be a good judge of that. But the message was out there.

 

Derek,

I read energy and I have discovered in relating to you that I have been able to feel when your thoughts/feelings have been moving towards me and, conversely, when they have been moving away from me. So this missive is not exactly a surprise. I’ve felt some of your struggle over the past few weeks and I have felt the uncomfortable pulling away since Saturday.

There are many things I might say, but I doubt most would be useful. The past five weeks have been a very interesting–sometimes glorious and sometimes disconcerting–experience of transparency for me. That has been facilitated by the fact that you yourself have been pretty transparent. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and don’t plan on being any less transparent moving forward. I thank you for that. I thank you too for that stick of dynamite (journey image) that has ignited something that I’m not closing down. You opened Pandora’s Box, and what do you know, it’s all good inside.

I have seen the confusion masquerading as other things (like fear, guilt, doubt) in you. You have your own process to make your way through and I have been careful to avoid mucking with it. I have found you thoroughly delightful. You are very different from me in a number of ways and similar in others. It has never appealed to me to have a man in my life who is a clone of me, so the differences have been a part of the delight. What works or doesn’t work is part of the great mystery, so please don’t diminish either of us by speculating that “it probably would not work out anyways.” You’re a smarter, more insightful man than that with more integrity (and by that I mean wholeness as well as scruples) than that statement suggests. The mystery always has to work its way out on its own. And what is left after “the infatuation period” (as you put it) is always a part of that marvelous mystery. The crystal ball ability in me could see potential for some very vibrant, lovely things. But potential is just that: potential. Manifested reality is something else again. In any event, the present moment ride itself was pleasing to me. And that adventure was one that resonated for me–but apparently not you.

I’m glad that you had moments with me that were blissful (or at least sound that way from your description). I’m sorry you’ve had moments of angst. I’m sorry for your discomfort in relationship with me, but then, it is not news that not just any man can hang with me. To set the record straight, I wasn’t just starting to fall for you, I started falling (and let myself) from the beginning. But you need not worry about tearing my heart apart (your words). As I have said face-to-face and in writing to you, the alternative to having a broken heart is to have a closed one. And having a closed heart is not a way to be fully, flagrantly, robustly alive. If there is one kind of courage I have developed as a shaman, it is the courage to keep my heart open.

You’re sorry for hurting me–which is an assumption you are making: that I am hurt. Actually, you have read me well enough to know that there are some tears streaming down my face. And thank God for that. I am alive. I’m among the living. Hail and glory to that.

One thing I learned long ago, thanks to loving a man who has been on the other side since 1995 (so no, not Howard and definitely not my first husband) is that even one moment of love is never lost. It reverberates on and on in this universe and a few others (and a few other dimensions too). It is the best of us as humans. So I’m taking nothing back I’ve said to you or felt for you or continue to feel for you. It cannot be taken back anyway. It is already reverberating on and on in the universe.

Love,

Melanie

 

Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.

 

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

 

 

Towards an Evolving Wholeness, Part 1

February 19, 2014

What do I mean when I use the term “evolving wholeness” and refer (as I did in “Shadowland, Part 2”) to seeking a sense of wholeness? Words are slippery things, and nowhere is that more true than when using them in a psycho-spiritual context. Do I mean “authentic”? Yes, authenticity begins to get at it. But if being authentic is being genuine, true, and a real representation of something/someone, then true to what, a real representation of what? And does being genuine encompass enough? For that matter, does “whole” quite get at it?

I want to be clear about this before delving into the issue of how one accomplishes this sense of wholeness. The kind of authenticity or wholeness I am pointing at (and we can only manage the equivalent of pointing at the moon here) is one that represents the person as both fully human and thoroughly divine. It is the self exposed, without layers of persona, with the shadow revealed, with the dysfunctional parts in the process of being healed. We’re human. There will be some persona. There will be some shadow. There will be some dysfunction. But when we are seeking an evolving wholeness, we are seeking to become as true to pure soul in flesh as possible. And it is evolving because we are not fixed, but evolving.

Another way of saying this is that when we are evolving in wholeness, we emanate (not approximate, not give the appearance of, but emanate) more of what I believe is the prima materia of the universe: love.

In my model of the way things work, there is no one route to wholeness, no single right way to become the highest human version of ourselves. The road back to ourselves is the same road we took when we fled ourselves, and that road is unique for everyone. But there are some time-tested methods that may be helpful to the pilgrim on that road. And this will be the subject matter for the next few posts.

Two very simple things can help anyone on that road. They may not meet the test of sufficiency, but they could easily be considered requisite. They are centering/grounding and clearing. I have discussed both of these in earlier posts (centering and grounding in a January 16, 2009 post and hucha clearing in a January 31, 2010 post), but they warrant a repeat discussion. They are that important.

When asked, many people will say that they know how to center and ground. But I have often had the experience of being met with silence when I ask a person who says they know about centering and grounding for the specifics of how they do that. I’m going to provide a very stripped down, simple version of it here.

Centering and Grounding

• Stand in a relaxed posture, spine straight, knees soft. (Once you have learned how to center and ground in a standing position, you will find that it is easy to also center and ground from a seated position. Just be sure your spine is straight and your feet connect with the floor or earth.) Close your eyes if you wish.
• Notice your breathing. Allow it to become relaxed. Allow your belly to expand on the in-breath and contract on the out-breath, but don’t work at it. Just relax into it.
• Turn your attention to that part of your body that is about two inches below your navel and just in front of your spine. This is your center. Just turning your attention to it will center you.
• Now, maintaining the awareness and stability of being centered, imagine that you are a tree. Image your roots going deep into the earth. Feel the solidity of your tree self, stretching upwards to the sky and sinking deep into the earth. Nothing can uproot you easily. You are well anchored. You are grounded.
• Take a moment to feel the power of being centered and grounded before returning your attention to the larger world around you. Bring that sense of being centered and grounded with you.

There are many ways to clear yourself energetically, mentally, emotionally, and/or physically. Here is one simple way to clear yourself energetically.

Clearing

• Stand or sit in a relaxed posture, with your spine straight and feet flat on the floor or earth. Center and ground.
• Feel or imagine your energy body, the bubble of energy that surrounds and is a part of your physical body. Notice anything that is dark, heavy, cloudy, overly hot or cold, or otherwise less than vibrant and healthy.
• Allow your crown chakra (the energy center at the top of your head) to open. Invite pure, divine energy to permeate your energy body, traveling from your head downward, taking anything that is dark, heavy, cloudy, overly hot or cold, or otherwise less than vibrant and healthy with it.
• Let that pure, divine energy carry the energetic debris all the way down your body and out through your feet, traveling past floors or ground, deep into the earth. Know that Mother Earth will gladly take this energetic debris and transform it into clear, pure, usable energy.
• Allow that clear, pure energy to rise up from Mother Earth and permeate your body.
• Continue this process until you feel clear. Express gratitude to the source of the pure, divine light and to Mother Earth.

These two practices will not, by themselves, take you all the way on the road back to yourself, but they can help you make your way back and help you stay on that path, moving along. They are self-validating. You will be able to experience the positive effects of employing them.

If you are already on the path towards evolving wholeness, perhaps you will recognize me on your way. If you are not yet on the path, step onto it and join us.

Copyright 2014 by Melanie Mulhall

Moving into the Mystery

December 28, 2011

“Pittsburg,” is the only part of what he says that I can make out. He sits up, trying to muster the strength to do what I know he cannot: move from the bed to the commode next to it. He has asked a question that I cannot decipher, except for the word “Pittsburg.” I can think of no connection to Pittsburg, no conversation we’ve had about the city—nothing. Either I, in my weariness, am just not putting together something obvious or he has drifted farther away cognitively. I consider the possibility of the former but suspect it’s the latter.

I have given him his morphine and I eventually get him to lie back down, but he sits up again almost immediately. I tell myself that if I could get a bit of Adavan in him, he might be less restless, but he won’t take the Adavan. I call Antonio, thinking that he may be more successful at it than me, but before Antonio can get to the house (a thirty-five minute drive), Howard is down and has taken it. I call Antonio’s cell to tell him that he needn’t come, but he insists on coming anyway.

While Antonio is at the house, Kristen, the hospice angel of a nurse who had helped get him back into bed the previous night (Christmas night), calls. She had promised to follow up and is fulfilling that promise. She manages to convince me that we can get a hospital bed into the room without removing the queen-sized bed and her description of how we’ll manage it makes sense to me. Howard needs the restraint of the sidebars and I need the ability to move the bed up and down.

It is a stroke of luck that Antonio is with me. Kristen has ordered the bed and it arrives in less than an hour and a half. Kristen continues to behave as if she has angel wings. She comes to the house and the three of us manage to move Howard from the guest room bed to the hospital bed—no small thing because even though he has lost a great deal of weight over the past month, he is still somewhere around two hundred pounds . . . of dead weight.

Howard is semi-comatose and cannot help at all in this process. That’s the downside. The upside is that he also cannot fight against it. He has refused a hospital bed up to this point because it represents death to him. But it can no longer be avoided and he is, indeed, close to death.

In a moment of overwhelm, I call my sister Maureen, who has offered to drive out from Illinois to help with Howard’s care, and tell her, “I give up. Come on out.” But after we have Howard settled, I think, I can do this. Nevertheless, I’m glad she will be on her way. I’m not sure she will actually make it before he dies, but I will be relieved to have her there with me.

And now the waiting begins. The next couple of days are a blur. I consider what should be done before Howard dies and call his sister Ann and his three sons, not simply to alert them to the fact that he is close to death, but to give them a chance to say whatever they want to say to him. He is beyond words now, so he won’t be able to talk to them, but I can hold the telephone up to his ear and they can talk to him.

They all want to do this.

With each, I hold the telephone to Howard’s ear and tell him that he need do nothing, just listen. I’m fairly certain that he can still hear, even if he cannot talk, and I want to give him permission to just listen and not struggle to even try to get words out. But he does try to get words out with each of them. He’s unsuccessful at this except with his oldest son, Jim.

Jim makes his peace with his father and it brings me to tears as I hear what he says over the extension. Then, quite miraculously, really, Howard gathers the strength to say what Jim and I later agree is, “Okay.”

Once his closest family have had a chance to speak to him, there is really nothing more for me to do but try to administer his medication and wait. He hasn’t lost the ability to swallow yet, so I am able to give him his liquid medication. I do my best to make him comfortable and wait. I’m restless.

I talk to Antonio on the 28th and he tells me he’s coming over to do ceremony. He and his wife, Helena, come. I welcome their calm strength. Even though I’m a strong woman myself, I can stand outside myself just long enough to realize that the one leg I always have in the other realms, as the shaman I am, has actually pulled more of me into those realms than the part of me that is on this side. I’m unbalanced, too much in an altered state and too little grounded. Ceremony is actually the best thing for me, whether or not it is something Howard would want if he were lucid enough to state his preferences.

The death ceremony we do is so magical and so what is needed that I’m less restless afterwards, more at peace. [The details of this ceremony can be found in my March 28, 2011 post, titled “Death Ceremony.”]

No more than a couple of hours after they leave, my sister arrives. I make dinner for us and, not long after we sit down to eat, I hear something coming from Howard that I’ve never heard before—a gurgling, gasping frustration. I tear into his room with Maureen on my heels. We get there just in time for me to hold his body up as black ooze issues from his mouth. One eye stares at me and the other has rolled back. He has entered a coma.

Maureen and I clean him up, which takes no small effort. The sheets must be changed, all of his clothes must be swapped out, and his adult diaper must be changed. Mo (the diminutive I’ve long used instead of my sister’s full first name, Maureen) has just arrived to be swept into the most difficult kind of help to provide. I had told her, before she came, that she would have to be tough to manage this. She hasn’t even had dinner before she’s put to the test.

We have to cut off some of his clothes because the combined strength of the two of us is not enough to effectively move him. And I’m not about to call hospice. This is sacred duty; I need to perform it and Mo is willing to join me in it. His clothing is insignificant at this point because he won’t be wearing it again and getting him clean and comfortable is what is needed.

Mo and I struggle so much to get the job done. We take sides on either side of the hospital bed and try to manhandle the sheets and clothes without doing harm to my poor dying husband. Eventually, I look up at her, start to laugh, and tell her we’re like the Keystone Cops. We’re clumsy and incompetent, moving about with too little purpose and using too much effort, but we manage.

When we’ve finished and return to the table, Gretchen Minney calls. She’s just returned from spending time with family out of town and I can hear in her voice that she is jet lagged and weary. She wants to know how Howard is doing and when I tell her, she insists on coming over, even though she’s barely put doen her luggage.

Dinner shifts, becoming almost a celebration. It’s an odd celebration, but it does seem like one. I’ve opened a bottle of champagne. I’ve made a good meal. Gretchen, Mo, and I seem aligned in knowing that Howard is about to break the bonds of human form, step out of his body, and step into the mystery. And that is a very good thing.

Finally, Gretchen leaves and I settle Mo in my bed. The only other option is the bed in the guest room and I’m the only person who should be in that room on death watch. She retires, as do I. I lie awake for a time, listening to Howard’s death rattle. The hospice nurse had prescribed drops that sometime eliminate the sound, which she has told me can be quite disconcerting. The drops have worked until now. And I now understand what she means. I’m too weary and too relieved that the end is near for a mere death rattle to rattle me much. I fall to sleep and sleep like the dead until I awake with a start at around 1:35 a.m.

I look at the clock and realize I’ve missed giving Howard his morphine and Adavan on schedule. Then I realize that the death rattle is gone. I leap from bed, go over to him, and can hear that he is still breathing—softly, gently. I give him a small dose of morphine, thinking that it is probably unnecessary, and I pull up a chair and sit next to him, rooting under his covers to take his hand. It won’t be long now. His breaths are so infrequent that I think he is gone more than once, only to hear him take another breath. His sleep apnea over the preceding several years has, thankfully, prepared me well, and I am not jarred by the sporadic breathing.

I have a headache and after some minutes, I get up to take something for it. The combination of stress and champagne have left me with a head that doesn’t quite feel like my own and it is distracting. I want to be clearly focused.

When I return to the room and wait for the next breath, there isn’t one. He’s gone. I look at the clock and see that it is ten minutes of two and I’m startled by the knowing that he’d awakened me so I wouldn’t miss this moment. He knew I wanted to be there and he woke me up so I could be. What a blessing! I thank him, even though I know he’s not actually there any longer. In fact, he has mostly been gone for days. And the death ceremony had helped the rest of him go.

I think about something he’d said, sometime over the last month. “I don’t think we told each other we love each other enough.”

He was probably right, but we had told one another often enough and we’d shown one another in many ways. And he’d given me this last gift of love—waking me so I wouldn’t miss his death. What is enough when it comes to love? There is never enough when it comes to feeling the love, murmuring the words, acting in love. But I’d come to the knowing, years earlier, that any instant of love is not lost, but reverberates on in the universe—onward, outward, past the farthest reaches.

And I feel it, right then.

And I continue to feel it.

Copyright 2011 by Melanie Mulhall

Meeting Jorge

November 29, 2009

If you ask Jorge Luis Delgado what is life is about, he will likely answer, without hesitation, “Love, service, and wisdom,” or munay, llancay, and yachay in the Quechua language. 

In North America, Jorge would be called a shaman. But Jorge is Peruvian of Incan ancestry, born and raised near Lake Titicaca.  He refers to himself a chacaruna, a “bridge person.” A bridge person is one who helps others navigate from one state of consciousness to another (an apt description of what shamans around the world do). The bridge that Jorge provides has been forged by years of service, a loving and humble heart, and wisdom that comes from communion and respect for both Mother Earth and Father Sun. And those journeying across that bridge come to a state of consciousness in which they recognize that they are, and always have been, enlightened—they just have been resistant to embrace it. 

I first heard of Jorge when a close friend of mine met him while on a tour of Machu Picchu. There seem to be shamans behind every bush in South America and I am always a bit skeptical when Americans return from trips to the southern hemisphere with stories about the power people they have met there. It isn’t that I doubt that there are powerful shamans in South America. There are. My skepticism is of the same variety as that I have when people tell me they have crowded into a sweat lodge with forty other people to participate in ceremony led by someone whose background they have only sketchy information about. It’s the same skepticism I have of those who call themselves shamans but cannot quite explain their path to the work, apart from a couple of classes in shamanism and a interior pull. There are many seekers of mystical experience and, it seems, just as many purveyors of that experience who are selling mysticism as if the experience could be pasteurized and bottled for easy consumption. Motor oil passed off as snake oil passed off as enlightenment. Altered states for those who want to be able to TiVo it. 

So I didn’t really give the fact that my friend had spent time with a Peruvian shaman much thought—until she called one day to tell me that the same shaman was hosting a gathering of elders at Lake Titicaca to activate the Solar Disc in the lake, and that those who wanted to lend their energy to the process were being invited to join in. I knew at once that I was supposed to be there. 

It was the same kind of knowing I’d had many years ago when I asked a shaman if I could work one-on-one with him and he replied with a question, “Journey work, or do you want to be an apprentice?” At the time, I had no conscious thought of becoming apprenticed to a shaman, but my brain was bypassed by the part of me that knew it was time to step into my destiny and I answered, without thought, “Apprentice.”

Now I had the same kind of visceral knowing about Lake Titicaca and the activation of the Solar Disc. It was as if I’d finally received an invitation sent out before I’d ever stepped into this body in this life—and I’d sent myself that invitation, as part of an agreement made between many souls to be at an appointed place at an appointed time. Somehow, the fact that I have a husband with cancer and limited income were irrelevant. I’d agreed to be there long ago and I was going to fulfill that promise.           

The name Jorge Luis Delgado came into focus the instant I answered that invitation saying, “I’ll be there.” 

As luck would have it, Jorge was going to be in the United States some months after I made that commitment and I set about to help my friend (and others) publicize this first visit to and workshop in Denver. I wanted to meet the man whose interior ley lines seemed to be intersecting and activating my own. 

What I encountered in that meeting was a man of humility and humor, of wisdom and wit. A practical man, Jorge seems to see love as a verb and practices the active side of love without stress or pressure . . . but also with the unsettling ability to see right into the core of a person. The man is no tourist shaman. He’s the real deal.

There is a great deal to say about Jorge, the Incan cosmology, and the new Pachacuti—the return of the light—and it cannot all be said in one blog post. But Mother Earth and Father Sun have been waiting patiently for the end of the age of darkness, so I’m hoping my readers can apply just a bit of patience, too, for the next post.

 Copyright 2009 by Melanie Mulhall