Opening Your Heart and Finding Gratitude

1secret

(The above quote was taken from notey.com.)

In A Path With Heart, Jack Kornfield writes:

As we notice our thoughts in meditation, we discover that they are not in our control—we swim in an uninvited constant stream of memories, plans, expectations, judgments, regrets. The mind begins to show how it contains all possibilities, often in conflict with one another—the beautiful qualities of a saint and the dark forces of a dictator and murderer…

…This dualistic nature of thought is a root of our suffering. Whenever we think of ourselves as separate, fear and attachment arise and we grow constricted, defensive, ambitious, and territorial…

…To heal, we must learn to step back from all the stories of the mind, for the conflicts of our thoughts and opinions never end… The mind thinks of the self as separate, the heart knows better.

Meditation and Buddhism in general can seem like a good way to detach oneself, to believe in the story of how none of this matters—and these things are true, to an extent—but I can use that as an excuse to disengage from others. But really it’s about getting in touch with the heart, which starts, or works in conjunction with, loving oneself while loving others more deeply.

And all these stories in our head are just that: stories. As I re-read Kornfield’s words, I’m reminded of how everyone thinks like this. Over the past few days, I’ve been feeling separate, all because of stories in my head, stories based in fear, fear that there’s a limited pool of opportunity accessible to others that, when they receive this opportunity, it becomes somehow unavailable to me. Comparing myself to others, sometimes in a way that’s self-aggrandizing and other times puts me beneath everyone else. When really we are all just people, each of us trying to make our way. If I were to get what that other person has that I want, I’d find problems with it. As Kornfield writes, we’re wired to be dissatisfied. From what I’ve learned over the years, the key is to practice gratitude, and to do so on a regular basis. As Kornfield writes, we never become fully successful. I have a short-term memory, and I’m a slow learner, and I don’t think most or possibly all other people are any different. If I want to gain self-love and self-compassion, I must practice it, and exercise it repetitiously.

Specifically, what I’m alluding to in my life is the fact that my fling with a guy recently ended. There are a few different ways to tell this story: I got dumped, he left me for his ex, it didn’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be. I found myself feeling isolated. Here I am, six months new to this area, beginning to make friends, beginning to feel more comfortable in my skin, and there they are, fixtures in this community, long-time members with roots. Where do I fit in? Do I avoid outings because they might be there? Do I go to different meetings, ditch these friends, and try to make friends elsewhere? And why couldn’t I have what she got: an old-timer boyfriend who scooped her up from the start of her journey into AA and took care of all of her needs and wants: love, shelter, food, community, entertainment. Somehow, they became stars of the community in my mind. A friend told me, If you had all of that you’d feel trapped. How true. Why? Because I didn’t do it for myself. I remember once, in the beginning, when we went out and I looked around and noticed most of the people there (really only a few) were his friends, that this was his world, and I felt like a disposable accessory. But one of my friends reminded me that I have friends in this community, people who want me around.

And how do I know for sure that’s how her life looks to her? Her being his former ex, his current girlfriend, or wife is more like it. How do I know for sure that she has everything she needs and wants? It’s just a story I made up about her to compare myself to an unrealistic ideal, based in fear that I will not be taken care of. Constantly I’m looking outside myself to be taken care of, when the very thing that will take care of me is inside me, and it comes from a higher power that I call God.

God takes care of me. I take care of myself. During this time I’m growing, possibly more than ever. It’s so painful sometimes. Growth for me doesn’t happen without pain. At first I lamented over the fact that my ex didn’t come back to me in the way that her ex went back to her, that I didn’t get from my ex what she’s getting and has gotten, which is for all of her needs to be taken care of. I kept thinking, God, I don’t want to do this by myself. In reality, I do want to do it by myself, and I am doing it by myself—with God’s help and the help of my friends.

All of this comes a few days after setting up profiles on Match.com and eHarmony. Because let’s be real, folks: I want a boyfriend. A husband, or partner really. I’m codependent, remember? But I’m also human, and humans are social animals. My therapist had suggested it, my AA sponsor agreed, and my CODA sponsor said no way, that I need to get comfortable with being single.

Well it’s too late now. I’ve already signed up, and I am single. I’m a single woman dating, and I’m taking my time. There’s no rush, and I’d rather take it slowly to find someone I really connect with, rather than try to force something to work that’s not there. Possibly it’s foolish to be doing this now, when I barely have time to do anything outside of school work in my free time while staying on top of my not just physical but emotional sobriety by going to meetings and doing the footwork and self-care that living a spiritual life requires. But honestly? This is my life. I can’t spend all my free time making a guy my higher power like how I did with my ex. I got shit to do. He should be taking care of his own shit in the meantime, and not smoking pot or drinking beer or being a workaholic or watching TV all day like my other exes.

Next week I have a coffee date with a bankruptcy lawyer who feels like he missed his calling as a therapist, who looks good in some pictures but just okay in others, and who, most importantly, has kind, familiar eyes. But Ted Bundy might’ve had kind eyes to some people too, and bankruptcy and law are boring to me, and a therapist could be someone whose crazier than the rest of us, in ways that I cannot deal with.

You may have noticed that I first defined this guy by his job, a common mistake. I hated it when people defined me by my job when I was working in marketing, and now I don’t even want people to know I work in a grocery store because I don’t want people judging me… all because I judge myself. Sometimes the things we can’t stand in others are the very things we can’t stand in ourselves. My goal is not to judge someone or define them by their job but rather by who they are as a person.

On a deeper level, I look for in a man what I want for myself, which is someone who has their shit together. I want to be on the right path. And guess what? I am. Maybe I’m still not quite where I want to be, but I’m okay with that in this moment. All of this is an ongoing process that doesn’t end until the day I die.

Today I am right where I need to be. I’m grateful to have woken up an hour early (just by chance! Thank you, God!), to write this post, to have my friends and family, to have a nurturing workplace environment, to have healthy food and a comfortable living space. I am grateful to be on this path, to have guides who help me along the way, to have an opportunity to be a guide for others. I’m grateful for my readers, and for your posts on self-love, self-care, spirituality, positivity. Most of all, I’m grateful to be aware of God’s presence in my life.

1vulnerability

Peace and love,

TCH

 

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2 thoughts on “Opening Your Heart and Finding Gratitude

  1. Oh god. How many times have I been here! This garbage is precisely why I stopped dating and started working on ME and why I attract the same, emotionally unavailable, economically (or otherwise) unstable, sexual hyperactive assholes. I decided I’d create my own form of a “convent” and never left. Oh, and I got a therapist – I need to add that.

    I’ve watched things from here and from safety and I’ve learned a great deal about myself and “them” – the leeches I managed to attract. It’s one issue: power. You have power and they’re drawn to that power – light, energy – and they suck it right out of you. I give it all up too freely which was my mistake; I suspect the same may be the same may be true here? Then, when something better comes, usually a piece of meat in the form of a woman they have no true emotions for, you’re dumped because you scare them. They’re not ready for you; never WERE. You’re left thinking, “what’s wrong with ME?” Nothing is wrong with you. Never was. It’s hard to not think that way – it’s the first place I STILL go, honestly. But I have to force myself with DBT schooled lessons in mindfulness to remember that I am fine just as I am; God made me as I am and if there are any lessons to be taught, He will teach when I’m in a better place.

    And you are fine just as you are. You don’t NEED to date. You don’t WANT to be alone -and you don’t have to be! If you go to CODA, go there. If there are friends you’ve lost touch with because of this piece of work, reconnect. Stay focused; stay grateful and keep being grateful for at least five things a day – even if it’s, “I woke up today” as item #1. And write, write, write and….another thing? WRITE. You’re not alone as you’re writing and I’m responding. Keep that in mind – Namaste. ODAT.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! Thanks so much for commenting on my post. I’m sorry it has taken so long to respond – I wanted time to think about my response. I think you’re right about me having power and the guy leaving because he’s scared–I can totally see that in some of my previous situations, including the most recent fling with a guy who seems most at home with what’s comfortable, and who appears to be conflict-avoidant. It would be too big of a risk to try to make something work with me when he knows what it was like with her, and he has power over her because she has nowhere better to go unless and until she becomes more financially independent. In the long run it’s doubtful I’d have stayed with him, because I have a promising future: after I graduate I’ll be making enough money to support myself, and the truth will be more apparent to me, which is that I don’t need a man or another person to take care of me. As for my ex who I’d hoped would be my life partner, I’d say you’re right on the money there too. He was afraid the relationship wouldn’t work so he chose to bail rather than try to overcome our issues and work together on a solution for how to better communicate. In a more recent post I wrote about what happened, but I failed to mention that while my therapist agreed that what I’d said to him was hurtful, it was not about him, but about me, and he couldn’t see that, and he overreacted, big time. Thanks for your thought-provoking response and support. I’m looking forward to reading your blog. Peace and namaste, TCH

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