A Visit to the ER (Emotional Repression)

Imagine if you will…

 er

Patient: “Doctor, my symptoms are: irritability, shortness of breath, an inability to sleep throughout the night, loss of appetite, and a soreness around my heart. I haven’t felt good in weeks. I probably should have come in sooner, but I just thought it might go away.”

Doctor: “Your pulse is good. Your heart rate is too. Blood pressure is normal.” He takes a deep breath and releases a short “hmmph”. “You’re suffering from emotional repression.”

Patient: Looks at the doctor. Cocks her head forty-five degrees to the right and says, “Excuse me?”

Doctor: “Yep. Nothing is physically ailing you, but you certainly are suffering from some serious emotional trauma.” He scribbles a few notes on her chart, looks up at her and then reaches for something in the pocket of his lab coat. “Here is the number to a great therapist.” On his way out of the exam room he gives her a pat on the shoulder and exits without another word. The patient, on the other hand, sits in wide-eyed bewilderment looking at the information on the business card.


In the last chapter of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, the author John Gray unearths why couples in loving relationships experience turmoil. When my most recent romantic relationship began to rapidly unravel I couldn’t help but try and determine where things had gone wrong. I was baffled how something so beautiful could become so hideous in such a short amount of time. And then it all started to make sense when Gray noted that:

It is very common for two people who are madly in love one day to hate each other or fight the very next day. These sudden shifts are confusing. Yet they are common. If we don’t understand why they happen we may think that we are going crazy, or we may mistakenly conclude that our love has died. Fortunately there is an explanation.

After reading these words, instantly I began to feel better. There was an assurance that an answer would soon be provided and I would know “what the hell” had been going on. Gray continued by point out that:

Love brings up our unresolved feelings…The painful memories of being rejected begin to surface when we are faced with trusting and accepting our partner’s love. Whenever we are loving ourselves more or being loved by others, repressed feelings tend to come up and temporarily overshadow our loving awareness. They come up to be healed and released.

Eureka! There it was–right there in simple terms. The love that had grown between my beloved and me was being taking to the ER (emotional repression). It wasn’t that our love had diminished, but that our love was somehow being tested by repressed feelings/emotions that hadn’t fully been dealt with from the past. But in the midst of the emotional trauma that I was experiencing, I couldn’t see past my current situation. I couldn’t connect my present circumstances with past hurts and disappointments. Finally, it was becoming clear that:

We are all walking around with a bundle of unresolved feelings, the wounds from our past, that lie dormant within us until the time comes when we feel loved. Then, we feel safe to be ourselves, our hurt feelings come up.

It is true that I have made some great gains in the past two years. I have recovered from the last heart-wrenching failed romance, but somehow there were still some things from my past that had not yet been acknowledged. And then the following words helped me determine how far in the past I needed to go to gain the healing I had longed for.

By understanding how past unresolved feelings periodically surface, it is easy to understand why we can become so easily hurt by our partners. When we are upset, about 90 percent of the upset is related to our past and has nothing to do with what we think is upsetting us.

So, with this new sense of awareness I have determined that the “unraveling” of my most recent love affair wasn’t so much about what my beloved had said or done, but was about the emotional trauma of a childhood smeared by a divorce and feelings of abandonment. All these years I had been suppressing feelings that were birthed in my youth. I subconsciously believed that every man that I loved would eventually leave me behind just like my father had left my mother and his children behind. Please don’t get me wrong. I am in no way pointing a finger of blame at my father, but acknowledging how the events in the past have shaped my emotional (in)stability in the present. I am well aware that both of my parents did the best they could with the information they possessed. They loved us to the best of their ability and for that I am thankful. I am merely acknowledging the hurt, so that I can heal and release it–so that it doesn’t surface again.

As part of the healing process, author John Gray suggests the “Love Letter” technique for communicating difficult feelings to those we love. Gray believes that there are times when talking is ineffective. He also points out that letter writing provides us with an opportunity to listen to our feelings without the possibility of hurting our partner. It is an effective tool to provide awareness to us for how unloving we may sound.

Gray’s Love Letter Technique

 

  1. Write a Love Letter that expresses your feelings of: anger, sadness, fear, regret, and love.
  2. Write a Response Letter where you express what you want to hear from the person to whom you addressed the Love Letter.
  3. Share the Love Letter and Response Letter with the individual to whom it was written.

Gray acknowledges the flexibility in this three-step approach—meaning it’s up to you to determine if you will do only one or more of the steps. He urges us, the reader, to:

  1. Include all five elements in the letter
  2. Use simple terms/phrases
  3. Try to keep each section balanced in length
  4. Don’t stop until you express the “love” at the end
  5. Include a “P.S”

All that being said, I used his technique to write a “Healing Letter” to myself. This letter is then followed by the “Loving Response” that I needed to say to myself.

Disclaimer/Footnote: the use of “self” in the Healing Letter and “Self” in the Loving Response Letter are purposeful. In The Path To Love Deepak Chopra connotes the “Self” with our higher Self, our spirit man, “…created from the same spirit that in infinite form is called God”. Thus the “self” is synonymous with the humanly defined and psychologically developed (ego-driven) image of who we are—separate from our innate spirit. So hopefully that will shed light on the symbolic use of the words in the closing.

The Healing Letter

July 8, 2015

Dear Linai,

I am writing this letter to share my feelings with you.

  1. Anger: I am angry that love is so elusive. I am frustrated by life’s unexpected hurdles, trials, and tribulations. I am annoyed by my lack of faith: in God, in others, in myself. I don’t like it when things don’t go as I would like. I want to trust that my heart’s desires are unfolding in this very moment.
  1. Sadness: I am sad that my relationship with my beloved has not been rekindled. I am disappointed that I didn’t experience a childhood where open communication was the norm, not the exception. I wanted to open up and effectively communicate with my beloved (and other men), but I didn’t have the tools or know-how to do so. I feel hurt when I think about my relationship (or lack thereof) with my father. I want to stop trying to “fix” a broken childhood that cannot, through proxy, be repaired.
  1. Fear: I am afraid that I will spend the rest of my life alone—never knowing/experiencing a lasting romantic love and never experiencing motherhood. I am worried that I won’t get what I want out of life so I “try to make things happen”. I am scared that my beloved won’t come back; won’t want to try and make our relationship successful. I do not want to start all over again. I need my beloved to “see the light”—rekindle the flame and work with me to repair what we lost.
  1. Regret: I regret becoming sexually active at such a young age. I feel embarrassed for not investing in a good therapist in my early twenties. I am sorry for all the missed opportunities to show my love to others. I feel ashamed for focusing so much on my emotional needs, that I neglected those of my beloved. I didn’t want to hurt/disappoint my beloved.
  1. Love: I love that you’re a fighter; you never give up on love, those you love. I know that you write from the heart. I adore your natural curiosity. I appreciate that you are a romantic through and through. I respect the transparency in your writing. I understand why you’re hurting and what you’re trying to heal from. I forgive you for being human and not having the tools you needed to be a more loving, successful, and compassionate being. I thank you for realizing that you need help.

Love,

your self

P.S. I need you to know with ALL certainty that you are perfect, complete, and whole; you lack nothing. You are perfectly imperfect.

 

The Loving Response Letter

Dear Linai,

Thank you so very much for sharing this with me. I understand that you are working through some emotional turmoil right now. I am sorry that life hasn’t always been pleasant for you. You deserve to relish in each and EVERY one of your heart’s desires. I want you to know that you are completely loved and completely lovable. I love the person you are and the person you are becoming.

Truly,

the Self


The prospective client knocks on the office door. Slight cracked open, a sliver of dim light escapes. Upon entering she is greeted by a smiling forty-something woman. She drops her tote bag and purse to the floor after the smiling forty-something woman reaches out to hug her. Two strangers embrace in a hug. Moved by the therapist’s compassion, tears begin to well in the eyes of the prospective client. The therapist gestures for the client to have a seat and then grabs her a tissue from the box on her desk. Again, she smiles warmly—full of care and concern.

 

Therapist: “This is a safe place.”

Client: Still in tears. She begins to regulate her breathing. “Thank you so much.”

With a smile and a forty-five degree head tilt, the therapist looks into the eyes of the prospective client with warmth and compassion. Their journey had just begun, but the healing was already underway.

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The “Real” in Relationships

solar system

I used to walk around in rose-colored glasses when it came to this idea of “love” and lasting relationships. In my youth, and to some degree in my adulthood, I tended to believe there was this mystical “perfect person” with whom we were destined to spend our lives. However, years of living, loving, and losing have taught me that there isn’t a “ONE” out there waiting to save us from ourselves (basically we have to save our own self). In all honesty, I think that there are an infinite number of possibilities that we can “make love” with (please do not misconstrue my use of the phrase ‘make love’; it is not sexual in nature, but spiritual). Like I said, I do think there are a number of individuals who cross our paths over the course of our lifetime(s), and it is up to us (both partners) to decide if we will walk out this experience together. Yesterday I read some TRUTH that not only opened my eyes, but allowed me to take off those rose-colored glasses and crush them under my feet. The following words revolutionized my thinking:

Love often fails because people instinctively give what they want….Many people give up when relationships become too difficult. Relationships become easier when we understand our partner’s primary needs. Without giving more but by giving what is required we do not burn out….To fulfill your partner, you need to learn how to give the love he or she primarily needs (John Gray, from Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus).

When I tell you that my mind has been blown and that this is earth-shattering information, I kid you not. This statement tells me that this idea of “love” that we so often toss around has the power to be sustained in a relationship/partnership so long as both individuals know how to fulfill their partner’s needs, not just their own.

I will be the first to admit that I had a selfish view of “love”. I was overly protective of my fragile heart because I was afraid of being vulnerable to another person’s needs and desires. In nearly each of my past relationships I kept up a shield to protect myself because I was so concerned about my needs that I failed to take the necessary actions to meet the needs of each man I claimed to “love”. That is a sad indictment on my part, and for that I apologize to every man I have ever loved.

The truth is, I was afraid to do what real love requires: surrender. Deepak Chopra wrote in The Path To Love, that:

Spiritually, no action is more important than surrender. Surrender is the tenderest impulse of the heart, acting out of love to give whatever the beloved wants. Surrender is being alert to exactly what is happening now, not imposing expectations from the past. Surrender is faith that the power of love can accomplish anything, even when you cannot foresee the outcome of a situation.

Quite honestly the idea of surrender scared the crap out of me. I connoted surrender with weakness and as an independent woman the last thing I wanted was to appear weak. But that’s what happens when our ego gets in the way. And you know what Deepak Chopra has to say about the ego? He says:

At the level of ego, two people cannot want exactly the same thing all the time. Yet at the level of spirit, they cannot help but want the same thing all the time. Your ego wants material things, predictable conclusions, continuity, security, and the prerogative to be right when others are wrong….spirit and ego are total opposites. Bringing them together is achieved through surrender, and the only force that can accomplish it is love. Surrender, then, is the next phase on love’s journey, which you enter as soon as you choose to be in relationship.

I don’t think that Deepak Chopra is saying that we, and our beloved, should literally want the same things, but that we should desire the same things from love: support, compassion, understanding, appreciation, respect, devotion, etc. I believe that he is urging lovers to recognize that our ego inhibits our ability to surrender. For it is through surrender that we are able to achieve our loving desires (those noted above).

In my previous post, “Le’Go My Ego”, I spoke of the importance of relinquishing ego because it stands in direct contrast to love. I stand firm on this belief. Actually, while watching a previously-aired episode of Oprah Winfrey’s “Super Soul Sunday” I received confirmation about this issue of the ego. In the midst of a conversation with Reverend Ed Bacon, a priest in the Diocese of the Episcopal Church, he noted that Satan, the deceiver, is synonymous with ego. Reverend Bacon went on to say that Satan/ego (whose instrument is fear) isn’t purely outside us. The enemy that he spoke of is not outside, but within and that makes sense when Joyce Meyer has informed us that the battlefield is in the mind. So much of our drama is internal, and if we are ever able to control our thinking, I’m certain that we would experience a freedom we have never known, perhaps surrender. Our ego is that enemy that we battle daily. If we want our freedom, we have to give up ego. Just last week my therapist asked me a fundamental question; she looked me right in the eye and said: “Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be effective?” The question she posed was asked in the midst of our discussion about my emotional turmoil over my most recent break up. I contemplated her words and instantly realized how I had been allowing my ego to sabotage my relationships. Instantly I wanted another chance to prove that I could love: be vulnerable and surrender.

As I sit here now, I continue to contemplate Bacon’s words and am immediately drawn back to Chopra’s idea of surrender as it relates to spirituality. If each of us is on a spiritual journey, then it only makes sense that love would require us to learn lessons about surrender. While I cannot do anything to change my previous actions/responses to love, I am eager to integrate what I am learning. So here’s what I have gleaned from Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

The Differences in Men’s & Women’s Values

Men Women
Power Love
Competency Communication
Efficiency Beauty
Achievement Relationship
Proving themselves Support/Help
Developing power/skill Nurturing

Men define themselves through achieving results. They gain fulfillment through success and accomplishment.

On the other hand, women define themselves by their feelings and/or the quality of their relationships. They are fulfilled when they share/relate.

The Differences in Men & Women’s Primary Emotional Needs

Men Women
Trust Caring
Acceptance Understanding
Appreciation Respect
Admiration Devotion
Approval Validation
Encouragement Reassurance

In reading John Gray’s text, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, I have been able to pinpoint experiences where past relationships had “gone wrong”. Knowing what I know now, I feel I have gained insight on what is required to successfully maneuver through a healthy love relationship. If the premise from my introductory paragraph is correct, “…there are an infinite number of possibilities that we can “make love” with…”, then I am walking into my future with 20/20 vision.

Now knowing these fundamental truths, I am hopeful about my future responses to love.   And the following quote will lead me to loving freely and fully.

“Love is magical, and it can last, if we remember our differences”—John Gray (author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus)

Private Party

“I’m havin’ a private party/Learning how to love me/Celebrating the woman I’ve become…I felt so alone/Started to feel a little pity/That’s when I realized that I/Gotta find the joy inside of me/I’m gonna take off all my clothes/Look at myself in the mirror/We’re gonna have a conversation/We’re gonna heal the disconnection/I don’t remember when it started/But this is where it’s gonna end/My body is beautiful and sacred/And I’m gonna celebrate it/All my life (all my life)/I’ve been looking for (I’ve been looking for)/Somebody else (else)/To make me whole (ooo)/But I had to learn the hard way (ooo)/True love began with me (ooo)/This is not ego or vanity (ooo)/I’m just celebrating me/Sometimes I’m alone but never lonely/That’s what I’ve come to realize/I’ve learned to love the quiet moments/The Sunday mornings of life/Where I can reach deep down inside/Or out into the universe/I can laugh until I cry/Or I can cry away the hurt…I’m havin’ a private party/Learning how to love me/Celebrating the woman I’ve become…”—from India Arie’s “Private Party

No truer words have been sung; I am assuredly having a private party. In this very moment in time I am learning how to love me and I’m celebrating the woman I’ve become. Despite the pangs of life, I am moving into my future with optimism and love for self! That being said, it was a most ironic morning when a dear friend of mine posted the following on Facebook regarding Love Languages earlier today. Within minutes people were chiming in about their specific Love Language and personal experiences related to them.

love languages

After reading through the thread of comments, I made an observation…many people had commented that their primary Love Language was Quality Time. So I posed the following to the respondents:

quality time

Still pained over this issue of Quality Time, the following words from Deepak Chopra brought an overwhelming sense of revelation and release to me.

People who find themselves alone rarely feel any incentive to explore love. They await contact with another person or run out to seek it. Thus we become dependent on other people to make us feel totally and permanently loved.  

This expectation will, however, always be defeated, and although we blame those who failed to respond to us, who responded but then left, who stayed but then changed their minds, none of them is finally the cause of our problem. The cause is our inability to develop an unshakable relationship with ourselves. The Self is the source of love. People who live their own love stories have learned this lesson above all.

Please don’t get me wrong.   I am not proposing that we shut ourselves up in our domiciles, become reclusive, and forget about relating to others. What I am proposing is that we first get a handle on loving ourselves—fully and completely, before we open ourselves up to another being.

As someone who has repeatedly looked outside of herself for a source of love, Chopra’s words are TRUTH. I was constantly pointing the finger at one lover after another because he had:

1) failed to respond [especially in the manner and/or time that I desired]

2) responded for a time, but then eventually left

3) stayed in the relationship for a time, but then changed his mind and walked away

What was even more ironic was that earlier this evening I had been texting back and forth with a college friend, and this same issue surfaced. Here’s how the “textversation” went.

Me: And how are you today?

K: I’m good—I had class so it got my mind off things.

Me: That’s good.

Any communication from R.?

K: Yeah he texted me last night and today.

Just going to remove myself emotionally from him.

It’s crazy that all these years later I still love that man.

If he’s honest then he’s not ready to let anyone in

and if he’s dishonest then I don’t need to be bothered.

Either way I have only replied to him, not initiate

any communication and just need to distance myself

from him like he’s done me.

Me: I think that is very practical.

E. emailed me this morning and my response was short,

devoid of emotion.

K: What did he say?

Me: “Good morning.

Hope you had a good trip and weekend.”

K: What did you say? “Thanks”.

That’s what I would have said.

Me: “Good morning.

I had a wonderful time. Thanks.”

My exact words.

K: Games ****** play—I tell ya.

Me: Exactly. Be all in or be out.

That’s how I see it.

But it doesn’t even matter

because I refuse to be sucked back into his vortex.

K: Same here.

Me: I’ve taken back control and it feels good.

Embedded in our words is disappointment based on the actions and/or inactions of men that we love(d). But it isn’t fair to hold them accountable without taking responsibility for expecting another human being to make us feel loved. We must be our own source of love. To hold these men accountable is being judgmental because “Judgment is whatever tells you that there is something wrong with yourself or someone else” (Chopra, 1997). Furthermore, Chopra cautions that, “There can be no sense of security in your existence when it depends upon outside factors [another being], for the unpredictable changes of reality can never be controlled…As long as love is [external] pleasure, its end—a sad tapering off into indifference and inertia—is predictable.” All that being said, the TRUTH that each of us must embrace is that, “There is no one out there waiting for you. There is only you and the love you bring to yourself” (Chopra, 1997).

♪♪♪ ”I’m havin’ a private party/Learning how to love me/Celebrating the woman I’ve become…” ♪♪♪

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who’s the “Ugliest” of Them All?

“It’s like I’m a magnet for emotionally unavailable men.”

No sooner had I said those words than the revelation pierced me in my spirit. I truly was creating my own chaos. I had been entertaining my own enemy. In that very moment I knew it was time to change the landscape of my life.

In The Path To Love by Deepak Chopra, he notes, “However good or bad you feel about your relationship, the person you are with at this moment is the ‘right’ person, because he or she is a mirror of who you are inside”. I read those words just days after my epiphany. And as soon as I read them, I came back to the afore-mentioned conversation that had provided me with enlightenment.

The full weight of my dating experiences (ways of relating to men) hit me like a mac truck. My experiences were the result of my compartmentalizing my feelings in an effort to prevent a potential heartache.

This blessing of falling in love comes from spirit, but it can be blocked by ego. Ego is responsible for protecting your self-image; it creates the compartments where everything undesirable about you has been hidden. What blocks love is not the presence of these shadow energies but the division of the psyche that came about when your ego started building inner walls. Love is a flow, and walls keep the flow out (Chopra, 1997)

I had been operating at an emotional minimum and the result was my attracting men who also operated at the same frequency. One-by-one the names and experiences were recalled to my memory. I was darn-near emotionally bankrupt, and if I didn’t wise up soon, I would keep attracting men who were merely able and/or interested in committing on a surface level. For years I had built up these fortified barriers in an attempt to “protect” myself from being hurt and/or disappointed from love. As I write these words now it seems so asinine to “say” that love has the possibility to “hurt” and/or “disappoint”. After all, Chopra points out that love:

  1. Heals
  2. Renews
  3. Makes us safe
  4. Inspires
  5. Makes us certain
  6. Ousts all fear
  7. Unveils immortality
  8. Brings peace
  9. Harmonizes differences
  10. Brings us closer to God

 

If all of these things are true about love, then you can understand how ludicrous my previous assumptions about love were—having the ability to “hurt” and/or “disappoint”.

Nevertheless, in relaying my recent emotional and spiritual breakthroughs to my hypnotherapist, Sarah, we talked about my “unhealthy ways of relating to men.” Over the years I had become this person who yearned to love and be loved, but the “loving” I was giving and receiving was a fear-based pseudo-love. It wasn’t authentic because…

love can feel too personal, even for ourselves; it pokes into those compartments where our negative self-image is stored…to love another person involves opening up your whole being (Chopra, 1997)

I have been afraid to truly open up the contents of my heart. There are so many things in the there that I didn’t like, so I couldn’t fathom how another human (spiritual) being could see the ugly things within me, and still want to stick around. But like Deepak Chopra points out, we have to open up our entire being to another person if we truly are seeking love in its purest form. That means that we first have to embrace the “ugly” that resides inside us, but at the same time, not allow it to limit our love of self. After we have learned to love ALL of what we are: good, bad, and some “ugly”, we can then show ALL that we are to those with whom we want to relate—male and female.

Now that I have embarked on this “path to love”, I am hopeful. I am hopeful because I have the assurance that ALL of who I am is perfect, whole, and complete (a mantra shared with me by Sarah). This journey of mine is affording me daily opportunities to love and be loved completely, fully, and without condition. In closing, I leave you with words that have recently given me hope and peace.

Pearls of Wisdom from The Path To Love by Deepak Chopra

“You were created to be completely loved and completely lovable for your whole life.”

“In spirit you are pure love.”

“The reason you do not feel completely loved and completely lovable is that you do not identify with your spiritual nature.”

“When you find your path, you will also find your love story.”

“When you truly find love, you find yourself.”

Forgiveness

Today’s piece was birthed from a short string of correspondence that I had with my beloved. Though emotionally and physically estranged from one another, we have maintained communication. And as a result, I haven’t completely been able to move forward because my heart longs for this man who made the decision that we should split. That being said, I wanted clarity. I know from the past that unanswered questions have the potential to drive me crazy, so I wanted to ward off a return to entertaining old strongholds. Nevertheless, in asking questions, I have also learned that we may not receive the answer we hoped to hear. So here is the message I sent to him just yesterday. Mind you, I prayed that God would help me accept whatever response was returned, and to move forward in peace and love.

Screenshot 2015-06-11 11.13.06

Screenshot 2015-06-11 11.13.15

Screenshot 2015-06-11 11.13.21

While it wasn’t exactly the response I was hoping for, it wasn’t a “no”. At the present moment I am not sure that the “maybe” I received has brought me solace or more confusion. At any rate, what latched onto my spirit was my beloved’s statement, “I just need time to heal and clear my head so maybe one day I can forgive”. Forgive.

Forgiveness seems so very simple in theory, but the reality of the action can seem insurmountable for many. I heard somewhere that forgiveness isn’t for the other person (the one who “wronged” us), but forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. I agree with this logic because when we harbor feelings of unforgiveness, it is only stunting our growth and development. All too often those we feel have done us wrong may have no idea that what they said and/or did impacted us in such a profound way as to leave us crippled or damaged emotionally and/or psychologically. Words, which have the power to uplift or destroy, have lasting conscious and subconscious effects on our psyche.

As part of my healing process, I have immersed myself in the music of India Arie, a kindred spirit. Ironically enough, the lyrics to India Arie’s “The Heart of the Matter” rose with me this morning.

I got a call today, I didn’t wanna hear/but I knew that it would come/An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone/She said you found someone/And I thought of all the bad luck,/And all the struggles we went through/How I lost me and you lost you/What are all these voices outside love’s open door/Make us throw off our contentment/And beg for something more?

I’ve been learning to live without you now/But I miss you sometimes/The more I know, the less I understand/All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning them again/I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter/But my will gets weak/And my thoughts seem to scatter/But I think it’s about forgiveness/Forgiveness/Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore…

These lines capture the Sound Track of My Life. On the heels of healing from this recent break up, I do find myself missing my beloved sometimes. My thoughts are oftentimes scattered. My will to remain positive does often get weak. And I know with all certainty that forgiveness is at the heart of this matter of brokenness.

After I listened to the song a couple more times I sent the link of a live performance to my beloved. I’m not sure he understood where I was coming from, but I’ve recently decided that I won’t take anything personally. And that includes the lack of response. Afterwards, I went in search of scripture on the topic of forgiveness. Below are those that resonated with my spirit.

Forgiveness Scriptures

Matthew 6: 14-15 (MSG)

“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”

Mark 11: 25 (MSG)

“If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 (MSG)

“We certainly don’t look at him [people] that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!”

Isaiah 43: 25 (Amplified)

“I, even I, am He Who blots out and cancels your transgressions, for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

Daniel 9: 9 (MSG)

“Compassion is our only hope…”

If we work with the logic that forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, then Matthew 6: 14-15 proves that unforgiveness leaves us at a deficit with God—making it impossible for Him to send us the healing that will propel us to our “next level” experience.

Likewise, Mark 11:25 is also proof that we cannot receive forgiveness of our wrongdoings if we haven’t in fact forgiven others.

In the case of 2 Corinthians 5: 17 God is calling us to relinquish our view of the “old man” who “wronged” us. He is calling us to see each other with new eyes. When I woke this morning the following prayer sprang from spirit, out of my mouth, and onto the pages of my notebook/journal:

Lord, help us to see ourselves as you see us. All too often when we look in the mirror the image we see is untrue. We see a fragmented, broken, incapable, unlovable person because of what has been said and/or done to us. But God, give us new eyes that allow us to see our [and other’s] truth—who we are through your eyes.

When we consider Isaiah 43: 25 we find the absolute TRUTH about forgiveness. God himself “blots out and cancels” the remembrance of our wrongdoing(s). And it isn’t for our sake because He says, “…for My own sake…” There you have it right there. Forgiving others is truly something we do for ourselves–for our healing, growth, and spiritual development.

And finally, in Daniel 9: 9 we find the simple solution to the “woes” of humanity, compassion. When we express compassion for our fellow man we are doing what God sent us here to do, love one another as He loves us. When we are able to extend compassion for another person we are essentially freeing ourselves from the bondages that would otherwise keep us from the greater life God has prepared for us. Compassion is a gift, like forgiveness, that we give to ourselves and to others.

beloved 3.0

Disillusioned? Disenchanted? Or Both?

This is not the life I envisioned for myself.  This is not where I thought I would be at thirty-seven.  This is not who I imagined I would be.

When I was a kid I would spend an exuberant amount of time daydreaming about my adult life (young and dumb).  I dreamed up: kids, a husband, a house . . . an entire life (silly musing).  But what’s strange and eerily unfair is that none of those dreams have become my present reality—not even remotely (hard slap in the face).  There are no kids (blessing and a curse).  There is no husband—not even a committed boyfriend (perhaps the result of my sharp tongue).  The house was foreclosed on in 2008 (bad money management).  Some of you are probably tired of hearing about my still being single after all these years (it’s okay to be honest).  Heck.  I’m tired of talking about it (really, I am).  I’d much rather write about something else, but for some strange and demented reason I am stuck on stupid—in more ways than one (pray for me).  This is my reality and it is far from the dreams of my youth.

Here is my problem—here is why I am stuck on stupid.  I have always been one of those girls who would rather be in a committed relationship, but most of my life I’ve found myself settling for the “table scraps” extended to me from any man who showed me a modicum of attention (daddy issues).  I think it’s time that I stopped believing in fairy tales (my name is not Snow White, Cinderella, or Belle).  There is no such thing as a prince charming—at least not for this girl (do they even make those in the African-American variety?).  I think it’s time that I realized that my life isn’t going to turn out the way I dreamed it up as a child.  Perhaps I am destined to be one of those women who never gets married and never has children (I will not turn into an old cat lady).  Maybe God and the universe have been sending me smoke signals all these years and I’ve been too dense to see them and to accept the reality of my present, my future (I’m thick headed).

When love has evaded you and disappointed you as much as it has for me, your hope begins to diminish and your light begins to fade (if you had any to start out with).  I’m getting to a point in my life where I have accepted that this is as good as it gets (damn!).  I have accepted that I am the perpetual cheerleader for my married friends and family members (I think I still have an old uniform from high school).  It will be my responsibility to remind them to cherish the love and their companions.  As for me, I’m going to have to continue to do for myself because it doesn’t look like any knight in shinning, or dull armor, is coming to rescue me from the castle tower (damn to being independent).  This is my life:  intelligent, attractive, educated, gainfully employed, funny, hard working, sarcastic, dedicated . . . and single.  You may have thought that those first eight adjectives would give a sista a chance—but nope, not this girl (somebody has to end up with the short stick—and I’m short so that seems to make sense).

Disillusioned.  Adjective.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary denotes the following about the word disillusioned (it sounds so dramatic).  Having lost faith or trust in something; disappointed that something is not as good, valuable, true, etc., as it had seemed.  Love has been a series of disappointing moments (my bad—years).  I have discovered that it— a relationship, a commitment, love—is less good than I believed it to be in my childhood.  A man finds me attractive, he pursues me for a time, he loses interest in me, and then he finds another muse or object of attraction (no lie, it’s happened several times over).  The process is repeated and the disillusionment persists and grows.

DisenchantedAdjective.  No longer happy or satisfied with something (according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary).  I am no longer satisfied with my present reality—hoping for a blissful future.  Being repeatedly dismissed no longer makes me happy (it makes me slightly bitter, but dark chocolate is slightly bitter and I love it!  Does that make me a metaphoric piece of dark chocolate?).

I suppose (actually I guarantee) that I am disillusioned and disenchanted.  Disillusioned with love and disenchanted with my reality.  My solution to moving beyond the disillusionment and disenchantment is to live without expectations—for a blissful future filled with the never-ending love of one man (unrelated to me) and kids (besides the ones I teach).  I know it’s a dismal way to live, but it’s safe and hurts less.  At this point in my life I need as little collateral damage as possible (my tender heart has been through hell—literally and figuratively).  No more making plans, no more hoping for a future that will never be (daydreams are for little girls and I haven’t been one of those in a few decades).

This is about living in the moment of each day.  This is about finding satisfaction in being—just as I am.  This is my life!

Alone—All one

There is nothing like a Rom-Com to bring clarity to your life.  Just today I had the pleasure of watching Baggage Claim starring Paula Patton and host of handsome male co-stars.  Much like Patton’s character Montana Moore, I proudly proclaim the title: romantic.  Despite the fact that I have yet to light upon the man who takes my breathe away while also encouraging me to be the best version of me that I can be, I haven’t given up complete hope that he exists and will someday find his way to my heart.  I may be delusional to think that mutual love and commitment can coexist in a “happily ever after” scenario, but I’m okay with that.  I’m okay with it because I refuse to settle for just any man.  I want the man who will fight for me—not literally, but figuratively speaking—fight for my heart, my attention, my affection.  I want the man whose face lights up when he sees me, the man who smiles at the thought of something funny I said and/or did.  I want the man who will love me when I look and feel my worst.  I want the man who isn’t afraid of my strength, the man who will see it as an asset and not a deficit.  I am holding out for the man who is a gentleman—holding upon doors and pulling out my chair.  I am willing to wait for the man who recognizes that I am perfectly imperfect and that is perfectly fine with him.  If such a man exists in human form, I will wait—hope-filled, not hopeless–for him to materialize.  And the following are quotes from the movie that moved me.

“It’s the 21st century; you don’t need a man to define you.” 

–Gail (played by Jill Scott)

Montana’s co-star and on-screen gal-pal Gail, played by Jill Scott, expressed these words in a scene where the two ladies reflect over the thirty-day plan to find Montana a husband (or at least a date to her sister’s wedding).  While Gail’s words are true, many a good woman, myself included, have yet to completely escape the scrutiny of being unmarried and single well into her thirties.  It is as if the unmarried after thirty have been stamped, or worse yet, branded “defective” in the eyes of society.  I will be the first to admit that I have been trying everything humanly possible—just shy of crazy–to keep from remaining single.  But in the last week or so something inside me shifted.  I’m not sure what, why or how it happened, but I started looking at my current circumstance: single, unmarried, and childless from an entirely different set of eyes.  I’ve reached a peace-filled place emotionally and mentally.  Before, I seemed to be on a mission to rid myself of the label: single, unmarried woman.  Now however, I have come to see it as a new start.  Think about it.  How many people can say that they’ve had countless opportunities to start over—again and again?  Starting over used to carry with it a heavy negative stigma, but lately I have come to appreciate the ability to start back at one once more.  This fresh start has given me a chance to reinvent myself, to appreciate me just as I am.  No, I refuse to be defined by having, or in my case, not having a man.  I am my own person.  I am a quirky, fun-loving, animated, passionate, devoted woman.  Yes, I would love to find a mate with which to share my life and love.  But if it never happens I am at peace with being alone—all one—that is, complete and lacking nothing.

“The magic isn’t in getting married; it’s in staying married.”

–William Wright (played by Derek Luke)

Derek Luke who plays William Wright, Montana’s on-screen long-term best friend, and eventual fiancé, shared these words of wisdom with Montana (Patton) on the way to the airport in her first of many failed attempts at reigniting fires with previous love interests.  What I love most about Wright’s words is the staying power that he connotes with the institution of marriage.  Being the romantic individual that I am, I strongly believe in lasting love.  If there is one thing that my failed attempts at love have taught me, it is that I am gritty—I don’t give up easily.  I have fought tooth and nail for the men I have loved.  I have never walked away easily.  It seems that many people get married because of timing: they think it’s the right time or they think their time is running out.  I’ve contemplated both scenarios over the last decade.  In my mid-to-late twenties I thought it was time to get married.  After all, nearly everyone around me was doing it—getting married that is.  And as my early-to-mid thirties came and went, I thought time was running out.  And when one relationship after another failed to develop into marriage I began to feel a sense of desperation take over me.  But life has a way of bringing clarity to you.  I do not take marriage lightly.  To me it is sacred and should be cherished.  If I should marry, and truly I do hope that I do.  It is my hope and prayer that it happens only once and that it lasts a lifetime.  I take my commitments very seriously and marriage is about commitment—a life-long commitment.

“You give me hope that there’s still some good men out there.”

–Montana Moore (played by Paula Patton)

There was a time in my life when I thought the available pool of “good men” had dried up.  Only recently have I changed my thinking.  While I have known a few good men, I do hope that there are at least a few more out there.  No, I’m not greedy.  I just want one for myself and a few for some really great women whom I happen to be friends with.  I know I’m not the last of the thirty-something single, unmarried, and childless clan.  There are many of us out there.  Many of us, despite being intelligent, independent, and attractive, have yet to happen upon the right man, for us that is.  We’ve kissed many a frog over the years, but we haven’t lost hope.  Like Montana’s character, we still believe that our day will come.  We hope against our previous and current circumstances that there is at least one man willing to appreciate us just as we are.  We may not have a thirty-day turn around like the character Montana Moore, but that hasn’t kept us from hoping he will eventually arrive on his noble steed.

“Marriage doesn’t make you a lady anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.”

–Montana Moore

Even though this is an odd analogy to make, you cannot deny the truth of Montana’s words.  We—the lot of unmarried women—are no less a lady than the rest of the female population because we happen not to have a husband, a fiancé, a committed boyfriend, or even a prospect or two.  Does it take being married to make one a lady?  Does motherhood require giving birth?  I say no to both.  I may not be married, and I may not have birthed any children, but each day that I wake I present myself as a lady and I oftentimes find myself taking on the role of mother at work.

“I did meet somebody that I’ve really been needing to meet, me.”

–Montana Moore

Starting over allows us the privilege of getting to know ourselves again.  When there isn’t anyone else vying for our time, attention, and affection we have the opportunity to love ourselves without condition.  The time alone that we give ourselves is rejuvenating.  When we finally learn to appreciate us, we make way for a refreshing wave of freedom.  When we meet ourselves just as we are, we can appreciate our strengths and limitations.  Etymologically speaking, the word alone is Old English for “al one” or all one—wholly.  Being alone–all one–whole–frees us from buying into the lie that we are less than.  The truth remains that we are complete, whole and lacking nothing.

“I want a lifetime.”

–Montana Moore

Call it greedy; call it whatever you like.  I want a lifetime and I won’t settle for anything less.  I believe that a love can last a lifetime if both individuals maintain the same level of commitment.  All too often however, it seems that one or both individuals opts out—physically and/or emotionally when the going gets tough.  I am not a quitter.  I am a fighter and a lover.  The hope-filled romantic in me won’t settle for anything less than a lifetime.  Truth be told, it may take a lifetime to get what I earnestly desire, and if that’s the case, then I am okay with that.  The bottom line is that we should never settle for less than what our hearts truly desire.   And when we choose not to settle, one day we may have the pleasure of hearing our significant other say . . .

“You could stay awake the rest of your life and you’d still be beautiful to me.”

—Damon Diesel played by Trey Songz

How’s that for romantic?

If you haven’t seen Baggage Claim, you should.  And then we can banter about the quotes that moved you.

Never settle!

A Heart Worth Holding

My heart:

fractured, bruised, and heavy—

longs to be held safely in your hands.

 

“What would you do if I gave you my heart?”

 

Would you toss it aside as a frivolous gift?

Would you cup it in your hands?

Would you throw it back at me?

Would you place it inside a satin-tufted box?

 

Just what would you do if I gave you my heart?

 

I want to trust you with my most precious asset,

I long to share with you every fiber of its contents,

I want to give you my heart because there is something about you that makes me smile.

 

Truth is . . .

 

You entertain my special.

You appreciate my uniqueness.

You ignite my femininity.

You share with me a silliness that makes me beam on the inside and out.

 

I can no longer deny that I want to give you my heart.

 

I want you to take it in your hands and nurture it.

I want you to kiss it and speak gently to it.

I want you to ravage my heart with unconditional love.

 

I need to know that my heart is worth holding.

I have to know that my heart is priceless.

I yearn to know that this heart of mine has value.

 

I am entrusting you with this heart of mine.

I have faith in your holding on tight to my heart.

 

This heart, my heart, I want to give to you.

Will you, could you . . .

Never let go of my heart.

When God Kisses You

“What were the things that romanced your heart as a girl?”

For me it was:

  •  A good book
  • Pretty flowers
  • My father’s undivided attention
  • Finding a bargain (while out shopping)
  • An encouraging word from my mother

For the past week or so I have been reading Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge.  Today however, I began the chapter titled “Romanced”.  After the section where the co-authors shared anecdotal accounts of how they had been “romanced” by God, I began thinking about recent instances when God had been romancing me.  When we talk about being “romanced” by God, it equates to those moments when God “woos” us—times when his love and pursuit of our hearts is revealed through earthly majesty.

John and Stasi Eldredge further noted that, “Every song you love, every memory you cherish, every moment that has moved you to holy tears has been given to you from the One who has been pursuing you from your first breath in order to win your heart.  God’s version of flowers and candlelight dinners comes in the form of sunsets and falling stars, moonlight on lakes and cricket symphonies; warm wind, swaying trees, lush gardens, and fierce devotion.  This romancing is immensely personal.  It will be as if it has been scripted for your heart.  He knows what takes your breath away, knows what makes your heart beat faster.”

God just kissed me on Friday, January 31st when one of my 3rd period students turned in an extra credit assignment.  First off, I rarely provide students with “extra credit” opportunities.  I firmly believe that if he or she gives enough time and attention to the assigned work, there would be no need for extra credit.  However, I’ve been doing some educational research on motivation and thought that providing random extra credit assignments may motivate some students to take advantage of their education.  At any rate, the objective was for the students to transform a letter they had recently written in a previous assignment.  The letter the students wrote was a persuasive letter to their parents in which they attempted to get their parents to change their mind about a decision, rule, restriction or ideology through the inclusion of the three persuasive appeals: logos, ethos, and pathos.  For the extra credit assignment students had to change their role/perspective as a writer, alter their intended audience, and change the format/writing mode.  With all that said, the 3rd period student’s letter had been transformed to an invitation.  It wasn’t some Microsoft Publisher crafted document; it was hand made with an embossed wax label.  When he handed it to me my face lit up.  After class ended I picked up the invitation once again and marveled at the detail and precision with which the student had crafted his assignment.  As an educator I strive to impress upon my students that taking the initiative is an impressive trait.  I also want them to understand that the quality of their work speaks volumes to their personal character and is a reflection of who they are inherently.  When this young man not only turned in a thoughtfully prepared product, but had also done so before the due date; I was moved to tears.  This was one of those instances that had brought me into the teaching profession.  Without realizing it (at that moment in time), I had been kissed by God.  A student had taken the initiative and gone above and beyond the general expectations—God had kissed me, romanced my heart.

While the euphoria of God’s kiss has swelled my heart, I have come to realize why the ending of my last romantic relationship was so emotionally crippling for me.  For fourteen months I had been courted—I was taken care of financially, I was treated like a lady, I had satisfying conversations with my mate, I and my mate shared of our spirituality, I had been romanced, and for a time–I had been the singular object of one man’s affection and attention.  It was God’s kiss, God’s way of romancing me through another earthly vessel.  And then it abruptly ended.  To this day I long to be courted once more.  For during those fourteen months I was ablaze and alive.  Nevertheless, I understand why the man I loved chose another woman—but that’ll have to wait for another entry—“The Unveiling of a Woman’s Beauty”.  Until then, here are some additional profound statements from John and Stasi Eldredge’s book.  Ladies, if you haven’t read the book Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge, please do.  It will open your eyes of understanding.

Notable “Nuggets” from John and Stasi Eldredge:

  • “You are meant to fill a place in the heart of God no one and nothing else can fill.”
  • “ . . . he [God] wants your obedience, but only when it flows out of a heart filled with love for him.”
  • “God delights in revealing himself to those who will seek him with all their hearts.”
  • “We have missed many of his notes simply because we shut our hearts down in order to endure the pain of life.”
  • “God has been wooing you ever since you were a little girl.”
  • “A woman becomes beautiful when she knows she’s loved.”
  • “As women we long to be loved in a certain way, a way unique to our femininity.”
  • “ . . . he [God] will thwart our efforts to find life apart from him . . .”
  • “He [God] often takes us aside from every other source of comfort so that he alone can have our heart’s attention.”
  • “Our hearts yearn to be loved intimately, personally, and yes, romantically . . . to be the object of desire and affection of one who is totally and completely in love with us.”
  • “Worship is what we give our hearts away to in return for a promise of Life.”
  • “No, to be spiritual is to be in a Romance with God.”
  • “The desire to be romanced lies deep in the heart of every woman.  It is for such that you were made.  And you are romanced, and ever will be.”

PS: Chyla, thank you for recommending this book.  I love you girl!