When a love relationship turns to hate, or dislike or disharmony – what is that about? This is one of the most troubling, painful and challenging situations in life for me. I imagine it is the same for others. One of my spiritual mentors said it this way: “In order to love you must be willing to face the devastation”. A Buddhist friend and I were pondering this turn of events and he relates it to the idea that in the light there is also the dark, in happiness there is sorrow – it is the yin/yang truth of life. Absolute duality. In the emotional realm it makes sense that once again the idea of attachment and aversion is where the suffering lies. Attached to “good” feelings and afraid of “bad” feelings – there is also an unconscious awareness of the pain embedded in the pleasure. True freedom is acceptance, but that is not a Pollyanna-ish idea. Acceptance includes everything. Leave anything out and it is not acceptance.
These spiritual “basics” are bandied about frequently in my world. The basics don’t change but my relationship to them and understanding of them does continue to deepen and expand. Contemplation and experience, rinse and repeat. The cycle becomes a spiral…unwinding towards understanding, and then acceptance.
There was a time when I mourned my lover’s death while he was alive. Deeply entwined in a long term relationship I feared its ending – and sometimes felt I should leave before he left me or died. I imagine this is not an uncommon way to react to intimacy and love. If I push it away then i can save myself from the pain of loss. Well – that is a losing game! It is not win-win, it is lose-lose. Perhaps it is easier to avoid intimacy and love altogether, and so avoid the pain of loss. Pondering that it is easy to see that life then collapses into pain, loneliness and depression. There is no the easy way out.
So, what is the way out? My experience is this – the way out is through. Through the pain, through the difficult emotions, through the grief and through the loss. Remembering all those I have loved and lost, the grief remains but the love, wow, the love was so good. My life was so enriched by the loss, by the love and continues to be enriched with the memories. Happy, happy memories. Ironically it seems that happiness is easier to remember than pain. Is that true for you, too?
Emotions are tricky turf. Our coping mechanisms and addictions seem to be born from the desire and need to suppress what we are afraid to feel. The British culture was molded from the idea of “stiff upper lip” which is shorthand for “show no emotion”. What happens to feelings that want to be felt but aren’t? Where do they go? One theory is that they turn into themselves and cause disease (dis-ease, duh). I see the possibility here. The psychiatric diseases are clearly seen as suppressed emotion and energy.
How, then do we feel emotions? It takes so much courage to let the painful feelings be felt and pass through. The more deeply and completely they are felt, the more quickly they pass through, at least that’s true for me. I consider this process to be the sacred fire, as the allowing of intense emotion seems to burn something – and there is a purification that completes when a feeling is fully felt.
A wise person once said to me “Every feeling fully felt leads to love”. I have experienced the truth of this – the complete and utter bliss that lies on the other side of grief. The Tibetan Buddhists belief is that we have the possibility to attain a “rainbow body” – and the process of burning off all that is not true, all this is not love, leads to this illumined state. Bring it on!