Last night, while I was taking a bath contemplating my existence I kept coming back to “love is the answer”. Now I’m not trying to be all John Lennon about it, or even Ghandi- but I truly believe this to be true. In virtually every interaction I’ve had with myself or with another, if I sprinkle some love in- it goes 150% easier than if I hadn’t. Now, I’m not saying that we need to be respectful to someone abusing us, but instead that we be loving to ourselves by creating a barrier from them energetically, laying firm ground rules and expectations, and also knowing when you’re being the difficult one and need to let someone in.
We all have different stories, and in some part of our lives we have all dealt with situations that others would be terrified of, cannot relate to, can have compassion for, or will never understand. And these reactions are all okay because it’s our story and not theirs. How they react or think about us is not our business. As we walk through life in every interaction it is as if we assume people know that we are having a shitty day, or that we were emotionally abused, or that we are going through a monumental shift in our lives. In some of my interactions with New Yorkers, they simply assume that I’m from around there and know the area, and it’s the same for other things too, like abuse or feeling like an outcast.
We only know the world that’s going on in our heads and if we don’t take the time to focus on the situation as if we know nothing about that other person’s inner life (as we should, in my opinion) we will continue to have all the conflict and confusion in our day to day lives. Treat others as you wish to be treated (if you loved yourself ferociously). Perhaps the golden rule is no longer enough with the pervasive lack of self-love we see around us in the world. Perhaps its time that we do better with how we treat others, even in those instances that we can’t do it for ourselves.
In working as a warrior for love I feel constantly challenged- people say ignorant things and I have to assess whether it’s an opportunity for education or whether I simply need to walk away. Sometimes the education IS walking away. In trying to do this every day I have to step out of my house with the decision to try and love myself voraciously so that I can help others learn that for themselves too. So that woman who just threw me a little shade on the street gets a smile. Because if I threw it back it would just be too easy on her. When the fantastic performer with low self-esteem goes on a self-depreciating rampage backstage I often choose not to acknowledge- my commiserating with her isn’t good for either one of us, and rarely does a quick compliment heal any wounds.
Much of the work I do is simply witnessing or holding space. On the moving train a man begs loudly for money, telling us his life story. We are trapped and many people frantically search for their headphones or physically turn their backs. While it is not my job to give him money (sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t), I just witness it. After all this is a human doing something that I perceive as being heart-wrenchingly hard: begging strangers for help and watching them recoil in disgust or fear.
Being backstage I realized that a performer that drives me bananas is likely dealing with emotional trauma from their parents not understanding them. Now- does that make her drive me less crazy? No- I think that we all have our stories and we need to learn how to be decent, loving human beings despite the bullshit- but it did help me to understand that truly their crazy-making behavior is something deeper than wanting to be the center of attention or loving to be manipulative, that rather they are working through their issues in a way I wouldn’t necessarily prefer. This realization gives me another level of protection around my heart and psyche when I encounter them- and it also gives me a touch of empathy too.
However, my favorite work is congratulating. Being happy for others that are taking the steps to work on their shit. I have a dear friend who knows that they have anger issues- and every time they have a “flare up” I see it get a little easier, and I see their acknowledgement of their issue and how they have to choose to deal with others get better. Its a gorgeous sight to watch. Witnessing a friend or family member go through cancer and it’s resulting therapies can trample your heart into a billion pieces, but seeing their strength and resilience through one of the most terrifying things that can happen in this world can make you so much more thankful that they are alive. Right now I’m witnessing so many of my friends take the scary dive into doing what they are passionate about- and if you’ve ever made that leap you know just how scary that first step (and sometimes the first 1000 steps) can be.
It’s time we make the choice to be a warrior for love in response to our backgrounds and stories, and watch the ensuing blossoming of our souls, and the world around us.
Despite my background of emotional abuse by a stepparent my aim is to be as loving as I can be to myself and others, even though her treatment of me can trigger my desire to be in fear and to recoil at the idea of having loving or even open female interactions. Sometimes my story wants me to stay at home petting my puppies instead of going to a birthday party that will have new people to meet or having lunch with a new friend. Despite being cheated on blatantly and repeatedly by a lover I decided to let subsequent loves in and work through the terror of being vulnerable. This work does not stop. This is the work of every day. These things are not easy, and I recognize that to some my issues seem like a cakewalk and to others a horrible proposition.
You fall on stage and you get back up- you don’t stay curled up on the floor faking a Nancy Kerrigan response. It is part of our paths as human beings on this planet to get back up despite the emotional, spiritual and physical beatings we have endured- we are resilient. Our hearts, when we exercise them by trying to love more and be more compassionate to others simply grows in it’s capability to love. And it can be oh so tough, but it is unbelievably rewarding to the soul.
Love is more than the ooey-gooey stuff that you save for your loved ones, it is deep and full of moments of witnessing, empathy, compassion and vulnerability. I recommend working on just one at a time and watching your heart blossom in ways you could never imagine.
So as you bathe or shower the remnants of your day away, or you drink your morning coffee in repose, vow to exercise your heart despite the hardships of your stories and situations. Vow to be a warrior for love.
I love you, and I believe in your capability to do this- even if it’s just for today.