At the beginning of 2018, I was seriously considering entering a monastic phase of life. After three divorces and five years of messy relationships, I’ve become weary of the energetic exhaustion I associate with romantic relationship. Having ended my last romance in September, just before my mother died, I felt so heartbroken that I had a strong protector part making a very valid, rational case about why I should just accept the invitation of celibacy as the next phase of my spiritual journey. I was aware that it was likely that this impulse was coming not so much from my devotion to monastic life but from the trauma of repetitive heartbreak, a distrust of my own discernment, and a feeling of hopelessness. I also had a part that was making an equally good case for how the greatest growth edge of my spiritual journey lies in exploring my sexuality and radical emotional intimacy with a deep, spiritually mature partner who has experience with sexuality as a spiritual practice. I do not consider myself sexually experienced. Although I’ve had plenty of sex in my life, I’ve never really had a partner who was simultaneously safe enough and curious enough and spiritually mature enough and powerful enough to hold the kind of sexual and spiritual energy that can arise in the right partnership. I’ve tasted that intensity with two different men, but neither of them was available to explore that kind of heart/soul/genital connection in any sustained, reliable, deeply intimate way.
Like many of you, I was a child raised in the United States in the era of John Wayne and James Dean, when the rugged individualist was prized as the pinnacle of American success. If you relied on no one, proved yourself to be self-sufficient, autonomous, and independent, you won the brass ring of life’s merry-go-round. I was conditioned to believe that in order to be a valued member of society, especially as a woman raised during the feminist movement, I must avoid being “needy” or, even worse, “clingy,” and Lord knows I’d better not lean on a man or take more than I give to anyone.
Many of us are well versed in tolerating pain. Especially in spiritual circles, we may even gravitate toward painful, uncomfortable situations, milking them for all the soul growth we can tolerate and being grateful for the discomfort. But we can get out of balance this way. We can even venture into full on masochism if we’re not careful! What if the real challenge is being equally fluid and open to both pleasure and pain? What if we’re not grasping at pleasure or resisting pain, but we’re also not grasping at pain and resisting pleasure? Might it be possible to just roll with what life throws our way, relishing in the pleasurable experiences when they arrive and composting all the painful experiences as soul growth?
Intentionally invoking magic and playing with consciousness in all Her forms on “Goddess Quests” has been one of the practices that my daughter Siena and I activate to help us feel closer to the Divine. Some of you may have followed us on the Goddess Quest we posted about on Facebook last summer, but in case you missed it, let me share with you how we do this and how you can try this on your own, whether for a day, a week, or a whole year. Since summer is coming up, some of you might like to try this with your own children, or embark upon a solo Goddess quest or even just a day trip with some friends.
Stuff hurts right now. A lot of stuff hurts. If you’re not feeling at least some pain right now, you’ve probably numbed out with an addiction, psychiatric medication, dissociation from your body and your emotions, or maybe even some form of spiritual bypass, like meditating to transcend your human pain. If you’ve numbed out, that’s understandable. You’re human. That’s what humans do when they don’t have the emotional resilience to handle a broken heart. Whether chemically or emotionally, you’ve closed your heart, so it doesn’t have to feel so much pain. But it also cuts out your capacity to feel joy, to play, to love, to laugh, to feel gratitude, to cry at the heart-opening beauty of a sunset.