I’m in love with this Alanis Morrissette song "You Owe Me Nothing in Return." In fact, I have a girl crush on Alanis in general, especially after I heard her speak with one my spiritual influences Adyashanti. For a long time, I used the lyrics to this song about unconditional love as a sort of sacred contract I proposed between friends, family members, and romantic partners. It was my benchmark, the ideal of perfect love that I strove to achieve.
This morning, I posted this on Facebook and then Mind Body Green picked it up when it started to go viral. I wanted to share it with you here, because the more of us who remember that we are all in this together, the more we will meet terror with love and find one another in the space between stories.
From the bathroom at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where a terrorist opened fire, 30-year-old Eddie Justice texted his mother. "Mommy I love you. In the club they shooting. Trapp in the bathroom. Call police. Im gonna die."
For most of my life, love fit into boxes. There was “family love,” the kind of love you have for your mother or father or child. There was “romantic love,” the love of your soul mate or lover. There was love for animals, the kind of pure, devotional love you might feel for your pet. Love fit nicely into defined containers—until about 8 years ago. Then I started experiencing love in ways I couldn’t quite explain. It started with experiences in nature. I would gaze at a waterfall, and then WHAM. My heart would explode with butterflies and I would BE the waterfall and I would make love with that waterfall, as if I had just fallen in love. Tears would spill down my cheeks and I would feel so exposed I could hardly stand it. Or I would call in the Cheetah or meet a cheetah on safari in Africa and my chest would get cracked open as if I’d just had heart surgery. Love would burst out of me and through me and I would love those whales or that cheetah more than I had ever loved anything in my whole life. My whole body would be buzzing with love, a vibrating tenderness emerging from the sanctuary of my heart.
In Part 1 of Relationships on the Spiritual Path, we explored issues of comfort, soul growth and judgment—and how the tender parts of us need to feel safe in order for the heart to open to its full capacity. In today’s blog, we’ll dive into some juicy territory and talk about expectations, the interface between intimacy and freedom, and the anatomy of trust. Let’s start with the elephant in the room—expectations.
One of the most common email topics people who read my blog send my way is some variation of the question “I’m on the spiritual path, and it’s affecting my closest relationships. How do I navigate this consciously?” In response to these questions, I’ll be posting a series of blogs on the topic of Relationships on the Spiritual Path.
For most of my life, I valued relationships that are easy. You know the ones, where someone finishes your sentences for you, anticipates and meets your needs before you have them, sits with you peacefully and wordlessly because there's nothing to "process," and offers you comfort. These people rarely have conflict with you. They validate and value you. They’ve got your back. They’d do anything to avoid hurting you. They uphold your image of yourself or even uplift it. They remember your birthday and bring you soup when you're sick. You feel like you're resting in a nest of feathers when they walk in the room. It's just so easy to be with them.
I still value these kinds of relationships—deeply. In fact, I'm almost becoming nostalgic for those kinds of relationships. Yet, there’s a potential shadow side to this kind of relationship. In choosing people who validate our self-image, we may be looking outside ourselves for evidence of our worthiness, wholeness, and “enough”-ness.
Yes, we are tribal beings, and we need one another. But we also need mirrors who are willing to reflect back to us the blind spots that often drive our behavior unconsciously. These limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors that we inherit in childhood may cause us to create and recreate our own suffering—over and over and over again. We need people who love us enough to say “Can you see how you’re creating yet another heartbreak with yet another lover who is likely to betray you?” Or “Can you see how your boss treats you the same way your father did—and you let him?” Those brave enough to lovingly help us see our blind spots are nuggets of gold, though those relationships may not always feel like a fuzzy pair of warm bunny slippers.