Like many people, I have wrestled with my relationship with my desires for many years. I’ve gone through the phase of working my patooty off to try to get everything I want, then having an expectation hangover if I didn’t get it. I’ve had phases of getting everything I want and then not actually wanting it when I get it. I’ve used spiritual bypassing tools—like the Buddhist teaching of non-attachment to desire—to pretend I was not attached and didn’t want what I deeply craved, when I was actually deeply attached and couldn’t handle the feeling of unmet longing in the face of the intensity of my desire. All of this left me practicing spiritual surrender and entering into a relationship with desire that led me to claim to have distilled down my desire into one desire—the desire to live in alignment with Divine Will. And while that is true on one hand, it was also another spiritual bypass! I came face to face with that around my desire to be truly met in a spiritual partnership. And I had to quit bypassing in order to feel the pain of my unmet longing in my ceremony to call in my beloved, which I wrote about here.
I have mastered pain as a spiritual path. Throw conflict, trauma, and drama at me and I can alchemize it into spiritual gold. Sic a pit bull on me and I’ll milk it for all it’s worth, finding the fierce grace in every ounce of agony. Put me in the midst of people with life-threatening or chronic illness and I can help facilitate others through the most brutal physical challenges, supporting patients as they alchemize adversity into awakening. But pleasure as a spiritual path? I am in freakin’ kindergarten, people.
The way I hurdled headlong into what I thought was love three years ago is so clichéd that I won’t even bother describing the intoxicating fireworks. It was a star-crossed, impossible relationship from the get-go, a doomed love affair heading for a crash and burn we both should have anticipated, but we didn’t see it coming. We both made promises we had no business making, and it felt so seductive to believe we could keep them. We were reckless and narcissistic, believing in magic and miracles, instead of facing the inevitable reality that would one day smack us in the ass.
A teenage Icelandic woman is raped by her Australian boyfriend after she’s had too much to drink. In his own immature, conditioned teenage mind, he doesn’t call it rape. Because the media and pornography and the way fathers raise sons and bro’s egg on bro’s, he convinces himself that he was justified in taking what was rightfully his—her body, her vulnerability, her sexuality, maybe even her physical and mental health. She is traumatized by the experience, and in his own way, he is too. Her life unravels, and so does his.
Right now, I am at Esalen, in recovery in the wake of the death of my mother. Although grief can be consuming and the deathbed vigil with my mother was intense, I couldn’t ignore the #MeToo stories that were erupting in the news during this journey with my mother. So let me take a moment to add my two cents to the swell of outcries rising from women who are finding their voice. I know my mother would be proud of me for saying, “#MeToo.”