Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Wow, I cannot believe how fast this past year has just flown by!!! 2013 has been an amazing year. I suspect there will come a day when I look back on this year and think, "2013 was the first year of the rest of my life." I will also think of 2013 as "The year of Love," because that's what it has been for me.

Now, when I say "Love," I'm not talking about being swept off my feet by Mr. Wonderful....although I wish I was, haha! I guess no matter how old we get, there's still that little girl living deep down inside who still believes in happily ever after....

What I'm referring to is Love as an action word. That state of being, that awareness, that way of relating to life, the world, and other beings (human or otherwise), that is about kindness, compassion, empathy, acceptance, and forgiveness. The kind of Love that every Spiritual Master has attempted to convey, but is sadly lost on so many who are too culturally conditioned to really "get it."

You see, what passes for "Love" in today's world is too often an expression of Fear, not Love. We've been taught that feeling we have when we are attracted to someone is Love. And we are taught that when we are threatened with the loss of that person; those feelings of jealousy and insecurity confirm just how much we love them. Not true. Those feelings are about power and control, not Love. Love doesn't grasp and cling, Love releases and frees. Love wants the other to be happy...even when it means we can't have them for ourselves. Love invites them to stay, but it doesn't attempt to trap, force, or manipulate them into staying.

When we see someone flirting with our partner and feel those icky feelings that make us want to destroy the competition; that isn't an expression of our Love for our partner. That's an expression of our fear of loss, fear of not being in control, fear of change. Love trusts our partner and releases them to make their own choices, Love doesn't attempt to control them by removing them from all possible temptations. And Love does not load them down with guilt in an attempt to control them back into line, either. That's all about power and control; which are expressions of Fear. Love says, "You are free to go, but I hope you'll stay." Fear says, "You can't do that because you promised, and I'm going to hold you to it no matter what, or else!!!"

Another common misunderstanding in our culture is that Love is a martyr. I think back to those years I spent feeling trapped in a relationship that was so bad it was nearly intolerable, and at times; life-threatening, and yet I stayed because I would have felt guilty if I'd left. Guilt is not Love. And being a Martyr to a promise is not Love either. Guilt and martyrdom are again, expressions of Fear. Fear of failure, Fear of recriminations and consequences, Fear of being judged. Fear of change.

Some even try to package martyrdom as "Honor," believing that being honorable enough to stay is an act of Love....but it is only a love of self. A person who decides to stay because they are an honorable person is gifting themselves, not their partner. They gift themselves with the status of honor while their partner sleeps beside someone who'd really rather not be there.

Love stays to nurture, to support, to protect, to actively create an environment where one's partner can thrive and express their innermost self in safety....without any expectations of pay-off. Love never has strings. When both partners love this way, something beautiful and amazing is born. Something that is far stronger than a relationship held together by Fear.

All of these things apply to other types of relationships as well; parent to child, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor. Fear controls, Love liberates.

It is ironic that Fear is so intent on holding onto Love that it drives people apart, while the Love that frees and liberates draws people together. After all, why would anyone ever leave someone who Loves them just the way they are, no matter what?

Anyway, getting back to why I feel I will remember 2013 as "The Year of Love"......

A decade ago I made a conscious choice to change the way I was relating to life and the world in general. I cast off all my conditioned beliefs about Love and the programmed responses that went with them, and decided to express Love as I believe Love should be expressed. I was going to be my genuine, authentic self and live from the heart. No more making choices based on what was expected of me, and no more suppressing myself for fear of upsetting someone else. I was going to act from a place of unconditional Love to the best of my ability and I was going to also Love myself by expressing my innermost self openly, honestly, and fearlessly.

It hasn't been easy. In fact, it's been downright difficult. Not only was I faced with the often vicious reactions of others who were convinced I was out to get them, had an agenda, or just plain needed to be taught a lesson in how to be "socially acceptable," (they were not loving in their efforts), but I just plain needed to figure out who my genuine, authentic self actually IS....because it turns out that my previous understanding of Love wasn't the only part of myself that was programmed into me by outside influences.

So, I have stumbled along, often falling on my face, and frequently questioning my own sanity, and gradually I have peeled away the layers of conditioning to find my true self. I have asked myself a hundred times a day, "What would Love do now?" and made choices based on what I thought the answer might be, and I have pissed-off a lot of people along the way because I was violating all the rules of conduct established by Fear-love.

But in 2013 something happened. In 2013 I was shaken out of my reverie by an influx of real, unconditional Love coming toward me instead of only radiating out of me, and I was stunned. The comical part about it was that I never even saw it coming. I'd been so intent on my own efforts to express Love that I hadn't even thought about myself RECEIVING Love, so when it showed up from multiple sources all at once, I was bowled over.

For the first time in my life I know how it feels to be loved......just for being me.