stacegens

Hold the question, until you live into the answer ~ Rilke


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Anam Cara, Soul Friend

friend

 

I have a few good friends.  I know I have the potential to create more friendships and I’m slowly learning how to be more comfortable with intimacy and vulnerability. PTSD treatment helped me understand the reasons why creating and forming healthy attachments is challenging for me.  Hyper vigilance, untrusting thoughts, negative rumination, scanning for potential threats, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and the straight up fear of being known and seen, are not the ingredients for building and sustaining close, intimate relationships.  Changing these attributes of PTSD takes time, patience, acceptance, and big doses of kindness towards oneself and one’s inner critic.

As I reflect back on 2017, four friendship themes rise to the surface.

Number 1:  Friendships will be tested; healthy ones will last.  One of the biggest obstacles in any friendship is communication.  Should I be brave and really tell him/her how I’m feeling about the conflict we’re having? How many times have we weighed the risk before having the hard conversation?  If a friendship is healthy it will withstand the discomfort and growing pains of a difficult exchange.  It may take some time to resolve and both people may need some space to process and assess, but in the end, the friendship will either grow or wither away.  It’s okay to let a friendship go.  If it’s not developing in a way that is healthy then what purpose does it serve?

Number 2:  Love is only one side of the coin.  It’s easy for friendships to exist when both people are behaving in lovable ways.  However, we all have a dark side, faults and inner programming that wreak havoc on our moods.  Do I have enough inner resolve to tolerate a friend who isn’t putting their best foot forward?  Can I offer acceptance and simply be present for whatever state my friend is currently in?  Am I only present for them when things go smoothly, when life is easy, and fun?  Does true friendship run on auto pilot?

Number 3:  Be curious about the nature of your expectations.  Our friends are going to disappoint us.  When I reflect back on the times a friend has let me down, more often than not it’s because I have an unexpressed or unmet expectation.  In fact, it’s only a perception of being let down.  In actuality, I’ve created a story or melodrama in my head and I’m disappointed because a friend didn’t rise to meet my perception of how things “should” be or how they “should” go.  Examine your expectations before you blame a friend for not meeting them.

Number 4:  Don’t exploit, dismiss or punish vulnerability.  Recently, I was in a situation with a group of friends where one of them over-reacted to something that was said.  His meltdown was shocking, out of character and caught us all off guard.  Clearly, he’d lost control and was embarrassed and very vulnerable.  One my friends started to laugh because his reaction was so surprising.  This added fuel to the fire and only made the situation worse.  What my friend needed was a supportive, safe space for his temper tantrum, and the ability to express his feelings without judgement.  Later, he shared with me why he reacted the way he did.  He connected the dots in a way that made sense even though at the time, it was hard to understand.

I’d like to close with a poem by John O’Donohue but before I do I want to say, Happy New Year.   May you be blessed with loving friendships, and above all, may you be a sweet friend to yourself.

 

For friendship

May you be blessed with good friends,

And learn to be a good friend to yourself,

Journeying to that place in your soul where

There is love, warmth, and feeling.

May this change you.

 

May it transfigure what is negative, distant

Or cold within your heart.

May you be brought into real passion, kindness,

And belonging.

 

May you treasure your friends.

May you be good to them, be there for them

And receive all the challenges, truth, and light you need.

 

May you never be isolated but know the embrace

Of your anam cara. 

 

John O’Donohue

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This way, my love

When I’ve forgotten how to Pray

And the words won’t come

Give me two,

Forgive me

 

When my heart searches for

The comfort of gratitude, but

My mind invades the space with

Judgment

Despair

And angst

Give me two,

Restore me

 

When loneliness threatens to

Imprison me

And the only color is gray,

When I’ve lost my way back from

the illusion of separateness,

her depths threatening to

Claim me

Give me two,

Receive me

 

When I forget, you point me to the poets

New England, Belfast

Caged or Free

Ancient, Asian, Greek

And my heart cracks open

Once again

 

There you are.

There I am.

 

And we sit

And I pray.


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Working with Trauma, “Tickled Pink” by Kevin Kling

I recently heard an interview/podcast with Kevin Kling on Krista Tippet’s radio show.  He shared a poem he wrote called “Tickled Pink.”  If you are recovering from Trauma or dealing with PTSD you know how difficult it can be to express what is happening in your mind and body.  It’s best dealt with creatively.  This is evident in Dan Rhema’s artistry “I close my eyes to see.”  The left brain creates and expresses what the right brain fumbles to explain, reason, judge, make excuses for, down play, bury, or deny.  Words can’t usually touch the depth of dealing with loss and trauma.  However, Kevin Kling’s Poem comes closer than anything I’ve ever read.

Kevin says…when you were feeling your best, my mom would say, “You’re in the pink,” which meant that your insides were pink. And so this poem is called…..

“Tickled Pink”

“At times in our pink innocence, we lie fallow, composting waiting to grow. And other times we rush headlong like so many of our ancestors. But rush headlong or lie fallow, it doesn’t matter.

One day you’ll round a corner, your path is shifted. In a blink, something is missing. It’s stolen, misplaced, it’s gone. Your heart, a memory, a limb, a promise…… a person. Your innocence is gone, and now your journey has changed. Your path, as though channeled through a spectrum, is refracted and has left you pointed in a new direction. Some won’t approve. Some will want the other you. And some will cry that you’ve left it all. But what has happened, has happened, and cannot be undone.

 We pay for our laughter. We pay to weep. Knowledge is not cheap. To survive we must return to our senses, touch, taste, smell, sight, sound. We must let our spirit guide us, our spirit that lives in breath. With each breath we inhale, we exhale. We inspire, we expire. Every breath has a possibility of a laugh, a cry, a story, a song. Every conversation is an exchange of spirit, the words flowing bitter or sweet over the tongue. Every scar is a monument to a battle survived.

 Now when you’re born into loss, you grow from it. But when you experience loss later in life, you grow toward it. A slow move to an embrace, an embrace that leaves you holding tight the beauty wrapped in the grotesque, an embrace that becomes a dance, a new dance, a dance of pink.”