Opening to Love — Part 3

On Wednesday evening (1/15/14) Pat and I listened to our recording of our most recent (1/8/14) couples counseling session with Sage and Anthony and then Thursday and again Friday mornings (1/16 and 1/17) during two powerful 2-hour coffee-time conversations Pat and I picked up from there to see where we are in our lives and our relationship. Part 1 of this blog series summarizes the session itself. Part 2 covered our coffee time on Thursday, and the following covers the Friday morning coffee time discussion.

Part 3 – Coffee time the second morning – 1/17/14…

Pat: I have let go of so much over the past year or two – my job of 10 years, my spiritual group of 7 years, the journaling group we were in for 4 years, a 10-year authentic movement group, to name the major ones. Gary: You are remaking yourself. Pat: And I notice that I am not looking for any new activity. Right now my focus is on our work together, building our relationship. And learning to enjoy life as it is.

Gary: As you speak of letting go, I notice the ease with which I give up things – relationships (including 34-year marriage), career (29 years), church (33 years), various jobs, groups, and most recently the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork organization. I do not understand why I do not experience more loss, or why I do not grieve these major “losses” in my life. I did not even fully grieve my parents after their sudden death in 1972 when I was turning 30.  Something feels off here, not fully human. Pat: As for me, I don’t look back. I discern what is my direction now and go forward. Gary: But as I consider this lack of connection from the past — people, groups, and organizations — I have to ask myself what and whom do I allow to be meaningful in my life, truly meaningful, such that I would grieve the loss if that something or some person disappeared from my life. This is a scary question for me! It opens a door to a vast room I have been loathe to enter before.

Gary (continued): For example, consider the writing group I have been in for over 13 years. I just do not allow these six women to truly matter to me. This is really scary. Do I even really mean this? Is it really true? Pat: For others in the writing group the group is really meaningful it seems, they really matter to each other AND you matter to them. But where is your open heart with them to take in their love for you? You used the word “allow.”  You do not allow their love to be meaningful to you; you do not allow them to matter to you, to allow yourself to feel your love for them. Gary: Looking at how I miss entirely seeing and feeling their love and connection with me reminds me of the time in our session with Sage and Anthony when you were trying to connect with me, showing me your compassion for the “starving one” who was me. I missed this “love message from you” entirely until Anthony stopped us, slowed me down, and helped me to take in your compassion, your offer to connect with me, your offer of love. I say this connection is what I consciously long for, and yet unconsciously I let what I long for fly right by when it shows up! I didn’t even notice your reaching out for connection with me during the session, much less allow reaching out to me to penetrate my closed heart. Pat: Contemplate the fact that these women in the writing group love you!

Gary: This is all pretty embarrassing and shameful – I experience what Pathwork calls the false guilt of not meeting the standards of the idealized Gary who would certainly take in and give out love. But beneath this shame I do not allow myself to feel the pain I inflict upon myself and others by pushing away their love. I do not allow myself to feel my real guilt for not giving and receiving love. I matter to them, but I do not allow them to matter to me. Let me just sit with this. … I am feeling a lot of fear. What is this closed heart revealing in me?

Gary (continued): This also happens with my brother Paul. We both have to admit that we are very close – as evidenced by our meeting weekly, if we can, to have intense and meaningful conversations about things that matter. I enjoy these times immensely. I look forward to them. However, emotionally I hold my distance. We both know my struggle here to take him into my heart in love. Nearly every time we end our 90-minute conversations at Panera he reminds me, “Gary, you are loved.” Clearly I matter to Paul. And I matter to my kids – they make this clear to me and use the “love” word. Yet I resist feeling this love coming toward me. AND I also resist seeing and feeling in my heart space that these dear family members matter to me, that perhaps I truly love them whether or not I allow myself to feel that love for them in my heart.

Gary (continued): Also there is my dear Pathwork friend Jenny. She, too, knows my struggle with the “love” word, though I dare to use it with her at the end of our biweekly phone conversations. One day she shocked me by directly speaking to her love for me, making me know how much she valued our relationship and how much she would truly miss me if I disappeared from her life for some reason. I was rattled and thrown off guard by her directness. Yet, though I do not allow myself to say I feel love for Jenny, as with Paul, I am committed to Jenny, and we faithfully talk every two weeks. In fact I will tell myself that I do not allow her or Paul to matter to me. But I have to ask if I am lying to myself about how these dear ones don’t ultimately matter to me. I am afraid to see this resistance to love in me and, on the other hand, I am equally afraid of allowing myself to feel how much in fact these close friends and family members matter to me, how much I actually love them! 

Pat: You don’t know your own heart. Gary: Yes, I do not allow myself to feel my own heart and its love for others. This all applies to your and my relationship as well of course! To truly let you matter to me consciously, to let myself be aware of and fully experience my love for you from my heart, terrifies me. I resist seeing and feeling inside my heart the fact that I actually do love you; no, rather, I refuse to feel my love for you. I will insist to myself that I really do not love you! So since I cannot allow authentic love for you to arise from my heart I’ll pretend to love you. Pretense I can control, authentic love I cannot control and so I push it down. 

Gary (continued): But even this pretense is tricky. I’ll help around the house. I’ll help with the laundry. We’ll go on long walks. Or more significantly, I’ll begin each day with you in a 60 or 90 or 120-minute coffee time of deep sharing. Is this connecting at a deep level all pretense? Or am I pretending to myself that my love for you is pretense, telling myself that these acts of love are not real but rather pretense? Pretense is safe, love is not safe. I can’t allow myself to believe these acts of love are anything but pretense! I do not allow myself to feel the true love that sneaks out through the cracks of my heart. I think I’m successfully holding my heart locked shut while I orchestrate controlled acts of love from my head. How resistant I am to see ANY love coming from my heart. The notion of true love coming from my Big heart actually terrifies me! Pathwork Lecture 133  Love: Not a Commandment, But Spontaneous Soul Movement of the Inner Self terrifies me.

Pat: So that is what you have assumed: Any active love on your part has been just that, an “act,” a pretense. So whether you are giving gifts to people, giving money to folks, doing acts of kindness to others, spending hours sharing your life deeply with me and with others – you tell yourself that all of this as pretense and refuse to see any of this as possibly coming from authentic love you carry deep inside your Big Heart. Your own love terrifies you, so you try to control how you do acts of love so that YOU do not feel the love behind what you do and who you are. You cannot bear to see, or rather cannot bear to FEEL, yourself as the loving man that you are! Yes, sometimes what you have done has been done in pretense, but I would guess much much more of what you have done in fact has been done authentically from you Big Heart, and you simply refused to see or feel it. This is so sad. So very sad.

Pat (continued): For me, my life challenge is getting in touch with and owning my own wisdom, my head; and for you life’s biggest challenge has been getting in touch with, feeling, owning and finding meaning and joy in your own love, your own heart. [An aside: this would exactly correlate with Pat being an Ennea-type SIX (Head Centered) and me an Ennea-type THREE (Heart Centered)]  Gary: I am loath to feel my loving and giving heart. It is so broken and wounded – not experiencing my love being received by Mom – that the pain to feel this rejected heart inside of me is unbearable. My primary split in life is my head/heart split. Let’s just slow down here.

Pat: I am so sorry. So very sorry. …  Gary: Can I slow down here and just take in, in this very moment, your offer of compassion and connection and love on a heart level? Pat: Again, I am so sorry. Gary: As I am with the childhood wounds that you had that cut you off from your female Essence. Pat: We are sharing the painfulness of our wounds. Gary: We are in a space of healing for both of us. We are holding each other in our deepest wounds. Pat: We are being present to our broken hearts. And present to all the brokenhearted people on the planet.

Gary: I can see from my sexual fantasy that both parts of me – my inner masculine and my inner feminine – are involved. My masculine has to be involved in healing my feminine by valuing her, honoring her, and empowering her. And my inner feminine must allow my inner masculine’s healing presence, must graciously receive my masculine’s love for her – so that my inner masculine feels truly received and loved in return, so that the masculine feels that his love was welcomed, accepted, valued and cherished. Right now he does not feel that reception by my inner feminine. Pat: Until this experience occurs within you, we can go no further. Gary: Your role in this is to hold the container where this scene can play out safely – honoring the reverential and sacred significance of this healing process going on within me.

Pat: And for my wounded feminine girl to be healed requires that my inner masculine honor the unfolding of the feminine, a “Lazarus, Come forth!” experience for my inner feminine, my inner feminine being welcomed and feeling affirmed in all of her beauty. Gary: Your wounded feminine must take the risk of allowing the masculine to honor her; she must come to trust the healed inner masculine. And these two experiences in both you and in me relate to our experiences with each other. Pat: Our fantasies are playing out in our relating.

Gary: Healing of your feminine is to come to trust the transformation of the masculine – trust that the masculine will no longer dishonor or disempower the feminine.  Your dad saying, “I am so sorry, Pat, for misunderstanding you and not meeting you where you were in your inner feminine.” And my mom saying, “I am so sorry, Gary, for misunderstanding you and not meeting you where you were in your inner masculine.” Pat: I can hear Dad saying “I am so sorry, Pat,” from the other side.

Pat (continued): Gary, I have to trust you to work through the deepest issues; I have to trust your persistence to understand things, your longing to understand big things, no matter how hard the encasement and encrustations may be around your Big Heart. Your commitment, that dedication to understand, serves you well. We both can trust that well-trained mind of yours in this area of our lives. I can trust that it will overcome the encrustations around your heart. This is co-creation – between you and Grace. Bring this co-creative process to bear on this movement. This co-creative process has worked at other levels in your life, and now it will work at deeper levels where help is needed via Grace. You will set aside your mental shovel that has served you so well and will open to Grace. Gary: I have come to a point where I realize I must lay down my mental shovel, it is enough. As Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” or in the German bible, interestingly, “Es ist vollbracht.” I am invited to lay down my shovel and come home to my heart, my Big Heart.

Pat:  I am visualizing the resolution of our fantasies. Your inner masculine is simply holding your inner feminine, and for me the inner masculine is honoring the inner feminine AND in both cases the inner feminine is receiving love from the inner masculine. Externally I’m receiving what you are giving AND I’m seeing, trusting your feminine honoring my masculine. Gary: Giving and receiving are one. Pat: All splits are one: head/heart; male/female; body/spirit. Home is where the heart is.

Pat (continued): Whew! That’s a lot of movement since listening to our session on Wednesday night (1/15). Gary: I can see a three-part blog coming! An art form – like a Beethoven symphony – painting all the moods of our work since listening to the Sage and Anthony session on Wednesday. Pat: Pushing the edges of the envelope – we are scout and adventurer – a Don Quixote. In these morning times we come to see something clearly. We then integrate it after pulling it out of Pandora’s Box. Then we let the mud settle during the day. At least I get a felt sense of how it goes in our coffee time and then I can get up and begin to integrate what we have learned – to live what we have come to know. We each live it out in our own way.

Pat (continued): How can we be helpful to one another – open and trusting of the process? We are in the School of Life. It has taken a long time getting here. We are just willing to be in it, knowing the preciousness and value of this time, this work, this relationship – on our behalf as well as on behalf of all sentient beings. Gary: The Great Plan of Salvation is playing out in us!

Shared in love, Gary