Thursday, February 14, 2013

V-Day: Share the Love

Ah, Valentine’s Day. A day of love and delicious candy conversation hearts and, oh yeah, plenty o’ commercialism and angst. 

After a rough few weeks, thanks to a killer combo of Western and Holistic healing, I’m back almost to normal. At least normal for Week 14 of chemo treatment. For me that’s showing up like a crazy combination of weird body symptoms including ten numb fingers and a matching set of toes, mood swings that take me from super happy to super grumpy in less than 3 seconds, exciting hot flashes complemented by freezing cold arctic cooling trends, and a severe craving for cookies. Any kind of cookie. As long as it comes in pairs. Or triples. Or quads. Ok, I admit it, mostly quads. (Note: Please do not send cookies when you read this. There are literally no fewer than 100 cookies in my kitchen waiting to be consumed. No. More. Cookies. Needed. Remember, despite this ridiculous craving, I’m supposed to be avoiding the sugar. Thank you.)

As I emerge back into the post-fever, post-pain world, I have been thinking so much about love. V-Day seems like the perfect day to talk a little about it. 

Because these last few weeks have been so much about love. Even though it wasn’t at all my intention to focus on my symptoms in my last post, and my writerly goal was just to use them as part of the narrative to share the learning they’d produced for me, so many people read my last post and reached out to me to let me know how much they were thinking about me. 

Other folks who don’t read my blog heard from others that I was having a bit of a rough go found ways to reach out too. I had so much Reiki flowing my way, it was fantastic. All my nurses and doctors were so supportive and quick to respond to my calls, and the reception staff at my treatment clinic remembered my calls in and the first thing they asked this week when I showed up for chemo was how I was feeling. I had flowers and cards and calls and emails and texts from folks, sharing their love, letting me know they were praying for me, telling me positive energy was flowing my way, offering their support. I shared the most amazing yoga practice with my yoga teacher Jen, and the most incredible Reiki session with my Reiki Master Denise. As always, my hubs was beyond amazing, supporting me through it all every day in every possible way with his quiet, steady love and support. 

All of this loving, caring, compassion flowed over and under and through me like a huge wave, washing clean all the pain and suffering I’d had the opportunity to experience. It literally brings tears to my eyes just to think of it. I am so grateful to everyone. 

I share all this because what it brought up for me was the intense reminder that love is available to us, all of us, in every moment. There is so much love out there just waiting to be unleashed. We are, each of us, a channel and conduit of divine love, of source love, of the very heart and core of this universe, at which I believe is a goopy, soupy, rainbow-colored wellspring of love, always available, always full. 

Your friends, your family, your posse, even complete strangers, are full up of love. And, they are just waiting to share it with you. No, not just waiting. They are overflowing with love, and they are longing to share it. Our capacity to feel love and offer it to others is one of the greatest gifts we possess, and we know this, inherently. Yet we so often struggle to know how to express it, and so it builds in us and builds in us until we practically drown in it ourselves. Until we go about our days silently suffering ourselves, gurgling away with unexpressed love and compassion for those we see around us stuffing up our throats, feeling helpless to know what to do or say.

So often when we are having a down day or week or month or year, we bottle it up. It is so tempting to believe that no one understands, no one cares. That we are All Alone. It is a terrible spiral slide to be on. If you stay silent, if you suffer alone, if you never reach out even just to share a word of how it’s going or one small thing you might need, you will most likely keep sliding until you reach the sand at the bottom. And, that’s a real drag. Because then you’ve got sand in your shorts, a big old ladder you’ve got to climb all the way back up to start again, and, unfortunately, you still feel as awful as you did the whole way down.

So my great reminder over these last few weeks was two-fold: we have an opportunity to fix this equation. 

If you are suffering, share. It’s useful to do your very best to come from a loving heart, a place of learning and growth, not a pity party place, if you can. But wherever you’re at, start there. Stand in your truth, open your heart, and share. This goes if you are in the midst of your low, or if you are in the midst of your love. Meaning, whatever side of the equation you find yourself on -- having some challenges or wanting to share some support for someone else -- be open, be vulnerable, be loving, and share. There isn’t a right or wrong way in these moments. Don’t overthink it. Just share from a loving place.

One of the greatest gifts I had these last few weeks was when a dear friend shared how much she values me and our friendship and we told each other we loved one another. Just that open, heartfelt expression of love opened up so much space for us in our friendship, and gave me such an intense feeling of heart healing. To hear that I was so cherished and valued from one I already knew loved me, to hear it and feel it in the midst of my own healing, was a powerful gift that I knew immediately was leading me towards more healing, towards more growth, towards more love. Her courage to share her love gave me the courage to share my own for her. Suddenly no one was on the spiral slide, no one's throat was stopped up. We were in the flow, and it felt wonderful and whole to just be. 

I’ve read articles that say it’s not okay to want to hear you’re loved, or it’s not necessary to tell others you love them. That all this is some kind of expression of co-dependence and ego. I may be totally un-evolved, but I think that’s bullshit. I think we give each other a great gift when we share honestly and without expectation that we love each other. I certainly don’t think it does any permanent damage. And even if I'm wrong, I'll still argue that writing a loving card, sending a caring text or saying, "I love you" is a heck of a lot better than the usual negative, depressed, complaining stuff that comes out of our mouths 90% of the time as we drive around asleep at our metaphysical wheel. 

So, my wish for this special day is that we may all experience and be willing to gift others with these types of loving, compassionate experiences. For we are all of us healing and growing and learning to love ourselves a little more every day, and I think we need all the help we can get. It is easier to do all this life journey stuff with a posse. I think every day is a wild, incredible, unexpected journey to be on. And it’s useful to remember we are not driving, or riding in, the bus of life alone.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. My heart is full of love and gratitude for you all.

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