Making Love Out Of Nothing At All

I will no longer allow anyone to manipulate my mind
And control my life in the name of love.
Don Miguel Ruiz

In 1983 Air Supply recorded “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All.” No song has ever affected me as that one does. I weep each and every time I hear it. Not just a tear or two dripping down my cheek. A flash flood. Initially I assumed it spoke to the love between my third husband and myself. Yet, thirty-two years later, long since we divorced, this song still unleashes a flood of tears, and not for a lost love. And until recently, the answer to “What’s up with that?” eluded me.

Eventually I concluded that “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” speaks to a sacred contract. Bottom line, it tells the story of my soul’s relentless determination to communicate the truth of who I am that was in such stark contrast with my parents’ verbal and non-verbal messages. My intuition gave me one truth, while my parents put forth another. The deep disparity between the two led me to mute my intuitive guidance for over thirty years. Occasionally messages bypassed my mind’s elaborate security system (my Inner Critic, determined to protect me until I had retrieved enough pieces of myself from the lost and found to discern my true identity).

Sacred Contracts, as defined by Caroline Myss, who coined the term and developed the Sacred Contracts process, are agreements we make before we are born to learn specific lessons. They are distinguished by the frequency and intensity of a repetitive situation, one that when the light bulb finally goes off, reeks of habitual self-sabotage, blame, denial, and a pity party. Finding the gift in the shit instantly dissipates the victim story, revealing the truth that there are no victims, only lessons. Continue reading

ReVisioning Chaos

When we are no longer able to change a situation,

we are challenged to change ourselves.

Viktor Frankel

Unrelenting chaos blasted into my life at gale force. For several years, I was blindsided non-stop with unexpected maladies, dashed expectations, and disappointing relationships.

“What did I do wrong? How did I not see this coming?” These two questions dominated my conscious mind. Convinced that the chaos reflected some deep flaw within me, I became obsessed with finding the offending thought form, “thinking” it was the key to magically dematerializing the chaos. Life would then be smooth sailing. Like Simon Legree, my Inner Critic hammered me. “What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you ever going to get life right?”

No amount of soul searching made an iota of difference. Like the cloud above Pig Pen, chaos followed me. Unlike Pig Pen, I judged it and myself because of it. I’m smart—a teacher, a therapist, spiritually savvy, relatively conscious. I “should” be able to figure this out, I told myself.

The truth is I judged chaos. My failing grade in life was exposed for all to see. It was shameful and uncomfortable. The disappointments and losses were demoralizing, and my post-game analysis was exhausting. I was woefully stuck, spinning my wheels.

Uncertainty rarely left my side. Things and people I had counted on let me down right and left. I felt vulnerable, out of control, often close to the edge. I lived in loin-girding mode, not knowing who or what to trust. And, like Pac Man, my personal mayhem gobbled up my creative energy and time.

While I preached and taught about pushing beyond one’s comfort zone, I was living Richard Bach’s quote, “You teach best what you most need to learn.” I was so busy resisting the chaos that It never occurred to me to just ride the bronco, to become one with it. Continue reading

What’s In A Name?

“Be yourself rather than worry about defining yourself.”

“And God said, ‘Let there be Light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.”

In these three separate acts, God sets the stage for a world of polarities. As soon as God separated, He created duality, just as He did when He labeled the light good.

Darkness scares us. Vampires and other monsters come out in the dark. We call a major life transition that catapults us out of our comfort zone a Dark Night of the Soul. “He’s gone to the dark side,” conveys a sense of embodied evil. The good guys wear white. Except for Zorro, the bad guys wear black.

Later in Genesis, God empowers Adam to name his world.

God used words to create the world. He spoke the world into being. Dictionaries define and attribute meaning to words. They are word gods.

Words create our thoughts. They coalesce into belief systems, and form our reality. Naming and labeling solidify an identity. They also fix it in time. For example, one of the three branches of Judaism is called Reform. Unwittingly, many people refer to it as Reformed, implying that it is done reforming itself; it has ceased to evolve. Minus the “ed,” it is an ongoing work-in-progress.

Naming is a heady experience. When we label, it feels permanent. It’s one way we attempt to minimize the discomfort of ambiguity and uncertainty, maximize predictability, and keep alive the illusion that we control our lives. We name our children after relatives or individuals we admire and respect, hoping they will inherit their cherished qualities. Rabbis change the Hebrew name of individuals with life-threatening diseases so the angel of death can’t find them.

Parents pigeonhole children with derogatory or favorable labels. Because I was rambunctious, curious, and feisty, “into everything,” I drove my mother crazy, especially after the birth of my brother. My adventurous spirit was not easily tamed. My overactive curiosity mandated constant surveillance.

Today I would be identified as high maintenance. To my mother, it was problematic, though my husband finds it charming.

Likewise, I was designated as “selfish,” just like my father. Only in my late thirties was I disabused of the negative connotation of “selfish.” My therapist jumped up and cut me off when I parroted my mother’s opinion of my father. “Jill,” he ranted, “You have to be selfish enough to take care of yourself. If you aren’t, you have nothing left to care for anyone else. The key is balance.” Continue reading

My Shadow Addiction

It started innocuously enough. Several passes through my closets fail to turn up various items of clothing. And then, like rabbits out of a hat, they materialize. Coincidentally, multiple attempts to locate a sunscreen prove fruitless. Eventually, I find it exactly where I put it, obscured by a bottle of Tylenol.

Have I lost my mind? Days later, I’m blindsided by the truth that losing my mind is a good thing.  Well, not necessarily losing it completely, but certainly not giving it unfettered veto power or allow it to trample my soul.

Relaxing on my back deck, sunscreen protecting my face, breathing in the sounds and sights of nature quiets my mind. Suddenly, a veil lifts, and I’m struck that my decades-long practice of monomaniacal self-exploration mirrors my recent manic search tactics. Despite my efforts to fully unpack my shadow–the good, the bad, and the ugly—just like my clothing and my sunscreen, everything I need to know is revealed ONLY in Divine time, not Jill’s time. No matter how much pressure I exert on myself, only when I chill does what I am striving to find spontaneously appear.

My manic obsession with excavating and processing the contents of my shadow had become my raison d’etre. Somewhere along the way, I had deluded myself into believing that the faster I faced my demons and reclaimed my disowned selves and their gifts, the sooner I would gain entrée to the Promised Land of self-acceptance.

I used to label my hunting expeditions a passion. With blinders off, I see that passion for what it is–an addiction that started when, as a teenager, I announced to my parents that I wanted to see a therapist, “to find out what makes me tick.”

What strikes me now is how deep that desire was, how it became a hunger, then an obsession and ultimately, an addiction. As introspective as I am, it’s also amazing that, until this week, I never questioned that desire as atypical in a thirteen year old, nor did I realize it would come to consume me obsessively.

I knew I was different. Try though I did, I never really fit in my family. They didn’t understand me, and I just got smaller and smaller as I struggled to become acceptable to them.

Although I don’t recall too many specifics of my childhood, I am clear about my sense of aloneness and its accompanying despair. Strange, though, I have no recollection of feeling depressed, just a strong desire to get to know myself before my “Self” disappeared.

But that was not to be. Continue reading

All Betrayal is Self-Betrayal

“Into each life some rain must fall,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Ella Fitzgerald embellished it, singing, “Into each and every life some rain has got to fall, but too much of that stuff is fallin’ into mine.”

Been betrayed lately? Ever? By someone you trusted? Feels like that downpour Ella complained about, doesn’t it? And there’s no umbrella in sight.

Acts of betrayal are such bitter pills to swallow precisely because they do involve people we trust—a spouse, a business partner, a friend, a parent, or the poster boy for modern times, Bernie Madoff. And while betrayals don’t leave physical scars, the deep emotional and psychic wounds they inflict, if not healed, taint all future relationships. “I will never trust again!” is a familiar refrain we’ve probably all uttered at one time or another.

But what is “betrayal”? As with other life lessons, it’s one way to learn about ourselves and the world around us. Betrayal is the ultimate test of faith designed to expose the limits of a rational world and our inability to control it. We get hung up when we personalize and judge the lesson. Continue reading