Tag Archives: heart

Heart Lessons

Things I have learned about myself in recent weeks, shared in case it helps someone else.

I like me most when I can love fiercely, when I overcome fear and keep my heart open.

There are a great many difficult things that I can weather, but not being sure if I am loved is unspeakably hard. Trusting people to love me, and to stay heart-open to me is one of the things I find most difficult to do. Deciding to stay heart-open has been a real challenge, but I recognise that I have a choice here and do not have to be ruled by past experiences.

I really struggle with feeling powerless. I need to accept that there’s a great deal I can’t help with. Sometimes I can’t even meaningfully offer comfort. Wanting to ease pain does not translate into being able to. Waiting while other people take their own needful journeys is hard, but waiting and witnessing is the right thing to do. I need to recognise the work that is not mine to do, and not let my own feelings get in the way of people doing their needful things.

Alongside that, I really do need to get better at expressing basic needs and asking for what is most important to me.  I don’t handle this well, and there are triggering issues around it for bonus complexity. I’m going to come back and blog about this in more detail when I’ve got a better handle on the mechanics.

I get excited about intellectual challenges, and if there aren’t enough of those of the right shape and nature, I feel sad and worn. I need to look at this because it’s one of those basic needs issues and I might do a better job around meeting it.

Falling in love with people is part of who I am. It doesn’t happen that often, but it happens. Sometimes those people love me in return, and aren’t afraid to be open and honest about that. They are my soul tribe, my most beloved ones, the people I cannot do without. If I don’t at least communicate with them fairly regularly, I struggle. I do not know who I am without them, and I find myself, my hope, my sense of direction in those closest and most important relationships. These relationships have all kinds of shapes, it’s the emotional intensity that is key for me, and what we share and exchange.

To have had a beloved fall silent for several weeks is really hard. It’s left me not knowing who I am – because I exist in a context. To be me, I need to be in relationship with my soul companions. It’s not a case of being completed, or someone else filling in the gaps in me – it is that first and foremost I exist in my interactions and in what I do, day to day. This absence has taught me a lot, and what I’ve managed to do and hold during it has opened me out in unexpected ways. I find myself doing intuition and belief as never before in my life, and these are surprising changes indeed.

One heart lesson in all of this for me is to put down the pernicious ideas about how we are all supposed to stand alone. I am a tree in a spinny, I stand because others stand with me. Tear one of us down and we are all more vulnerable to the next storm. I need roots that intertwine with other roots. I need to share my soil. I am not complete on my own because I cannot be myself entirely if I am not connecting with and sharing things with other people.


Anti-romantic poetry

All those heart metaphors

 

I wore my heart on my sleeve for you.

I spilled my guts.

 

I put my spleen on my shoulder

Was that helpful?

I draped my lungs over my ears,

Put my liver in the upturned cuff

Of my trousers,

Wore my pancreas on my wrist.

 

Do I make sense now?

Can you read my entrails?

Is the hollow place under my ribs

Understandable? Clearer?

Do you need to see all my bones?

 

Is honesty the exposed inner workings

Or was it the mysterious whole?

Where’s the true layer?

What should we dig down to?

 

I put my heart on my sleeve for you.

Just offal and mess, it turns out

And not much good at all.

 

(I may be going to do a run of these, exploring ideas around romance and dismantling them in whatever way occurs to me at the time. Especially what we’re supposed to do with hearts – which discernibly work better on the inside.)


Open your heart

My heart unfurling always

Stretched beyond blood form

Horizon wide, blue sky

Beating still.

No way to show,

But in words.

 

Come you to the circle

Of embrace, sacred space

Fashioned from arms, bring

My horizon seeking heart

To yours, listening,

One organ to another.

Cellular tales to tell

In electric life pulse,

Lightning in my sky.

 

(Come with no reverence,

No sense of sacred

No magic circle finding

No heart song to hear

Come to nothing.)

 

I cannot touch

But in awe, raw

Naked hand honesty

Clothed heart brimming.

 

Bring an open pulse

Flashing with sky songs

One beat to another.

 

No way to show, but words

Which cannot speak of silence.

Wide places made smaller

By the telling.

Of the stories I send you

This is most true.

Written on clouds, with breezes,

Tiny overstretched words

Aching to the skyline.

And all the while a heart

Voiceless and unsilent

Calls to be answered.

 

(This began as a thought form at beautiful workshop from Vishwam at Druid Camp, where what at first seemed like the enormous challenge of opening my heart became an experience of re-imagining who and how I am.)


The too-open heart

I scare people, with almost monotonous regularity. Some respond by being offended, others back away, or run away. From as far back as I can remember, people who I’ve let get close to me have come back to say I am too serious, too intense, too melodramatic, too difficult, too much bother. About this time a year ago, having been through one of those and been told that my excess of feeling had somehow made someone else ill, I called ‘enough.’ No more of this ridiculous exposure. No more knock-backs.

Then six months later, in a triumph of optimism over experience, I sauntered out and did it all again, to the same refrain of complaints… too much, too uncomfortable. On this occasion I had tried too hard and given too much.

It’s hard to express what the consequences are of pouring heart and soul into something, giving all that you have and being told off and pushed away as a result. This has been the pattern of my life, reoccurring down the years with far too many very different sorts of people. As the consistent part of this is me, it seems logical to deduce that the problem must also be me, that the criticism is fair, and that my excessive nature causes other people pain and discomfort. As I have no desire to make the people I care about miserable, learning not to manifest too much of how I am has become an important project.

I don’t know how to be anything other than wholehearted. I don’t know how to turn up to any situation or person in a half-arsed state of don’t really care and can’t be bothered, but as far as I can make out, many of my historical interactions with people would have been a good deal more viable and sustainable had I brought that to the table, rather than this urge to do my best. I’m not prepared to learn how to be careless, and so I have tried to learn how to hide, to downplay the hours I put in, to not mention how important things, and people are to me. There is a loneliness in that, but it keeps me in the game, allows me human interaction and participation, reduces the risk of my causing pain with my too-muchness.

Fascinated as I am by how people think, I also need to deal with the gap in my understanding here. Having never been offended by someone else’s emotions, the idea perplexes me. I can be offended by actions, and by unkindness, but I can’t imagine getting angry with someone because they cared about something. I assume there’s another facet to this, that my care, my seriousness, my work ethic exposes something. Perhaps it feels like a judgement (which it isn’t), or prompts other people to feel uncomfortable about something in themselves that must then be fended off by lashing out at me. Perhaps it is to do with values clashing, and that what I see as ‘can’t be bothered’ is something more important, more cherished by the person holding it, and I am failing to recognise and honour something there.

When I was younger, emotional honesty seemed like the most precious, most important thing. Experience has taught me to revise that. I hold emotional honesty within myself, but what goes out is usually almost entirely muted, both the ecstatic and the agonised, so as to be more tolerable. There’s a certain irony to this, because the ‘heart on sleeve’ nature of this blog has been remarked on by others. This is not heart on sleeve, this is carefully thought through, processed and calmly written. It’s nothing like dealing with me in the raw. I do it because every time thus far that I’ve exposed something in this way, someone else has found it useful.

So, if there are any other little monsters out there, who love too much, and cry too easily, and won’t sit down and don’t know how to shut up and have no ability to shrug and walk away and carry the weight of the significance of things… you are not alone, and perhaps there is some comfort to be had in that thought.


With the Fisher King

I brought my broken heart hidden in a chest. Not my ribs, but metal, locked firm to hide away the shame of it. For fear of how my shattered centre would seem to others. For fear of ridicule and rejection, I placed my pain in that box and shut the lid, and went on through the world until I came at last to the great hall.

There, the Fisher King lay, blood endlessly seeping from wounds that would not close. Staining cloth, smearing floors, a life seep affront with metallic perfume. And yet, a King I would bow to. The horror in me asked ‘how can one rule who is so weakened?’

What could I do but sit with him?

From the locked box in my arms, the tattered wreck of my heart cried out: How can one who bleeds so much be this strong? And so broke all the bonds and bared itself.

How can one bleed and bleed and still hold sovereignty? How can one hold sovereignty in this age, and not bleed?

How can my fragile heart be a hidden shame

When the Fisher King lies wounded

And the land has yet to be healed?

 

 

 

(I should mention that I wrote this having not seen the film, and unaware of the Robin Williams connection. Something in the ether, perhaps.)


Healing the heart

Wounds to the heart and mind are an all too normal consequence of being alive. Mostly they do not show, and far less time and attention is given to fixing them. If you aren’t too broken to work, the odds are no support will be available. All too often, what the heart-wounded get are basically just pain killers; anti-depressants, to blot it out and keep you going. Sometimes time off from the distress can be a great help, but it isn’t reliable.

Wounds to the heart and mind can be made slowly, over years. You don’t see them happening necessarily, but each day a little bit more can be sandpapered off you. Too small an injury to be worth protesting. Just a slap. Just an unkind word. Years of small wounds can take a tremendous toll.

I don’t really inhabit my own body. I don’t feel my own pain unless I make a point of paying attention to it. I do not notice my own skin, again unless I bother to concentrate. That’s not about skin damage, but heart-wounding that made me retreat from the surfaces of myself in order to cope. I learned not to feel anything at all. It spared me from being both hurt, and manipulated, and that was helpful. Now it means that most of the time I am rock and ice, and very few people who touch me actually register with me as any kind of sensual experience. That sucks. It’s not who I want to be any more.

These are things I have only noticed in the last few weeks, a kind of waking up to how closed and dead I have been. I get sudden, brief flashes of being aware of all my skin. There’s so much of it, and all of it is capable of feeling, all the time. Temperature, texture, pressure, comfort, discomfort… a whole universe of possibility to explore.

This waking up in not an accident, nor is it of anyone else’s making. It comes after years of my working to rebuild myself, and it has been triggered in earnest by choices I’ve made lately, pushing out of my comfort zone. I cannot, however, do this on my own. Now begins the interesting process of figuring out who might be able to help me take a few baby steps forward. Who do I trust, to quite literally hold my hand while I try to figure out how to climb back into this skin? How do I have those conversations?

I’m starting.


Feeding your soul

Most of the conversations I’ve had around Druidry lately seem to be based around ideas of service, and what we can give. However, there is a balance to strike, because no one can give endlessly without having something flowing back towards them, as well. Some service is innately rewarding, which makes it a lot easier to sustain, but some of it isn’t. The woes of the world are many, and can be totally overwhelming. The more attention you pay to all the things that need your energy, love and compassion, the more risk you take of burning yourself out, heart and mind. There is so much wrong, so much that needs to be done, and the enormity of that can paralyse a person.

In order to be able to participate in the world, we need to take care of ourselves, too. Feeding your own soul means taking time to do the things that keep you together and inspired. It’s about looking after your heart so you do not get bruised into numb incapacity.

What feeds you? What fills your heart with joy and gives you peace and a sense of wonder? What is it that reminds you of all the reasons to keep slogging away against the hard stuff? It’s well worth knowing what’s on your list.

For me, contact with the natural world is a must, and I normally get that by walking. I am fed by contact with other people’s creativity – pretty much any form. The more soulful the creation, the more benefit I derive from it. One of the reasons I don’t like plastic disposable entertainment much is that I do not find it nourishing or sustaining. The intellectual buzz of learning and sharing ideas, the company of good friends, the comfort of bed, the simple pleasures of good food and wine…

While money will facilitate a good deal, as an end in itself it does nothing for me. It has to be a good book, a good film, a good conversation. I’ve grown fussy, because giving over a few hours to something that, in nutritional terms is a bit like licking candy of a dry turd, just doesn’t appeal. I’m too aware of all the other things that need my time and attention to be comfortable throwing away hours on that which is a flimsy surface with nothing underneath, or worse than nothing…. I don’t like the candy enough to be willing to tolerate the turd.

There’s no one true way here. Whatever feeds your soul, for whatever reasons and in whatever way, is the thing you need. No one else has to like it or get it, for it to be true. If your soul food is sadistic or destructive, I have no idea what you do, and I’m pretty sure there are people who can only feed themselves on the pain and misery of others. But for the rest of us, watch out for the candy covered turds. They turn up in bright packages handed over by people who will say ‘you must have this’. Only your own soul food can nourish you, and only you can figure out what that is.


Life in the copperage

I remember towards the end of childhood becoming conscious of just how much suffering there is in the world, how much wrong, and how little I could do about it. I was overwhelmed by the enormity of it all, but when I tried to speak, I found my peers resentful, discouraging. Apparently, I was being silly. I never quite learned how to close my eyes and turn away.

There was a period in my life when I did become numb to a lot of things. There is only so much emotion a body can sustain. I think many people assume depression is a form of sadness, but it can go beyond that. Depression can be the exhaustion of spirit, the loss of energy, the going numb that comes from too much grief. Recovering from the ravages of this has meant starting to feel again, feeling too much and too keenly all that is wrong out there. This morning on the news, ten million underfed people In Yemen. If I spent all day, every day, using every resource at my disposal to fight the bad stuff, I’d barely make a scratch in the surface. That can make it tempting to put head in sand, and try to pretend it isn’t my problem.

The sheer weight of available misery and wrong will cripple anyone who tries to go up against it. Just trying timing hunger by the unthinkable number of ten million for a small taster. And that’s just one country, and you won’t be able to imagine even that. Dragging everyone down into grief and powerlessness is not going to fix anything though.

Tom and I did a lot of talking and thinking over the weekend, and came up with a thing, which I am posting below. It is a dedication to improving things, however you do it, wherever you do it, and (we hope) a way of connecting with likeminded souls and finding shared strength to keep banging away at this stuff no matter how crushing the scale of difficulty may seem. Even the smallest gesture to the good is worth something.

 

We are sick to death of bullshit, mediocrity and the omnipresent influence of market forces.

 

What we crave, and are dedicated to, is The Good Stuff that comes from the heart. The Good Stuff is made from love, with soul, it inspires, empowers, makes better. The Good Stuff can make us laugh, free us to cry, get us dancing, weaving, doing. It changes people and enriches life. The Good Stuff is not the exclusive property of any company, religion, philosophy or political party. Identifying as being part of the Copperage, is all about living well and leaving the world better than we found it. This is an assertion for dreamers and idealists, and for people who have had the hope kicked out of them, and the naivety stripped from them, and are willing to have another go anyway.

 

Copperage

 

*We believe that power and resources should be widely distributed, not held by a tiny minority. Enlightened self interest is good.

 

*We are driven by passion, ideals and beliefs to do things we see as inherently worthwhile, and we do these things because we must.

 

*We will support, nurture, encourage, praise and otherwise promote The Good Stuff, wherever and whenever we can.

 

*We consider compassion, humanity and sustainability to be more important than acquiring material wealth far in excess of personal need.

 

*We celebrate creativity. We do not celebrate banality and conformity. We do not want to be told what to like, how to feel, or what to think. Excepting cases of bullshit, our inclinations are towards tolerance. If
no one is being hurt by an activity, people should be free to get on with it. We recognise ‘soul destroying’ as a very significant manifestation of ‘hurt’.

 

If you know yourself to be part of The Good Stuff, sign up, copy this declaration and put it somewhere. Make good stuff happen, and look out for others who are doing this too. Signing up means not only are you living this, but that you are willing to help others who are doing it, where you can.

 

Welcome to the copperage.

 

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