Thursday, February 10, 2011

Detach with love...

Recently I have been privileged to companion a much younger friend as she agonized over whether to divorce her husband or not.  I was clear that I would support whatever decision she made.  Her process has been valiant and honorable; she has looked hard at her situation and herself.  She has been counseled; she has prayed; she has read a multitude of books; she has stared into the abyss.  She wants a divorce.  I support her.

Imagine my surprise yesterday, when after she declared her hatred of her husband, I heard myself actually say to her, with great intensity, “you can divorce him but how can you say you don’t love him?  He is not a jerk!  You are not a better human being than he is!”  Uh oh. 

More than 35 years ago I was in her shoes.  How well I remember the agony and the defeat; the relief and the freedom.  At the time I thought I despised my first husband, convinced he was the source of all my guilt and pain.  He was a failure as a husband and a father; how could I have been so stupid to marry someone so dense.  With my guilt buried deep inside, my self-righteousness overflowed.

Yesterday, in a split second, my role shifted from supportive companion to judge,  one who was deeply invested in someone else’s process.  When I stepped back, I saw that I did not want her to make the mistakes I had made, but even more I did not want her to remind me of the mistakes I had made.  All those years ago I had shut a precious human being out of my heart, blaming him for my self-hatred, and I clung tenaciously to my victimhood way too long.

I did not belong with that good man; our adult children today are amazed that he and I ever got together – we are not a good match.  At the time I could not conceive of divorcing someone with love.  I had to declare him a villain in order to extricate myself, and set him free. 

Today I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when I shut someone out of my heart, when I declare someone to be unlovable, I am out of step with Truth and will suffer as a result.  In AlAnon we talk of “detachment with love.”  What a profound concept.  Most relationships are not life-long.  People come into our lives for a season, and most go on their way.  We make promises we find ourselves unable to keep.  I just wish I had known then what I know today, that we can detach with love and gratitude.

I apologized to my friend for transplanting my regrets on to her current life.  She must find her own way, her way.  I am oddly grateful, though, that my old regret rose to the surface for me to revisit and forgive yet again.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I love this poem by Rilke

No one lives his life.

Disguised since childhood,
haphazardly assembled
from voices and fears and little pleasures,

We come of age as masks.
Our true face never speaks.

Somewhere there must be storehouses
where all these lives are laid away
like suits of armor or old carriages
or clothes hanging limply on the walls.

Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived things.

And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery;

All life is being lived.

Who is living it then?
Is it the things themselves?
Or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?

Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal each other?

Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances,
or streets, as they wind through time?

Is it the animals, warmly moving,
or the birds, that suddenly rise up?

Who lives it, then? 
God, are you the one
who is living life?

"Love Poems to God," Rainier Maria Rilke

PS:  It is not too late to decide to join the small group which begins this Monday evening at 6:30.  This poem speaks eloquently of our much anticipated discussion in the group.