Love and Power

Sometimes we fear our own power more than being powerless. What would it take for you to stand firmly in your power today, to look into the fire and not be afraid? Pour all your truth into the fire, that it may feed the flames, until nothing is left but ashes. You will take these ashes then and make a garden out of them, for when we can grow, that is the ultimate redemption.

On a more personal level, I’ve been feeling the need to write about some of the troubles Anthony and I have experienced in our marriage.  It’s part catharsis and part making sure I understand it completely.  It’s also partly to connect with other people who may be feeling some of the same things.

I had severe trust issues starting out.  For years, anytime Anthony left the room at night, my instant fear was that he was having an affair.  It honestly probably took me 17 years to really trust my husband, and that was only because we split up, and I could see clearly then in the wreckage and devastation how much he loved me, had always loved me, and probably always would.

The reason for my trust issues?  I remember waking up in the middle of the night to my mom crying and my dad being gone for days, without us knowing where he was.  He would return, and things would be okay for a while, but eventually they split up.

The next man my mom was with, a man she would spend the next 20 years with, had even bigger problems.  He was a control freak, very critical, and was addicted to heroine and methodone.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night to hear them fighting – he would call her every horrible curse word imaginable and throw things at her.  His rage seemed uncontrollable and violent.  I truly feared for her life and my own.

The thing that got me through those dark times was a reoccurring vision I had of being with a man someday who I could experience real unconditional love with.  I pictured us having a family and dancing together – an experience of pure joy.

All of that became a reality when I met my husband 19 year ago.  He became the best friend I ever had – someone I could talk to about anything.  He has an enthusiasm for life that is contagious, and his optimistic nature seemed the perfect remedy for all the shadows I had only recently emerged from. 

Sometimes, I feel like he is the glue that holds us all together.  Going through what I did, I did not learn to value marriage or to trust in love.  My lessons were independence, strength, and self-reliance.  I learned how to withstand chaos, not value stability.  I learned not to fear change, but to embrace it, because change always meant the possibility of something better.

But, what happens when you become addicted to change?  Does that cause you to subconsciously create chaos, when there is really no need to do so?

On the other hand, we all need to feel that we are growing.  Otherwise, we are faced with stagnation.  How do we simultaneously sit with what is, while at the same time stretching towards the sun?

There is no worse feeling than knowing that you have let someone down who you love. That’s the way I felt when Anthony and I split up two summers ago.  Not only did I feel I let him down, I also felt like I had abandoned him and our son.

Anthony and I have talked about this period in our lives so many times.  We both feel, in retrospect, that it had to happen.  We were in a rut.  We had stopped growing together and had both begun to find outside interests that pushed us even further apart.  

I remember feeling at that time that I didn’t think I could spend the rest of my life with someone who wasn’t interested in spirituality, someone who seemed so obsessed with politics and the negativity of news and world events.

Anthony will be the first to admit that he has a tendency to rant.  We affectionately refer to him as “Rant’ony” because he can, at times, become so impassioned that he will speak at length and in the most fervent tone about a subject. 

He truly cares about the state of the world and trying to make a difference.  At that time in our lives, though, his rants started to feel more like he was speaking at me from a pulpit than speaking with me as a life partner or trying to figure things out together.

For my part, I chose to escape into a world of fantasy and distraction – immersing myself in a world of work, gurus, retreats, and addictions. I had poor boundaries and was no longer really showing up in the relationship, and I didn’t realize that until it was almost too late.

The worst feeling is looking your life partner in the eye and feeling like you betrayed the best friend you ever had, the one person who trusted you most in this world.  That’s when I realized that I had gone from being the abused child to being the abuser.  That’s when I realized I needed to come to terms with my own shadow in order to stop living a lie. It’s a strange irony in life that we often don’t realize the full value of something until it’s gone.

The good news is, we are given the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.  It takes a lot of self-examination, a lot of talking it through.  At some point, you have to stop judging and justifying and just let it all pass through you.

Should I stay or should I go?  At what point is this kind of thinking just a cop out, a way of clinging to power in a situation where you feel powerless?  While most people are afraid of their own power, maybe something happens to those of us who have lived through chaos where the opposite becomes true, where we start to cling to our power, instead of surrendering more deeply to love.

All of us are constantly balancing the desire for love with the desire for freedom with the desire for growth.  When any of these things feel out of balance, that’s when we start to become dissatisfied.

Where we are at today feels better than before.  We are sharing more of ourselves, talking about even the uncomfortable stuff, and Anthony has even discovered a part of himself that is curious and open to spirituality.  It gives me the greatest joy to see him becoming the man I always hoped he would be – a man who is more open-minded than before, a man who trusts his intuition and dreams, a man who is shining his light to the world.

Nothing is or ever will be perfect. Every day is a new day, and none of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but I think we are closer now to each other than before. It also feels like we are more our authentic selves than before. We are living less to please each other or anyone else and are coming to embody our own power more. This is the kind of healthy power that comes from within, not the external power that is more about maintaining control. We are sharing, learning, loving, being present, and growing together, which feels right and like the reason why a marriage should even exist in the first place.

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