Trials of dating, self-awareness, autism

I’ve been in a strange place lately. Despite intending to make my life more simple, I’ve ended up making it far more complicated. I’ve been dating someone and the first two dates seemed to go really well – he’s kind, caring, spiritually minded, accepting of my illness – but the third date fell rather flat. I no longer felt attracted to him. And it’s left me wondering whether it’s me and I’m incapable of investing in anyone on a consistent basis. I’ve had fairly few relationships in my life and the ones I have had lacked emotional connection due to my upbringing. I have spent years working on myself emotionally and spiritually and have also been on my own a long while. All this leads me to wonder whether I’m too introverted and self-aware to enjoy someone’s company for any length of time. That the problem isn’t the guy, or indeed any guy I’ve dated in the past, but with me.

I know the advice generally goes: be happy with/love yourself. And I get that, I truly do. I have lived alone for a very long time (17 years in fact, a long time for someone in my early 40’s) and my last relationship was 7 years ago. I still hold the notion that it’s possible to experience spiritual loneliness where you crave companionship whilst feeling happy with yourself. I suppose I just don’t know what I’m actually looking for because no one is going to want to talk spirituality 24/7 and I become bored with everyday conversation. And yet, how can I ever engage with someone if I don’t meet them where they are?

I actually wonder if I’m on the autism spectrum as well. This is a legit question because my son is severely autistic and my dad and uncle both exhibited traits. It would explain a lot; my social anxiety, my difficulties talking unless I really HAVE to or if it’s about something deep, my introversion, my high sensitivity and tendency towards over stimulation. None of those things alone would mean much, but together with my family history they point to a very real possibility of autism and it would explain why I feel such an outsider in more ways than one. But if that’s the case, how will I ever know what I truly want? Because I do get lonely sometimes. And I miss physical intimacy. Casual meet ups are not an option for me due to my illness and other factors. So I just don’t know what the answer is.

I’m probably going to meet up with the guy again because I don’t think three dates is enough to decide whether a relationship is right. But I’m mindful of hurting his feelings too. Other people seem to be clear what they know and feel and want. Despite my self-awareness, I don’t think I am. Maybe the world of relationships is just too alien to me.

My soul flies like a bird

On a morning walk with my dog I heard beautiful birdsong and watched the sparrows and tits peeping out of overgrown hedges and disappearing again. And for a second I wished I could join them. I wanted to trade my life as a human with all its pain and complexities for the simple, carefree life of a hedge sparrow. The longing arose from deep within, pointing to a knowledge that no matter what I’m dealing with or the world is facing, my soul flies free. I don’t have to be chained to fears and illusions of this world, only insofar as necessary to play my role here. Jesus said ‘Be in the world but not of it’ and this statement has never felt more true. My heart is the bridge between the spiritual and the physical; I exist in both, but my soul is always home no matter where it is, flying high.

Spiritual loneliness

I’ve realised that, for myself, spiritual loneliness is a thing. It feels almost taboo to say it, due to numerous teachings that suggest loneliness stems from a disconnect from one’s own soul and the answer is to go within. That is doubtless a very important and valuable truth, but it’s also true that it’s possible to be connected to oneself and the universe yet still feel lonely for likeminded company. It doesn’t have to be either/or. The key issue is balance.

I’ve started dating again after a break for a couple of years and many more years single. I decided that I’ve spent too much time alone. This is coming from an introvert with health issues who loves a dog for company! But alone time can be too much of a good thing. I’ve spent many years focusing on my spirituality through meditation, journaling, self-reflection, and I believe I have reached a good level of self-awareness, albeit I will never stop learning (who does?). I know I have not fully integrated all the wounded parts of my being, but I know they are there. I have compassion for them. And I just….feel lonely sometimes. The two meditation groups I was part of pre-pandemic have ended and there seems to be little around. Online isn’t the same by any means. I am fortunate to have friends, a couple who are also on a conscious path, but most are preoccupied with family and relationships and don’t have the time or inclination to sit and talk about the topics that matter to me.

As Carl Jung says in the above quote, loneliness stems from being unable to communicate about the issues that seem important to a person. Of course I can blog and that is great, but sometimes good quality in person human contact is what is needed. I wonder if this is a common feeling post-pandemic, a genuine spiritual loneliness and longing for a deeper connection with others? We can do all the inner work and re-connect with our own souls yet still hunger for community. Buddhists call it sangha; Christians go to church; for me it was meditation groups. Somewhere to go and share and grow through a shared understanding and mutual love and respect. Relationships are a mirror; we need them to keep ourselves honest.

I don’t know if dating is what I want/need or simply a spiritual tribe. But I will see. I’ve joined an online meditation group and I have someone coming to meditate with me tomorrow for the first time after I posted on a local group. I am hopeful that I will start to re-connect with people after this long season of retreat. I feel like my soul is in spring time, ready to burst forth and bloom. I know the garden will soon appear!

Being with the body

My health hasn’t been the greatest lately. I have to keep reminding myself to stay centred in the present moment and not get caught up in thoughts about past or future. Not easy to do especially when anxiety takes over, but I am learning more and more than the state of my physical body influences my mental health as much as the opposite: there is no separation. For instance, I have problems with my adrenal glands. They don’t produce enough cortisol so I struggle to manage stress and my body tries to over-compensate with flooding with adrenaline. This creates anxiety because my body is literally gearing up to fight. It also has the effect of intense crying; I suspect this is to release the energy associated with the release of adrenaline.

But I’m okay. In the moment I’m okay. This moment is all there is and I am connected to Spirit. I know that my soul is whole and free even if my fragmented mind and struggling body can’t always realise it. There has been a lot of stress in my life lately – my dog having a stroke, my mother being involved in a car accident, the pain of Christmas, and plain overdoing it to try and manage those emotions. Now is the time to bring everything home to the now and trust in life and in myself.

To anyone having a bad time with health or otherwise, I feel you. It’s a long hard journey, especially when well meaning people ask whether you’ve tried this or that and you’ve literally tried everything, so it brings you down. But this is your personal journey, as it is mine, and all we can really do is listen to our bodies and let them be our messengers. The body is in the present moment; it reflects what we think and feel. Our job is to notice and be with what is happening. If the body is saying it is under attack/threat, we can feel compassion for that state of being or at least accept it. Not resisting it, not pretending it’s not happening, but being fully with it. It’s really not easy, it’s painful and frustrating and devastating, but this is what I feel brings the greatest peace.

Keep it simple

I’ve come to the realisation that the best way to live my life is to keep it simple.

Simplicity is peaceful, calm, and beautiful. It’s not trying to get to some place or other, some state of being or other; it just is. The raw natural state of Being.

Having an analytical mind is both a blessing and a curse. It is a tool to help me grow and meet my goals. It keeps me honest. It helps me connect to others. It can also drive me to distraction trying to figure out how to get there from here, criticising me for all my perceived mistakes that brought me here in the first place, all the while blinding me to the present moment and the love, joy, freedom and creativity that is available right here, right now.

We are inseparable from nature. It is our essence. When we strip away all the conditioning – from our families, societies and culture – we are left with who we were always meant to be; our organic, awakened, soul-self. Flowers don’t beat themselves up for not being as perfect as the next flower. Each flower blooms in the way it’s supposed to.

It’s far from easy because we hold expectations of how life should be and what we want for our particular life – that is natural too. We want to be happy. We want to avoid pain. That’s all part of it. We have free will – that is the blessed beauty of living a human life with its particular joys and tragedies. We are free to respond or react to what happens. At a certain point we can even choose whether to stay awake or fall back to sleep. Regardless, our true essence remains like a jewel waiting to be discovered…and re-discovered.

Once that happens, life’s inherent simplicity and inter-connectedness emerges. We are all beautiful souls in various stages of soul growth, with different tests and challenges to deal with, all of which can lead us back to our essence, reflected in the beauty of nature itself and the remarkable trials it often faces to simply survive.

For today, I keep it very simple. My essence is the soul I was born with, the individualised speck of the Divine I was always meant to be. In that knowledge I do my best to speak and act. I have a plan for my future – my aromatherapy/essential oils website and business – which may or may not come to fruition. I live for now, in this moment; being aware of my thoughts and emotions as much as possible, listening to my body; and embrace the preciousness of it all.

The Search

I wrote this some time after I got my beautiful dog Zoey as it feels like she symbolises the unconditional love I have always been seeking within and without.

The Search

Branches silhouetted like witches fingers

puppeted by the roaring wind

Dead leaves quiver like spiders

shadowed by their search, nearing the end.

I gaze up into the velvet sky

where stars glitter like diamonds

matching the tears falling from my eyes;

cosmic energy, pulsating life.

I shut my eyes to find

beauty and blackness filling my soul

starlight radiating through my heart

reminding me I am home.

A fluffy ball of white

brushes past my leg

and barks her love

into the night.

Life in one name: Zoey.

The search is over.

Spiritual home

I often wake up with songs in my head. Sometimes it’s a reverberation of one I’d been listening to recently but more often it contains a message that is very relevant to something I’m feeling or dealing with. Even the name of the singer can hold meaning. I call these synchronicities, a term was first coined by psychologist and analyst Carl Jung, but is now commonly used in spiritual circles. It can be described as a meaningful coincidence and they seem to occur as a sign of being on the right track in one’s spiritual journey, or in the flow rather than resisting life. This has certainly been true of my experience.

This morning’s song was ‘Driving home for Christmas’ by Chris Rea. I HAD heard it recently due to the barrage of Christmas songs playing on the radio and music channels of both households I visited at Christmas, but as nearly a week had passed and now it was suddenly playing with fervour in my head, I looked up the lyrics. Instantly I realised that it is the perfect depiction of my spiritual journey, with all its obstacles and tailbacks – I am quite literally on my way home for Christmas, back to my spiritual home where my true Christ self, which is love, will be born within me as I acknowledge and open to it. Interestingly still, the singer’s name Chris means none other than Christ, and his surname Rea means ‘flowing’ which can be compared to the tao; the eternal river of life.

Here are the lyrics (copyright unintended: I do not own these lyrics):

I’m driving home for Christmas
I can’t wait to see those faces
I’m driving home for Christmas, yeah
Yeah, I’m moving down that line

And it’s been so long
But I will be there
I sing this song
To pass the time away
Driving in my car
Christmas

It’s gonna take some time but I’ll get there

Top to toe in tailbacks
Oh, I got red lights all around
But soon there’ll be the freeway, yeah
Get my feet on holy ground

So I sing for you
Though you can’t hear me
When I get through
And feel you near me

Driving in my car
Driving home for Christmas

With a thousand memories
I take look at the driver next to me
He’s just the same
Just the same

Top to toe in tailbacks
Oh, I got red lights all around
I’m driving home for Christmas, yeah
Get my feet on holy ground

So I sing for you
Though you can’t hear me
When I get through
Oh and feel you near me

Driving in my car
Christmas
Driving in my car
Driving home for Christmas
I take look at the driver next to me
He’s just the same
He’s driving home
He’s driving home for Christmas

Driving home for Christmas, yeah

Many of us, myself included, feel stuck in Earthly traffic dealing with our individual obstacles of life, trying to move forward but sometimes having to detour or even go backwards, not being sure whether we’re on the right route or believing we’ve gone completely wrong. If we’re lucky we enjoy the journey and pass the time in creative and/or meaningful ways – arts, relationships, parenting, spiritual seeking. But one thing is for sure; we are all on holy ground making the same trip, longing to contact with those with love, whether they are on this plane or passed on years ago. And we will all reach home either in this lifetime or beyond the physical.

I believe this song came to me because I am re-connecting with my spiritual self. I am literally coming home to myself and realising that love is what it’s all about. It’s not trying to get somewhere ‘out there’ but to connect to myself ‘in here.’ The spiritual journey has always been an inward one. Even though we want and need to express love to others through relationships and service, it’s healthiest when expressed through the knowledge that each of us is whole and deserving of our own love. I don’t identify as a Christian when I say that the Christ is within all of us; that’s what the image of his crucifixion is all about. We all suffer, we all get lost, but at the same time we all on the path back to our Christ self, our eternal soul which is untarnished by fear or negativity or pain.

Thank you Spirit for sending me that beautiful song this morning, on the last day of 2021, to remind me of my symbolic journey within as I prepare for my outer journey into the new year.

I wish everyone a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a Happy New Year! I will aim to write a New Year’s post within the next few days.

Love over fear

In last night’s dream a man kept shaking me. Or was it the other way around? I told him I was sorry for all his pain and that I hadn’t realised because I was a little girl. Someone else told me that I was the focus of his wrath now because I was getting the attention. Prior to the shaking, he was following me, hunting me down, even going into female toilets and pushing his way into a cubicle where my mum was sitting (not using, thankfully).

Who is this man? He represents masculine energy within my being; my mental or logical side which is concerned with thinking, action, assertiveness, dominance and the material world. In contrast, the little girl represents innocence, the pure heart, receptivity, the spiritual. In the dream she responds with love because she is in tune with her natural state of being and knows no fear or pain. The man, caught in conditioned thoughts and beliefs, only knows to attack what he doesn’t understand. His goal is survival at any cost and the little girl is a threat at some basic level because she is now the focus. Love, rather than fear.

What I have taken from this is that my old conditioned thought patterns are fighting for survival against my increasing focus on the light within my self and the knowledge of the innocence of my true being. Conditioned thoughts are rooted in fear because they are born of woundedness and pain. They attack because they do not feel worthy of love – my love. They cannot see or feel the light. They do not want to because they may disappear and then what? There can be a lot of comfort tied up in old negative thought patterns and wounds. We do not always want to let go of them. It can be more frightening to surrender to the light of truth.

The pivotal message of the dream is this: despite the threat, I responded in love rather than fear. Despite the fear of letting go, symbolised by the toilet cubicle, I am facing those wounds. As I reflect on this, I am remembering a prayer I sent recently which consisted of the genuine intention to be happy for those with whom I sometimes have a tendency to lose myself in sadness; to rise above self-centredness and enter into the realm of pure unconditional love where everyone and everything is accepted and welcomed with love, even my deepest wounds.

My challenge is to remember my natural state of being even when those thoughts and patterns take over and attack myself or lament others for having what I desire or lost. In the light, there is no pain, no loss, no separation: there is only love.

Christmas: The eternal light within

Firstly, I truly hope everyone had the best Christmas possible, whether spent with family, friends, strangers, or oneself (I have done all of these at some point).

I was listening to another you tube video by the wonderful Matt Kahn yesterday entitled ‘Choosing to be here’ and thought how badly I need to take that in and really, really, apply it to my life right now. I am feeling a lot of inner resistance to what IS. I spent Christmas day with a few relatives and while I was blessed to have somewhere to go, I felt very disconnected and sad. The wounded part of me was crying out for my upbringing to have been different, for my relatives to behave differently, for my life to feel more connected and loving than it does. On reflection it was obvious that the disconnect came from me. Not that it means blaming myself for my feelings or experiences because they happened and they hurt, but I have a choice now in how I relate to myself and those around me.

Matt Kahn talks about relating to each moment as if we had chosen it. I know this is a common idea in spiritual circles but I had not fully grasped it until now, whilst feeling the pain of resistance to the extent that I did after spending Christmas with my family. It does not mean that myself or anyone else ‘asked’ for abuse or other horrific experiences or even that we literally chose them before incarnating (although we may have, who can know); instead it points to the idea that everything that happens is our teacher and we can sift even the most terrible experiences for their gold. Rather than sinking into despair over our longing for something different, we can look at what IS and ask how we can respond to this, how we can learn from it, how we can let it transform into something greater.

My hurt is real. My inner child is real. A common pitfall on the spiritual path is to ‘bypass’ our woundedness in favour of intellectual spiritual wisdom, all the while forgetting that true wisdom is found in facing our darkness, our pain, head on and understanding and accepting it. The essence of Matt Kahn’s teaching is loving whatever arises, or if we cannot love it, loving the part of us who cannot love. In this context, I can love the little girl in me who was sad at Christmas because she knew others were having Christmases that she could only dream about. More than that, she longed for the experience of belonging to a family who loved each other and had fun together in ways that hers never did or will. Those longings are valid. Who as a child didn’t want to be cared for by people who loved and respected each other and came together at Christmas of all days? It is okay to hurt. But the key is not getting stuck. We feel to heal.

I spent two nights crying with emotional pain that I thought I’d transformed ages ago. I felt so awful that I wondered if I was dying. Then it occurred that maybe I was. Not literally of course, but dying to a past that has gone; dying to the wish that things could have been any different. I can only accept the child’s emotions and tell her that she is loved and accepted and we’ll be okay somehow. She needs to know that it is not ‘wrong’ to feel the way she does. But as with any child, she also needs to know that those feelings are only a small facet of her world and they’re not going to destroy her entire being. On the contrary, they will bring rainbows once the storm has passed.

The adult me knows that I can only change myself, not other people. Maybe the gift of Christmas lies in knowing that ultimately I belong to myself. I am made of light. I can love and accept myself. I can learn to feel at peace within my own being. No matter how dark and dire our personal circumstances are, how agonising the despair, our inner light is stronger. Whilst I feel on the outside with family members and indeed many others at Christmas, the learning lies in what Christmas is all about: love and hope and transformation. Emotional pain WILL be transformed, if we let it. The image of the crucifixion is what THIS is all about: ‘I have overcome the world’ says Jesus. So can we all. This doesn’t mean never being affected by anything – Jesus himself felt abandoned by God in his darkness moments – but we can trust in our eternal light which cannot ever be destroyed. This is the spirit of Christmas.

Wishing everyone the very best as we approach the end of 2021.