Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pitching to the Universe

Every now and then I read a book which illuminates something so clearly for me, I can't imagine how I didn't understand it before. It's that moment when all the pieces fall into place, and I slap myself in the forehead and yell, "Of course! I get it now." There have been a few books like that for me (A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, and Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach are two of them) but this time the book is called Leveraging the Universe by Mike Dooley and in it he provides the missing puzzle piece (for me) to the Law of Attraction.

Now, I've been reading about the Law of Attraction for close to 20 years but have never managed to make any real changes in my life. I've used positive thinking, and written down affirmations, and made gratitude lists, and created vision boards, and practiced feng shui, and none of it ever really made much of a difference. I've been stuck in the same crappy job for 16 years, been living in the same tiny house for 20, and still apparently haven't learned a damn thing about attracting a healthy relationship. Obviously there was something I wasn't getting.

Well, yeah. According to Mike Dooley, the missing ingredient was me. It's all well and good to trust in the Universe to create abundance in our lives, but first we have to make contact, by doing what we can, with what we have, from where we are. We have to engage the magic, start the ball rolling. We have to take a baby step in the direction of our dreams. Then and only then will the Universe move to do its part, and kick in a string of inspiration and synchronicities and right-people-at-the-right-time coinkydinks to keep things flowing along.

When I look back at the last 20 years, I realize I've done almost nothing different, all the while praying for my life to change. Well you know what they say: if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got.

Time to do something different! 

About two-and-a-half years ago, I became aware of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a New York-based holistic nutrition school. This was right around the time I discovered the primal/paleo movement and got serious about changing the way I eat. I loved the school's approach because they incorporate spiritual nourishment as a vital part of a whole, healthy lifestyle--an approach with which I very much agree. I attended a webinar and pored over their website and knew the school was a perfect fit for me. I knew that being a health coach would be an ideal career for me, combining my passion for healthy living with blogging, teaching and counseling. And then.....I did nothing.

All the doubts and fears started creeping in: "It's too expensive." "What if I can't get any clients?" "There's no market for that kind of thing here." And so and so forth. I defaulted to the same script that's been running in my head my whole life: "I can't ______ because ______"

Ely was all for it. He encouraged me to enroll and offered to take money out of his 401k to pay for the tuition. But I had already managed to talk myself out of it. Besides I was afraid to borrow from his 401k. Afraid, afraid, afraid. Looking back, I can see so clearly how fear has ruled my entire life.

I was entangled in what Mike Dooley calls "the cursed hows"--worrying about how it's all going to work out. How will we pay back the money, and how will I get clients, and how will I advertise.....I thought I had to figure it all out ahead of time.

What I didn't understand is that's all the stuff I can trust the Universe to handle! My only job was to take the baby step and enroll in the school. That would be my pitch to the Universe. Maybe it will end up being a home run, maybe it won't. But what it will do is line up a whole new set of circumstances, people and places that I can't even imagine right now. Things that definitely won't happen unless I just trust and take that first step.

So that's it. Tomorrow I call up IIN and enroll. Batter up!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Is It Love....Or Addiction?

There's no denying that I miss him. The same guy that hurt me so badly just a little over a week ago is the one that I'm craving, the one that I wish would wrap his arms around me and make it all better. For the last 10 months, he has been my "home." His face, his voice, his touch, his smell....I instinctively turned to him for comfort and affection. We used to snuggle up together on the couch and I would stroke his hair and sigh and say to him, "All is right with my world."

I thought that what I was feeling was love. You would think that after almost 49 years on this planet, and several long-term relationships, I would know what love feels like. But no, I'm pretty sure I'm still clueless on this topic. I just read a book called How to Break Your Addiction to a Person by Howard Halpern, PhD, and in it he describes something called "limerence." Limerence is actually what we're feeling when we feel like we're "in love." When you think about him all the time, when you can't get enough of him, when you get scared at the thought of losing him...that's not love, that's limerence. For whatever reason--maybe it's chemical, maybe it's karma, maybe he satisfies some deep longing from your childhood--you are inexplicably attracted to him. You were probably attracted from the moment you set eyes on him. You hang all your happiness onto this one person. You believe (irrationally) that only this one person is ever going to make you feel this way, that you're never going to find anyone like this one person ever again.

And so when suddenly he's gone--even though it was your own choice--you suffer major withdrawal, as surely as an addict going through the DTs. The first day without him, I had an anxiety attack. My heart was racing, I was panicking, I felt like I couldn't breathe. What had I done?? I vacillated wildly between rage and depression and just wanting his arms around me. I tried to numb myself with too much alcohol and food, and keep myself busy busy busy so I wouldn't think about him. I gradually realized that it wasn't him, per se, that I was missing so badly. It was the way he made me feel.

That's not love. That's addiction. I was able to overlook some pretty serious red flags, throughout the entire course of our relationship, because I just didn't want to lose that feeling

It doesn't help that he's actively trying to win me back. He's coming at me with both barrels, texting me from other people's phones, leaving notes declaring his undying love on my front door day and night. But I'm willing to bet that what he's feeling isn't love either.

Even now, I'm not sure I trust my ability to discern limerence from the real thing. But I'm pretty sure that real love is what I was feeling for my husband Ely in the month before he died. We had been together for 15 years, and not all of them were happy. We came very close to separating in 2008, and there was an entire year that we barely spoke or touched each other. But that last October was a good one. We were enjoying each other's company, we were recapturing our friendship and I was feeling like we were going to make it after all.

On his very last day, I hung his Steelers sign up over the TV. Now, I hated that thing. I didn't like football memorabilia in my living room. But I hung it up because I knew it would make him happy. After all we'd been through together, all the years, and the fights, and the doubts, and the stresses of raising kids and running a household together, I had still somehow ended up at a place where I wanted to put a smile on his face.

He walked in and saw it and smiled. He kissed me and said, "Aw, you do love me!"

He was right.