One of my biggest teachers would have to be the painful failure of my first relationship. I wanted so much to be happy. I remember having a clear vision of what a happy relationship looked like, but when I got into it, nothing seemed to work as I expected it. Strangely enough, I had chosen a narcissist. My unconscious thoughts about what love was, lead me to her like a magnet. There was an unmet need: as a child I had been abandoned and in my moment of trauma I had made a thought about myself in my child mind: I was not worth loving.
It would be nice to think that my choices emanate from the most loving space inside me. Yeah, right!
In the past I’ve raced moto cross, flew experimental aircraft and participated in some rather risky adventures and of course relationships. At the time I loved it, it was so exciting – albeit my broken vertebras and heart. One might say that retrospect and maturity are troublesome bed partners to making ones past wrong, but here I am still breathing and with some significant body scares and side effects from some unloving unconscious thoughts, which at the time felt like happiness.
Hence the carrot and the stick for the donkey named Paul: in pursuit of finding the next exciting thing that would make me happy I was being unloving to myself.
It’s not all bad news, as those experiences gave me learning: just like a baby learning to walk I fell, stood again, found my balance and the learning from what didn’t work to move forward. And just like a child I didn’t make it wrong that I ended up face down on the floor. I now know that not making myself wrong for failures is one of the major keys to walking forward. The second is observing myself almost as an actor in a play, observing my motivation, my desired outcome, and above all, my feelings, before during and after each failure. What was it that I didn’t know that I didn’t know? Such a haunting question…
All the above required from me – and still do – to breathe into the unconscious emotions and thoughts that brought the floor to my face. But, man, it feels soooo hard. It directly undermines my very self-image, my core, who I think I am. It is amazing to see that what was once the seed of emotional trauma has now grown into a tree of life, reinforced by life experience and the associated peripheral emotions, and so the death of the tree feels like the death of me.
One of those seeds was ‘I’m not worth loving’. It made me unknowingly treat myself unlovingly, which at the time felt good, felt right. I kept reinforcing this unconscious thought in many ways: I did what made me happy until it became painful. Then, in an attempt to move out of the pain, I found the next thing, perpetuating the cycle, driven from something I didn’t know, from that unconscious negative thought, from that seed of self destruction, pursuing happiness ending in unhappiness. What I didn’t realise is that the next thing seemed different but in fact was the same, I chose what would water the seed.
It goes without saying: we want to avoid any uncomfortable emotion, but that only adds weight to the desire to be happy. And into that vicious cycle I was missing my real teacher, which is the uncomfortable emotion per se. I tended to put so much energy in avoiding it, instead of just sitting with and see what’s driving me into getting the same experience again and again. I got stuck in the trap of ‘I will be happy when…’, only to realise that happiness was a moment of completion and disenchantment.
It took me a lot of time to get to a place where enjoying the experience of going somewhere meant loosing expectations of arrival. Now I just breathe deeply and connected and if the experience feels loving for me and for the others, it usually is.