I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve manipulated people I love in the name of love. I did so because I believed I had something to gain, and something to lose. It’s a model of love based on ownership, property, and the getting and taking model of reality. Its fear-based. And, strategizing instilled a sense of invulnerability in me, if I can make a belief that I love and am loved by someone, even though it doesn’t really feel that way, well, its better than experiencing the reality of being unloved. Who am I, or what am I, if I’m not loved?
I chose this particular strategy – probably before I was five years old, because I experienced the danger of having it be the other way. As I looked around my little world – my reality, I came to interpret that it wasn’t enough to be love. I had to prove my worthiness to God through words and actions. This was true regarding all my relations, teachers, priests, mom and dad, siblings – everyone!
Eight brothers and sisters vying for love and attention from parents – competition for MVP – most valuable person, was the set up long before my arrival on the planet. Being child #6, I had to work like hell to catch up, practicing every possible means of giving love to show my worthiness and value for being loved. I developed hyper-vigilance to see a need before it was ever expressed. I became a master manipulator in the name of love. It was my way of ensuring I didn’t disappear and become invisible in the midst of the ongoing, chaotic fray.
Decades later and a lifetime of attempts to cultivate self-worth and self-value, based on an external source of validation, it all became self-evident that – you guessed it – it never worked. The love I pretended to experience through special relationships, but was in many instances just delusions on my part, well, its isn’t fulfilling, wasn’t fulfilling. I know no one who doesn’t know what I’m talking about here. Too many of us settle for inauthentic connection because of our fear that we are nothing – or not enough, without it.
The spiritual texts I frequently read requires relinquishing the belief that I had to prove myself valuable and worthy of love. It clearly stated that there is no need to prove what is already my birth-right-ness. In Oneness: The Teachings, it says “You have come to this experience you know as your life in order to be able to reject, completely, the consensus view of reality imprinted upon you since birth, and to replace that structure of understanding with a perspective that totally transcends it.” Oh, really? Lots of luck on that one, eh? This wisdom and the engaged practice of living as if this were true, has been the undoing of me – mentally, physically and spiritually. This undoing of me has been a very good thing – not an easy thing, but a good thing!
“Self-value comes from Self-extension.” A Course in Miracles
Why do we say I love you? To comfort, to validate and to reassure others, and sometimes ourselves, that there is a bond between us. Sometimes, and I love this one the most, its an unstoppable expression of what is. I love ….
You’ve heard me speak about my little community of Westsound, here on Orcas Island. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I experience a generosity of spirit, that spirit of love, that seems foundational to what community and true engaged connection is about. The presence of self-extension, for me, is received and experienced in a way that feels genuine and authentic. The sharing of amazing food at the potlucks, of time and energy, and the gifts and talents that build and rebuild the structure of community, as well as the 100 year old building that is called the Westsound Community Hall. Well, this aspect of my world validates the truth of “Self-value comes from Self-extension.” Westsound Community makes me want to bring more of myself into expression – not from “you should,” but from “you are!”
Receiving the extension of Self through so many of my neighbors and members, well, it makes me happy and miraculously shifts my hyper-vigilance from giving in order to gain and get, to openness – an open expression and extension of my whole self.
Little by little I find myself worrying less – being less guarded. I don’t feel the need to protect myself from those who use manipulation in the name of love and service, like I did. Infused with the gifts of self-value, which the neighbors in Westsound share – I’m transformed. Truly!
I’m grateful that I’ve been in this intensive practice of undoing myself long enough to get to the point where the experience of love, which comes through self-extension can be realized within myself and within my external world. My perceptions have shifted enough to allow a new reality to materialize. I wish this for all of us.
No one can fake love and get away with it! We all attempt it and find it unsatisfying. And eventually we find it unpalatable and intolerable. Each of us came into the world knowing love is our essential nature. Too many of us learned strategic methods of love in order to survive. But, in the end, all of us return to remembering that our essential value lives in being the extension of who we already are.
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