I got hit with a situation recently that really tested my size. I guess all those exercises I have been doing to grow my member have been paying off...
I had an experience the other day that my awareness keeps returning to. I keep picking it up and running my fingers across the smooth parts and fondling the rough edges. I keep turning it over and inspecting the contrasting textures with a sense of curiosity and mild wonder.
The essence of it is this: I was able to entertain several apparently competing emotional experiences simultaneously without having to shut down or collapse into any of them. The experience had me reflecting on a Bernard Loomer quote I first heard over a decade ago in Non-Violent Communication circles:
“By size I mean the stature of [your] soul, the range and depth of [your] love, [your] capacity for relationships. I mean the volume of life you can take into your being and still maintain your integrity and individuality, the intensity and variety of outlook you can entertain in the unity of your being without feeling defensive or insecure. I mean the strength of your spirit to encourage others to become freer in the development of their diversity and uniqueness. I mean the power to sustain more complex and enriching tensions. I mean the magnanimity of concern to provide conditions that enable others to increase in stature.”
Shit suddenly got real the other day when my partner did a last minute pivot via text around plans we had made for her to skype into a small family concert I was giving with a musician friend of mine.
Complexity exploded in my heart and mind. My abandonment shadows darkened the world. All kinds of subtly manipulative responses presented themselves. Plausibly neutral statements that would elicit emotional pain to leverage her care and shame to get what I wanted. Ways to make her hurt like I was hurting to fish my ego out of the one-down position at the very least…
I took a deep breath, marveling at the pain body in action. I recalibrated to my intention to see all of her and encourage her freedom. I remembered that I really never want someone to give to me out of a sense of obligation. Especially my partner. I know, all too well, the consequences of that kind of bullshit on the relationship.
“You do you, baby. No worries.” I typed out, heart thudding.
I acknowledged to myself the raw sadness that was constellated by the unexpected loss I was experiencing and gave myself permission to grieve. I felt the acute pain and weighed whether it was worth communicating to her in the moment. Part of me hoped it would sway her to join us. Part of me didn’t want to say anything to save her the discomfort and avoid any hint of coercion. And part of me just wanted to crawl into a fucking hole and hide.
I decided to show her my insides.
“And… for transparency, I do feel a bit sad and kinda anxious when I sit with it. I have been feeling this thread of anxiety all weekend thinking about you… That’s just what’s here on my insides. And, most importantly, I love you and I want you to enjoy your peeps if that is where your joy is.”
Size matters. And I was getting stretched as fuck.
The rest of the night I found myself entertaining several experiences simultaneously that were utterly incongruous, but all equally authentic:
I was grieving. I felt incredibly sad that my lover was not present to share in the beauty and humor of the serenade. The atmosphere of love and sincere appreciation was palpable.
I was managing the inheritance of my history of abandonment: Intense anxiety and shame about my own worthiness of love and care. The storytelling mind was merciless and incisive. And yet, there was just a feather’s breadth of distance from the old narrative. I was observing the show instead of being the show. Vivid and insubstantial as it was.
And, somewhat to my own surprise, I was totally celebrating her decision to be with her friends. I was joyfully in support of her freedom and authenticity. I didn’t have to manufacture this. I just kept finding it in there. Dancing around with the other two. Sometimes Walzing. Sometimes kinda Moshing.
This was not what I would call a comfortable experience. It was excruciating at times. But it was also quite wondrous. Exquisitely complex, like a fine Oolong tea.
It felt like a graduation, of sorts. Next level shit.
There were so many bullshit ways my pain could have spilled all over her, myself, and even the sweet people I spent the rest of the night with.
But it didn’t. Because my heart was just big enough to hold it all.