How is it that we feel both love and pain? Limiting the love you give ultimately leads to some kind of pain. Love is too big for that.
The Paradox of Love and Pain
A decade ago, contactee Alex Collier famously quoted his Andromedan guide, saying, “The love that you withhold is the pain that you carry.” While some attribute this aphorism to Ralph Waldo Emerson, the truth of the thought encapsulated in these words remains, despite the source, a testament to the human adventure. It illustrates in a nutshell the paradox of how love and pain can, and often do, coexist. This is the basis for many arguments against the primacy of love at all; however, understanding it reveals the simple elegance of its validity.
Ways We Experience Pain
In a universe of love, how can pain be? Why does love so often lead to hurt? If love is everything, why am I sad? From thoughts such as this are nightmares of separation born, and doubts in the divine. However, think on this: It is in hoarding love, withholding it, keeping it from its natural movement and flow that we feel pain.
(NOTE: I’m purposefully limiting this discussion to levels of pain that we all feel from time to time and that can cripple our forward movement in growth. I don’t include in this specifically the extremes of abuse which are being revealed more often these days, though holographically there is a thread to follow there. This is a launching point for further exploration, as you wish to go.)
Here are some situations, very general in nature, which might sound familiar to you. See if you can apply any of these to current sources of feeling a lack of love in some area of your life. They’re all the kinds of situations people normally run into in the course of living with other people on this planet:
Example 1: Someone irritates you. You pull back from a family member or friend. You devise convoluted arguments in your mind justifying your separation from loving this person. Even if you do love this person in a general sort of way, are you demonstrating that love by creating a boundary? Does your irritation resolve itself, or does it merely shift into a space of loss or sorrow at a lost opportunity to connect, and experience something new that love would gladly show you?
Example 2: Someone hurts you. In anger and disbelief (in love), you slam up walls girded with spikes and poison. Even if this person went out of their way to cause you pain, is your pain diminished by purposefully fencing yourself into your safe space? Does retribution handle the healing, or does it numb the point of pain? Numbness = forgetting = limiting your awareness.
Example 3: You hurt someone. Whether it was from rage, ignorance, or stillborn affection, some word or action (intention) has telegraphed from you to another a shard of hurt. The other person feels it. But when you really settle yourself within your thoughts, in bald honesty, you feel the pain, too. Will the bleeding stop?
These are just a few of the countless permutations of the love/pain paradox. Anger. Discord. The absent partner, father, child. The deceitful associate, the cheating spouse. The leader caught in a lie, the unfinished business and unaccepted opportunity. The fallen hero. The fights. And on and on and on. Our ability to experience love-turned-painful is limitless… yet it doesn’t need to be infinite. There is a way out.
How Big Is Love?
When we mistakenly put love into a tiny piece of matter, we do a disservice not only to the nature of love, but to ourselves. While matter can hold the essence of love, such as a memory or an icon or perhaps a bottle of nectar, the love from which that idea is distilled is as free-flowing as the wind and as impossible to pin down. It is as deep as the core of the Earth and transcendent of the planetary depths as well, entwined with a celestial network of planetary and stellar bodies, the body of the universe itself and beyond… and yet this too, holographically, is itself a conceptual container for that which cannot be contained.
To get a bigger picture of love, you have to step outside of yourself. Just for a moment. I promise you won’t get lost.
You are not your body, nor your mind. You are not your thoughts, your feelings, nor your experiences. These are barometers by which you measure your journey through life, but they are not you. You can use them to define yourself, but at some point, you will invariably find that those self-definitions are pinching your toes. You outgrow them. If you stay with the idea that you are what you think, what you look like, what you sense, you eventually come to a (self-imposed) limitation. What’s the signal that you’ve reached that? Usually, it is pain, in some form or other. Embarrassment, malnourishment of the body or spirit, a broken heart left shattered by some sudden departure or realization, all these sorts of things point to having reached a limit of belief about who and what you are.
Stepping outside of that, you can more easily see where these walls and fences have been cobbled together over time. From there, you can begin to pry open rusted hinges and nails, bust down the sticks and stones that have served as barricades from the threat of pain that you were pretty sure was waiting just outside of the edge of your boundary-line of allowable experience. Once you start knocking these structures of belief down, you can start to feel a refreshing breeze blowing away the dust and debris. This is love.
Back to the idea of withholding love. Let’s agree that love is big and moving and alive and uncontainable. How can you hold all of that inside of you without at some point feeling like you’ll break? Hold your breath awhile and you have to release. Eat too much and you’ll have a bellyache. Think too much and you’ll have a headache. At some point, something’s gotta give. Trying to hold too much love is going to give you a signal and push you toward a potential release, like it or not. If the emotional aperture of your heart is calibrated to anger, hopelessness, jealousy, or whatever, the love that’s stored to bursting within is going to come whistling out at that tone. Every emotion you are capable of feeling is governed by the nature of the opening of your heart. A tiny opening with a great force behind it is going to pack a huge punch. What emotions make you feel most constricted? Those are the ones that will make the love that you’re releasing feel the way they do.
So love and pain are not so much two sides of the same coin, as some say. Pain results from control, constriction, congestion of the natural universal movement of being.
Only a wide-open heart can release love that encompasses every possible emotional formation you are capable of expressing through. In letting love flow through an open, unobstructed heart-space, you effectively erase every trace of pain (anger, hopelessness, jealousy, etc.) possible and simultaneously transmute it. You train your heart to find the pathway to love flowing freely.
Forgive the Walls and They Will Fall
While it seems a safe bet to keep your heart closed off from potential sources of pain, what eventually happens is that the walls start to encroach upon you. Remember, you are constantly growing as you experience life. You may be running into all kinds of pain-triggers all the time. Again, I am not speaking about pain coming from extremes of abuse from outside hands but from the situations that you have control over. The uncontrolled pain of being held in a psychopath’s grip is another level altogether. Here, I am speaking of the pain of regret, lost opportunities, unhappy relationships, the things you can control. Self-defeating habits and the like. Baby steps lead to great strides, but first the practice has to be mastered, however long it takes. Hint: Surrender to love has a surprising temporal effect. It can do in an instant what could otherwise take, well, a long time.
The fast track to letting love flow unimpeded is forgiveness. Not condoning, not suffering in silence, not allowing bad behavior to continue. Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the lock that keeps you bound to feeling love’s constriction as pain. Forgiveness knocks off all of the sharp edges that cut your heart and bleed you dry of caring. Forgiveness begins at home. That means, with you, yourself.
Forgive yourself for building the walls around your experience.
Forgive yourself for trying to hold in the love you had, for fear of losing love altogether.
Forgive yourself for not trusting that letting go will lead to being perpetually within the flow, fulfilled.
Without the walls, love will flow, fill, permeate, and transform everything. Including you.
Let Go and Know
“The love that you withhold is the pain that you carry.” If you don’t want to carry the pain, let go of trying to hold on to love. It is as uncontainable as the wind, as perpetual as a diamond, and more so. If you can only grasp an edge of it, feel it, and let it go. Know that it will have given you what it is you seek to understand, and lead you to new understandings. Feel the edge of love playing on your hand and let go of the need to hold on. Like this, pain slips away, leaving you free.
Let love flow and know you are its essence.
from Nine’s Path:
A Helpful Exercise in Letting Go
The examples of pain given in the article “Love and Pain” are very general, things we have all experienced at some point. Add to the list as you like. Here is an exercise in releasing the love you withhold, which you might find helpful:
- Identify the emotional response you “naturally” have to a trigger of pain.
- Draw the shape of the opening in your heart that this emotion flows through. For example, betrayal might look like a tiny circle with jagged teeth at the edges. Loneliness might look like a black hole. Let yourself draw a shape that best represents whatever emotion is associated with the thought or memory of pain.
- Hold your breath for a moment while you look at the shape and decide whether or not you’d like to keep it affixed to your heart-space.
- Exhale as you either accept that you would like to carry that pain a while longer, or not. If you would like to carry the pain longer, that’s the end of the exercise, for now.
- If, suddenly, it seems useless to keep carrying this shape within your heart, draw something new from the shape. Tendrils of vines, spirals of stars, flowers, hearts, free-flowing lines, let it emerge.
- In the center of the shape you originally drew, place some signifier of forgiveness. A crystal, a kiss. This is your gift to yourself, and deconstructs the mechanism that holds the shape in place.
- Take a deep breath and exhale. Acknowledge that you forgive yourself for trying to hold your love back. Feel it expand.
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