“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”~ Buddha
Last week I watched a documentary called, May I Be Frank? It is about a man named Frank Ferrante, who at 54 found himself battling numerous illnesses (Hep C, obesity, depression). In passing he told a young man he was chatting with at a restaurant called Cafe Gratitude (what a great name!) that he was pretty miserable, and the young man asked him, “If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be?” Frank responded, “I’d like to get my health back and I’d like to fall in love again.” That young man — and two others working at Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco — got the idea of helping Mr. Ferrante do just that. They decided to not only help him, but to document/film what occurred. Frank was put on a strict, raw vegan diet, examined by (and monitored by) a holistic physician, and required to check in with the three young men assisting him on a daily basis. In 42 days, Ferrante goes through the wringer emotionally and psychologically and physically. He loses 40 pounds. Along the way he confronts much of what he’s been keeping at bay: the carnage from his drug problems, the breakup of his marriage, his estrangement from his children — particularly his daughter. He goes on a spiritual journey. As the pounds melt away, so do his defenses against the emotional baggage he’s been hauling around for decades. In the end, he is transformed. [Over the following eighteen months, he lost another 100+ pounds, and he completely changed his relationship with his ex-wife and his kids.]
At the start of the process he claimed he wanted to “fall in love” again. In the end, he admitted that he didn’t realize that, “the person I would fall in love with would be me.”
Falling In Love Again
“Something inside you emerges….an innate, indwelling peace, stillness, aliveness. It is the unconditioned, who you are in your essence. It is what you had been looking for in the love object. It is yourself.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
So, Frank’s journey got me thinking. A lot.
Sometimes I feel terribly alone. And sometimes that is not so great.
I tend to be a solitary person by nature, but I admit that during the two years that I actually had a spiritual sidekick (my ex boyfriend) life was better in a myriad of ways. Mostly it felt good to know that someone had my back. That someone thought of me during the day and wanted me to know that I’d crossed his mind, made him smile, or reminded him of something good. I liked having someone to snuggle up to and someone to whom I could recount the events of my day. I also enjoyed stupid, trivial things – like having his photo on desk at work or playing word games with him in the car.
I guess when we broke up I thought I would mend more quickly than I have. I guess I thought that I would bind up that wound and move on, but I didn’t. Instead, I got afraid. I got afraid of loving someone that much and then losing that person. I got terrified that if I opened the door to that kind of love again, I would only end up devastated.
Shutting the door on life isn’t the answer.
As a result, I shut down. I let my life mummify. I built a nice little nest of dogs and cats and friends and writing and teaching — and I imagined that I would eventually either move on, or decide that life was just fine as it was. And for the most part, it is. My life is astonishingly good. I just daydream that what would be doubly amazing is to have the opportunity to share that with some other like-minded soul.
And it would. But I also realize that I must become the person I want to meet. Otherwise, I will attract another man who is, on the surface, ready to meet someone like me, but who is, in fact, not ready at all.
Must We Learn Everything the Hard Way?
“The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.” ~ Sonya Friedman
My last boyfriend was not any more ready to love me, than I was to love myself. (By the way, he’s a wonderful human being. I wish him well. He taught me so much about the raw marrow of my life that I seriously bow to him in profound gratitude. I just wish I didn’t have to learn everything through the slash and burn harshness that it apparently takes to get through to me.)
“Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi
So, I learned from my ex that we cannot solicit what we do not possess. The world simply mirrors our own life condition. When we change, the reflection changes. It is incredibly simple and incredibly profound at the same time. Such a tough lesson to learn, but one I am finally willing to tackle. Self love. It’s the foundation of everything. How can we ever step up and manifest anything else, if we do not even feel worthy of our own love and affection?
As I watched May I Be Frank? I watched my own life. I saw all the ways in which I am my own worst enemy. I saw my abuse toward myself. And I saw that I could change everything quickly. It wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but I could do it.
All it takes is a moment of grace. All it takes is a willingness to be gentle and kind and compassionate with the wounded child I harbor. I do love her, but I don’t need to bury her in sweets or hide her inside a fortress of flesh. I am strong enough to risk deep love.
Starting with the woman I see in the mirror every day. Yeah, her.
Time to fall in love with her.
© 2013 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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