On Love, Sweet Love: What’s Up With Commitment—and Endings—in Our Lives These Days

On Modern Love ~ Life Coaching with Teresa Young

On that most maddening of subjects that I’ll call for the moment love and relationship, it feels right to begin with a small poem. But it’s not your gramma’s “Roses are red” kind.

I Knew a Good Man, Darling

I knew
a good man
who couldn’t
relish spring
and the sweetness
blooming
in his garden.

Relax, my
love, enjoy,
I teased,
laughed, whispered,
pleaded.
Shouted.

Then
I realized
a piece
was
missing,
a promise:

I am yours
and will
never leave you,
darling.

Or, sweeter:

I’ll only go
if you
want me
to,
and
if you
want to go,
I’ll say,
          ‘go,
               darling.’

Teresa Young

Love is a helluva drug

Because the dance of love and relationship really is like nothing else. Love really is a helluva drug. There’s nothing more mysterious than love.  Nothing more maddening. Nothing that’s ultimately more of a secret.

Yes, I’ve been feeling for years that every love relationship is a secret. No one outside any two-person tango can truly know the nuances of how the partners move together. No one really knows the relationship’s inner climate, including its inevitable dark patches and desert places. Whether or not it’s ultimately a place of mutual growth, of rest, of self-expression. Of comfort and delight. All that we hunger for and deserve. Though of course there are also certain toxic non-matches that become obvious to everyone.

But does a relatively constructive committed love relationship really have to be all the good stuff above? Or is commitment itself, that willingness, more important than partners being all things to each other? Indeed, is being “everything” to one soul even possible, or healthy?

You could also say that romantic love, relationship, and commitment are all separate topics. Though in modern western culture, where we’re so free to choose commitment and to change our hearts and minds, I say that successful, long-term, committed love is a rich, ever fascinating focus and goal. And note that I skipped the word marriage. Why leave any committed love relationships out?

 

Is being “everything” to one soul
even possible, or healthy?

That which ends also matters

Yes, let’s go there, to the fact that in the realm of love and relationship, many, many well-intentioned commitments end. There’s a normality to it all these days, though the stats aren’t actually as awful as the 50% divorce rate we’ve been hearing about for the past few decades. That’s partly because GenXers are staying together longer so far than boomers did, and millennials are proceeding with caution.

But we’re exploring so much in relationship these days, including or especially ourselves. Exploring our own growth. Along the way, committed relationships, for all their beautiful beginnings, do often end. And yes, I say those endings matter. They matter a great deal.

As daunting as this may sound in any given situation, I also say that it’s important that they’re done well, with respect for all parties. With kindness and gentleness, honoring both what was and what is. It’s possible. The truth really does set us free.

Of course, even aided by gentleness, endings burn like hell. The pain burns cleanest when we’re as kind to one another as possible in the process. It helps us heal. And heal we do.

Because life is long, and we want—we are determined—to love and be loved well. The truth is, our expectations are often astronomical! And just like every other form of freedom in our 21st century lives, we’re as free in the realm of love as we believe ourselves to be. Free to pursue what we want most.

 

It’s important that endings
are done well,
with respect
to all parties. It’s possible.

The how of it all matters

In the midst of our perhaps dizzying power of choice these days, I’m profoundly interested in how we care for one another and ourselves along the way. What’s more, I believe it’s one of our most important—most sacred—opportunities.

So I say this: If you’re in the throes of something immense in the realm of love, take your time. Get and stay attuned to what’s truly healthy for you and others. And proceed gently, oh, so gently, with everyone, including yourself.

Take the long view, with the goal of being satisfied with your approach when you look back on the present four or five years from now. Really. Sit with that a bit. Slow your roll while you reflect as deeply as possible. You can do it.

I often refer folks to the movie It’s Complicated with Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep. It’s a comedy, but there’s so much truth in it. What I love is that throughout the plot’s twists and turns, with all that’s ultimately to be and not to be, the emotional tone is gentle, gentle, gentle.

In such profound matters of the heart, I say we should aspire to the same these days. It’s time for that level of evolution for us as a species with so much freedom to do love and relationship however we choose.

Support matters

And very importantly, do call on the resources you need. Include some relationship coaching or therapy, even or especially for endings, along with your own individual coaching or therapy, and expert support for young ones.

Search for low-cost options if you need them. You and yours deserve any and all assistance at life-changing junctures, toward proceeding in healthy ways and minimizing trauma all around. One important point is to ensure that you don’t repeat painful lessons later because you jumped from relationship to relationship without actually learned whatever was to be learned.

Bottom line, regarding the sweet, maddening drug of love, challenge yourself. Make your best self lead. Then take comfort in your good work here on the wild, wonderful journey of 21st century life, with our immense freedom to make of it whatever we want most.

Teresa Young

 

In Moments of Darkness, Stay On Your Path. Just Keep Walking, in Compassion. You’ll Generate Light.

In Darkness, Stay On Your Path - Life Coaching with Teresa Young

I first wrote about darkness after the November 2015 Paris attacks. Then I updated it in November 2018 after the tragedy just down the road in Thousand Oaks, California, and again after the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shootings.

Horror can sap our strength

When we’re confronted with dark events, dark forces, even horrific experiences and images, it’s natural to be blindsided. We don’t ever quite grow numb to it. And it’s easy to fixate. To lose focus. To lose energy and heart.

We can lose the vision of our way forward. We can lose the energy for anything. Our peace of mind, even our beliefs, shattered. Again.

Challenge and the way forward

In times of terrible trial, consider that your shattered focus is help that you don’t have to wait for. This challenge to your battered heart is the way forward. As one world leader said during a dark time in the 20th Century:

 

If you’re going through hell, keep going.
— Sir Winston Churchill

 

This guidance is right on in the fires of fear, pain, and the loss of simple human happiness. Loss of confidence in the next day or week or season for ourselves and our fellow humans.

In fact, to counteract darkness, double down on what matters most to you. Despite everything. Stay focused. Or re-focus. Or begin to focus, on your highest priorities. Live your values. What you find most meaningful and beautiful.

Walk. Your. Path.

It’s a discipline. Maybe the ultimate discipline. Maybe challenging enough that you can’t fixate on what would further sap your body, mind, and spirit.

Another great wisdom-keeper said it this way:

 

Do not let the behavior of another
destroy your inner peace.

— the Dalai Lama

 

Be as informed and present as you feel is sustainable for you. Be active in creating change in ways that speak to you. Send your empathy and care telepathically to victims and their families. To anyone struggling for life.

Donate money and other resources. Express yourself in whatever ways feel right. And try to generate peace rather than yet more conflict. Practice compassion, including self-compassion, and real self-care.

In other words, put on your own oxygen mask now, right now, as one way of counteracting understandable emotional paralysis in the face of darkness. And keep moving forward on your goals in the ways that matter to you today, one foot in front of the other. And pace yourself in the process. There’s time for all things.

In fact, take time to meditate, rest, and consciously take part in whatever helps to calm your spirit. Then you’re helping to generate the light that humanity needs at such dark moments. Plus you’re modeling that good work.

Proceed.

Do your work. Walk your path. And reach out for the support you need. In short, proceed, dear ones. Proceed.

 

Reflecting on Grief, That Age-Old Walk Through Dark Woods in Strange Country

Reflecting on Grief - Life Coaching with Teresa Young

I’m reflecting on a setback I’m having right… now. And after a good day yesterday! A phone session with an inspiring new client, a great meeting with my own coach, lessons with two super-fun students, a hug from their sweet mom. Poker Night with two of my sons and their ladies. Then, boom. Grief storm. I cried off and on all night.

And yet I also know everything is OK. It’s just a natural expression of the yin and yang of all things, including grieving.

Everything really is OK

So now I’m writing my way through this particular neck of dark woods while listening to Pandora’s “Rain Radio.” I played it for my mom all night right before she died. Now it’s one way of keeping her near me.

And I’m feeling the inner roller coaster ride of these two months since her death. I’m seeking guidance, too, as always. But in new ways. And I’m connecting with her, or at least trying to. Hoping I’m succeeding. Not sure yet.

But just after I got back to L.A., I had a beautiful dream of her striding out of the rubble of a fallen building like an action-adventure star, young and strong, with flaming red hair, in a bronze raincoat. And a dream of getting out of bed early one morning to sit in lotus pose to meditate.

I’m in the mood to consider that one almost an out-of-body experience. It felt so real. Talk about guidance. I’m workin’ on it.

Strange new country

The bottom line is that grief has me hovering at the cusp of a dark place. Falling in at moments. Or for hours. Climbing out.

And again, it’s OK. My mother’s life and the beauty and complexity of our relationship are worth this heartbreak. It makes perfect sense to both my logical mind and my deep feeling function.

In fact, I’ve given myself permission to check in and out of “ordinary reality” as needed. Because the truth is that I’m in explorer mode as always, too, intent on learning whatever I can of the human experience while on this new leg of my own life journey.

Learning and changing

So far, I’ve learned that I go from intense need for solitude, for unstructured time, free of productivity concerns, to intense need for human contact. But of a kind that can be with me right here, where I was last night and am in this moment, grappling with death’s hand in the human condition, up close and personal. With the fact that my mother’s death is changing me—my priorities, my obsessions—in profound ways that I can’t predict yet, much less express.

I’ve never been here before. And I can’t see through to the other side of this stretch of unknown territory.

Nothing to fear here

I’m not afraid, though. I trust this process. I guess it’s the explorer in me. And I realize how stable my life had become these past few years. Stable in ways I didn’t know I could lose through feeling so searingly painfully the loss of another.

I didn’t know that what may have in fact become a phase of stasis gives way, in the face of the tipping of some great hourglass, to… what? So far, I don’t know. At least I don’t have words for it.

And yet, again, I know everything is OK. I know all this feeling is healthy and right. Not to be dreaded. Swallowed. Papered over. Made pretty. That in fact doing so would be the makings of future trouble.

It’s time to take time

Grief will have its space, time, and impact, whether honored and given its due, or driven down into the unconscious if we try to avoid the mess. Or if well-meaning others succeed in advising or expecting us to close that door and “move on.”

After all, you can’t cram for and knock grief out, like prepping for a meeting or taking the written test at the DMV. I have a new phrase for the present, at least new for me: soul time, in which “linear” time is no longer the end-all, be-all.

In fact, I’m thinking a lot about the soul these days. This is one of those times when it just demands what it wants and needs, what it knows is the work at hand. Work that may inform our futures. Our creative and contributory destinies.

It is what it is, for now

And again, I trust all that. I honor it. It’s one way of honoring my beautiful mother. Of honoring these precious lives we’re all gifted with, both our own and those dearest to us.

Because, in truth, I’m still on my path, and growing in my capacity to be with folks in their own seasons of grief. I’m still creatively engaged, feeling my way. So far, that’s what I need. That’s all I know. And it’s enough for me.

 

Dare to Change Those Hand-Me-Down Beliefs for New Possibilities

Dare to Create What You Want - Life Coaching with Teresa Young

What do you believe, anyway? About life? About love? And work? How about money? And kickass contribution to life? And how about growth past midlife? These are in fact the questions, right? I’m here to tell you that you can dare to examine—and then change—your beliefs as one part of your approach to accomplishing your goals.

Yes, as a life coach who cares, I know this truth can truly change your life. Because consciousness of your beliefs, of what drives you, and stops you, is in fact an incredibly powerful creative act! You can dare to examine your beliefs. Question them. And make choices that change your life.

Clean out the closet

One big test of any belief is whether it’s fear-based, or focused on growth. Like believing that “love always fades to quiet boredom.” Maybe it’s been your experience so far, or you’ve seen it play out in the lives of others. Or you’ve heard that in long-held family knitting-circles or good ol’ boy logic.

 

Dare to examine your beliefs
as one part of your approach
to accomplishing your goals.

 

But does any of that stuff that’s been piling up challenge you to keep risking for the juice you want in relationship? Or does it just let you off the hook, ready to justify your own lack of heart due to, well, fear of heartache?

Most importantly, are you really free to choose? Consider that any reason why not is another belief, rather than some universal truth. One actual truth is that we’re living in an amazing era. You and I are in fact free to choose our beliefs if we’re ready to do this important inner work. And make no mistake about the fact that it’s work that will catapult us forward in the ways that matter most to us.

Now dare to change those old beliefs. Go forth bravely casting off the hand-me-downs that no longer suit beautiful you! And reach out for expert support. After all, you deserve the life you want most.

Teresa Young