In all our acts, in all our moments, at every instance, we express the single thought, “I want to be loved.” This expression comes packaged in a host of wrappers, ranging from snuggling up to one’s lover or holding an ancient hand, to shouting, fighting and even self-abuse.

When we don’t feel loved, we are lost−surely as lost as if we’d been blinded and set adrift. We see ourselves as unloveable, which is the most avid demonstration of our blindness. For such a quality is not, nor can it ever be true. But, in not receiving the cues to love, that is, not receiving the response we have personally set as representing love, we are willing to accept our unlovability, and thus, suffer needlessly. It is via the lack of honest, quiet communication, brought about by the illusion of appearing weak, that love escapes us. And weakness is just another debilitating expression of specialness. Especially weak or especially loved, neither bring us to truth−only into fog-inducing, self-indulgent pain.

To this point, a dear friend has recently had her son expelled from school for possessing illicit drugs. Naturally this is especially disturbing. In this set of conditions does she assume that she is losing her son. It is a natural assumption and one that exacts great fear. I know this fear, having approached it from the reciprocal angle.

For I was once, myself, “the expelled.” During my formative years, the primary male role model in my family, the closest and most available approximation of matured wisdom, passed away. I was already verging on uncontrollable. “Incorrigible” was the term employed by my high school principle as he sent me packing. But once my grandfather died and with my grandmother and mom seemingly at a total loss to deal with me, there stood nothing between me and whatever came next.

compassBeing in the state of formulating a personality while at the same time suffering an onslaught of major hormonal upwelling, I couldn’t even get a handle on whatever came next. Everything was (and, in hindsight, still is) a blur. I tried going the straight and narrow− “A” student, athletically focused, over-achiever, but it just wasn’t me. I was the sensitive, artistic type. So I gravitated toward the drama and music programs as football, debate team and political science drifted away. Unfortunately (if you believe in fortune) nobody in my immediate circle caught this and said, “Hey! Here’s a healthy as well as introspective outlet for your creative energies!” whatever that might have been. I certainly couldn’t see it. It’s hard to see that you’re building a trap when doing from the inside out.

Adding to this particular group of conditions was the fact that I was a smoker. I had to be. Everybody in my family smoked. And I do mean everybody. Mom, Dad, Step-Mom, Step-brother, Granddad, Grandmother; aunts, uncles, brothers, the neighbors, the friends; all subscribed to the age old adage, “Smoke ’em if ya’ got ’em!” So I got ’em and smoked ’em. Little did I know at the time that smoking was a path as well as a habit. No one on the debate team, chess club, science club or in athletics smoked. Therefore, I was forced, if I was to smoke, to hang out with the more edgy, less-constrained-by-society’s-strict-guidelines folks in the school smoking area.

Eventually I was to discover that many of these folks; creative, sensitive types, were not only edgy, but lived much closer to the edge−willing to entertain the idea of investigating other states of being beyond those of the average hormonally overburdened. They did drugs. So, to be accepted, to understand and be understood, to be what I mistakenly believed as being unconditionally loved, before long, I too did drugs. As often as possible, at every opportunity. This segment of my life appeared, at the time, brilliant with endless possibility. I was discovering and being vindicated as myself. My truths. My feelings. My “reality.” The rest was just a dull ache from which I numbed out as often as possible.

Of course, this drove an ever widening wedge between myself and my parents, these being primarily my mom and grandmother. If they didn’t understand me before, they certainly couldn’t understand me once the drugs kicked in. Though, with my mom’s addiction to Valium, had she been willing to approach her own demons, she might have been able to make the leap to offering something to the effect of, “Look at me. Look at my dependence. Is this the life you seek!?” But if she refused to look at it, how could she communicate that to me. Besides, by that time I was so numbed out and carefree that I skipped school everyday for up to six weeks before the principal finally walked out to the smoking area, my daily whereabouts, and offered me a ticket to expulsion.

Then I went wholly haywire. I won’t go into great detail, both for the reasons of intimate exposure as well as the space required to revel in it all. I’ll just say I pushed the envelope right up to the point of ultimatum. I was given the choice of being chained to the psyche ward of the local hospital or talking to a psychiatrist. You can guess which lessor of two weevils I selected.

The counselor did indeed hone my roughest edges. He saw my sensitivities, my creative spark, and channeled those energies. Yet, he never stopped me from doing drugs, essentially because he was a user himself, rendering him unable to talk that talk, much less manage the walk. How ’bout them apples? But he did save me from eminent implosion. I suppose his prescription was “better that we entertain a little wiggle room as opposed to resigning to utter pandemonium.”

It helped. Eventually I went back to school and worked toward my GED which represents the extent of my formal education. Everything else gained from then on was via haphazard, self-induced education or the school of hard knocks. And I look back in amazement to note just how many knocks it takes to graduate that school. My advice is don’t go there.

But you will. Everybody does. But why?

Lost. I was lost. Everybody here is lost. Yes, I know there are certain parties who will read that last statement claiming exception. Good for you. Share the wealth. For the rest of us, though, we seek a love that so captivates that we would wonder through fire and flame, through hell essentially, to get at it. After all, here we are.

And here’s the irony. It’s always here. This all-encompassing, deeply held love is always, always, always right in front of us. When, however, our imagined picture of it, our strange and personal configuration that we cling to as the ultimate expression of love fails to meet that which actually stands before us, rather than looking deeper, we generally turn, running so far afield of this true love that we end up forgetting what we were looking for in the first place. Lost.

Lest we forget, angels abound−this lost thing is not even close to being a forever thing. The hand of God, Holy Spirit, rests ever underneaths us. But we too often choose to overlook this. Instead we get caught in all of the angst and confusion which is exactly what ego would have us do. We get bogged down in the reprimands and admonitions of others, in self-blame, and in getting so numbed out that we can’t even hear anymore. I can say this. I willingly remained in a drug-induced fog for almost twenty years, coming up only occasionally to wonder what it felt like not to me smeared. Yet, this usually entailed me remembering the misbegotten reasons for my addictions which led me right back into the murk.

That is until my son was born. Here was drawn the line in the sand. Here was I no longer looking for love. Here was I expected to give love. Bear with me. I know better than to use the terms “expected” and “love” in the same phrasing. But that’s what I know now. Not what I misunderstood then.

My son’s birth was the ultimate crack in my pain-hardened shell. Someone suddenly needed me more than anything I could ever need for myself. I became a willing participant in something greater than myself. Granted, I could have chosen to remain rigidly self-indulgent. But then all I would be doing is clinging to my pain and injecting that pain into the relationship with my son. This is the line I do not wittingly cross.

And now, of course, I get to do it all over again. But this time from another vantage point. My son will soon be thirteen and what do you think will happen? Yeah, its written in the stars. But I know now what power moves stars. Even if he rejects it, which, if ego is involved, and we all know ego is, he may go there, my son will, whatever comes, know he is loved.

Uh oh! Am I a saying that my dear friend doesn’t deeply and honestly love her expelled son or strive diligently to express this love? Though it certainly sounds that way, absolutely not. We all do, in the given moment, all that we can do−all that we know to do. And, taking it up a notch, if we stop a moment, relinquishing our preconceptions and reach for an even greater knowing, participating in something so very much greater than ourselves, we brush up against answers we may not have before envisioned.

In so long as we do not become steeped in the fear endemic to the appearance of potential loss, which is guaranteed to drive a wedge between all things, we have, then, the option to love even more deeply. It is so vast a love that leads to mutual understanding. To forgiveness. And such a love as this cannot long be overlooked, despite the filters employed by the unwitting. The truth is that they are witting. They are willing. They want this love. They seek this love. They are this love. They just, at the moment, for one seemingly unending instant, refuse to see it where it is. Right up front.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all will be added unto you,” means look first to true love. Nothing else, then, is required.

~ by a.b.johnson on 11/10/2009.

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