Have you ever been deeply, deeply hurt by another human being?
I’m not talking about someone, “hurting your feelings,” a phrase that we all use to describe occasional, usually minor, pain or unhappiness. I’m talking about a deep, horrible, traumatic pain that feels like you may never recover from it.
For example, finding out your lover is cheating on you and has been lying to you about it for some time. Or, perhaps, your partner suddenly leaving you without even affording you a chance to process it. Or realizing that the person you’re still madly in love with has fallen out of love with you.
There are really two elements there: the first is the pain that you’re going through; the second is a profound sense of betrayal, a feeling that your deepest trust has been violated. Of the two, the sense of betrayal can be much, much harder to recover from. The betrayal of trust can be world changing for us, in a very dark way.
It’s not at all unusual for people to withdraw from intimate connections with other humans after something like that. Younger people may declare a hiatus on dating and say that they only want to be, “friends,” for a while. Older people may pull into a thick, impenetrable shell and become totally socially isolated.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s our Deeper Self taking care of us. That’s our Inner Wisdom saying, “You’ve been badly wounded. You need to rest and cry and heal.”
There comes a time, though, when we may realize that we need to reconnect with the world. Getting back out there can be scary and intimidating. There are, after all, no guarantees that it won’t happen again. If we loved someone with all of our heart, if we trusted someone with all of our being, and they betrayed us, how do we know that our trust and love won’t be misplaced again? And if our judgement was so flawed, so . . . totally wrong . . . about the person we loved, how can we know that we won’t just make the same stupid mistakes with the next person?
We might find at least a partial solution in the Yogic doctrine of Ahimsa. Ahimsa is the idea of total, complete, harmlessness. It’s the idea that if we emanate a vibration of nothing but love, we can attract nothing but love. We literally CANNOT attract aggression because we HAVE no aggression.
The Strength card from the Tarot is a wonderful image of this. The woman in the card is gently closing the mouth of one of the most ferocious predators on the planet. She’s almost caressing the lion, rather than trying to overpower it or force it in any way. The lion is calm and peaceful because she’s living in the vibration of love and he’s responding on exactly the same vibration.
So what the fuck does that have to do with your lover ripping your heart out of your chest, stomping on it with hobnailed boots, and serving it to you on a Ritz cracker? You might ask . . .
Part of the answer lies in the quality of the love that’s involved in Ahimsa. Ahimsa involves absolute unconditional love. In other words, there are no strings attached. We’re not loving people because we expect to get something back. We’re just loving them. And that’s very unusual in our society. Most of what we call, “love,” involves a definite quid pro quo.
If you don’t believe that, try telling people who are just acquaintances that you love them. You’ll find that the usual reaction is something along the lines of, “Uh, huh . . . what do you want?” I mean, if you’re saying you love me, you must want something, right?
When I look back on my deepest emotional wounds, I have to admit that a large part of the pain was based on the idea that I hadn’t been treated fairly. I loved someone with everything I had and she walked away from that love and that JUST WASN’T RIGHT! In other words, I had strings attached to my love. Yes, I love you deeply THEREFORE you are supposed to love me back just as deeply and, if you don’t, you’ve betrayed my love.
All of that’s perfectly human. Most of us are not Ram Dass or Mother Theresa or Saint Francis and we don’t just walk around with huge amounts of unconditional love bubbling out of us. Most of us expect that if we make a deep emotional commitment to someone, it will be reciprocated. And it hurts like hell when it isn’t. Conditional love seems almost hard-wired into us and – if it isn’t – it’s sure as hell soft-wired with some big, thick cables.
The funny thing is, though, that unconditional love can be terrifically liberating. If we go into relationships with the idea of, “I don’t want ANYTHING from you,” it frees us from that whole expectation that we should be getting something back. It frees us from constantly worrying about whether we’re being treated fairly or if the relationship is equitable or if the other person loves us just as much as we love them.
And it frees us of the probability of being hurt again, which is what this post is all about.
Sticking our toes back in the relationship water can be scary as hell if we’ve been deeply, deeply hurt in the past. But if we can consciously remove that idea that we’re always supposed to get some sort of an emotional payoff from our relationships, if we can consciously stay in that state of openness and love WITHOUT WANTING ANYTHING BACK, we effectively remove the other person’s power to hurt us.
That’s a hard concept to grasp. I know it’s been hard for me, but it works.
Now, if all of that doesn’t work for you, if all of the reasons for unconditional love I just talked about don’t ring your chimes, then just think of it as a Magical Shield to protect you when you’re moving out into the relationship world again. The more you can keep your heart in unconditional love, the more likely you are to attract people who are in the same vibration.
Put another way, the more you can live in unconditional love, the less likely you are to attract shit-heads and narcissists.
You remember the Invisibility Cloak in Harry Potter? When he put it on, he could walk right past people without being seen. In the same sense, if you’re living in Ahimsa, if you’re keeping that no-strings-attached love in your heart, you can walk right past the shit-heads and THEY WON’T EVEN KNOW YOU’RE THERE because you’re wearing your Magical Anti Shit-Head Cloak.
“All you need is love,” – The Beatles.