Ok to Play?

Hey Soulmate,

Do you ever have moments when you feel like a kid playing an undercover adult? I seem to have them more and more often. I got into my little Smart cartoon of a car the other day and felt giddy. I get to drive?! By myself anywhere I want?!

It feels like the high of an innocent child except what makes me high has shifted from My Little Pony or hot guys at the mall to unscheduled time and the fleeting awareness that I can choose how to experience every moment.

When I’m having a moment like this I feel awe and wonder and there is this sweet little part inside with slightly hunched shoulders and scrunched up eyebrows that seems to be unsure whether it is really ok. She seems to be anticipating a blow. Is it really safe and ok to play? 

For many years play was only ok when it was earned. Somewhere along the way this sweet innocence got her ass kicked by a waspy definition/misunderstanding of “being good.” Like any abused child, she has been reticent to trust me. But lately, she is starting to. Like right now I am all by myself with other “adults” on an airplane! What?! With the Internet?! Magic.

Xo Me

Ok to Play?

Cuddling with Not Knowing

Hey Soulmate,

I saw a movie called ‘Chappie’ the other day and I found myself sobbing uncontrollably for about 30 seconds during a few scenes that were definitely not sob worthy. It was confusing. It was one of those scenes where a totally innocent, adult sized robot has just become sentient and is essentially a newborn child absorbing his new world. He was skittish, frightened, curious, open, and a complete sponge. Immediately, the people (who happened to be thugs) start projecting their own desires onto him and assaulting him with their shitty conditioning. It was devastating. It was the perfect summary of the human experience. We are born into a family with a lineage of conditioning and based on that conditioning, our parents are doing the best they can with the tools they have been given. The cycle is so clear. As I sobbed I felt equal parts devastated by the world and unconditional love for it. We are all little robots absorbing the world around us and doing the best we can to survive; part animal, part consciousness.

I realized a few hours later this sobbing was unveiling yet another layer of this seemingly endless existential inquiry. There is a part of me that refuses to accept reality. I don’t want to believe that suffering and pain are a natural part of life. This part of me feels a great weight to fix/change/save the world because I was born into a safe, loving, privileged home. “With great power comes great responsibility” and “to whom much is given, much is expected” are the sayings that this part holds true. If I follow the logic of this belief I am essentially born guilty and must earn my goodness by doing everything I can to right the injustice of the world; the brutal unfairness that is everywhere. Sound familiar? Born sinful? Good works getting you into heaven? I swear I was never raised religious but this waspy lineage runs deep. But here is something I don’t get Soulmate, if the point of Christ’s epic sacrifice was to absolve us of our sin then why do we still consider ourselves innately unworthy? It doesn’t make sense.

This part of my ego is furious with the overall design of this place. WTF?! How can suburban comfort exist in the same world as ISIS? How dare I seek my own happiness when there is such pain in the world? And yet if I am gifted with a loving life how dare I not enjoy every moment of it?  If I let go of this layer and believe the world just IS and the mystery of “why” is beyond the answering of the human mind I feel equal parts selfish, guilty, and relieved. The truth is I am not in charge. Even if I was the most powerful person in the world I could not alleviate all the suffering in the world. The chaos or divine structure within which I play my part is made up of dimensions we are only beginning to discover. When I follow this belief to its’ origin I find it leads to the unknown and there is nothing more horrifying to the human ego that not knowing.

I observe the mind cycle like this:

Experience of Not Knowing -> Experience of Fear & Helplessness -> Panic -> Stress -> Refusal to accept not knowing -> Pretend to know or hypothesize -> Hustle to prove the thought -> Manifest proof or Pretend to prove thought -> Fight to defend thought and Pretend Knowing -> Have thought destroyed by life somehow and return to the origin of not knowing OR dig in heels and defend thought till death.
The truth I am discovering is that I don’t know why the world is the way it is and why we are born into the lives we are born into and what we are here for. So instead of moving into the panic of not knowing I am going to try to sit in it, cuddle with it, let it be, and surrender to it. I find that when I do that with anything it tends to reveal something. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Love, Bristol

Cuddling with Not Knowing

I Am Single Because…

Hey Soulmate,

Isn’t it wild how we tell ourselves stories that aren’t true ALL the time? An anthropologist friend just called it “constructing meaning.” I feel like the ego thinks its’ full time job is to write our lives into after-school specials for Lifetime. I find this especially true when it comes to the stories women (and their friends and their Mothers) tell themselves about being single. What is even more sad-funny is that newly spiritual women (ahem, yours truly) can come up with even more nuanced and often contradictory stories like…

I am single because…

  1. I am special.

I am sooooo special and whomever is meant to match me must be equal in their specialness, thus, they are rare but oh so worth the wait.

  1. I am not special enough.

There must be something wrong with me. It has been forever. I am too picky, want too much, am too intense, too transparent, etc.

  1. I am on a serious mission (to save the world) and men are just a distraction.

Who needs a man? I have very important work here to do. Maybe when the job is done…

  1. Men are emotionally retarded (I apologize for the use of this word but it is appropriately word-knifey for this limiting belief)

Men are wholly unaware of themselves, can’t articulate their thoughts or feelings, and are only interested in preserving their ego, playing video games, and being admired by young women who don’t challenge them.

  1. I like being alone.

It is too late. I sleep splayed out in an X that covers the entire bed. I am a blast, have an incredible crew, and can always have younger lovers.

  1. I need to heal.

If I haven’t met my soulmate yet then it must mean I have some unresolved issue to heal. It is my karma or spiritual curriculum or whatever. Once I heal “x” then he will appear.

  1. I need to lose weight, dress sluttier, drink more or less, and do “Calling in The One”, etc.

If I “do” one more thing then it will happen.

  1. First, I need to be in a healthy relationship with myself.

Am I taking care of myself? Loving myself? Oh, “not enough”, well that’s why he isn’t here yet.

  1. God has abandoned me.

I have been single for so long I am clearly being punished by God for something I did in this lifetime or another.

  1. I need to heal the collective feminine and masculine.

Jeez. (See #3)
When I bought into these stories as truth it was torture. Each story served as a belief prison of my own construction that caused serious suffering. Now I can look at this list with wincing amusement. The truth “I am single” is just a neutral fact. No story necessary. Instead of just feeling lonely, when I felt lonely, I made up a story about it and spent days or weeks or even years spinning a tale that gave my mind a chew toy.

Loneliness is just energy if we don’t tell a story about it. Easier said than done I know. Who the F knows why we remain single? To imagine that God is some “bubbe” (Jewish Grandmother) in the sky waiting till just the right moment to initiate the perfect Tinder moment or dinner party intro, is hilarious. Another story that feels really true is that this loneliness has served me. It has led me to get to know the inner recesses of my mind and heart and body in a way that I could have never imagined. My loneliness guided me home to myself. Is it true? Maybe, maybe not. Does it matter? No.

I Am Single Because…

Hot Tub of Heroin

Hey Soulmate,

I feel like a giggling kid high on laughing gas. I have an awkward smile on my face and my eyes are pointed sideways and upward like, “Can you see it? Can you feel it?” I think this is bliss. The thing that, somewhat abused but totally true, Joseph Campbell quote is going on about. It is soft and subtle and full. I wish I could put it in a syringe and shoot you up with it. Imagine yourself as a baby just floating in a sea of gooey placenta, no wait, a warm hot tub of heroin. Whatever, just imagine yourself in a state of complete surrender, no wanting or needing or thinking. Pure being. As babies in utero we don’t even have to think of eating or going to the bathroom. It’s all handled. An unknown science-magic has got this. It is kind of like that. The ego doesn’t disappear, it just kind of goes on mute. Road rage can still flare up but it only lasts a second and then everything returns to this feeling of floating. It is kind of hilarious and goes like this:

  • Blissful floaty feeling
  • Thought bubble: “Shouldn’t I be doing something?”
  • Answer: “Sure or Not. Both are the same.”
  • Confused, neutral, shrug
  • Blissful floaty feeling
  • Thought bubble: “Is this going to last forever?”
  • Answer: “Maybe. Probably not. Does it matter?”
  • Baffled eyebrow shrug
  • Blissful floaty feeling

I feel like I am learning to swim again. I am learning to swim in a world that isn’t broken and my responsibility to fix. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, I do. It just means my ego doesn’t have to invent a life where it will “save the day.” I am learning to swim without ambition to prove my worth. I am learning to swim from an alternative energy source. I can’t explain it really but I know that this feels awesome! I want to give you some (but I don’t have to, you already have it!) I recognize the insane luxury of these thoughts. I can’t make sense of “why” but it doesn’t matter. I would love to share this high with you but I don’t need you, or anyone, or anything, to experience it. It just is. I thought all these new age people were lame and nuts but I’m telling you there is something to this stuff. Judging self-love is the ego’s way of keeping you its’ slave.

Ps. I watch a lot of movies. It was kind of my church growing up. We made a game of checking the movie times and racing to the theater to see if we could make it just in time. So just in case you aren’t a movie person I’ve compiled a handy list for you. The ones at the bottom are pretty obvious and I have starred the ones that would be fun to watch together. x

Flight of the Navigator

Legend

The Mosquito Coast

Dune*

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Amandla! Revolution in Four Part Harmony

Memento

Dr. Strangelove*

Being There*

Pi*

Y Tu Mama Tambien

Street Fight

Force Majeure*

Point & Shoot*

12 Angry Men

Network

War Games

Last of the Mohicans

Shakespeare in Love*

Goonies

Terminator 2

Little Mermaid

Finding Nemo

Toy Story

Hot Tub of Heroin

I’m Sorry

Hey Soulmate,

I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I have probably met you a few hundred times and just wasn’t ready to see you yet. I confess I likely judged the shit out of you. My bad. It wasn’t always conscious. I felt “nice” and “open” and you would have felt that too but underneath there was something else. A few years ago during my first few months studying Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica I stood up in front of 250 people and sheepishly said, “People are crying and feeling all these emotions and talking about their unworthiness and I feel the exact opposite. Well, I kind of feel better than…everybody.” (Insert Teeth gritting emoji) My teachers, in their infinite and loving wisdom, smiled knowingly, “‘Better than’ is just a protection, it is the other side of the same unworthiness coin.” Of course I felt disconnected and lonely, I was actively separating myself from everyone. Here I thought I was super skilled because I could choose to feel my feelings or not feel them. I now know this is called “spiritual bypass”. It works great in the film business where everyone is superior and no one takes time to feel anything (except in the movie theater, oh, the irony). I was productive and in business productivity is next to godliness. And then 7-10 years in people start burning out, getting depressed, and having existential crisis that show up as fatigue syndromes.  So I now know that whenever I feel unworthy or insecure I immediately overcompensate by judging others and making them less than or wrong. I see how it is just my ego’s Pavlovian response to preserve the myth of itself.

So, I apologize. My expectations have been titanic and mostly unfair. I haven’t taken responsibility for it until now. I have been looking for a soulmate to meet what felt like a bottomless longing. I set a trap for you. My theory is that this deep longing/needing/desire comes from the binary nature of the ego (this or that, black or white). Beyond duality, in my soul or whatever you want to call it, I am everything. In duality, I become the battle between good and evil tethered by the aching memory of being one with the universe. Soulmate, you can’t be the universe. Well, you can’t be my universe. No person or thing can ever satisfy the dual mind, at least not for long. Phew. Are you relieved? I know I am.

I apologize that I have blamed you for the current state of the world; ie. patriarchy and the biological underpinnings that often make communication and emotional expression a challenge for your gender. I see how hungry you are to be understood. I also see how counterproductive blame is. I am sorry I was too afraid to get vulnerable and tell you the truth of what I wanted or what I thought. I am sorry I played accomplice in propping up ridiculous male archetypes (See Force Majeure & Channing Tatum). I am sorry that in my fear and longing I chose pseudo overconfidence and righteousness instead of truth. What I meant to say was…

  • I love learning about you. I can ask you questions all night. Please feel free to ask me questions on a first date or in general. Curiosity is my favorite trait. When you talk non-stop about yourself I feel frustrated and confused and judge you as a narcissist.
  • I should have told you from the very beginning what felt good to my body. How could you have known? Our entire bodies are erogenous zones and when you go straight for the genitals I find myself trying to perform being turned on instead of actually being turned on. Foreplay isn’t optional (unless discussed ahead of time and preceded by naughty conversation or texts). Oh, and please never say, “flick the bean,” the clitoris deserves your utmost respect.
  • You’re vulnerability sometimes scares the shit out of me but please keep it coming no matter what. It is the greatest gift you can give to yourself, me, or anyone.
  • Opening doors, walking on the right, and paying for first dates is always optional but please know these acts make me feel soft and taken care of and deeply grateful to both you and your parents.
  • I love when you take charge and plan things from time to time. I have a tendency to take control so any opportunity to surrender and rest in my feminine is such a refreshing and sigh-worthy experience.
  • I can feel how sensitive you are and I know sometimes I can trigger you. I will do my best to get clear on what is going on inside of me. Are you willing to do the same? I’m here to support you.
  • Are you willing to hold for all of me? Being emotional doesn’t always have to be work. Let’s play with it! Ham up a whacky king to my cold blooded queen.

I’m sorry for all the mixed signals. Tie me up! Don’t tie me up! Gag me, but lovingly. The truth is I am just figuring out what I want. I’ve never really be honest enough with myself or valued myself enough to really inquire within. I think I was waiting for your permission. I’ve been inside the matrix of conditioning for 34 years and I am just starting to find my way out. I hope you can be patient with me.

Love, Me

I’m Sorry

This Isn’t About You

Hey Soulmate,

I feel soooo much better. Thanks for letting me have my little ragey, righteous rants last week (not that you had much choice). Immediately after I pressed “upload” my adrenaline started pumping and my rigid, aching, pseudo-confidence transformed into self-loathing. “Really? You need to have your little tantrum on the intgoslingernet? You are such a navel gazing, white privileged, whiny princess. No one cares! No one wants to hear your rage or your righteousness. Shut the fuck up!” I watched my inner General (we go way back) attack my Righteous Terrorist and observed how that created a perfect cycle of mind violence. I observed how some friends grimaced and tiptoed around me, a few men offered to “help/fix”, and mostly I received righteousness right back. Righteousness beget righteousness. Inside my own mind or out in the world, righteousness turns people into screaming, blindfolded babies headbutting each other. I recognized the point where I had to choose between being right and being free.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 11.51.41 AM
Art by Susan Mrosek

But there was one friend who just checked in, without an agenda, and lovingly asked what I needed. She smiled at my Terrorist and my General and thanked me for being so honest. She acknowledged my emotional state as valid and loved me anyway. I surrendered immediately. I felt the pain under all of it. The pain of rejection and confusion around how to relate to men and the masculine parts of myself. We both laughed at how funny and entertaining our egos can get, master storytellers that they are. She didn’t try to positive psychologize me back into the light nor buy into the story I was telling. She just allowed all of me. She showed me how do it for myself. Soulmate, this is it! Sorry to get all new agey on you but the more I learn about freedom the more I know it has something to do with the radical acceptance of all the parts of ourselves, especially the nasty parts we have tried to abandon. Underneath any mask is a fleshy, vulnerable kid playing tough in floppy sleeved fatigues. What a relief it is to become more whole.

I had a moment the other day when I was genuinely grateful I hadn’t met you yet. I have had this thought before but this time it was visceral. I felt a rush of heat and tendrils of electricity move through my body as tears began streaming down my face. In that moment, I knew that there was no such thing as being alone. It was almost a laughable concept. Loneliness, that pain in the ass itch that lay beneath almost every thought and feeling I have had in the past has always been guiding me here, to moments like these when I can experience the truth. I am ALL of it and soulmates are everywhere. I mean, swipe right if you see me, but I know this isn’t really about you.

I have splisten-to-your-heart-or-mindent the last six years on a pilgrimage from my head into my heart. The distance often feels further than it appears. My 20s were spent in deep worship of the mind. Emotions were for lazy, selfish people who just didn’t know. I knew. I knew the world was broken and it was my job to fix it. I knew that hard work was the essence of being “good” and the only path to freedom. I was on fire and the world showered me with validation. It was beautiful for awhile. “Purpose” is it’s own drug. But there came a time when the marriage I made between my worth and my work started eating me alive. The energy and ambition that fueled me started to disappear and what was left was a chronic feeling of disconnection and loneliness. It suuuuucked. But it also forced me to slow down and investigate my operating system. What are the underlying assumptions I carry about why I am here (like on Earth)?  What code of beliefs am I running and what can I do about it? How can I be truly free?

Anywho, enough about me. What are you into?

This Isn’t About You

10 Easy Steps To Take Before You Screw The Secretary

Hey Soulmate,

Thanks for listening last week. I’ve been working on the rage stuff. Right under the rage I discovered RIGHTEOUSNESS (it likes to be in all caps). She is an ego aspect that is actually a little funny if you don’t let her scare you. Imagine a dark, icy, character that believes she is on an important mission to save the world from unconscious men. R4_V10D3_80813_CO3_PULLS_01rl_0045.tifShe is a bit of a terrorist or fundamentalist, like a crusading Christian with a god complex. She KNOWS she is right. And I thought rage was ugly. Oy. Righteousness is the worst and completely counter-productive. I can feel it burning me from the inside, putting pressure on my throat, and filtering all my thoughts and feelings to prove her right. She acts as a psychological shield to keep me from getting hurt. Underneath, I am completely vulnerable. But we can’t skip ahead! I know the righteousness won’t last and the more I try to “get rid” of something the more it tends to hang around. So in my intention of loving and accepting all the parts of myself, my righteous ice queen makes me want to write blogs like this…

Ten Easy Steps To Take Before You Screw The Secretary*

Listen, I get it. Monogamy shmogamy. There are biological instincts within the male mammal that demand the spreading of your seed, you know, the only titan seed in the Darwinian chain that will survive this impending environmental apocalypse. No need to be ashamed of wanting to screw the secretary, it is totally natural. The space between wanting and doing is larger than you might think! But just in case you are married, in a relationship, or a midlife crisis and have a functioning prefrontal cortex, I wanted to share some easy steps for how to avoid becoming a pathetic, masculine cliché:

  1. Talk To Your Wife/Girlfriend

Be brave and tell your wife you are feeling attracted to someone else. Tell her the details of your fantasies and how it makes you feel before, during, and after. Sit in the raw, honest truth and see if it doesn’t bring you closer (after some tears and possible screaming). See if her jealousy and your vulnerability can transmute your desire for another into something else. Try it.

  1. Experiment Sexually With Your Wife

Are there things you haven’t asked for in bed? Ask for them. Get vulnerable and open yourself up to the possibility that your wife is capable of things you haven’t imagined. Go into the unknown together. Get crazy and kinky and surprise yourself. You can hire intimacy coaches and sex therapists and take classes in Tantra together!

  1. See a Therapist

It is officially ok for men to know themselves deeply and hire a professional therapist. One hour a week or even a month could go a long way in understanding the motivation behind your behavior or the “spiritual” connection you feel to your hot 22-year-old secretary. Finding a good therapist is like dating! Meet one after another until you find someone who helps you see yourself anew. A good therapist will give you tools to heal any inter-generational patterns of cheating that Daddy or Grandaddy may have passed down or any pesky, ancient religious dogma that has you tortured. They will help you better understand what you are really looking for and how to heal from any judgments or sexual shame you carry with you.

  1. Talk to a Life Coach

Life Coaches are like junior therapists that will push you around a little. If you are more into sports analogies go for a life coach. If they have any depth they should be able to coach you into integrity with your wife/life.

  1. Try Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is a very intense and sacred psychedelic plant out of the Amazon that is like doing many years of therapy in 1-2 nights. It is different for everyone and is likely to be a little like dying. It may lead to radical self-awareness and life changes that may, or may not, include your wife and secretary.

  1. Experiment Sexually With A Third

Sometimes the desire to spread that seed is just too great. Ask your wife or girlfriend for permission to bring the secretary (or someone from Tinder) into your bedroom. Can she watch? Can she participate somehow? Get creative! You can also discuss the possibility of an open relationship. Once you work through the initial social conditioning junk, what would freedom in relationship look like for the both of you?

  1. Write Your Obituary

Many have proposed the idea that men seeking younger women is a response to aging, loss of vitality, and fear of death. So do that. Feel your fear of death. There are great somatic therapy styles called Hakomi and The Grinberg Method where you can learn how to consciously move through fear instead of being unknowingly directed by it. (You can also do this work with a therapist and life coach)

  1. Join A Men’s Group

There is a growing movement of men supporting men in gaining an emotional education and greater self-awareness. Check out the Mankind Project or start your own!

  1. End The Relationship

If you have tried all of the above and it hasn’t opened you up to a new understanding of yourself and your relationship, or your partner is unwilling to play ball at all, then perhaps it is time to assess the overall health of your relationship. Or if you still must screw the secretary, be brave and end your relationship first.

  1. Screw The Secretary

It is always a choice.

*Obviously, women cheat too. Just replace secretary with boss and wife with husband when necessary. Also, check out the book Conscious Loving. (Just ignore the new agey cover.)

Legend20pic203

10 Easy Steps To Take Before You Screw The Secretary