When I love someone or something very deeply, I don't want to let go of them or for things to change. As a boy, I remember how beautiful and pristine the mountains were, how relatively untouched by the encroachment of man, and how I wanted to keep that ineffable beauty in tact. When the towns on the road to Granby, CO. started to grow and expand, specifically Winter Park and Frazier, and the trees were being cut down, large swaths of acres being developed for condominiums and houses, and the purity of this heavenly landscape was being stripped away, I remember how sad I felt and how I wished I could buy up all the mountains from the state of Colorado so they couldn't develop and destroy its natural wonders. As the development and expansion of the valley continued to grow and each year more buildings were erected, more trees were cut down, and the fish in the lake were getting smaller and smaller, I longed for the "purer" days of my youth and attached myself to those days as being "better." I had a deep attachment to the past and to the memories I shared with my father. How I wished to go back to those days!
If I could have a deep attachment to the landscape, because I didn't want it to change, imagine how deep my attachments are to the people in my life, past and present. I love people. I love my family very deeply. And when I was together with my former fiance, I loved her very deeply. Loving them is not the problem, nor should I stop loving as truly and as deeply as I do - my love is unconditional - it's been put to the test - but, it's true, it is. I've learned that. And know it. My problem comes in the attachment I make with the people I love. When things change, as they will inevitably do as things evolve and grow, I have had a hard time letting go of the people who've played such an important part in my life. A part of me refuses to accept that a period of my life is over, never to be recaptured, lost in the oblivion of past time and space, and the feelings and emotions I felt gone with them. I reach back into the storehouse of my memories to connect to this person once again, re-living the golden memories we shared. Unlike most people, I think, the way my mind works is I disregard or d energize the impact of the negative memories and look past them. I've always felt when people show you their "dark" side, that's not who they truly are, it's just this blot on the screen, and who they are is beyond these defense mechanisms and ego constructions they've built around themselves. (Note: I am in no way discounting the evil in the world. There are evil people who do evil things and they should always be held accountable for their actions. However, I believe these people have gone completely unconscious and lost total contact with the Source of their existence. But this topic is for another blog. My focus here is about attachments to persons, places, or things in our lives, past and present, that keep us down from living the lives we were meant to live and how we can break free from them). I don't hold grudges or grievances very long, so it's hard to look at someone with hatred for long, or hold against them something they've done to me in the past. It's just the way I am. What I hold on to is the love we shared, the love that brought us together, the magical wonderful feelings we felt for one another or that we shared and expressed to each other, and I want to go back to that, and I wonder how did love not triumph? How did we let the workings of the ego, the little hiccups and challenges destroy the love in the relationship that brought us all together? Of course I understand now that love could never have been destroyed, I am love, and that love can never be taken away from anyone.
Anyway, my attachment around my partner, my family, and my idea about relationships is rooted and held firm because of my love for them, and my desire to be and have unconditional true love in my life. For instance, I have a deep attachment to my family. The love I have for them is unconditional. They can do just about anything, and I won't stop loving them. When things are great for them, my heart is light, my day's are better, I'm happier; yet when things are bad with any one of them, I commiserate and sympathize with the problems in their lives, and unconsciously attach to their pain, making it my own, and suffer along with them. I add their issues onto my issues, which just adds more weight to my heart and spirit. When you take on other people's problems which are not your own, you take away from them their own power to solve the issues by themselves, and create a form of the co-dependent relationship. They are dependent upon you to solve their problems for them (at least partly), they attach themselves to you as the source of their solutions, and defer to you to make the decisions for them. This often happens in families because of the deep bonds we have for one another. Our happiness is dependent upon whether they live up to our expectations, and when they don't, this brings up anger, resentment, and feelings of not being appreciated or loved. "If he loves me, than he'll do this..." or "if she loves me, she'll do this.." is a familiar pattern in families because of our attachment to our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers and what we think is best for them. Unfortunately, this is not allowing them to be who they are and accepting them completely.
As I've become more consciously aware of who I am and what my purpose is, and what loving unconditionally truly means, I've also learned that to love someone unconditionally implies the word non-attachment, to the results or outcomes that come about from all my relationships. My family, for instance, gets to choose how they want to live their lives. I can't be attached to the "hoped for" outcome that I perceive I want for them, if that's not what they want. What I want for them is to be happy and filled with love, joy, and peace. Attaching to what that looks like for them or how this might manifest, would only cause me pain if, for whatever reason, it does not come about, or is delayed for a time, or does not fit in to my idea of what would make them happy. I must and do recognize that every single member of my family is on their own journey, they are wonderful, incredibly loving people, and I have to be there for them as a son or brother who only wants the best for them, and who loves them truly and unconditionally. At the same time, I must withhold attachment to the results or outcomes. I must love them so much to allow them the freedom to find their way without my interference or judgment.
Until recently, the troubles of my parents and siblings over the years has brought me great pain, consternation, frustration, anger, disgust, and exasperation at the futility to make positive, concrete change in the movement and manifestations of their lives. My family's drama (and we all have it, or most of us do anyway) has affected every area of my life, kept me prisoner to the extreme vacillations between joy and despair, because I allowed it to have its grip on me. Why? Because of my attachment to them and the outcome of their lives. Where does this attachment come from? From the deep love I have for each one of them. I have confused what unconditional love means, and made it to include suffering along with them or because of them, and thus, I have allowed myself to be at the mercy of their unconscious and conscious behavior and actions, which had brought me suffering because I felt helpless to affect positive change to their situations. Now that I am practicing non-attachment to the outcomes yet still remaining a participant and influence in their lives, I'm seeing the benefits in my own life, health, and inner happiness. Plus, I have made a personal reunion with God as the source of my life, and this has made all the difference in the world.
Another person with whom I formed a deep attachment to was with my former girlfriend and fiance. I was deeply, deeply attached to her, so much so that the thoughts running through her head became my thoughts. My idea of true love, true unconditional love with a partner, is to unite with them at the deepest levels of the heart, mind, body, and soul. The mystical union of two people - however, when two people are sick, this union becomes toxic, and if you're looking for someone outside of yourself to fill the perceived lack you think you have - in this case, romantic, mystical, deep, passionate, authentic love - if you see this love outside of you, then the attachment you make with the person who objectifies these qualities reaches the very core of your existence. But no one, no woman, nor man, can substitute for what you think you lack, and thus, this kind of attachment is a tragic error that ultimately leads to destruction. I placed too much responsibility on my ex to fulfill my expectations of her which she was not able to fulfill, and visa versa, I wasn't able to fulfill her expectations of me because of the same tragic error. When my ex left me unexpectedly and without warning behind my back while I was away at work, I experienced what I thought was the death of Love. Because I'd placed true love outside of me, I experienced the absence of true love when she left me, and as a consequence, I was confronted with the dark night of my soul. My attachment to her was so deep and so strong that her departure was excruciatingly painful, almost unendurable, until I discovered and found God, and thus found myself, and came to realize true love never left me, it was always within me, and when I fell in love with everything about me, I realized I am Love.
This is something I wrote down during that dark time in one of my darkest moments which I think is appropriate to enter here and share with you. I wrote: Love yourself unconditionally and unconditional love will manifest in your world. Love yourself truly, and true love will find you. Love yourself completely, and you will be complete. If you want true love in your life, then it must start in you. Be true to yourself, love yourself unconditionally, and watch the world reflect back to you what you see inside of you. True unconditional love begins and ends with each one of us. If I don't love myself unconditionally, and I attach it to someone outside of myself, inevitably I will get hurt because I see love as outside of me. If I have unconditional love for me, then I can give that away, for I can only give away what I have for myself. Attach love outside of myself to my relationships, and the love and joy I experience and receive is dependent upon what they do or don't do. This erroneously puts love and joy in a conditional, co-dependent form and I am at the mercy of these co-dependent relationships. Making ourselves whole (not dependent on outside relationships to give us love and joy), completing the circle, and practicing non-judgmental non-attachment offers the best way to be free to live life the way it was intended to be lived.
What does holding on to my attachments to people do when its time to let go of the old and usher in the new? It keeps me locked in the love experiences of the past, longing for the past, recriminating myself for mistakes along the way, and wishing for those moments of love to return. This love attachment to people no longer in my life, whether its a lover, a friend, or family member, prevents me from experiencing the love present all around me right now in front of me, and blocks the new love from coming in in another form. The new love is probably 100 times better than my last relationship, but I can't allow it to manifest if my thoughts are preoccupied on what I lost and once had. Reminiscing about the love I shared with my ex, for instance, keeps that relationship alive on some level. This keeps the new love at bay, and I suffer because I don't have a partner to share in the experience of a sacred, romantic love. Prior to my awakening and resurrection, this would have led me down the path of left turns, and before long, all the self-doubts, self-criticisms, and self-judgments would take over and reign. The cycle of self-defeating thoughts and behaviors would only be interrupted when a new woman came to take her place - then, undoubtedly, the pattern would start all over because of my attachment to the idea of what this new woman in my life would represent. Fortunately, I've moved beyond this, and am now seeing things from a whole new perspective. Participating in life, loving all those I come across or come into my life unconditionally, because I love myself unconditionally, without any expectation or stake in the outcome is the best and most holistic policy.
Why do we attach? Because we fear to lose something we value. Whether it be love, relationships, our family, money, cars, houses, possessions, a scent, a touch, an experience of pure happiness - whatever it may be, we attach to it because we fear we may never experience it again, and if it's people, we fear we may never see them again. My attachments are all rooted in my deep love for the people, places, and experiences I've had. I will always love them, unconditionally, because that is who I am. However, what would it be like to let go of all of it? What if we could just drop all of our attachments to our thoughts about who we should be, what our relationships should be, what our beliefs should be, or what our lives should be? Can you imagine, even for a moment, how free you would be to be yourself? No longer defined by what others think of you, or what society thinks of you, or even what you think of yourself, but completely free from all attachments to the things, people, places, and thoughts which have influenced your idea of your individual identity. Who would you be then?
Imagine a room full of chairs and every chair represented an attachment you had about yourself. For every attachment you had, you had to pick up one chair. Attachments could be: I need to be a good father. I need to have a successful career. I need to be a good son. I need to be loyal to my friends and family. I need to be seen as a good mother. I need my children to respect me. I need to be a great writer. I need to have a big house and lots of cars to drive. I need to be there for people when they need me. I need to have true love in my life. These are just some examples. Now, these are just your attachments that you have for your own life. That's a lot of chairs to hold on to. Now add other people's issues to your attachment list when you take on their problems as your own (examples: my son needs to get a good job; my mother needs to find someone new in her life; my father needs to stop watching so much tv; my friend is wasting his life away and needs to get it together; my boyfriend needs to take responsibility for his life), and suddenly, you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Now imagine the relief and freedom one has by putting down those chairs. For each attachment let go of, you set one chair down. How light would you feel? How happy would you be without all that burden attached to who you think you should be? How much energy would you gain to do the things you want to do and be the person you want to be?
You can never deviate from your true nature. If your nature is loving, releasing yourself from these attachments allows you to be more loving, there's more energy to love those around you without needing anything from them to fill you up. You're already filled up. There's nothing that needs to be added. And life proceeds beautifully and effortlessly. This is not to say you won't have challenges or confrontations, but you'll be coming from a different place, one in which you participate fully in the life that you have, but have no stake in the outcome. You proceed moment to moment, fully aware and able to handle any and all situations that come your way because you are not burdened by your attachments to the end results.
Here's another thing to consider about attachments to beliefs, thoughts, people, places, or things in our past or present. If a bird is tied down by a string around its leg, how high can it fly? If our beliefs, thoughts, people, places, or things about the past or present are strings around our legs, we are kept from reaching the heights of our potential, and our lives are only partially lived. Now consider this: can you catch the air? Can you press the rewind button and go back to what was? No, you can't. Your life is lived moment to moment, it's fleeting, you can't catch it, or hold it, or stop it from advancing. Change is happening all the time. Nothing stays the same. If you keep looking back, or holding on to what was, you'll never see what's ahead. Something better is always just around the corner. Let go of your attachments, give yourself a chance to grow and experience new things, and you just might be surprised at the person you end up becoming.
When you let go of attachments, you're left with you, and that's a wonderful place to start. Trust in yourself. Believe in yourself. Don't look back, there's nothing back there worth holding on to anyway. Choose, right now, in this moment, to live an extraordinary life. Take the time to examine your beliefs and why you believe them; question your fears and doubts; and look inside your heart and decide once and for all to be all that you're capable of being. The greatest gift you can give to those you love, both past and present, is to be all that you are capable of being, making the most of yourself, for yourself, and for others; and, ironically, by making the most of yourself, you help others more. You become an inspiration. Your example will teach others what they themselves are capable of doing in their own lives. Detach yourselves from all your former attachments, hold on to nothing from the past, learn and grow from it, that's all. Remember, only love is real. Move into the present, cherish every moment and hold on to none, and always come back to yourself. You create your life. Decide the life you want to live, unencumbered by the past, forgive others and forgive yourselves, and where necessary, make amends. Have no regrets. Live your life. It's a gift. Let no one keep you down or diminish your value and self-worth. We are all children of God. All of us deserve to be happy experiencing love, joy, and peace.