It took nearly 18 years together to learn to be truly happy. Perhaps we are slow learners; I’m pretty sure I am. For one thing, I had to learn to choose recovery instead of addiction. That was 13 years ago. I don’t think a truly happy marriage can exist if one partner is pursuing an active addiction. Even being an intermittent, functional alcoholic–as I once was–is a barrier to the kind of relationship which is authentic and includes profound bonding and deep communication.
Saying goodbye to addiction:
Perhaps I should define my terms. “Intermittent” alcoholics have periods of time when they drink normally or not at all. In my case, when I went on diets several times a year, I would not drink at all for weeks or months. “Obviously, I don’t have an alcohol problem,” I’d say to myself, because denial is not just a river in Egypt. When the diet was over though, I’d have one glass of wine at dinner, and within a few weeks I’d be drinking every day and too much. “Functional alcoholic” means I had a job, I never drank while working, and very few people knew that I had a drinking problem–only those who had seen me ruin a special occasion because sometimes I could not control how much I drank or my behavior after the first glass of wine. Sadly, it was primarily those who were nearest and dearest to me who witnessed or were hurt by those occasions; recalling this brings back the regrets I will always have.
By grace, the day my younger son’s first child was born, everything changed. Holding that precious baby, and overcome with love for him and for my children and their children, I knew that continuing to drink would fatally compromise those relationships. I stopped drinking that day, and never looked back. 90 AA meetings in 90 days, working the steps, making amends–through grace I did it all. The results have been profoundly positive. The classic alcoholic’s fear that I would never again have fun was the opposite of the facts.
“I love you just as you are.”
Just as important, on the road to a truly happy marriage, I had to become totally willing to accept and affirm my husband just as he is. I think it was a turning point when I began to feel and say, “Not only do I love you, but I am 100% satisfied with you.”
Having a deeply joyful and committed marriage is grace, it’s joy, it’s one of the greatest sources of gratitude in my life. In future posts, I will have more to say about this path and how it can be your path as well.
Blessings to you and yours, dear reader! Please visit me at http://www.coupleswisdom.com.
NEWS FLASH: RADIO SHOW TONIGHT WITH DR. VICTORIA
To hear Dr. Victoria discuss sacred sexuality on Porch Talk, follow the link below at 8:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, on Monday November 16
Reviewing the statistics for this blog, I’ve found that more than 94,000 have visited since I began it. You–visitors from many states and countries–are my community, my fellow travelers on this journey of developing our spiritual lives as deeply as we can, and of trying to make a difference on this planet through our compassion and commitment to service.
On this early November night, I want to share some of the grace that has been showered on me along with a major health challenge. This confrontation with my mortality woke me up. I began to see–really see–the beauty all around me. So much beauty in the human faces in my life–such kindness, compassion, humor, sweetness. That human beauty is everywhere, not just in the faces of those I dearly love, but in the eyes of the grocery store clerk, the bank teller, the neighbor across the street.
Since I became a vegetarian, I find such enchantment in animals. My little dog makes me smile first thing every morning. Waiting patiently for me to open my eyes, his tail starts to wag as soon as my eyes meet his. “Wake up and live! he says, “and let’s play now!”
And then there are the children in my life–the grown ones and the little ones and the medium size ones. I adore them all. Not least or last, my true love smiles at me across the table while we feast on a meal centered on organic vegetables. My past loves linger always in my heart as well, not with longing, but with appreciation.
Outside my door, red and yellow roses bloom still, competing with the deep magenta of the bougainvillea. Rumi says there’s beauty in every rock and flower, and so it is.
I start and end my day with music–songwriting, singing, playing guitar. I am blessed–overwhelmed with grace.
I do not take this grace lightly. The suffering of Syrians and others in war zones, of the often innocent young men sent to fight in these wars, refugees with no homes, prisoners of war, and of conscience, the bereaved and the lonely and the depressed–none of this escapes me. Some form of this suffering comes to all. If you are reading these words by accident right now, please take heart. There are those who care and will help. Call Suicide Prevention, call a rabbi, priest, minister or therapist. Call a friend who cares. “Ask and you shall receive,” say the holy words. But you must ask!
Lo, I am with you always.
You promised that, and when I realized it was true,
my soul flared up. Remember, and be back with the Friend.
Blessings to you dear visitor!
–Dr. Victoria Lee
Reviewing the statistics for this blog, I’ve found that more than 83,000 have visited since I began it. You–visitors from many states and countries–are my community, my fellow travelers on this journey of developing our spiritual lives as deeply as we can, and of trying to make a difference on this planet through our compassion and commitment to service.
I write this on Good Friday and the first day of Passover. Ramadan is six weeks away. So many worshipers, singing different verses of the same song. And of the many who do not identify with any organized religion, most are seekers too. As Rumi said, “I see the same altar in temple, mosque and cathedral.”
Here are some of Rumi’s lessons for us all:
• We are here on earth for the purpose of soul-growth.
• We are capable of profound joy and compassion in virtually every circumstance.
• Pain and loss can be the gateway to our greatest joy.
The last point touches me in a new way as I–like many of you–face a serious health challenge.
Rumi also says:
Lo, I am with you always.
You promised that, and when I realized it was true,
My soul flared up.
Remember and be back with the Friend.
Please visit me at my website: http://www.coupleswisdom.com
Blessings to all!
On the day I die, don’t say he’s gone. Death has nothing to do with going away.
The sun sets, and the moon sets but they’re not gone.
Death is a coming together.
The human seed goes down into the ground like a bucket,
and comes up with some unimagined beauty.
Your mouth closes here, and immediately opens
with a shout of joy there.
My dear friend Hugh Prather died some three years ago. Hugh wrote the Foreword to both of my books, and contributed in many other ways to my journey. After a visitor to this blog wrote to me about him recently, I was inspired to share one of the many ways Hugh brought insight and peace into my life.
Some years ago, I was unwillingly estranged from two people who mean the world to me. I never knew exactly why, but they withheld any contact from me for several years. I had made mistakes in regard to them, and we had disagreed, but in my mind, nothing had happened that should have resulted in their complete withdrawal from the relationship. I was devastated by the loss, and made every effort I could think of to repair things. They were unmoved my apologies and efforts to reach out to them. When all efforts failed, I sank into a long bereavement process which involved sobbing in the middle of the night on many occasions.
It felt like the worst thing that had ever happened to me. The pain was the worst I had ever experienced.
Around this time, I visited Tucson, and shared the story with Hugh. He gave the following advice which will forever be something I cherish. He said:
“Hold them in your heart with love. Make it a spiritual practice to keep doing that. When your mind and ego stray toward anger or resentment such as “I don’t deserve this,” bring yourself gently back to love. Don’t criticize yourself; just bring yourself back to love. Don’t criticize them either. You cannot know their reasons, and judging them will only make things worse.
“Keep holding them in love in your heart. One day–I predict it will be less than five years–they will call. If you have continued the practice, they will hear the love in your voice immediately. They will know the door is open, and they will walk through it. Love always heals.”
At the time I felt that five years was an unspeakable length of time to suffer as I was. But I had exhausted all of my own ideas, and I trusted Hugh. I followed his advice completely. As I did so, I slowly began to feel more and more peace as well as more and more love. I began to recognize that the love I felt for them would never change; in that sense it was impossible to loose them. And I began to see that, like all of us, they had to follow their own hearts.
Four years later they called, and said they wanted to let bygones be bygones. I was more than happy to agree, and the relationship has been solid ever since.
Hugh’s wisdom was invaluable to me in one of the most difficult times of my life. I honor his memory, and send out my love to him and his wife and children always.
If you would like to read the tribute I wrote to Hugh around the time of his death, please visit my primary website at www.coupleswisdom.com and scroll down to “Hugh Prather Tribute.
Blessings to you and yours, dear visitor. Perhaps the wisdom recounted here will be of value to you as well.
June 25, 2012
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep….
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
I first read these words many years ago. They touch me still, but the interpretation I give them now has deepened.
In a most fortunate meeting with a wise person I know, I was reminded yesterday that love’s deeper task is finding the Beloved of the Soul. There is a better choice than the endless search for the perfect partner who inevitably disappoints since there’s no perfection in this life. The wise ones point us toward an ever more profound embrace of life and of what is right now.
Rumi loved all of it–the worship, the failure, the music, the poetry, the silence. When “everything is soul and flowering,” there is no circumstance or loss or confusion we cannot welcome as an unexpected visitor with lessons to teach us.
May you be blessed with the grace to see things this way today, dear visitor. For help with relationships and sexuality, please visit me at www.coupleswisdom.com.