I Promise To Love You
An unexpected turn of events made me reevaluate how I was feeling about The Bear.
I gotta say, writing last week’s letter sort of fucked me up. In case you missed it, I talked about meeting the great love of my life…and then letting him go. I learned so much from this one love affair with my Bear, but something surprising happened as I floated around in my beautiful self-love bubble after I hit “send” on Substack.
The Bear’s ex-girlfriend read the letter and DM-ed me. Pop!
Let me give you some background about me. Part of how I survived my childhood, is that I naturally drifted into the transpersonal – the more spiritual side of life. I have always, always tried to find the positive…the hidden spiritual gift in every shitty situation. My friends definitely wish I would just complain about some of the shit sandwiches I’ve gotten served, but if I didn’t have this orientation, I may not have survived the incest. This was a gift given to young Atoosa so she could get through some of those harder life experiences. There I go again – see what I mean? The gift of incest! 🤦🏻♀️ But that really is how I operate. Like when my ex-husband decided to move out of our home in the middle of Covid lockdown so he can start dating: I was homeschooling three children, cooking, cleaning and dealing with the separation on top of it – I grieved for sure, but I also celebrated his emancipation. So proud he was finally finding himself and and getting closer to finding someone who can love him in his fullness. (Though…he could have had better timing for sure!) 🙄 Just want you to know my most natural orientation and how it likely developed. Capital S, Survival.
So back to the Bear’s ex-girlfriend. 😳
There’s absolutely nothing she said that I didn’t already know and honestly, she was perfectly lovely in all ways: A woman I would likely be friendly with if we met outside the Bear Den. But her sudden outreach took me out of my spiritual happy place (“The Bear! He devastated me! But I have gotten this wonderful gift of self-love in return! Thank you, Bear! Oh, Thank you!” – insert the voice of Giselle from Enchanted) and deep into the trenches of Earth School. Into the harsh reality that after we split up, he took shelter in her body. Which reminded me of his body. His realness. His touch. His smell. His laughter. Not just the concept of “The Bear,” but rather the man I loved so deeply. Fuck. That was hard.
I could only describe it as a second wave of grief. (Okay, okay – maybe more like 10th or 11th or 100th – I’ve lost count). But I didn’t distract myself from the sensations I was experiencing. Over those three days, I went sort of radio silent with my friends. I wasn’t interested in trash talking anyone. Didn’t want to have a Bear-bashing session with the ex. Didn’t want to have an ex-bashing session with my friends. Tbh – I had no idea what was happening inside me, but my inner knowing told me I needed to hibernate and let it unfold. When I quieted my mind and removed all narrative, it just came down to a really icky physical sensation that I was pregnant with for three long days. The only way I can describe it: A heavy weight that almost wiggled and vibrated on my chest and went up through my throat into my mouth. Ugh, I can feel it now as I type. I just sat with it.
The highlight of this three-day low period was my dear friend “M,” an expert at Mansplaining, telling me how the Bear breakup and my divorce are both technically my fault and when I just look at it all logically, I can just own it and move on…oh, and let’s go out to dinner! (Umm…no!) Do you have friends like that? I love “M,” but I nearly killed him that day – though I can’t lie, he did make me laugh out loud! After that excellent commercial break, I went back to breathing with it. Sitting with it. Loving myself through it. Slowing my life down so I can be present with it. Trying to let it get as big as it needed to get without distracting myself with friends or anything. (And I don’t drink, so no glasses of wine for me.)
Then finally 72 hours later as I sat behind the wheel of my car, this massive burst of energy just ripped through my body – truly like I had given birth or something – and along with it came this epiphany:
The horrible feeling I was experiencing was rooted in the notion that I couldn’t love The Bear anymore because we weren’t in relationship. It reminds me of the Mary Oliver poem, Wild Geese. There’s one part that goes:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
The soft animal of my body loves The Bear. I don’t need to be in relationship with him to love him. I don’t need him to love me back. By always encouraging myself, as I did at the end of the last letter, to be done with him – I wasn’t honoring how I feel. And so, I learned my next lesson of unconditional love.
Unconditional love for myself is to let myself love who I love without judgement. And unconditional love for The Bear is to love him without needing anything from him. What kind of love is it if I only love him if he wants to be in relationship with me? If that’s the case, then I don’t really love him. And I do. I do love him. I love him and I love myself. And so my love for him just lies within me. It will not have a relationship attached to it. My love for myself also lies within me. It rests with my ability to let myself love who I love…unedited.
So, yes – I’m back in my spiritual happy place but I really did have a few very hard days in Earth School. I will learn this lesson again, I’m sure. I suspect we have to relearn it over and over with different people that make our egoic back arch up in protection. But for now, I’m just happy I can keep loving the Bear. He has given me so many gifts including this one: When we unconditionally love someone, we are not attached to any outcome. We just love and accept them where they’re at – whether we are in relationship with them or not. We let them free to be in their version of Earth School and we are free to be in ours. And free – that’s the key word. What I ultimately gained by sitting with those really truly shitty feelings last week was freedom and the realization that I was the one holding the key to my prison. I was the one that defined love as being in relationship. My old friend, Attachment: Thank you for trying to keep me safe. But I am safe. I am safe. I am safe.
My Bear. You are not my bear. You are a magnificent creature of the wild. Thank you for crossing paths with me. You have been a wonderful teacher in Earth School, but a bear must not be domesticated. And for me? Me neither – especially as I leave this long marriage. My wish for all of us is that we maintain our feral nature whether in or out of relationship. That we can go into Earth School fully free and present to experience the splendor, lick our wounds when necessary and move on without looking back like the wild animals we truly are as opposed to the hunters pointing their rifles looking to make time stand still.
And of course, we create packs. And we create partnerships. I would love to make this pilgrimage with someone special. But I don’t need to. When relationships get obligatory, things get sticky. It reminds me of my childhood cat, Tiger. She was a wild cat in our neighborhood and one day she just followed me home. And again, the next day. And the day after that. She ultimately spent the rest of her life with us. Each morning we would let her out, she’d fuck up some squirrels, have an awesome day and scratch at the back door every evening ready to sleep in my bed. That is the relationship I hope for. The wild animal that chooses each day to bunker down with me. TBD, sister, TBD.
Until then, I will reclaim my own feral ways. My dating app expires in a few days and I’m going to let it go. Dating apps, to me, feel (at least that one) like an invitation for domestication. This feels like a good summer to let loose, let love and fuck up some squirrels – not sure what that means yet for me, but we shall see! Thanks for being my classmates in Earth School. No one graduates til they bury us and the only teacher is this terrestrial life. Such an honor to be a student alongside you. You know where I am, 24/7, as always – firstname.lastname@example.org.
The soundtrack of my 🤍🖤❤️ this week: