Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Learning to Love: Rage

L´earning to Love-
Gloria Ornelas Hall.

My Dad is sick and loving him can only come from Dylan Thomas’ call to: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”.

 Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Learning to Love: Transmutaion

L´earning to Love
Gloria Ornelas Hall

Life’s a bugger (that´s an understatement!). Nobody ever teaches us to handle the hardships we encounter, so we are ill-prepared for difficulty. Yet, it is unavoidable.
By nature, everything tends towards disorder, dissolution and disintegration. This is called ‘enthropy’, a basic principle of Physics. To revert it, we must dispense effort and energy. In life, this process of continual re-creation stems from Love. The very desire to change this destructive principle and transform it into order and re-construction requires loving. This is transmutation (lat: trans-through; mutare- change). The cost is self-sacrifice. We must counteract egoism and selfishness to re-construct life and love.
Mothers are perfect examples of this. Take pregnancy. They gain 11 kgs, and duplicate bodily functions, pumping up to 40% more blood, to have a baby. They normally postpone personal satisfaction till their caring for others is done and often, are willing to give their lives up, for their loved ones.

Approximately, a third of the population has this intrinsic selflessness, with a natural tendency to care and help others. Their protective factors give them a resilience that makes them resistant to risk. As Salvador Diaz Mirón says, in his poem ‘A Gloria’,  “They fly over swamps without soiling their plumage”. It is they who carry, not only the responsibility of their own personal welfare, but the weight of those who damage themselves and others. So some of us come to learn and try to ‘get it right’, while others come to help. Having been helped, myself, over, and over again, I know the need we all have for each other.
Chaos cannot be re-created with dependability without this help.
Transmuting dis-order into order requires the desire to help others, a basic principle of love. Caring enough to be there for others, at the cost of dispensing one´s own selfishness is the first step. Feeling their pain and keeping them company as we walk alongside others, sharing their lives’ path, is a second step. Holding their hand when asked for help, is the third. Thus, the pain of living becomes an opportunity to hurt together in love.
Transmutation is not about changing or resisting reality. It is about transforming the experience of pain into love.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Learning to Love: Destiny

L´earning to Love
Gloria Ornelas Hall

In today’s society, man´s pride has imbued in us the notion that we each forge our own lives. However, as mine unfolds, the idea of ‘destiny’ makes more sense.
In Greek mythology, three ‘Moirai’ thread the canvas of fate, the inevitable destiny we each have when we are born. Nietzsche goes further with his ‘Amor Fati’, the acceptance of this predetermination, through ‘choice’. The unpredictability of life, with its creases and folds, more of the time, depends on variables that have nothing to do with us. That is fate. We may choose or not, to go where fate leads us, rebelling and resisting that which we most dread, in fear of losing control over our lives. Sooner or later, we will end up where we began, anyway.
 Love is inevitably interlaced to fate. We think we choose our life-long partners or children, naïvely pegging reasons and qualities that earn our favor, ignoring the fact that our souls respond to another call. We are beckoned to live out our soul’s longing, either to learn or repair, or help others into awareness. We can try to ignore this path, laid out long before we are born, but that is only fooling ourselves. It is not merit that earns us love. Sometimes it’s need from imperfection; sometimes it’s desire to help, entwined with co-dependence; sometimes, it’s inexplicable. It is  not about choosing what 'cross' to bear or what sacrificial penance to accept. It’s a call, an ‘e-vocation’.
Love is not indiscriminate or dispensable. It does not overflow from abounding generosity or virtue. It is intricately nestled in our lives’ design, for reasons we may not understand, till we do; most of the time, near death. We must play out the role love deals us, acceptingly. I should have learned that in the Monastery when I pledged a vow of obedience. I thought it was to obey Reverend Mother; later, I thought it was about obeying my superiors in the Navy; later, obeying my husband, much as I had obeyed my parents…..I had never realized that the obedience, expected, was to fate. Love is not about being kind and dispensing compassion over those, ‘less benefitted´. It is not about charity from pity or compassion. It is about loving him or her, next to you; him or her, you most reject; him or her, fate had you be born with. It is not about pleasing or satisfying our will’s desire, but about fulfilling our destiny. In the light of this truth, fidelity makes sense.

The other day I was reminded of this, as my ex-university-classmates and I met after almost forty years. I was so grateful for them reminding me who I was, as we remembered outrageous scenes from our youth… It was one of them that pointed out that I had always been different (as we all are) and always set a sense of duty before me. It was she who reminded me that I had a destiny to fulfill, maybe even yet.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Learning to Love: Valentine´s Day

Valentine’s Day, and I got a phone call from my ex-fiancé’s girlfriend challenging me and asking if I was ‘going out with her boyfriend’. Now I am almost sixty and he and I were programmed to be married, thirty years ago! I tried calming her, throwing light on the fact that he lived in a different city and I hadn’t even seen him for several months…but to no effect.
Now, she’s right. Not that we ‘date’ but that we love each other. We always have…and sharing a history of intimacy obviously gave her that gut reaction of feeling excluded. I was sort of excited after so many years of being out of the game, though not meaning any harm in being friends with her boyfriend.
Where does fidelity stand when the neat limits of marriage that stave off intromission, are gone. Nowadays, people live with their lovers, without the commitment of matrimony. So is it ‘adultery’ to befriend someone else´s friend? And how close is close? Do you have to have sex to be off limits or is simply picking the phone up and sharing everyday life, a transgression? Are you off bounds even when you are past the menace of reproduction and the natural possessiveness implied?
Why should love be made a sin? Why must we possess each other, tying each other down in fear of losing their love? Why love to cover up our insecurity?
I remember my mother telling us, five children, that there are always more ‘warm fuzzies’ where they come from; not to feel they would finish, and someone be left out from their share!

I tried calming her, saying that my love for him, encompassed anyone and everyone who loved him, and whom he loved, even if I didn’t know them. Knowing he was well and happy was enough. But of course, she knew better. She wasn’t making him happy. She wasn’t taking care of him; she couldn’t even take care of herself…(been there; done that). How sad that we women have to hold on to a man to guarantee economic safety . That was probably, more like it…and how comfy it sounds…but what a burden to a relationship.
It is hard to be true to love, because it requires that we be true to ourselves, first. I had a patient who held a fifteen-year-old love affair, through two marriages, feeling she was being true to her love for him, despite being married, because she had no sex with either of her husbands; one, for sickness; the other, for alcohol. Now, that is squizoid, but there is some truth in aligning one's actions to one's true feelings.
I find it hard to be self-sustaining with a 22 year old daughter, but the struggle is worth my freedom. I am mine to give and receive (I should hope so, at sixty…). They say that in love everything is valid as long as you don’t hurt yourself, your lover or others. So I hold fast to my right to love whom I love, at the cost of being hated.
(Not so nice on Valentine’s Day…)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Learning to Love: Closure

Is this really the end of the world? Much has been happening, that keeps reminding us of our imminent mortality. The question is…are we ready to die?
When asked what I would do, if life were to end in five minutes, I said: “Rejoice. Death has been my loyal companion, giving my life purpose and relevance”.  I’d welcome relief from stumbling through life in spiritual blindness; relief from being severed from God-ness. I´d definitely welcome death and thank life for its unconditional embrace and its endless opportunities to love.
A patient of mine, living with HIV/AIDS taught me that death is not our enemy but a close companion in life. He said his guru had been the Human Inmunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It had taught him to value every second of his life, as if it were the last. It helped him to set his priorities straight. So he left his medical career and built a half-way house for terminal patients whom he has been caring for, since. It is death that has given his life, meaning.
The only thing we all have in common is living and dying. We don´t all have health, wealth, intelligence, food, opportunities…but we all will, at some point, die. Whether we go into another life or just disintegrate is irrelevant. However, how we die is important. To die in peace and gratitude, with no regrets or misgivings is the fruit of a life well lived. Have we repaired damage done? Have we asked for forgiveness? Have we forgiven those who have wronged us? Have we thanked everyone who has loved us? Have we thanked everyone who has hurt us? Have we fully enjoyed every moment, given? Have we shared all we have to give? Have we loved all the love we have to give? Have we fulfilled our destiny? Are we happy? Can we face pain with serenity? Can we let go?
My ex-husband lived in bitter pain, for his son’s suicide. He frequently thought of ending his own life. We came to an agreement: I would respect his right to freely end his life, if he so chose, but I would never help him. I tried everything to make him happy: dressed as the pink panther; set the Christmas tree in Summer; made plays with his grandchildren for him, but to no effect. I finally called his ex-wife and had her forgive him. They got together again. I was left listless, with broken wings and no feathers on my back. But he wasn´t mine, nor was the pain they shared.  I still believe it was the right thing to do.
Death like closure has to seal open pathways of energy exchange. We have to close all debts and retrieve the energy dispensed. We are ‘ours’, no one else’s; so it is up to us to put an end to things, clean up and tidy our life’s mess.
A survivor from Auschwitz impressed me with his testimonial on the day the war ended. His job had been to clean de latrines. (Ugh!) So when the Allied troops marched in to set them free, he went back to first, finish washing up the latrines! So much for closure.

Learning to Love: Spiritual Love

Gloria Ornelas Hall
The Bible’s Song of Songs, attributed to Solomon (though it clearly describes a woman’s way of loving) starts with a first verse that seems to talk about two different types of Lovers: one physical, and the other, spiritual:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.

Your love is more delightful than wine.
Delicate is the fragrance of your perfume,
Your name is an oil poured out,
And that is why the maidens love you.
Draw me in your footsteps, let us run.
The King has brought me into his rooms,
You will be our joy and our gladness.
We shall praise your love above wine;
How right it is to love you.
(quoted from the Jerusalem Bible)
 Not all versions of this verse are the same, but it clearly talks about the physical love bestowed by the King and the joy with which loving God, enriches their romance.
Traditionally, these verses have been interpreted to be the love between a mystical Bridegroom (God) and Israel (the Bride). Erotic symbolism has been described in its metaphors such as “Let my lover come into his garden and taste its delicious fruits”. It describes the ‘innocence’ of enjoyment lived in Eden, later missed as ‘experience’ drew man away from God.

The profound yearning and dolorous longing for the Love once known, is painfully familiar. It describes our way of loving today, after a broken heart. Strangely, it is only the woman (Bride) that talks to her mystical Beloved (God-Bridegroom), while her physical lover praises only her physical qualities. It is as if only women dialogue that intimately with God, merging their sexual arousal with their mystical yearning. In the verse, it is plain to see that while kisses are good, God´s love is better. Man’s love cannot quench the thirst for greater spiritual satisfaction.

Having been betrothed to God in a Carmelite ceremony where temporary vows to poverty, obedience and silence are made, I can relate to this type of loving. It is as a sigh that takes  a deep breath, gasping in need, for that Loving we have felt, but lost in the ‘dark night of the Soul’. Santa Teresa, St John of the Cross, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz all have erotic poetry loving God.

I wore my mother’s bridal gown and walked down the aisle alone, as my family bid me farewell with a song. I crossed the threshold of ‘life’ as I entered the cloister and died to social life. I lay postrate, face down, on the floor with my arms extended in the shape of the cross. My ‘sisters’ shaved my head and put my habit on…then I lay in an open coffin, to meet with My Loved One in contemplation of death. It may sound eerie to disbelievers, or those who haven´t been exposed to Catholic tradition, but it is really quite romantic.
 Bernini's statue of Sta. Therese in 'orgasm' as she is struck by Love

Later lovers and husbands, have filled an important aspect of love…but my spiritual Lover does the rest.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Learning to Love: Independence

L´earning to  Love

Gloria Ornelas Hall


In his marvelous book “The Prophet”, Kahlil Gibran talks about Marriage, giving the following recommendations:

“But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea
between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread,
but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each one of you be alone.
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping,
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress
grow not in each other's shadow”

Not much else to say after that.

Independence gives us the stance to stand upright. Together by a lover who himself is independent, we can carry the world.



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Learning to love: Befriend your demons

L´earning to  Love
Gloria Ornelas Hall

 Befriend your demons

It´s hard to admit one is wrong, but harder still to re-cognize one’s a “bitch”. Yet, without it we cannot love. We tend to project our shadow-selves on others, blaming them for our worst fears.
Disowning the dark side of our soul is loving, ‘half-heartedly’.

I started thinking about this when my daughter twitted that she had stopped fighting her inner demons “…we’re on the same side , now” (@tandorantes). I was proud of her inner strength, so much stronger in her generation than ours. Hatred and evil horrify me. She takes them for granted. What horrifies her, she said “…is stupidity”. At first, I thought that was funny but the more I think out it, the closer to hard reality. Yes, man isgood and evil. That is a fact. Evidence proves it. But he has a choice, which can only be made with ‘intelligence’. To be horrified with man´s evil is to deny one´s own capacity to think, and possibly ‘react’ if given the circumstances, with the same destructive force.

“Actually”, says my daughter, “survival in this world needs demons. Only with them, can we have that added ‘intelligent edge’ which you can´t see when you´re blinded by ‘sweetness’ ”
…. So much for my blog!!!
 I suppose she is right. The more I think about it, the more I recognize the inner work I have to do, to accept my own inner demons. All this self-righteous ‘goodness’ cannot be real if it is not grounded by its shadow. Yes, I have been and am a ‘bitch’. So there!

Long before confessing or even repairing any damage I’ve done, I have to recognize: the wrath with which I hate anyone who cuts in front of me in the traffic…'I could kill them!'; my avarice that has me holding on to cluttering memories and ‘things’ that I can’t get rid of; my cowardice that prefers to smile, be stepped upon and play the martyr; my pride that looks down upon everyone, not because I’m haughty but with the certainty that  ‘I am better”.

Befriending my demons would require I talk to my shadow-self to try to understand why- the wrath, the avarice, the cowardice and the pride. Perhaps I’d learn that my wrath stems from repressed anger, for pain from constant abuse. Knowing about it, I can respond with anticipation, setting limits on time. I´d learn that my avarice comes from a hollow inner emptiness that yearns for recognition and I’d prepare for the day, asking my loved ones for an extra ‘hurray!’, so as to avoid begging for it from others at work. I’d learn that my cowardice comes from fear and insecurity, after having been rejected and made fun of so many times, and I’d learn to avoid bullies. I’d realize that my pride comes from over-confidence, from spoiling and getting my way all the time and try to do things on my own, despite my fear of failure.
So perhaps, we do have to get to know our darker selves, to enhance conscious awareness. Both foolishness and kindness may overlook negativity; the real fool, from ignorance; the kind man, from generosity.

The Kamasutra says that “virtue is a luxury, inaccessible to all”. Only those who know their inward capacity for evil can have patience and understanding for all.
It’s OK to be a ‘bitch’. It gives me the courage to stand up for myself and others, and to look at reality head on.  So look out, here I come!

                                                Even the heart has compartments unknown to itself.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Learning to love: Laughter

L´earning to  Love
Gloria Ornelas Hall

Laughter is contagious and is therefore a wonderful way to share happiness. It is kind to smile, laugh and find humor in senseless contradictions and self-importance so as to make others laugh. It releases tension. You don´t have to explain it for it is an expression in itself. It makes thoughts real, as they physically unchain the chemical release of endorphins and their analgesic qualities. MRI’s have proved that a smile stimulates the centers of happiness and enjoyment in the brain, even if it is done un-wantingly!
Laughter is a universal expression as Charles Darwin reported in “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” in 1872, recognized by humans all over the globe. The zygomaticus muscle pulls the corners of the mouth, across the cheeks, from the eyes with a contraction that makes a smile.The best face-lift we can have is a smile! Scientists initiated the study of this human response in Stanford University under William Fry, in Gelotology (Gr.: gelos-laughter), being a therapeutic complement for Medicine. Paul Ekman, world expert on expressions, says there are eighteen different types of smiles. True smiles of enjoyment are symmetrical, with genuine spontaneity and a sparkle in the eyes. The ‘laugh lines’ that crinkle the skin around the eyes are definite signs of authenticity. It´s a shame we pay to have them removed!
Humor is cultural, dependent of levels of education. Subtle associations may differ from comedy to cynicism, depending on the outlook of life. Bitterness and pain may ridicule innocence and folly. So what someone may find amusing may offend someone else. But it’s still funny! We have to be able to laugh at ourselves first, and shift the frame from which we observe and judge ourselves and others, to minimize self-importance.  Take for example, an “opinionated” blogger who uses black comedy to make difficult or prohibited subjects lighter, in his blog Harsh Reality, Humor ranges from innocence to cynicism, but in all cases it must start from being able to laugh at ourselves. It diverts seriousness to a ‘here and now’ response.
Loving is made fun when you can laugh together (not laughing at each other, unless you laugh at yourself, first). Difficulties in a relationship are smoothened with a smile. Even love-making, that often entails nervousness and fear of being ridiculous, can be made lighter if you can laugh at yourself as you try awkward positions, or gasp for breath or are unable to get out from under him!!!
When in doubt, laugh. When in problems, laugh. When stressed, laugh. When worried, laugh. When in love, laugh. Life can only be explained through humor!


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Learning to Love: Get a Life

L´earning to  Love
Gloria Ornelas Hall

Get a Life
Loving is not about making others ‘your life’ or as Joyce C. Hall, creator of Hallmark cards, would have had it back in Kansas in 1910, be  “a reason for living”.

Relationships have changed throughout the ages as gender and sex participation evolves in society and politics. The rules for relationships for my parents and their parents are totally different, to the rules in relationships today and even different from those among younger generations.

The Lost Generation born between 1883 and 1900 describes those who fought in World War I, with relationships working side by side in the mills and mines to build a country from immigrants. The G.I. Generation, born from around 1901 through 1924 includes the veterans who fought in World War II, during the Great Depression and describes relationships that eloped to break away from Puritanical limitations. The Silent Generation, born between 1925 and 1945, includes those who fought during the Korean War, much more aware of social acceptance as radio and cinema created  ‘popularity’. The Baby Boomers, from 1946 to 1964, marked an increase in birth rates after the War, rekindling hope in relationships as existential nihilism ended. In the 1960s, young adults and teenagers started the Hippie movement, making free love their banner with the introduction of ‘the pill’. The Generation X , from the early 1960s to the 1980s included those targeted by financial markets for sales, with relationships related to alcohol and fashion. The Generation Y, also known as Millennials, describes those born in the turn of the century, ranging somewhere from the latter 1970s to the early 2000s, accelerated by ecstasy and artificial ‘uppers’, as ADD and ADH became popular, with no commitment in relationships . The Generation Z  are those born after the early 2000s, with relationships identified with ecology, equity and a New Age order.

So when young adolescents today, try to develop their independence and still have their parents ‘fussing over them’, they often say “Mom, get a life” and they’re right. Where traditionally, we as parents devoted our time to our children, having had them be part of our bodies in pregnancy; having had them need us in childhood to survive; and having had them as learners in adolescence, as they become independent, they require us parents to shift the axis of our priorities, re-taking our own lives. The same holds true for our lovers. We cannot make them ‘our life’.
‘Getting a life’ requires retaking everything that spurs our inner passion. Physically: sports, dancing, travelling; emotionally: music, movies, art; rationally: studies, writing, teaching and spiritually: reading, contemplation and 're-learning how to love'. With it, however, we must also exact respect for our own right to independence.



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Learning to love: Hate

L´earning to  Love
Gloria Ornelas Hall

Learning to love requires reflecting on the inner movements of the soul. We have to develop spiritual literacy to ‘read’ significance into every day. ‘Reading’ actually means ‘piecing together’ and it is the associations we make of everything that happens, that allows us to thread a single pattern of meaning for that day.

Take yesterday. A friend told me of an inexplicable atrocity: an adopted daughter stabbed her adoptive mother to death. I was horrified and shocked at the evil we are capable of, as humans, as we destroy the very love we are offered. So I chose to contemplate on the meaning of ‘hatred’, questioning my Higher Self, as I looked for answers throughout the day.

Where does evil come from? Is it a natural quality in man or is it only some men who are evil. Does evil come from an external force or ‘d’evil’? Do we learn it? Is it inherited? Is it ‘payback’ for social injustice? If God created everything, did He also create evil? Perhaps it's all the above.

Undoubtedly we need Evil to know God-ness. Neale Donald Walsch wrote a lovely parable for children in “The Little Soul and the Sun”, where two little angels decide to play out a human saga where one has to hurt the other, for them to know and experience forgiveness and love.
“..But please, promise me you won’t forget who I am, when I hurt you”, pleaded the one who was to play out ‘the evil one’.

Hate is not the opposite of love. The opposite of love is fear…fear of being unloved, or worse still, unlovable. Such desolation (lat: without sun) renders us hopeless, unable to love and be loved.
Hate (which etymologically came from fate) is the end by-product of a growing chain of destructive attitudes, behavior and distorted interpretations stemming from anger, rage, wrath and envy. It is the shadow side of love. Evil is born of meanness  (stingy) and cruelty.

 I remember bearing a deep grudge with self-piteous resentment against my life-long sworn lover, when he left me. The passion of Eros (Life) he had enkindled turned sour into Tanatos (Death). I felt dead. Life wasn´t possible, without him. My soul was amputated and my heart literally torn out; so much so, that I couldn’t feel anymore. I became hardened and insensitive clamming my soul shut from love, much as a child throwing a tantrum and saying ‘Well, if this is the way it’s going to be, I’m not playing’.

Time, with its blessed drips of eternity, heals everything. Now, I thank my lover because he added a string to my heart and the music I now play is richer and infinitely more beautiful. So what we hate passionately, may be the pain of love.

However, the evil of this child, was still inexplicable.

By night, I saw a documentary on the different cerebral wavelengths registered in Functioning Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI). They tested someone in deep anguish and compared it to that of a Tibetan monk in contemplation.  When he was asked to meditate on the word “Compassion”, the nervous itching of the spikes on the cerebral encephalogram stopped and regular long, lasting curves traced the paced register of peace. Suddenly, the answer to my plight struck me.

It’s not about extremes: Right /wrong; good/bad; evil/kindness but about the neutralizing effect of a third integrating attribute- Love. We have to recognize and dialogue with our shadow-selves to fully accept and understand our dual nature, in Love.



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Learning to love. Friends or Lovers?

L´earning to  Love

Gloria Ornelas Hall

Friends or Lovers
Friends are about loyalty; lovers, about fidelity. Friends are about confidence; lovers are about trust. Friends are about secrecy; lovers, about intimacy. Friends are about sharing; lovers are about mutuality. Friends are about numbers; lovers, about exclusiveness.
The origin of the word ‘friend’ comes from the Proto-German, meaning ‘freedom’. Friendships set us free, since they accept us unconditionally; but drop the second letter ‘r’ and it turns to ‘fiend’!
‘Lover’ comes from the Latin: luber, meaning ‘desire’ (de-sire- pertaining to the master?).
Where ‘friendship’ implies ‘freedom’, ‘lovers’ imply ‘commitment’.

Last night a friend of mine was going on about ‘men’, and how happy she was without them. “They are so different from us” she said. And of course, we all know she´s right. Men and women are different. Our perception on life and our experience of it, have been proven to be reactions from different parts of the brain, as seen in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI’s). Even orgasm is integrated with different sensorial responses! A study we made in the Mexican National Autonomous University proved young boys initiated their sexual lives at around 14, with a ‘friend’; where young girls started at around 16 years of age, with a ‘boyfriend’. Boys don´t necessarily relate sex with emotions; girls, do. It is a physiological response.

Male erection is an autonomic response with a neural loop round the spinal cord. Women´s eroticism excites a response from the spinal cord, through the emotional mid-brain in the hypothalamus, to the rational cortex, before deciding to respond, sexually. One responds instinctively, for a couple minutes; the other, with an unconscious response to what could end up being a 9-month pregnancy.
Such differences make for different interpretations of what a ‘friend’ or a ‘lover’ implies. Nowadays, with ‘free’ open relationships among teenagers, sex is not a negotiated right. It is as freely given, as it is, taken away. Mutuality or exclusiveness are not conditioned. The effect of open pornography in marriages is just making sex a sport, covered up in lies. Truth and fidelity are now obsolete. So what is the difference?

I have come to believe that the difference is 'commitment'; not only contractual or social but in soul. We are bound by soul, to love, being responsible for each other´s spiritual growth! Sexual intimacy with a lover is a binding spiritual commitment. If women's awareness of inner consciousness is more developed, we are responsible to help our lover grow. 
As life turns the spiral of chance, lovers return. We owe each other a kind word; reassurance, in failure; memories, to keep the cold nights warm; gratitude, to lessen the burden of failure. They may need help or council. It is no longer about sex or possessiveness; but about ‘loving’.
Lovers get to know the soul where friends only touch the surface.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Learning to Love: Cut the Crap

L´earning to  Love

Gloria Ornelas Hall
 Cut the crap
My daughter was upset I wrote about her in the last post, asking me to respect her personal intimacy. So I publicly say I´m sorry. She’s right, loving exacts privacy. However, she did add that loving is not all about smooching and kindness. She said “it requires balls” (please excuse my French). If they want you, “boyfriends have to be true, and prove it. Intentions are not enough. If lovers don´t value you enough to take you out, give you the best and cherish you, they are not worthwhile”. Beyoncé put it this way in the Super Bowl: “If you want it you should’ve put a ring on it”.
Her differing perspective about my believing that her father and I had actually worked out a constructive divorce, faced me with the stark truth. It’s hasn´t been a bed of roses and she has had to buffer our differences. That made me aware that I tend to overlook the flaws and weaknesses in lieu of romantic relationships, replacing facts with illusion. I love her strong-willed, clear outlook on life. She´s going to be alright. As for me, I have plenty of food for thought, as I check with reality.

Illusion and deception are fantasy, with wishful thinking being a way for denial. It´s always easier to go soft, giving others the benefit of the doubt, rather than have the courage to face things as they are. I have to justify less and ‘cut the crap’. This self-appraisal sets me on much more solid ground. It´s hard to accept you have been wrong, or in self-denial. I tend to lower the standards for others so as to look better in the picture. This is cowardice and it is a way of covering up for my errors. Worst of all, it is setting a wrong precedent for my daughter. She is right. We have to expect the best from others and ourselves. Relationships should grow together with this in mind. I have to focus not only on giving, but on expecting just as much. It’s hard for me since I have played the ‘sacrificial heroine’ all my life.
If your husband blames you for marriage, because of pregnancy or deceit, leave him. If you are harassed or abused physically, emotionally, economically or are always being put down and criticized, leave him. If your lover doesn´t take you out, or has you pay the bills, or hides you from his friends and lies about the relationship, leave him. Cut the crap.

Then you can work on your self-esteem.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Learning to Love: Impotence

L´earning to  Love

Gloria Ornelas Hall

How can I blog about loving and not be able to help my 22 year old daughter when she asks “How can I get a boyfriend?”
Beautiful, smart hard-working, good grades in the University, responsible and very loving…but 22, when boys her age are still playing around and older boys are thinking serious. Her girlfriends and their relations describe the gory scenario youth is confronting…one-night stands; abusive affairs with married bosses; desperate efforts to rank in beauty competitions, with extreme risks such as anorexia. Just in her generation they have had to deal with abortions, AIDS, clinics for AA, abduction and violence and chronic states of depression and hopelessness. Now, it´s not everyone. There are those who have travelled abroad to help out in Africa and Asia; those who have won international recognition and project financing; those who are working in the International Court of Justice, in the government; those who have written books and poetry and started their own recording and DJ companies. What makes the difference?

My psychoanalyst, Honorary Founder of the International Association for Mental Health, Louis Feder, said we can always expect: a thirty per cent of the population to have to deal with risk, whether potential, triggered or occurred; forty per cent will be mediocre and go with the flow with no self-determination or conscious awareness; and the upper thirty percent will be resilient and work to help others.
By definition, this differentiation, determined either by genetic, congenital, or early learning conditions makes a difference as they unfold as adults. There is also their cerebral maturation process, which in the early twenties, develops abstract- reasoning in the frontal lobe. So they will begin to think for themselves, questioning their parents, social mores and their very reason for living… And of course, there is also Freud. We repeat patterns set by parents in our relationships, selecting and molding our lovers according to our parents’ early modeling. So, one finds oneself establishing co-dependence, whether it be as an addict, or as ‘rescuer’ of a partner in need; or choosing partners who are aggressive and abusive, or weak and submissive according to the roles we learned as children. That's when helping a daughter implies not damaging her.

The feeling of impotence is wrenching. You want to help a loved one avoid unnecessary pain, even bear it for them, but love is made of such relentless soul-tearing. Impotence renders us needing Higher help, as we deal with the mystery of destiny and fate. We may never understand why things happen as they do; we just have to live it.  It is the way we bear that which we cannot change, that makes the difference. We must develop the bulwark of virtue (lat- vir-inner strength) to deal with life´s reckoning with staunch integrity.
But that doesn´t answer my daughter’s question. All I can do is love her and walk the way of life by her side, as she blossoms and is rejected for fear and insecurity of others. We are living times in which we have to take a stance: Life or Death; Right or Wrong and be willing to fight for it.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Learning to love: Freedom

L´earning to  Love

Gloria Ornelas Hall


True commitment comes from freedom. If we are not the masters of our own ‘domain’ we have no ‘choice’. And the value of true loving is that we ‘will’ it. We should all be free to decide. Unfortunately, history is teeming with shameful evidence of the scarring possessiveness of man over woman, master over slave, and the strong over those more vulnerable.

Anthropology tries to ‘apologize’ explaining that, as nomads settled with the development of agriculture, man had to guarantee the legitimacy of his children to validate their inheriting his land. Thus he took women into possession, making them an extension of his reproductive organs. For centuries women have taken on men’s name, having to feed them, give them children and pleasure, with no right to inheritance, or freedom over their bodies. There was a time, when even religious councils posed the question of women’s having a soul! It was as late as the 1900’s that women fought for their right to vote, to have fair conditions at work, to have a right to education and, with the introduction of ‘the pill’, right to sex for pleasure, rather than for mere reproduction. Still today, women´s bodies are overseen by the State, as laws on abortion are passed determining the fate of their pregnancies, and their right or not, to heaven. Today, we can aspire to look our lover in the eye, from the basis of equality and not possession. Though we are not the same, we both have the right to love from our freedom of choice.
Glen Close’s magnificent representation of Mr. Nobbs, exemplifies the saga of women in the eighteen hundreds, as she plays the part of a woman and her plight with survival, when refusing to marry. She ends up dressing as a man, to work for a living. The drama unfolds when she tries to establish a personal relationship in a commitment of marriage and ends liberating the choice for same-sex relationships.

It is not only history that makes freedom difficult to attain. It is the need for personal mastery over fear, weakness, and self-complacency that takes its toll in our fight for freedom. It requires self-governance and full responsibility over our needs and deeds. It requires courage and endurance to live out the consequences of our decisions.

In freedom we realize that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It’s ‘why’ we make our choices and ‘what we do with them’, that matters. Commitment made in freedom requires integrity and honor. To honor a decision made over a relationship, is to recognize the personal dignity in ourselves and in our lover. It requires being true to ourselves and to him/her.
In the Bible it specifies that we must undo a commitment made, before acquiring an added responsibility, whether it be to love God or man. It´s OK to change our minds, but we must undo our commitments first, honoring dignity. Such respectful recognition of our lover or ex-lover’s Higher Self, sets love above casualties.

In freedom I choose to love, through sickness and despair. In freedom I accept my limitations and respect my potential. In freedom I chose to forgive and continue loving.