Leave With Grace (Advanced Edition)

1. Don’t. Simply don’t leave. Ever. Be the cure for the pervasive fear of abandonment. It’s a tricky one though, a high art, a tightrope. Because the rules go like this: abandon no one, even yourself.

2. This is the advanced version because when leaving is not an option with anyone, ever, you get into the real stuff, the ethical stuff, the stuff Jesus and the Buddha were working with. If I am going to stick and stay like a mafiosa, how do I contend with not just how I am being treated, but with the karmic infractions my friend is making. What if I have no sand to stick my head in? What if there is no bed to retire to and I have to address, confront, meet, talk about, and remain in love?

3. We like to act like leaving is hard. We like to act like staying in long suffering is hard. What is hard is the unwavering vow to remain. And by remain, I mean be honest like a clear stream without debris. Have that kind of presence with all in your life. I like the response of a woman in a NYT column. Her husband came home and told her he was leaving. She simply said no, and carried on with their life together. He came along.

4. No one wants to leave, that’s the truth because leaving is an artificial activity. Humans may pretend that we are not eternally, universally, interconnected. No one likes to see their own cowardice in the mirror which is why we try to pump it up with stories: I had to! He was a narcissist! She never returned my calls! She went off the deep end. See, but every time you tell yourself you “have to,” you kill off another limb of your own fundamental resourcefulness and resilience.

5. Sure sure sure, break the form. Get a divorce and continue to live together with your new lovers! Build a tribe of ex’s. Have your own little village of used-to-be best friends. But keep the mycelial, underground connections pure. Maintain the underground railway systems so that your life blood continues to be transported without the congestion of protections.

6. My two cents—this is like a prenup squared—never take on a form that could break. Just don’t. Be a consort that is based on the dynamic impermanent reality rather than choosing to have the government drop you into a cement bath so that you stay together only to have 50 percent of the population spend their time together breaking out of the block and hating each other at the end citing “irreconcilable differences.”

7. Decide that all differences are not only reconcilable, but the good fun stuff that makes for a feisty lively relationship. Remember you are them, give up on them, give up on yourself.

8. Say it. Say it first. Say it all. Do not allow a day to go by without flossing your interior. Get out anything that would become tartar. Anything. That way you do not get the easy out of saying “I couldn’t find my voice” or “He wouldn’t listen.” Set it up from the get-go that this is a high metabolization communication relationship. That way you aren’t drowning under all the things you didn’t say in order to get what you wanted at the time and later blaming them that you can’t say it to them now.

9. Here’s the thing: sex is the highest form of communication. Wherever possible add in sex or sexual energies—whatever you feel comfortable with. It is the one place that we can never lie. We can lie about the interpretations, but the body does not lie. And it really, truly makes it a lot easier to be around people you share sexual energies with: they connect what would otherwise separate. BTW, you don’t have to have sex to share turn on.

10. Be like Rev. Jo. The day I met Rev. Jo, she said, “You own me for life.” She has not deviated from that stance for a moment. That was nearly a decade ago. She came ready to play and threw all her chips in and made the determination that we would win no matter what. Be like Rev. Jo.

11. Burn the boat. Padlock the escape routes. Tell yourself that there is no reason ever to cut connection. Ever. Boy does that change you. You lose the luxury of the illusion that you do not have to clean things up. Or that you cannot be your most noble self. There’s just you and this promise, this vow, and how the hell you are going to live up to it.

12. Leave your door open and your lights on. This all being said, people can leave you and this is not to suggest that you should put on your Jordans and run after them or check their IG every day. You can stay even when they go. You can leave your door open and your lights on. You don’t have to protect your heart. If you stay in your shared house no matter what, genuinely open, you meet the mark.

13. Learn to play. Here’s where Petruchio comes in handy. Learn to play, to tease, to taunt in order to keep things alive and moving. And if you really want to be advanced, be Kate. “Why if you say it is the moon, then it is the moon,” is a great approach to the silly things we all get so very opinionated about.

14. “What’s mine?” When Emerson said, “Teach us to care and not to care,” he knew what he was talking about. “What’s mine?” is a great question. An opinion given without a request is an insult. It might simply not be any of my business to talk to that person about anyone else. Meddling is a woman’s kryptonite that she applies to her own relationships. Stay in your own lane. Chances are there is plenty of material to work with there.

15. Enjoy the rub. The Abbot at the Zen Center explained that people live in sangha (community) in order to experience the rub, the irritation, the frustration: “Nothing brings up material for meditation more than being around other people that you can’t escape.” Enjoy the rub.

16. Break every form. Break every form that can be broken while promising to remain. Let it be that no one ever has to sell their soul, conform, or accommodate in order to be in relationship with you. Let it be that you are a free enough station that life can do what it wishes through us and all are liberated in the process.

17. Become the person capable of remaining. Remember that at bottom, the vow to remain is a vow to become the person capable of remaining. And the only way you can be that person is to be free of suffering so that you don’t get triggered and leave. The only way to be that is to let go of the illusion of a separate self. Lo and behold…you are committing to your own enlightenment with the added bonus of using a world of friends as the excuse.

18. Remember. A simple trick I use is to remember that no matter what anyone says ever, disconnection is never what will bring happiness. It may bring a temporary relief from discomfort the way that smoking does. But ultimately we would all prefer to be connected to each other. (I know you’re pissed at your mom or your ex and this does not apply to you).

19. Liberate. Be the revolutionary liberator rather than the warden. If your concept of relationship has anything to do with what the other person cannot do, you may be a good or even benevolent warden but that is the imposter of love.

20. If you are ready take the vow, make the commitment, be the bodhisattva. Trungpa describes the relationship between teacher and student but you can extend it to all. He said it’s like getting on a plane together and neither can get off. You can’t just open the door mid-air. Truth is we are all always connected anyway, just sometimes we put our hands over our eyes to pretend like we aren’t. Remove the hand. Look clear-eyed at this world of friends and be Rev. Jo: “You own me for life.”

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