by Wendy Strgar March 27, 2009
Here’s a New Year’s resolution that anyone can keep. Give the people you love, starting with yourself, the benefit of the doubt. Generally speaking and almost without exception most of us are doing the best that we can at any given moment. We are being as loving as we can be, as kind as we can be, as generous as we can be, even though our best might not make it, even and especially in our own eyes.
This was brought home to me in a deep and personal way as I spent the holidays with my original family. Although the visit did not include any storming out or other traumatic arguments that suggested the end of the relationship, the very lack of them and what was left over made the reality of the relationship clear. It was a bittersweet departure, with this realization of what was left between us, and our agreement to not try to be understood or provoke a healing in all the old wounds.
My fifteen year old son commented that my mother did not bring out the best in me. He loves his newfound wisdom and I could not argue the point. Sometimes the love we can express doesn’t bring out the best in us, and although we may wish to be kinder and more loving the reality of the past and all the baggage that is visceral in us allows only the benefit of the doubt to protect us.
It is a humbling realization. To see the limits of one’s own capacity to love so clearly and still try to come to a place of loving oneself. This is actually our only choice and in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech “Where do we go from here?” He calls this creative redemptive love ultimately the only answer we have as a human family. This redemptive love, which is far from the way we idealize loving relationships, is what we are given to build family and community with. It has to be enough.
With many people in my life, loving them brings out the best in me. I am inspired by my ability to give generously of my time and resources. It is comforting and easy for me to accept even my weaknesses when I am with these heart connections. I don’t have to think about giving the benefit of the doubt so much in these relationships because they make me feel strong and, on good days, confident.
But what this new year taught me is that until I can embrace the relationships where I am weakest, and meaner than I want to believe, I can’t fully embrace the rich heart connections because all those parts of me live in me and can’t be neatly separated by the quality of the relationship. In fact the more complex the relationship the more likely that the benefit of the doubt is the only thing that can sustain us living on this little blue planet spinning in space.
by Wendy Strgar May 22, 2018
There is no time like long summer nights to cultivate our uniquely, profoundly human capacity for pleasure, especially sexual pleasure. Our pleasure response transforms our relationship to each other and even to life itself. Focusing on pleasure not only changes how we see our opportunities for intimate connection, but also invites us into a deeper relationship with our erotic soul.
by Wendy Strgar May 17, 2018
It becomes hard to trust your own thinking when nothing seems to be working. The space between how I thought it would go and how it is going seems to widen in front of my eyes. Maybe most difficult of all is how often the undesirable outcomes around us spill over into our relationships, both at home and at work. An errant comment too easily turns into an argument. I become blind to my impact on people around me, caught up in the unresolved problems surrounding me. During times like these, we often underestimate the power of the choices we make and how it can create a path back towards what’s working or down the slippery slope of self-destruction, which my husband affectionately calls “flirting with the gutter.”
Here is my short list to making it better when it isn’t working at all. Each one helps you do the next one, so start at the beginning and work your way down.
by Wendy Strgar May 03, 2018