Your longing is not a curse


I know sometimes longing hurts. It feels like your heart is being squeezed by a cruel unseen hand. When you are in the grip of it, it can feel like hell. And if someone comes along and tells you that you can soften, even inside of that torturous grip, you may just want to slap that oh so enlightened soul. That mix of frustration and desire.

Here’s the thing. Your longing is not a curse.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Lover archetype. We’ve all found ourselves in the drama of what they used to call “unrequited love.”That mix of frustration and desire, wanting them so badly but it just isn’t happening in the way we are sure could be so good! But it’s not only romance that can give you the sting of unrequited love. Anything you want badly but that seems out of your grasp can put you in this state of longing. Often we experience it as some kind of torture.

To all the enneagram type 4’s–we tend to make longing into an extreme sport, even an art, and we build an identity around it; if something isn’t missing, then who am I?
If you don’t know what the enneagram is or you’re not into personality typing stuff, that’s fine too. You’ve had the experience of longing and it probably felt terrible and pointless. What is the reason for all this suffering if you don’t get the thing you want? That perfect yet distant lover, if only he would realize already, that you’re the one! Or that thing you can’t stop dreaming about no matter how much you try to let. it. go.

I know this terrain. When I started delving into “personal development” I tried to “heal” from this unenlightened, much too melancholy, embarrassingly sentimental streak. So then, on top of feeling terrible because I was caught up in the longing, I added another layer of feeling ashamed that I was wired like this.

Yes, I was that teenage girl who cried at music, great big sobs would come upon me suddenly and I’d feel huge yearning that brought me to my knees. I remember being sixteen and talking to my best friend about feeling like something deep in me was missing and that I longed to be united with whatever that was. I wasn’t reading the great religious texts. I wasn’t into the lives of the saints. I just intuited mysterious things that my mind could not explain.But the mind filled in. I must want the perfect love, or to write the perfect novel, make the great painting. All worthwhile endeavors.

But, what I really wanted was something deeper, something that I sensed when I read a great poem or lost myself in music. I don’t like to use words like divine, but I guess divine refers to the ineffable, the thing beyond words, what the mystics have always tried and never totally succeeded in putting into language.

But, I finally stopped demonizing this tendency of mine toward longing, and something magical happened when I got curious about it instead.

I stopped  seeing this part of me as some mental health issue to work my way through in therapy. I found that if I can be with it and accept myself exactly as I am in those moments, I see this longing actually connects me in a direct line which I can trace to the deepest recesses of my heart.

What I find there is the flame of pure desire. And I mean desire not just in the sexual or erotic sense, though these are certainly expressions of that flame. I mean desire as an animating force. The outer expression could be any number of things, but that is not so important. Ultimately I believe on the other end of that line of longing that connects to my heart is nothing less than god.

So now when that heart wrenching longing wakes up in me, I pay attention. If I can drop the judgment, drop the reflex to numb it out or diffuse it, and instead go into the center of the longing itself, I find the beating core of my life. Here is the place where anguish and joy meet and dance and become indistinguishable. The place where poems are born, and ecstasy is available, and the place where the lover in me feels so alive. And for that, regardless of outcomes, for that experience I am so grateful. I get to feel the pulse of my desire and that pulse is love.

Here is some Rumi. He knew.

Some Kiss We Want
There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,

the touch of Spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl

to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately

it needs some wild Darling!

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face into mine.

Breathe into me.

Close the language-door,

and open the love-window.

The moon won’t use the door,

only the window.


2 thoughts on “Your longing is not a curse

  1. Yes!! You and I have had great conversations about dealing with longing. I agree that it is totally healthy and a necessary part of our existence. Its the letting go of outcomes part that takes some practice. Thanks for posting 🙂


  2. I found this place in myself today, and it was so wrapped up in old hurt that I had to shed many tears before I could even get to the feeling of longing, of letting myself want what I told myself so long ago that I couldn’t have.


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