“I am guilty of fabricating a world which I can live and invite others to live in, but outside of that I cannot breathe. I am guilty of too serious, too grave living, but never of shallow living….I have lived in depths….I will die a poet killed by the nonpoets. Will renounce no dream, resign myself to no ugliness, accept nothing of the world but the one I made myself. I wrote, lived, loved like Don Quixote, and on the day of my death I will say: ‘Excuse me, it was all a dream’ and by that time I may have found one who will say: ‘not at all, it was true, absolutely true.’”—Anais Nin
“Deep in her soul - deeper than any appetite for renunciation - was the sense that life would be her business for a long time to come. And at moments there was something inspiring, almost enlivening, in the conviction. It was a proof of strength - it was a proof she should some day be happy again. It couldn’t be she was to life only to suffer; she was still young, after all, and a great many things might happen to her yet. To life only to suffer - to feel the injury of life repeated and enlarged - it seemed to her that she was too valuable, too capable, for that. She wondered if it were vain and stupid to think so well of herself. When had it even been a guarantee to be valuable? Wasn’t all history full of the destruction of precious things? Wasn’t it much more probable that if one were fine one would suffer? it involved perhaps an admission that one had a certain grossness; but Isabel recognised, as it passed before her eyes, the quick shadow of a long future. She should never escape; she should last to the end. Then they middle years wrapped her about again and the grey curtain of her indifference closed her in.”—The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James. (via thatkindofwoman)
“Buy me a ring that will turn my finger green so I can imagine our love is a forest – because I wanna get lost in you. And I swear I grew like a flower every hour of the fifty years I was with you – and that’s not to say we didn’t have bad days. But when morning came, you were laughing. Yeah, there were times we were both half-in and half out the door but I never needed more than the stars of your grin to lead me home. For fifty years, you were my favorite poem and I’d read you every night knowing I might never understand every word but that’s okay – ‘cause the lines of you were the closest thing to holy I’d ever heard. You’d say, “This kind of love has to be a verb.” We are paint on a slick canvas – it’s gonna take a whole lot to stick but if we do, we’ll be a masterpiece. On nights you couldn’t sleep, I’d lay awake for hours counting sheep for you and you would rewrite the rhythm of my heartbeat with the way you held me in the morning, resting your head on my chest and I swear my breath turned silver the day your hair did, like I swore marigolds grew in the folds of my eyelids the first time I saw you and they bloomed the first time I watched you dance to the tune of our kitchen kettle in our living room in a world that could have left us hard as metal, we were soft as nostalgia together. For fifty years, we feathered wings too wide to be prey and we flew through days strong and through days fragile as sand-castles at high tide and you would fold your love into an origami firefly and you’d throw it through my passageways until all my hidden chambers were filled with lanterns, now, every trap door, every pore of my heart is open because of you – because of us.”—Andrea Gibson
“There was a rock-like center to his movements, a sense of perfect gravitation. His emotions, his thoughts revolved around a fixed center like a well-organized planetary system. The trust she felt in his evenly modulated voice, both warm and light, in his harmonious manners never sudden or violent, in his thoughts which he weighed before articulating, in his insights which were moderate, was so great that it resembled a total abandon of herself to him, a total giving. In trust she flowed out to him, grateful and warm. She placed him apart from other men, distinct and unique. He held the only fixed position in the fluctuations of her feelings.”—Anais Nin, A Spy in the House of Love
“In my decades of practice as a psychotherapist, this is the insight that has inspired me most:
Our deepest wounds surround our greatest gifts.
I’ve found that the very qualities we’re most ashamed of, the ones we keep trying to reshape or hide, are in fact the key to finding real love. I call them core gifts.
It’s so easy to get lost in the quest for self-improvement. Every billboard seduces us with the vision of a happier, more successful life. I’m suggesting an opposite road to happiness. If we can name our own awkward, ardent gifts, and extricate them from the shame and wounds that keep them buried, we’ll find ourselves on a bullet train to deep, surprising, life-changing intimacy.
Over the years, I realized that the characteristics of my clients which I found most inspiring, most essentially them, were the ones which frequently caused them the most suffering.
Some clients would complain of feeling like they were “too much”; too intense, too angry, or too demanding. From my therapist’s chair, I would see a passion so powerful that it frightened people away.
Other clients said they felt that they felt like they were “not enough”; too weak, too quiet, too ineffective. I would find a quality of humility and grace in them which would not let them assert themselves as others did.
Clients would describe lives devastated by codependency, and I would see an immense generosity with no healthy limits.
Again and again, where my clients saw their greatest wounds, I also saw their most defining gifts!
Cervantes said that reading a translation is like viewing a tapestry from the back. That’s what it’s like when we try to understand our deepest struggles without honoring the gifts that fuel them.
When we understand our lives through the lens of our gifts it’s as if we step out from behind the tapestry and really see it for the first time. All of a sudden, things make sense. We see the real picture, the moving, human story of what matters most to us. We begin to understand that our biggest mistakes, our most self-sabotaging behaviors were simply convulsive, unskilled attempts to express the deepest parts of ourselves…”