House of Love

"Hello, blank page. We meet again. Each blank page is like a new day, a gift that comes with responsibility. What will I make of you? You scare me, but I love you. It’s appropriate that scared and sacred are virtually the same word, because those two walk hand in hand.

The blank page feels especially scary and sacred today because I’ve decided to respond to a question that’s been asked of me with some frequency: 'Glennon,' people say, 'you were a bulimic for twenty years, an alcoholic and smoker for ten, and a drug user for five. You quit all four cold turkey, without working the twelve steps. That’s unusual. And I notice you’re quite skinny. Are you sure you’re better?'

Better is a troublesome word for me. Better suggests increased value, and I think I was worth exactly the same when I was a fall-down drunk as I am now: a sober, loving, creative wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend."

"I prefer the word healing to the word better. To me, healing means aligning myself—my mind, body, and soul—with the rhythm of the world. It means relaxing into the way things are, floating with the current instead of desperately trying to swim against it. Healing means surrendering to and following the world’s truest rules, the rules created by God.

When discussing God with people of different faiths, Love is a good word to use because most people believe that Love can be trusted. It has been said that the opposite of Love is Hate, or perhaps apathy. Yet, I’m fairly certain that the opposite of Love is Fear. I think the root of all evil is fear.

Love and Fear are opposing voices, opposing ways to live, opposing platforms on which to make daily decisions, view the world, and build a life. The battle between Love and Fear is at the heart of my healing, my recovery, my progress toward heaven. My better.

There are two voices in my head. One jumps up and down, waves its arms, clamors for my attention, and generally annoys the hell (heaven) out of me. That voice is Fear. For twenty years, I heard only the voice of Fear, so I believed fear was the truth. I thought Fear was my voice. Here is what Fear said to me, all day, every day: [...]"

"There is not enough for you. Hurry. Grab food, grab money, grab attention and fame and validation and praise, and hold on tight. These things might never come your way again. The more for her, the less for you. Get what you can while you can and hoard it, hide it. Actually, forget it. Take nothing. You don’t deserve anything. And stay away from people. If anyone really knew you, they’d be horrified. There is something very, very wrong with you. Look at your life, your body, your face! Humiliating. Grotesque. You are beyond repair. You have nothing to offer. Life has nothing to offer either—nothing you deserve, at least. Life is terrible and soul crushing to weaklings like you. You will not be able to handle it. Stay quiet and hide until the end.

I followed every one of Fear’s directions for nearly twenty years."

"Then, when I got pregnant, I was certain it would end badly, because Fear told me that an unhappy ending was exactly what a girl like me deserved. But it didn’t end badly; it ended miraculously. I found myself holding a beautiful, perfect baby boy—a completely undeserved gift. And a kind, giving, gorgeous man decided to marry me. ME. And after the decades of pain I caused my friends and my family, they still surrounded me and loved my little family and wanted to help us.

It occurred to me, Could Fear be wrong? I said, Are you a LIAR, Fear? Is there another way to live? Is there another voice?

As soon as I figured out that Fear wasn’t my only voice, it faded into the background. Something else emerged. This presence had been sitting quietly and solidly, with a voice as tall and deep and wide as a redwood tree. This voice, I understood quickly, was Love. I call him Jesus, and in my mind’s eye he sits, smiling softly, still as a rock, and knowing.

I couldn’t hear Love because I was never quiet enough. Fear does not want you to hear what is said in the quiet, because Love and Truth are there. So Fear yells and jumps relentlessly, like a desperate actor on an infomercial. But Love is patient. Love waits until you are ready to tune out Fear. When I was ready, I could hear Love speak.

Love said:

Stop grabbing, sweetheart. Stop holding your breath. Breathe. There is enough. I’ve created an abundance of acceptance, attention, recognition, joy, peace, money, energy, clothes, food. I will never leave you without enough. And there is nothing to be afraid of. No feeling, no circumstance, no person. These things come and they go, and you can live through them, without running, hiding, numbing, or hurting another of my children. And did you know this, my angel? There has never been anything wrong with you—not one day in your life. You are exactly who you were meant to be, right now, as you are. You are not to be ashamed. You punish yourself, but you have no reason to be punished. You have done just fine. No one wants you punished. You can stop that now. You are free. Now listen carefully, because this is important: When you were born, I put a piece of myself in you. Like an indestructible, brilliant diamond, I placed a part of me inside of you. That part of you—the very essence of you, in fact—is me; it is Love, it is perfect, and it is untouchable. No one can take it, and you can’t give it away. It is the deepest, truest part of you, the part that will someday return to me. You are Love. You cannot be tarnished by anything you’ve done or that anyone else has done to you. Everyone carries this piece of me—this perfect Love. You are all a part of me, and I am part of you, and you are a part of each other. The essence of each of you is Love. Your first job is to know that: to float and swim in that knowledge, to believe that the Love, the spirit, the God in you and in everyone, is equally brilliant and unmarred. Your second job is to help other people know about their brilliance, their essence, their perfection, their core—which is perfect Love. When they speak to you from their fear—speak past their fear and directly to their love. Their Love will step forward eventually. It’s one of my Rules. Be patient. Do not worry. Come out of hiding, because you have these two jobs to do: be still and know, and then help others know. Since you carry me with you, you know what to do. You always know the next right thing. Be still and ask yourself, What would love do? Then get quiet, and I, I, inside of you, will tell you. You will take the next right step. Love will reveal itself one step at a time, the whole way home. Along the way, accept my blessings and give them away freely. You are worthy of giving and receiving. Believe. You are new, every moment, new. Your time, your energy, your mind, the people who come into your life—they are all gifts from me and they are infinite. They belong to you and to everyone else."

"In one of my favorite books, Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott quotes William Blake: ‘We are put on this Earth to learn to endure the beams of Love.’ Enduring Love burns at first. The Love voice is nearly impossible to accept, because it seems too good to be true.

But I really wanted Love to be true, so I decided to give her a chance. Love promised that I didn’t have to run or hide or numb myself from life anymore. Love told me that I could live through my feelings with her help. I decided to test these promises one at a time. I stopped smoking, drinking, bingeing, puking, and drugging, all at once. I read somewhere that 'the truth will set you free—but it will piss you off first.' That certainly proved to be accurate. I shook and sweated and cursed Love for two weeks. Eventually, though, I stopped shaking. The world became brighter and clearer. I saw my first sober sunrise in decades.

After I gave birth to Chase, I felt myself loving my baby, giving myself to him, caring for his needs, as if I had something to offer. I wasn’t sure I actually had something to offer him, but it felt like I had to pretend I did. So I just pretended. But he responded to my offering by loving and needing me. Me. And I knew he wasn’t pretending because he was just a baby and babies haven’t heard fear yet. The love between Chase and me became very, very real. So I tried loving my husband too. Loving Craig, a real live grown-up, was harder—but he responded too. I could tell that he was starting to love me back.

These two people, they needed me. Me. If two such good, kind, full people needed and wanted and loved me, could I really be so worthless? Suddenly it seemed that there might be parts of life that were beautiful and good and that were meant for ME. I became even more suspicious of the bastard from whom I’d been taking orders for twenty years.

So I started listening harder. I looked closely at people and nature and read books about God and Love. Without all the bingeing and purging, my skin cleared up and my cheeks, bloated from years of broken blood vessels, flattened out. As the tobacco loosened from my lungs, I was able to take deep breaths again. I needed those deep breaths. I felt sad and terrified and angry, and with nothing to dull those feelings, I learned to just let feelings be—because eventually they pass. I learned that all things pass; that life is hard to endure but not impossible. I discovered that after the enduring, if you choose not to run away, there are prizes. Those prizes are wisdom and dignity. I learned that Love and I, We could do hard things.

Next, I tested out Love’s claim that I had nothing to be ashamed of. That promise was the hardest to swallow, but since Love had not lied to me yet, I had to try. I started writing and publishing all of the secret thoughts and feelings that Fear had promised I’d be shunned and despised for having. I published my insides on the Internet. The Internet is read by many, many people, you know. Many people whose anonymity allows them to be especially vicious. Still, I did not become despised. Very few were vicious. It turned out that sharing my secret self made me more beloved by others than I’d ever been in my life. Then I saw that when I allowed Love to set me free through my writing, my readers decided to set themselves free too. Another miracle: people wrote, not to say that they were disgusted or horrified by me, but that they saw themselves—their own battles and triumphs—in my experiences.

And I realized the secret of my writing is this: the voice I use to write is not really my voice. It’s Love’s voice. I say what she says; I write what she prompts me to write. And that’s why you recognize the voice. Because you have the same voice inside you. My love voice speaks directly to yours. We are the same. At our core, we are exactly the same. We are Love. The heart rejoices when it hears the truth. Namaste—the divine light in me recognizes and honors the divine light in you.

Next, I decided to test Love’s claims about giving. Craig and I gave away all of our money, twice. Once to an orphanage and again to our mortgage company. With nothing, we were happier than we’d ever been. That’s the thing about losing it all. You realize you’re fine without it. For the first time in our lives, we felt secure. It was a miracle. When you give it all away—the stuff—you learn that it is impossible to lose whatever it is that you cannot live without. Love was right. The thing you need is unshakable, untakable. What you need is not in things, it’s in you. It’s Love."

"The more fiercely I believe what Love says and the more boldly I live out her promises, the healthier and stronger and realer I become. So, for me, it’s not a question of better. It’s about a daily choice: the constant battle to listen to Love and silence Fear. Of course, even though I choose Love daily, I can still hear the reverberations of Fear’s voice, like a bell that keeps echoing even after it’s been stilled. Right now I am neither Fear nor Love, but the one who chooses between them. However, I have a feeling that after years of choosing Love, after decades of ignoring Fear and tuning into Love, I will turn into Love. I pray that she and I will become one, that eventually all the words that come out of my mouth will be her words. And that when I slip into the arms of God, it will be as if there were no break at all in our eternal conversation. When I die, God will look at me and say, 'Now where were we, Darling?'

But for now, I feel myself rising, rising, rising. I am free. I am healing."