Dillon called and began to describe his fears, sprinkled generously with guilt.
"What's on your plate now?" I asked.
"What do you mean?"
"All your life you've been starving to death from a lack of love. Now you have several people who are filling your plate up right now with the love you've been looking for all these years. You have a choice. You could feel guilty about all the mistakes you've made in the past—along with the mistakes made by others. OR you could worry about not getting enough love in the future. But while you're feeling guilty about the past or afraid for the future, it's quite impossible for you to feel the love that fills the plate sitting right in front of you."
"But I thought I was supposed to tell the truth about myself—about my fears and everything."
"Of course. You do need to feel loved while you're afraid, but then if you don't also see the truth of what you're being given, you'll stay afraid, which is not what you want, right?"
"So again, you have a choice: fear and guilt, or gratitude. Gratitude is not a falsely inflated positive attitude. It's recognizing the truth about the love you already have. That simple recognition multiplies the effect of what you have. Without gratitude, all the love just passes you by. That would be tragic."
"That feels different already, seeing the truth of what I have."
Later that day Dillon sent me this message:
"I don't believe I've ever understood gratitude until now. I was so eaten up with fear that it never even occurred to me that I was ignoring the rest of the truth—that I've been offered a lot of love.
"Now I'm seeing that you have accepted me completely, despite dozens of things I've told you about me that I thought made me disgusting and worthless. I have never had that kind of acceptance in all my life. And you loved me right from the beginning, without any effort on my part. You love me like I am a child. RIGHT NOW I have someone who loves me no matter how stupid I am or what mistakes I make. You love me when I'm blind and confused, and even when I throw away the love you give me. What I have is so rare, so precious, it's a miracle.
"And there are other Real Love people who care about me. Every time Marilyn sits and listens to me on the phone, she's loving me. Same with Carolyn. Every time you drop everything you're doing and talk to me, you're loving me. With all that, it's pretty hard to deny that I'm loved. It just never registered before that I'm getting what I've been looking for all my life, so I've been missing it. Kind of dumb. I just couldn't imagine that people could care about me like this, so I stayed in my pain.
"I have a gourmet dinner sitting in front of me. That's all I need to know. I don't need to feel pain about all the years I had nothing, and I don't have to worry about it going away. I can just eat. Pretty great."
It's not possible to feel grateful and unhappy at the same time. I recommend the former.
Replace your fear & confusion with peace and happiness.
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