Dangerous Compassions


parsley tea

Hello, how are you doing?  I’ve been thinking about breaking up.  My good friend is about to break up with a partner.  It’s been a long time coming.  I did that divorce ritual with my housemate a couple weeks ago, when she quit her job.  Breaking up is a weird extreme thing to do.  I like it as a way to divest.


We have been striving for connection, figuring out how to be close and love one another, changing and reforming our relationship like a lump of clay.  We show up respectful and fresh every day, hopefully.

Or one person is working way harder.  The energy isn’t there.  We keep hurting one another so much, it doesn’t make sense anymore.  We made a valiant effort, and there’s only so much we can do.

I have no more tricks up my sleeve.  I gave all I can give.  My energy is spent, and it doesn’t make sense to rest and keep trying.

Or violence is marring everything.  Someone’s got unhealed trauma so bad that the other needs to flee.

Or a neutral mismatch of needs and resources is there.  Lack of balance leads to resentment and chaos.

Or there were lies holding it together to begin with.  All different reasons to break up.

love first–ask questions later

I tend to commit fast and hard.  You know my motto.  Love first–ask questions later.  I make mistakes by giving a lot to people who don’t even want it.  I could hate myself for that, and I’ve spent years hating myself with lots of effort.  Yes, I wasted so much energy hating myself.  I do that less now.

The good thing about investing is that it’s possible to make a new choice and divest.  With money, it might be simple.  There is some money, which is measurable in a number.  It was in one account–move it to another.

Emotions and relationship are different to divest.  The intangible resources are hard to measure and might be hard to move.  Many people just ghost someone.  But I find that cowardly and mostly dysfunctional.  Ghosting has its place, but only in danger.

I live in community and larger communities.  If a person I love lives in the same town as me, we will run into one another.  If we’re activists in the same orgs, or even share friends and will see one another at a party.  How do we stay connected in a kind way, with significantly less intimacy and care?


I can make a list of what I will no longer do for this person.  Long ago breaking up with my ex-husband, I remember changing what I called him by.  That was a big deal.  In other breakups, I’ve stopped reminding people of things I had been reminding them of, or stopped making sure they did a thing that I had helped carry the responsibility for.

This was often with men.  I’m responsible, attentive, and carry a lot in my head at once.  I’ve been connected to men who have good intentions but are absentminded and will forget very important aspects of projects.  I would remind, re-remind, co-work with, email them, txt them, and help facilitate many pieces of the work they did.

Often they were getting paid for that work, and I was not.  And / or they were getting glory, building their empire, and I was not.


I was doing something like den mothering–something like “behind every good man is a great woman.”  Even with me and Ming.  Ming is not a man, and I’m not bitter about what I do for him.  But a lot of what he does is because I urged him to.  He never would have done it if I hadn’t asked him to and reminded him twice.

But he is the one who actually does it, so he gets thanked.  Almost no one recognizes that he did it because I made sure he did it.  Or it’s taken for granted as part of the huge tidal wave of work that women do as a matter of course.

That taken for granted-ness is misogyny.   When Ming says, “Oh, you’re welcome.  I did that because Laura-Marie asked me to,” the person might thank me also, awkwardly.  Or the person might ignore Ming’s comment because they don’t care or won’t admit that the force that made it happen was my own shakti energy, the primordial animating energy of the universe.


Often it’s necessary to divest.  No, I can’t keep tying your shoes.  I’m not showing up for misogyny anymore.  The lack of balance is killing me.  I feel my life trickling out of me, and I need to heal the wound.  I don’t exist for this.

The world and my family of origin told me that I exist to give and give to others until I’m dead.  But I can make a better choice, divest, center myself, and live for myself.  This visualization is a nice way to see it.  You could use it as part of a ritual or on its own.


I see this man I loved as a creek, river, stream, rapids, or waterfall.  There is a moving body of water, more beautiful than anything, and it has its banks.

I loved this body of water so much.  Rarely have I been so charmed.  It took my breath away and meant everything to me.  So I invested a lot almost right away, without worrying about it too much.  The investment made total sense to me, no questions asked.  Almost right away, I buried a fuckton of riches in the bank of the stream.

But the stream didn’t need me at all.  The stream was doing its thing long before I came around.  I was a newcomer upstart.  But I thought I could do some good and find safety there.  I adored the body of water without question, so I invested much of what I have.


But that was all pretty much a mistake.  My riches were not wanted and asked for.  They might not even be comprehensible.  My love was mostly confusing.  Love comes easily to me and might be automatic.  But other people don’t work that way.  I do not match the ways of almost any other people, in how I do relationship and love.  Being social is so mystifying to me.  Yet I keep trying.

I’m not going to kick myself about the mistake.  It’s ok to make mistakes–it means I’m trying.  And honestly I would prefer a world where we’re making deep investments in one another, trusting, caring, and giving a lot.  I wish for that world.

But I feel on my own making it, most days.  Love is a skill we can strengthen–love is my favorite thing to do and a great choice.  My body is made to hold other bodies.  I find safety in love, not money.  I need safety, and I’m willing to work for it.  But most people aren’t living that way, or they’re doing micro-movements where I find mega-movements necessary.  So be it.

dig it

I have a wheelbarrow and a shovel.  Ming is at our home, and hugs me goodbye as he blesses me.  I’m off to the stream.  I wheel my wheelbarrow and shovel to the river bank, through a forest.  Twigs snap underfoot, I view ferns, and I like the lichen.  Birds are singing in the canopy.

I reach the stream and find the place I invested thousands and thousands of gleaming gold coins.

It’s time to dig them up.  I sink my shovel into the bank, and I find some golden coins in the earth.  I start filling my wheelbarrow.  I dig and dig, finding more and more beautiful coins.  Feels ok to lift them up from the place I left them.  They’re still mine, after all.  The stream didn’t know what to do with them anyway.

Finally I have all the coins in my wheelbarrow, so I start filling the hole back in.  I jump on the ground to compact it, move more earth, and jump on the ground again.  I put my shovel into the wheelbarrow and wheel the considerably heavier load back home.

redistribution of resources

At home, I start redistributing the golden coins.  Wow, I forgot how beautiful they were.  It’s great to see them again.

First I give an armful to Ming.  He’s happy to accept them.  Then I shove some under our bed.  I set some aside to give friends who are kind, skilled, and generous with me.  They will know what to do with these coins.

I give a coin to Bunny.  Of course he owns nothing and has no idea what to do with it.  But he’s happy nonetheless to see this pretty glowing golden thing.  I give him a kiss.

I put some coins on my altar, and I set some outside under a tree.  Then I keep a coin for myself.  Yes, I deserve this too.

The wheelbarrow is empty now, and I turn it over to get the last bits of dirt out.  Ming says he’s proud of me for doing what I want to do.  Our family feels way richer.


What do you think of this visualization, reader?  I like the divest metaphor as joke, with the resources I’m pulling out of the bank.  Often my dreams have good puns, and this feels like an intentional dream for a good purpose.

Do you have people, places, things you need to divest from?  I still might need to think of the actual things I will no longer do.  But symbolic work in ritual and visualization helps me get my motivation straight, at least.  That’s a big part of the challenge.  If the motivation crumbles, my behavior can too.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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