Marianne Williamson

"Healing is the way in which separation is overcome. "

Our barriers to love are rarely consciously chosen. They are our
efforts to protect the places where
the heart is bruised. Somewhere, sometime, we felt as though an
open heart caused us pain or
humiliation. We loved with the openness of a child, and someone
didn't care, or laughed, or even
punished us for the effort. In a quick moment, perhaps a fraction
of a second, we made a decision
to protect ourselves from ever feeling that pain again. We would
never again allow ourselves to be
so vulnerable. We built emotional defenses. We tried to build a
fortress across our heart', to protect
us from any cold assault. The only problem is, according to the
Course, that we create what we
defend against.
There was a time in my life when I felt I should stop opening up
so much to people who didn't
honor my heart as I wished it to be honored. I was angry at
people who I felt had hurt me, but I
denied the anger instead of getting in touch with it and
releasing it to God. This is a common trap
for Course students. If anger isn't brought up into conscious
awareness, it has no place to go. It
either turns into an attack on self or an inappropriate
unconscious attack on others.
So not recognizing the full extent of my anger, and thinking that
the lesson to be learned was
merely that I shouldn't reveal so much of my honest feelings, I


went into relationships with two strikes against me: I was
closed-read that as cold-and armed with
hidden emotional knives coming from my unconscious anger.
Contrary to whatever front I might
have been able to lead with, that's not -exactly a delightful
package. Between the coldness and the
anger, I could turn off the saintliest men. This', of course,
only increased my anger and distrust.
I was once talking to a very wise therapist. I made some comment
like, "Well, a lot of women
my age are finding it very hard to find really loving,
committable, available men." Her answer rang
through my head like church bells. "When a woman says that to
me," she said) "what we usually
find when we look closely enough is a contempt for men."
Contempt for men. Contempt for men. The words resounded through
my skull. I don't know if
that was the issue for every woman she spoke to, but I knew she
had hit the nail on the head in my
case. I had often thought about the idea in the Course that we
think we are angry at what our
brother did to us, but that really we are angry because of what
we've done to him. I had vaguely
known that that was true, but it took a lot of uncovering to see
what it was I was doing to these
guys who I just knew were doing all these horrible things to me!
The Course speaks of "shadow
figures" we bring with us from our past. It tells us that we tend
to see no one as they are now. We
keep blaming someone in the present for something someone else
did in the past.


Some poor man would tell me, "Darling, I'm not able to come back
Sunday night like I'd planned.
I've got to keep working on this project. I might not be back
until Tuesday." Well, he might as well
have just told me that my cat was dead and the dog was dying. The
problem wasn't that the man
wasn't coming home for a few days more. The problem was how it
made me feel inside to hear him
say that. Such a dark despair would run across my heart, I can't
begin to tell you. I wasn't relating
to that man, or this circumstance. I was remembering all the
times I had ever felt as though I didn't
matter, I wasn't attractive, Daddy didn't want to hold me, or
someone else didn't want to have sex
From a Course perspective, this situation was coming up now in
order for me to feel that
feeling, and know that it had nothing to do with the present. I
asked for a miracle: 'I am willing to
see this differently. I am willing to remember who I am.' God's
answer to my pain was not going to
be-contrary to what my ego kept insisting was the only way out of
this grief-a man who was going
to tell me sixty times a day, "You're fabulous, you're wonderful,
I love you, I want you," and then
show me just how desirable I really was, maybe twice, preferably
three times a day. The healing, in
fact, was bound to come ultimately from men who would not-because
no one can) really- tolerate
my neediness or the guilt I would try to project onto them in
order to get my needs met. Or what I
thought my needs were. My real need, of course, was to realize


I didn't need a man to fill what only felt like these insatiable
emotional needs. The needs themselves
were not real, but merely a reflection of the fact that I thought
of myself as less than perfect.
Salvation would only come through my relinquishing the thought
that I wasn't good enough. By
defending myself against being abandoned I continued to recreate
the conditions in which it was
bound to occur.
Why can't men commit? I can only answer for some of them that
I've known, but in those
cases, and in the cases of many women I've observed, men haven't
committed because the women
have been armored against it. Our armor is our darkness-the dark
of the heart, the dark of the pain,
the dark of the moment when we make that wicked comment or that
unfair request.
Our defenses reflect our wounds. But no person can heal those
wounds. They can give us love,
innocently and sincerely, but if we're already convinced that
people can't be trusted-if that's the
decision we've already made-then our mind will construe whatever
someone's behavior is, as
evidence that our previously drawn conclusion was correct. The
Course tells us we decide what we
want to see before we see it. If we want to focus on someone's
lack of respect for our feelings, we
can certainly find it, given the fact that I don't know of many
enlightened masters available for
dating in the major cities of America today. But a lot of
people are making greater efforts than we
give them credit for, and are working against some formidable
odds when our


egos have convinced us that men or women are jerks, or
don't like us, or always leave, or that there just aren't
any good ones out there.