Comforting Words: 10/2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wilderness Journal: Day 4

At the Center

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Day 4 and I spent a very long time at the Center of the Medicine Wheel, the place of the Eternal Fire.

The previous afternoon into evening and well into the night was spent in complete silence. Only the sound of the ringing telephone jarred me out of the silence until I finally unplugged it. Much had come to me during the course of the day and I needed to immerse myself in the ‘flames’ so that only what was real would remain.

As I stood in the Center, in utter silence, I knew my direction was changing. There was a strong wind blowing and it was the wind of Peace and Acceptance and it was coming from the South. I struggled in this wind a bit because I did not feel completely ready to head that way – there were still issues plaguing me, conversations that stirred something deep in my soul and a longing to be free was contending with my desire to see justice done.

This book, The Flowering of the Soul: A Book of Prayers By Women, had come into my awareness at work earlier that day and I had brought it home with me. I reached from my seat on the floor – it was lying on the pillow next to mine – and started reading. It was approximately 3:00 a.m. and this prayer moved me gently into the Southerly wind.

Morning Prayer:

Faith and Trust

O God, who am I now?
Once, I was secure in familiar territory
In my sense of belonging
Unquestioning of
The norms of culture
The assumptions built into my language
The values shared by my society.
But now you have called me out and away from home
And I do not know where you are leading.
I am empty, unsure [and] uncomfortable.
I have only a beckoning star to follow.
Journeying God,
Pitch your tent with mine
So that I may not become deterred by hardships, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must take
Toward a wealth not dependent on possessions
Toward a wisdom not based on books
Toward a strength not bolstered by might
Toward a God not confined to heaven
But scandalously earthed, poor, unrecognized…
Help me to find myself
As I walk in others’ shoes.

I could not have said it any better than how Kate Compston did and I wondered what was happening in her life in the moment that she wrote that prayer. Not dwelling on that for long, however, I stepped into my process of acknowledgment.

Acknowledgement of Vulnerability

Whether it was the time spent in silence, shutting out the noise of the world or simply that I was ready, I acknowledge what remain ‘trouble spots’ for me:

  1. Sleep – I am still unable to get a full night sleep but for last night that was good as I was fully awake, holding the memories as they arose, kissed them and returned them to their trove. It was harder to do so with some more than others but I am working at it. Interestingly enough, there were some memories that came and stayed with me for the entire night – they were the ones that reminded me of my strength. Take this one for example, in the 1990’s we (you know who I mean – right?) were at a breaking point with Jamaica and with our various families and just wanted to get away from the closets that both created for many reasons. We made a very desperate attempt to migrate to England – one that failed and cost us every thing we had. We both had fairly good jobs that we had left to go off to explore the world freely and unencumbered by society or family demands but as it became clear that that plan had to be shelved so too had the fact that the Jamaican economy had sunk even further into depression. Swallowing my pride, I who had a secretary prior to this debacle became one through a temp agency to help put food on our table. I went into that office every day with my pride in my stomach, sharpened my neurotic boss’ twenty pencils until they had a just so perfect point and typed away. We (you know who and I ) would meet each evening after work and our prayer would be a deep look into each other’s eyes which would say, “It’s alright, we will be okay.” These prayers were soon answered as within a couple months, I was recruited to join an agency as Public Relations Director and she was on air again.

  2. Diet/Nutrition – Still doing the survival eating, although today I had a much bigger serving of the leftover Fried Rice that I have been eating for three days or so now. My stomach cried out, “What are you doing! We haven’t had that much in two weeks!” It is still crying so I guess that is it for the night.

  3. Finances - The attack that I experienced yesterday was driven largely by realizing that I am totally exposed. Sadly, the recent record has not been too impressive and that worried me. My concern that escalated into the attack had more to do though with recognizing my need to be free. I had been asked to make no contact, etc., and I was beginning to feel quite perplexed as a promised call to let me know about my medication had not come. All these things combined with my outrage at the half-truth told to my daughter and I just knew that I had to find a way to release you know who from any sense of obligation to me. For my part, the idea of having to take money or rely on the support of someone who told me that the smiles, laughter and even tears that they shared with me were false ones was repulsive. It cheapened my sensibilities and sense of self to think that my welfare was so dependent on someone who wanted nothing to do with me. So on this Day 4, as I stood in the fire, holding my financial situation and concerns up to the heavens I read this prayer written by Mother Teresa and printed in the book mentioned earlier:
Deliver me, O [God],
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the desire of being popular,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being suspected.


Self- Awareness: Locating Oneself

“Where are you today?”

I was still very much on my knees at the ‘entrance’ to a dark forest at the start of the day, in imagery and in actuality. In fact, I spent most of the morning on my knees before the altar in my bedroom. As I rose off them several hours later, I knew what had to be done. From hereon, this day unfolded differently and so too will this post.


As I flipped through this Book of Prayer for Women, I came to Chapter 19 and immediately I recognized it as the place I needed to be.

Dealing with surrendering to Divine Will, it was here I truly located myself as being in the first stage of prayer where one contemplates “What ‘Your will be done’ means in our lives.” (291) All through the previous evening into night that was what I was intentionally doing. Actually, that was what this Wilderness Journal was all about – chronicling my personal struggle dealing with the abrupt end of my relationship, revealing the moments from extremely deep despair which was highlighted by my attempted suicide.

This was my way of working through the grief process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) after experiencing a real and serious trauma. Some people never do this, some do it privately but I chose to do it publicly as that is my way – it has been since 2005 with the start of this blog. Yes, there was some bitterness and great amount of anger but there was always truth. Nothing written here over the past two weeks, in fact the almost two years of Comforting Words, was a lie to my knowledge.

On Day 4, kneeling before my altar, I was fully ready to say “Your will be done.” I realized that I was moving into the place of acceptance, surrender and hopefully peace will soon come.

I really like these words from the book: “When we say ‘Your will be done’ we have to have in mind ‘all possible misfortunes added together,” for God’s will is not necessarily ours.”

Oh so true. If it were my will, October 8 (the day she told me she resented me and wanted out) would never have happened. If it were my will, October 18 (the day I tried to kill myself out of shame and despair) would never have happened. If it were my will, my life would not have changed in the way it did. If it were my will, the woman who I to this minute still consider my soul mate would be watching television with me now. If it were my will, we would be on a plane to Montreal next year as planned and I would have asked her to make it official.

But it is not my will. And so I said this prayer, from the same book and written by Marguerite Porete, asking God to let Her will be done:

“Divine Mother, I hereby surrender my will and my love; you have brought them to the point of surrender. I had thought that my calling was always to live in love through the promptings of my will. But now both love and will – which brought me out of my spiritual childhood – are dead to me, and in this death I find my freedom.”

Tears streaming down my cheek, I rose to my feet, blew out the candles and went to start making space.

Making Space

The second stage of surrender is when we Make Space “for God’s life, spirit, and intention – and not ours.” It is when we empty ourselves or put to death “our needs, fears, desires, anxieties, expectations of outcomes and wants." I had started that process on Day 3, however, I was still hanging on to some expectations, desires and fears (expressing as anger and in other ways).

They would not go automatically simply because I said so, but there were things that I could do to help the process along, namely face my fear(s) by looking to my source of strength as evidenced by the memory I shared earlier. It was also important to me to start releasing expectations – my own and those that others had of me. I was expecting you know who to do the right thing(s) by me, be compassionate toward me and assure me that I was safe. She could not for her own reasons and I needed to be completely okay with that. I also needed to release other people’s expectations of me to be the strong one, or to stop crying or to stop saying that I still and will always love you know who because it did not make sense to them.

The only thing required of me was to be empty. These words from Porete nudged me along the way:

“Those who want only God’s will want nothing for themselves, except to carry out God’s will for themselves and for others. But those who operate through their own will leave no space for God.”

With that I moved to the third stage of surrender.


In this stage, one learns to welcome all experiences, good or bad, as gifts from the Divine. I have been doing that partially throughout the previous days, as I tried to see the gift in everything that happened. It was extremely hard and I was not successful in every instant but I am also human.

For me there are practical steps that I had to take to even have a chance to fully enter this stage. So by 9:00 a.m., I sent the emails that needed to go out and made the necessary phone calls. I went to work feeling much lighter and after doing some of the more pressing things, I placed the next necessary call. I called you know who to let her know that:

  1. I will be filing personal bankruptcy – as I cannot afford to meet our debt that has been accumulated in my name. However, more important, doing this would give both of us ‘full’ freedom from each other – she would not have to be obliged to pay half of our bills and I would not have to be obliged to accept charity. The first telephone call of the morning was to a debt/financial consultant with whom I have an appointment this Friday to start the process.

  2. I will be withdrawing from my current programme, as I have not been able to do any assignments for the last two or so weeks and really do not think that I will be able to keep up.

  3. I will be leaving Canada as soon as the bankruptcy papers are filed (in two months). My friend in the United States will send me the ticket and I will go there to for a while until I make another decision.

  4. She will have to assume responsibility for my dog, Angello, who she gifted to me six years ago in celebration of my return home (Jamaica) to her after working overseas for two years.

What was her response? I do not know and I cannot afford to care.

The next call I made was to my daughter to tell her the news. She did not take it well but tried to remain stoic (she learnt well from her Aunty you know who). We will be meeting for dinner this Sunday as she is trying to wrap her head around it and have so many questions. My prayer and hope is that she will learn the power of forgiveness and honesty, or the lack thereof, through this experience.

These were hard decisions for me to make but they are the best ones for me at this time.

Whether you agree or understand my decision really does not matter to me. Whether you can appreciate the depth of my love for this woman and the depth of the commitment and recommitment I made to her year, after year, after year I do not care. I have been asked how can I love someone who has behaved in such a fashion – my response, as Anita Baker sings, “Just Because.”

And so, I cannot stay in Edmonton breathing the same air with her. I need distance; I need some space so that her breath does not come back around to me so quickly. I also need to be free – fully free and I cannot be that if I remain here, expecting her to pay my bills or expecting assistance from others – grateful as I am for the offers.

Furthermore, this should not be the case. We have been struggling and doing triple shifts to get to a place where our income would increase. Finally we were getting that much closer, life was getting easier and then this.

Practically, I cannot pay my own way, pay the debt and continue with my education. If I am to be honest, this is one of the places where I need most prayer work as I am still very bitter about this.

We came to Canada understanding that I was going back to school to get the training that would set me on my life’s path. It was delayed somewhat as my partner wanted to go back to school too after she became frustrated with what she had. In addition, my completion was delayed as an opportunity to deepen my training arose, one that had the added benefit of a stipend that would help our cash flow. Now, she has completed her training, fully employed with benefits that I desperately need and it was to be my turn to finish my training – at least that was what we spoke about in August. Now, not only can I not finish any of my programmes, I will be in debt to the government for a degree that I have not completed. I am bitter about that – that’s the truth.

As for staying in Canada – I have to go away and think about that and that is why I am so grateful for my friend’s offer of the ticket. I just need to go get a visa! Contrary to what “the family” believes I was not the one who wanted to come to Canada. I remember being asked where am I taking her now and responding that this time I was following her. My role, my job was to make it happen. I did my job and that’s the way I am trying to look at this – I delivered my daughter (who is now settled with her boyfriend, please hold them in your prayers) and you know who (who so desperately wanted to run away from all there was).

My mission is accomplished and so it is time for me to bow out. Maybe, just maybe someone will tell me thanks. It does matter now if that day never comes though.

Final Words

Where will I go and for how long? I do not know. All I know is that I cannot stay here.

I have and I am emptying myself of the plans we made, emptying myself of the dreams of the house we would one day purchase on the South side, emptying myself of the drop-in center we were going to open in Edmonton for women and LGBTQ people in need. I was to be the caregiver and she the chef. I guess that was a pretense also – my dream that she bought into.

And so my friends, this will be my last post for a while, as I sort through my papers to meet the consultant, sort through our memories to pass on to my daughter and pack my bags to head South literally. From there, East maybe – that would be the full circle. On the Medicine Wheel, the East is represented by the colour Red and there resides Success and Triumph.

I thank you all for your patience, your support but more so for your Love. I will take you all in my heart on the continuing Wilderness Journey.

Until such time,


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wilderness Journal: Day 3

At the Center

Day 1
Day 2

It’s Day 3 and as I have done every morning since being in this Wilderness of Healing, I visualize that I am in the Center of the Medicine Wheel, which if you have read the other posts you know is the place of the Eternal Fire. By lighting a candle or candles and sitting in silence, you sit in this Eternal Fire and allow it to burn away the falsehood and the masks that needs to go in order to live fully and not superficially.

From the center, you move in the direction you are drawn based on your sense of self and feelings at this time. My movement on Day 1 was towards the North, and then by Day 2 it took a North-Westerly turn and now Day 3 I am heading West.

As mentioned yesterday, the West is the place of death and for me this means dying to the things, thoughts, ways of being, situations and even people that would prevent me from fulfilling my deepest desire – which is to shed light on the suffering and pain in our world, particularly among women, LGBTQ people and children.

Day 3 started at 5:00 a.m. for me with the following Scripture.

Today’s Scripture:

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the right paths
For his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
For you are with me;
Your rod and your staff – they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
My whole life long.

The next step in this process is that of acknowledging the memories, the issues, the conversations, and all the things that cause extreme emotions. I firmly believe that what we do not acknowledge we cannot heal.

Acknowledgement of Vulnerability: The Trouble Spots

In my case, my deepest despair and the moments when I feel most defeated are:

  1. The memories – have been a constant with me, although I have gotten much better at saying to each one as they arise – “Okay, but that’s past now.”

  2. Nights – I got one extra hour last night! I slept for 5 hours after getting to bed around 12:45 a.m.

  3. Diet/Nutrition – This has not returned. I am still doing the survival eating. On this day, my meals were:
Breakfast – One banana and a slice of raisin bread (toasted and with butter)
Lunch – A Ham Sandwich
Dinner – Leftovers: Fried Rice – I did about five spoons this time
Snack(s) – None.

  1. Psychological Health – The panic attacks lessened with only one today, however, it was a major one that caused me to literally run away from work. I could not stay there the full time that I was supposed to. I frantically ran out of the complex, dashed to my vehicle as my chest tightened and a piercing pain went through it. I made a couple of calls while driving on the highway, hoping to find someone to talk me through this as the suicidal thoughts came back and I just wanted to turn my van across the highway for someone to run into me. Quite honestly, I am worried for myself. I know people mean good but until you experience not only the physical but the soul pain of these attacks, please stop telling me that “you can beat this.” I now have a completely different appreciation for people who have suffered mental health challenges for numerous years. These attacks take over rational thought and it is a battle to remain in one’s body. In my case today, I heard myself telling a friend on the telephone that I do not wish to return to my body, it pains too much!

  2. Session with Psychologist – in the throes of this attack the only thing that kept me rational was seeing my psychologist face, remembering her insisting that I look into her eyes and promise not to attempt suicide again before sees me next week Monday. I will discuss what brought on this attack later.

  3. School Work – I have not been able to do any of my course assignments for two weeks now. I simply cannot focus that intensely and on such heady matters. If this does not change by the end of this week, I may have to make a decision about continuing, which has serious the financial implications for me.

On Day 3, these are what came into my experience:

Self- Awareness: Locating Oneself

“Where are you today?”

The imagery has changed. I now see myself on my knees at the ‘entrance’ to a dark forest. I am more confused than scared, riddled with questions about what do I need as I walk through this ‘valley’. I know God is with me – of that I am certain – my questions have more to do with what should ‘die’ in order for me to come out at the other end ready to live far more authentically on this Earth plane

Signs & Symbols from the Universe

  • I cannot say that I noticed any overt signs or symbols today.

God Messages & Angels

It was my first day back at work since my suicide attempt. For the two months that I have been serving at this particular place, I go eagerly to be with “my girls,” each day. Today was no different. I knew that being with women who share my story in more ways than one would help to ground me in the fact that this is my mission. They would erase or at least lessen the scar caused by yesterday’s malicious email. They did not fail and came through with these messages:
  • The first messenger was a lady who has hardly ever spoken with me, much less come into my office. Today she did, saying that she just wanted to tell me ‘hi’ and say how much she liked my blouse. She took a seat in the couch next to my desk and started telling me a very disconnected story, then said, “You just have to wait.” She then got up and left.

  • The second messenger asked to see me and we chatted for a while about issues of real concern to her, then she said something that just went straight to my heart, causing me to look deeply in her eyes. She said, “The hardest part is not having closure, not being able to have a final hug, do you know what I mean?” I said, “Yes, I do.”

  • The third messenger was so glad to see me and that alone was joy – I have not had anyone being so glad to see me since last week, maybe except for Ann who came to my ‘rescue’ last Wednesday night. What she said to me was so powerful I wondered whose story she was telling, her’s or mine? “I have never had that kind of love and sometimes it can be scary when someone loves you unconditionally?” If that was not enough, she went on to say, “I used to resent [her] but now I just want to take care of her. I have learnt how to forgive her.”
Soul Food

My soul was particularly fed today in two ways:

  • I recalled the Jamaican pastor on Sunday mentioning a woman in Genesis 29, Leah, and so I opened my Bible and read the passages and commentaries about it. One commentary struck me where the author wrote, “This was a story of deception, lack of integrity and faithfulness. It is also a story of a woman’s devotion to someone who did not love her.” Leah was shamed in many ways and not being a beauty she was abused by her father who married her off through deception. The one thing, however, that could not be taken away from her was her deep and abiding love for the person who did not want her and for her child who would later bring her ‘glory’. As I read this, my hope and, ironically, my outrage were affirmed.

  • Two friends made me laugh out loud today and that felt good. The first one, D, has not been around for a few days and so she was only today catching up with what had transpired in my world. As we spoke, she said to me, “Claudette, as someone who knows these things, been there done that kinda thing, I just really have to tell you that aspirins can’t kill you!” She had me in stitches with that comment.

  • The other friend resides in the States and I had placed a call to her while on the highway. By the time she called me back I was at home, pacing the floor not knowing what to do with myself. We were on the phone for quite a bit as she too had not realized the extent of my pain. She is African-American and so try to hear the accent and intonations. “Girl, I thought you two dun gone counseling!” “You two too old to be looking to get your groove on now!” “Girl, someone went through the wrong curtain and clearly it ain’t you!” “In your house?? Nigga, tell me that you jokin’!” “And you say you didn’t … that …” I was on the floor by the time we rung off – she was the medicine I needed. She also promised to definitely be on a flight asap.
Life-Sustaining Busyness

I was in an anticipatory mood as I started Day 3, eager to see how this journey to the West would unfold as I returned to work. I felt that being back would be another step in putting the pieces back together:

  • Paid some bills on line before leaving for work.

  • Checked my library account for books that I needed to either pick up or return and sorted them out.

  • Cleaned up the kitchen again before leaving.

  • Went to work but only four (4) hours – could not finish my full time.
Radar Moments

On Day 3 these are my Radar Moments:

  1. The panic attack today came on as I pondered the rationale for and the impact of not telling my daughter the full story but just the portion that reflected badly on me. It was totally incomprehensible to me and although I was thankful that my daughter felt safe enough to share with me what she was told, all my motherly hackles went up. I was outraged by this act especially when one considers the history of my relationship with my daughter and the fact that of her birth parents; I have been “the parent” for her. In that moment, I knew that what I felt last night, the gratitude that I feel that such lack of authenticity is out of my life changed into complete vulnerability – to another's ability to deceive. How can I trust that the financial commitments will be kept? How can I trust that more attempts will not be made to undermine my relationships (professional and personal) as seen demonstrated by these two acts – lying to my child and sending out that email?
Divine Inspirations

I decided to go for a very long walk with Angello, my dog, this evening as the apartment was closing in on me. We walked a route very familiar to him and as he dragged me miles and miles and miles, I tried to silence the concerns that were plaguing me as discussed above. I asked Spirit the question: “What do I need to die to, as clearly you are not going to let me die or kill myself no matter how much I beg you?” These were some of the thoughts that flooded my mind:

  • Research intentional communities (this is something I have talked about with my former partner, telling her that should she die before me I would join an intentional community as it would give me the solace and silence that I am sure I would need). The thought is extremely appealing as I am really having a challenge coming to terms with, not the being alone part, not the no-contact order, not the request to let her go (which I have done) but with what feels like deliberate acts of passive-aggressive violence for the past few weeks and what continues.

  • Leave Edmonton, start over from scratch in other some other city, just walk away from everything we purchased, planned together, every photograph ever taken thereby releasing my self from this financial bondage and dependence that I am in. My academic and professional progress was intricately linked to our lives together – we had planned it that way, up to four weeks ago we discussed the next move! The plan had altered, putting aspects of mine on hold, to facilitate her being able to join and complete a programme. Now, I cannot afford to finish mine on my own and maintain a roof over my head – so the option to just walk away from everything seems very, very enticing. Intentional poverty is far more preferable to me than living in fear. Poverty means freedom and hanging on to these 'stuff' feels like bondage as they hold such painful memories as I am told everything was a pretense.
Reality Check, Paradigm Shift & Movements

Day 3 is not ending with a bedtime story as this entry is being written long before I will be sleepy. I needed to process these thoughts and sit in silence for the rest of the night and so here are the reality check – what are absolute truths that cannot be denied, the paradigm shift and new direction – if any.

Reality Check - I am still not afraid of being alone. I am, however, feeling extremely vulnerable, exposed and at risk. I have been cautioned to not write about my ex-partner and her friend in fear that I will feel a whiplash – it has already been demonstrated by that email. I have no intention of denying my truth and although I took the suggestion under advisement – I feel extremely vulnerable to what I can only describe as dishonesty.
Paradigm Shift - The paradigm remain as it was yesterday – I am glad to no any longer be in a situation where forgiveness, compassion, honesty and truth are absent. The paradigm also remain, paradoxically, the same as at the core of my being – not in my identity – I love (dare I write her name?) Judith. I smell her everywhere I go and I wait to catch her breath again as the Universe spins. But I am glad that the lie is over.
Movement - I am firmly in the West, waiting for the Divine to answer my question – “to what must I die?” I have done it before and I can do it again – start over that is – it’s not right that I would have to but it is okay and all will be well indeed.

Major Gift of the Day & Thought for Bedtime:

Major Gifts

“What you meant for evil, God used for good” or something like that Joseph said to his brothers who sold him into slavery and who then stood before him as leader.

The evil that was meant for me has turned into gold – as not only have I received the donation that will help me to heal even further, I now know that I will never set up the Comfort Foundation as an organization that could be open to duplicitous personalities. Comfort Foundation was always about God and me – God using me to speak the truth even when it hurts for the sake of the voiceless. Certainly, there are times when my mouth is big and I am screaming “unfair!” But it was always about truth. And so, the gift is seeing how to legally protect this organization from being silenced by anyone.

Thought for Bedtime

I have no bold or famous thought for tonight, except that I will spend the rest of the night in silence and prayer – waiting for the truth and the way to be revealed. I am not afraid and I am not alone – God is with me.

When I rise in the morning, I will return to the Center asking for direction for Day 4.



Wilderness Journal: Day 2

The Beginning: At the Center

Welcome to Day 2 of the Wilderness Journal. If this is your first time or you need to get caught up, click this link to read the Introduction to this journey and then read Day 1.

At the Center, the place of the Eternal Fire, I sit in silence and ask the Fire, represented by lit candle(s) to burn away the falsehood that has to be released in order to proceed on the healing journey for the day. This ritual is the start of each day’s journey in this Wilderness of Healing.

From the center, I move northerly, represented by the colour blue according to Native Spirituality and is symbolic of winter but more importantly for me, it is the place of defeat and trouble. However, there was a slight change in the wind and I am taking a westerly turn, to death, represented by black.

The west is the place of death and for me this means dying to the things, thoughts, ways of being and even people who would hold me back from fulfilling what I feel I am called to do in this life. Going to the west will not be an easy journey, as one has grown attached and dependent on the familiar and the known.

However, I have come to learn that things are not always what they seem and people tell lies and put up great pretenses to either mask their own wounds and fears. Or, they attack and project on others their issues in their desperate attempt to not look in the mirror – their own, their offsprings and, more so, their relations lives.

And so, off I go on Day 2, heading North-West. Acknowledging in what ways I feel defeated on Day 1 and slowly coming to realize that a necessary death is beckoning, I use the words sent to me by one of the many friends who has been holding my hands, via the Internet, as my guide me for this Day 2.

Today’s Text:

“You are at my side, dear friends, and God is everywhere. Yet ultimately we are alone, making our way home by the candle of the heart. The light is steady and sure but extends only far enough to see the next step. That there are steps beyond is a matter of faith. That we have the faith to endure and walk our own journey - even when we think that we are lost - is a gift of grace and of friendship. Many times our light seems to go out. But another light, one held by a stranger or a friend, a book or a song, a blackbird or a wildflower, comes close enough so that we can see our path by its light. And in time we realize that the light we have borrowed was always also our own.” - A Woman's Journey to God by Joan Borysenko.

The next step in this process is that of acknowledgement. I firmly believe that what we do not acknowledge we cannot heal.

Acknowledgement of Vulnerability: The Trouble Spots

Setting out on this intentional journey of self-examination, reflection and healing, my deepest despair and the moments when I feel most defeated are:

The memories – good and bad memories call out to me throughout what was our home.

Nights – sleep continues to elude me with me only being able to get four (4) hours of restless sleep the previous night.

Diet/Nutrition – My loss of appetite is still a bit fashionable as I am sure to lose some weight but my psychologist is not as pleased about this. My eating continues to be minimal. On this day, my meals were:

Breakfast – One banana
Mid-morning Snack – One slice raisin bread (toasted and with butter)
Lunch – One small cup of potato and garlic soup and a slice of homemade bread
Dinner – Chinese take-out: four tablespoons special fried rice.

Psychological Health – The panic attacks continue and have increased, numbering six (6). All the attacks today were brought on when I try to imagine life without my ex-partner, when I think of her with someone else, when she called me this morning to discuss business matters, when I got a copy of a malicious email sent to members of the future Board of Comfort Foundation – my dream child - and when I realized the extent of my ex-partner's need to lie or tell half-truths through a conversation with my daughter.

Session with Psychologist – not necessarily a trouble spot, more like identifying the source of the pain and working through it, my first session with the psychologist went ‘well’. I shared with her as much of my history as succinctly as possible as we only had an hour.

Giving her an overview of my childhood, my early relationships and my first marriage she immediately caught on to one of the sources of my pain in this current situation. As I shared with her something that I only recognized myself a couple weeks ago and explained to my ex-partner, that they reason I am was so triggered by the obvious flirtations that happened in our home came directly from a past experience.

In short, I have had a previous experience of a marital partner (husband) being unfaithful in our marital home. When I came home and found him and the woman, who was dressed in my nightgown and had worn my underclothes, I was beaten by him and literally kicked out of the apartment. The physical abuse did its damage but only two weeks ago I realized that I had buried the emotional scar of having the woman laugh at me as I was severely battered.

This pain has stayed with me for 18 years, never revealing itself completely until I saw our friend blatantly making advances towards my now ex-partner, who did nothing to stop it. I was instead accused of being paranoid and jealous. The shame of being beaten and having a Caucasian woman stand by not only watching but laughing as she wore my clothes left its mark on me as it did my great grandmothers and grandmothers who were beaten and raped by slave-owners.

This shame, triggered by the betrayal of my friendship and desecration of my home by another Caucasian woman and the deep feeling of being abandoned yet again by someone who claims to love me, was too much to bear and I disconnected from my true self and took those 120+ pills.

That is where my full therapy will begin next week Monday – helping me to continue to claim a wholeness that I never had but have been working hard to own for over six years now. I did not lose my sense of self, as many have suggested when my partner left and my identity is not wrapped up in her's. I know who and whose I am, a child of God. I simply forgot that when the memory of an 18 year old pain surfaced for the first time and the person who I had hoped to help me grow through it turned her back.


On Day 2, these are what came into my experience:

Self- Awareness: Locating Oneself

I found it helpful to upfront answer the question: “Where are you today?”

Using imagery as done on Day 1, I would say although there has been some movement in other aspects, that at the start of Day 2, I was still at the bottom of a very deep, dark and dry well. However, the fright is slowly leaving me and I began to respond to the cajoling of my friends. As my eyes open to some of the realities that I chose to ignore and as I wake up from my aspirin-induced sleep of last week, things are becoming much clearer to me. However, I am in shock at some of the revelations and realizations, as the one discussed in the session with the psychologist, that are occurring and at times I fall back down.

God Messages & Angels

Throughout the experience, I have been blessed with a constant flow of angels bringing messages from God to support and guide me. On Day 2, I was extremely triggered by the intrusion and invasion of my space by this woman and the angels and messengers came through:

  1. M in Ontario, who I called after receiving a copy of a malicious email, sent by the very person who, thankfully, triggered my memory. M calmed me down as I was in shock to realize the evil that resides in this woman’s heart that she not only did what she did in my home and life but she turns around and tries to ruin my ministry. M reminded me that “in the presence of Light, darkness cannot prevail, it must fade. Whatever you do will come back to you, it’s a boomerang…don’t worry my friend, you are blessed and protected.”

  2. Still shell-shocked by the email, I called my minister and she ‘held my hand’ for a while until I was ready to let it go.

  3. Dr. P called a bit earlier tonight and I was glad as I wanted to share with her this email. In her usual no-nonsense way she too reminded me that when you are on purpose with your life no one or nothing can demean you.

  4. Not to diminish the help of the other three persons but my greatest movement today came very late in the night through a call from the ‘original’ angel, my daughter A. She called to check up on me and as we spoke and the conversation turned to what really happened with me and ex-partner; she gave me the message of the day. Not all God messages are uplifting and inspiring – directly – you have to get to the bottom of the words. As she revealed that what she was told by my ex-partner about the break-up, another major attack washed over me. I could not believe the extent and depth of my ex’s need to deceive! My daughter was given the impression that all this drama started with me packing her bags and delivering them to her new and exclusive friend’s house. She was told that I had ‘put her out’ and changed the locks on the door but nothing about her revelation on Thanksgiving Day, nothing about the week of hell she created, nothing about her coming to my bedside in the Emergency Room to declare that she is done and nothing about the no-contact order she gave to me. I told my daughter the truth as I know it, the whole truth, and then apologized again to her and offered to get her any help she might need to understand what is going on. Then I hung up the phone and retched. Then I called my ex-partner and left a voice message asking her how could she do that to the child that grew up with her since 2+ years – was that relationship a lie too?

Soul Food

My soul food came today quite unexpectedly and in a different way. I received a note addressed to me which reads:
“This is a gift from the estate of H.J. for the benefit of the Comfort Foundation. It is to be used solely for the personal psychological therapy of Claudette with the specific intent that as you find your wholeness many others will benefit from what you do.

It is given with blessings and gratitude and in the memory of a wounded wounder. May your life as a wounded healer make some good come from her legacy.”

With tears streaming down my cheeks I read the last line: “P.S. 7 is a holy sacred number.”

It was a cheque for $700. As I cried my gratitude to the donor, I asked that the cheque be re-written and made payable to the psychologist, which was done.

In that moment, I knew that my life is on purpose and that no small-minded, mean-spirited or pitiful people will take me off track. There is too much pain and suffering in this world – I know because I have felt it – for me to not continue doing what I do. Furthermore, there is a $700 pressure on me now to do just that – heal and get back to the business of carrying and journeying with others through their pain.

Life-Sustaining Busyness

My greatest feeling on this Day 2 is a sense of gradual acceptance of my new status of single woman. As such, slowly trying to start putting the pieces of my life back together in an intentional way I:

  • Allowed my creative juices to flow and expressed them through writing several pieces

  • Walked the dog three times! That is major for me folks!

Radar Moments

On Day 2 these are my Radar Moments:

  1. My brightest red light today came from my telephone conversation with my daughter as discussed above.

Divine Inspirations

Inspiration, steps to take or guidance usually comes to me as I walk in silence or in the shower as the water washes over me. It is like a divine action plan and Day 2 was no different and these are what came not in order of priority.

  1. My Osho Tarot Card for today was “Patience” – and these words remained with me throughout today: “Even the trees know when it is time to bring the flowers and when it is time to let go of all leave and stand naked against the sky…with great trust that the old has gone and the new will soon be coming.”

Reality Check, Paradigm Shift & Movements

Finally, before going to bed (after being up since 4:00 a.m.) I did a reality check – what comes up in your heart as absolute truths that cannot be denied, a paradigm shift and see whether you are emotionally, spiritually and mentally ready towards a different direction on the medicine wheel.

As I did this last exercise, my findings were:

Reality Check - Dr. P was right – this break-up was the best thing that could have ever happened to me! Yes, the abruptness of it hurts like hell and every unmasking of the lies, deception and evil drives a nail through my heart. But…all is well and all shall be well.
Paradigm Shift - In the middle of writing this, I stopped and wrote this special message to my ex-partner in capital letters in my Wilderness Journal – Go to Hell! Too many lies, too many half-truths and too many secrets - that is not the life I want to live. Nothing has changed about my deep and eternal love for her as I know that that is not who she is – that is who she has become and who she is currently being supported and encouraged to be. Hip hip hooray – they have found their matches and I am free to let God live through me!
Movement - It is approaching midnight and I am ready to go to bed! I am in the West people – death – I am no longer afraid to die – to an inauthentic life! Bring it on.

Major Gift of the Day & Thought for Bedtime:

Major Gifts

What are you most grateful for as this day ends? What thought would you like to hold you throughout the night?

I am most grateful to the donor who has afforded me the opportunity to get at least my first five counseling sessions without having to do without food. Thank you, thank you and thank you. If when you read this and you wish to have your name published, I will be happy to publicly recognize you.

I am even more grateful to my daughter. Years ago just before coming to Canada, a ‘reader’ told us that she was the older spirit and would help me across. A – thank you – in your own soft and gentle way you helped me cross the waters of defeat and trouble and I am sure you will be there as I stand naked against the sky, awaiting patiently as the old goes completely and the new comes. Thanks my princess.

Thought for Bedtime

I go to bed tonight with Henri Nouwen, author of the book The Wounded Healer, on my mind. He wrote:
“But human withdrawal is a very painful and lonely process, because it forces us to face directly our own condition in all its beauty as well as misery. When we are not afraid to enter into our own center and to concentrate on the stirrings of our own soul, we come to know that being alive means being loved…When we have found the anchor places for our lives in our own center, we can be free to let others enter into the space created for them and allow them to dance their own dance, sing their own song and speak their own language without fear.”

So, I will enter Day 2 ready to face death, going through this painful and lonely process knowing that the Center is the destination.



Monday, October 23, 2006

Wilderness Journal: Day 1

The Beginning: At the Center

Each morning I will locate myself in the Center by lighting a candle or candles and sitting in silence while the Eternal Fire burns away the falsehood that I must realize in order to proceed on the healing journey for the day. It is important to “stay in the now,” and so, the ritual is for “this day,” and is renewable each morning starting at the Center.

From the center, I moved northerly. According to Native Spirituality, the North, represented by blue, is symbolic of winter but more importantly for me, it is the place of defeat and trouble.

That is exactly what I have been feeling since my partner announced that she really did not want our 16-year relationship any longer. I knew I was in serious trouble lying in the Emergency Room after trying to kill myself by overdosing on aspirins, ibuprofens and my diabetes medication - Metformin.

As such, Day 1 begins in the North for now, until a shift in the direction is felt. In that place of trouble, it is important to acknowledge where and in what ways you feel defeated. The first step therefore for me was to read Scripture or some other text that I will use as a sacred guide for this Day 1.

Today’s Scripture:

Proverbs 3: 5 -6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

The next step in this process is that of acknowledgement. I firmly believe that what we do not acknowledge we cannot heal.

Acknowledgement of Vulnerability: The Trouble Spots

In my case, my deepest despair and the moments when I feel most defeated are:

  1. The memories – as I look around the space that we shared everything reminds me of our history, things as small as an ashtray or as large as the bedroom furniture. Not everything holds good memories. For example, the living room couch constantly reminds me of the moment I felt most betrayed – by my partner and our friend.

  2. Nights – sleep was eluding me and I had become afraid of the evenings and nights, as this was the time we would watch television together, have a meal and go to bed. We were sharing the same room up to the morning that my partner left for good. I hated the nights and in order to get any sleep and keep the thoughts of ending my life at bay, I had started sleeping with a lit candle.

  3. Diet/Nutrition – I am a diabetic and so watching what I eat is crucial, however, for almost two weeks now, my eating has been minimal. I have no appetite and am simply eating to stay alive. On this day, my meals were:
    Breakfast - One egg and a small Banana Lunch – One slice raisin bread (toasted and with butter)
    Dinner – Leftovers: approximately two spoons rice, peas and two slices of roast beef.
    Snack(s) – A few seeds of roasted salted Almonds leftover from a recent flight.

  4. Psychological Health – although not a psychologist, we all know when we are well mentally. At this point, I know that my frequent panic attacks cannot be a sign of good health. In this day, I have had two major ones that occurred when I had to call my ex-partner for legitimate reasons but feared that she would be upset with me for calling and when the thought of her simply not being in my life in anyway overwhelmed me. Another sign of psychological imbalance for me is this being in a daze. Nothing seems real and I am feeling much like a walking zombie.


My intuition tells me that on this journey, one has to be extremely self-aware, seek to understand the symbols and signs of the Universe, mindful of their surroundings to receive the messages being sent from the Divine, seek out “soul food” – things that will nurture your spirit and do practical things to keep busy.

On Day 1, these are what came into my experience:

Self- Awareness: Locating Oneself

I found it helpful to upfront answer the question: “Where are you today?”

Imagery helps to do this and on Day 1, I would say I am still very much at the bottom of a very deep, dark and dry well. I am scared and although I can hear the voices of my friends calling down to me, even sense them throw down ropes for me to grab and climb up, I am not sure that I want to.

There are moments when I do in fact grab on to one of the ropes and see a bit of light, such as at the end of an early morning walk with my dog and he reaches back and grab the leash between his teeth and tries to lead himself. This brought a spontaneous laugh to my mouth.

Signs & Symbols from the Universe

  • For the first time in my life, on my early morning walk with Angello, my dog, I saw what a man who I had excitedly stopped to ask told me was a porcupine. When I got home, I consulted all the sources and understood that seeing this animal was an invitation to continue unmasking my vulnerability and also my gentle, tender, innocent and affectionate nature. I was being highly reactive and the porcupine was calling me to, according to Native American Spirituality, assume a state of gentle innocence and trust in the Creator through this prickly situation, one that is very difficult to handle.

God Messages & Angels

Throughout the experience, I have been blessed with a constant flow of angels bringing messages from God to support and guide me. On Day 1, by remaining open and receptive to them, these were some of the angels and messages that came through:

  1. Joyce Meyer, televangelist: “God has a good life planned for you – it matters not where you are right now.”

  2. Jamaican Pastor at Bethel United Apostolic Church in Edmonton: “Turn to God. If God draws you, stay in his Presence – do not be moved.”

  3. Dr. P during our bed time call: “Your healing cannot truly deepen until you accept for yourself that you are whole, perfect and complete and do not need your partner to fill or complete you!”
Soul Food

Coming back from Toronto, I knew I needed to continue being in the company of people of Caribbean and/or of African-descent, worshipping with them in the way of my roots. I needed the rich gospel music, the dance and the praise and glory worship style that would take me to the deepest part of my soul.

I knew exactly where to go for that and it was at the Bethel United Apostolic Church here in Edmonton. The worship, the sermon, the music, clapping, crying, dancing and getting into the spirit touched me deeply and I felt my pain and anguish being massaged. I left there after about two hours, feeling ready to at least try to grab and hold on to the many ropes that were being thrown down to me.

Life-Sustaining Busyness

My greatest feelings on Day 1 remained a sense of being shattered and emotionally lost. As such, trying to at least start piecing my life back together in a intentional way I:

  • Cleaned up the kitchen

  • Allowed my creative juices to flow and expressed them through writing several pieces
Radar Moments

What are some of those things that are flashing red on the radar of your heart? What thoughts, insights that are so large you cannot miss them as you talk with or listen to a God message someone has brought you? Is there anything that you now realize that has been beckoning but you either did not notice or chose not to notice them? On Day 1 these are my Radar Moments:

  1. During a conversation with a visitor from my faith community it busted into my consciousness that what we (my partner and I) had was a dysfunctional relationship for a very long time. We had managed to change some of the way we 'related' but obviously - not enough. The question that this raised in me was “Why would you want to continue in that way?” The answer – I did not. Soon after she left, I checked several sources to see if I was on to something here and found this site that gives a brief yet on point description of many aspects of my relationship.

  2. After reading about and seeing in ‘black and white’ what I knew to be true either of me or my partner over the years, albeit one or the other of us have shifted in many of the areas, the radar question then became “Why do I still feel hopeful about us?” I could not give an answer to that one – not yet.
Divine Inspirations

Inspiration, steps to take or guidance usually comes to me as I walk in silence or in the shower as the water washes over me. It is like a divine action plan and Day I was no different and these are what came not in order of priority:

  • Share this lesson how ‘being met in your darkest moment by people within their own brokenness’ is a crucial help in your healing journey.

  • Set compassionate boundaries:

(a) With another party in this ‘crisis who is unconsciously asking you to remain toxic and bitter - say no, nicely. I did.

(b) With your ex-partner – respect her boundaries by acknowledging that the manner in which she ended the relationship was her first act of courage and probably the only way she could walk away to go do her work. At the same time set your own boundaries (she needs to come get her stuff from the apartment and we must have a way to communicate until such time as it is not necessary, you cannot be left out at sea). Pending.

(c) With potential ‘relationships’ who might see you as fresh-meat or who you might have reached out to in a moment of despair. Kindly decline dinner invitation. Done.

(d) With your daughter – neither you nor your partner should keep her in the middle. Be honest with her about the situation; keep her in the loop but not as mediator or messenger. Consider getting professional help for her if necessary. Offer made.

Reality Check, Paradigm Shift & Movements

Finally, before going to bed (to lie with eyes open for hours) do a reality check – what comes up in your heart as absolute truths that cannot be denied. Then see whether there has been a paradigm shift in any way. Lastly see whether you are emotionally, spiritually and mentally ready to move towards a different direction on the medicine wheel or are you still in trouble.

As I did this last exercise, my findings were:

Reality Check - I am single again! I have not been single since age 25. However, I am not afraid of being alone and if I would allow myself, I could actually be happy living alone.

Paradigm Shift - This sudden change in my physical reality – my living arrangements – is extremely hard to adjust to, however, as I reviewed my day and the truth emerging from me, I realized that the paradigm is shifting. The movement towards this break-up has been occurring for a very long time now. I did not want to believe the end could be true. My way of thinking is ever so slowly changing and though at first I resisted what Dr. P said to me about needing to accept my wholeness and independence first – I now can begin to admit her correctness.

Movement - As I went off to sleep, I knew a slight directional shift had started in Toronto being in the company of people of African heritage, experiencing the prayers, music and songs of my roots. By the time Miss T’s visit was coming to an end my direction shifted. I feel that I am now still going north but veering more towards the West. I am still in trouble (north) as long as the panic attacks and the suicide ideation continue to emerge. However, I can feel the West pulling.

Major Gift of the Day & Thought for Bedtime:

Major Gifts

What are you most grateful for as this day ends? What thought would you like to hold you throughout the night?

In my case, I was most grateful for the many angels, disguised as members of my faith community, Dr. P., the Bethel United Apostolic Church, my friend Ann and yes, Judith, my ex-partner.

These people came to the well and threw ropes down or simply reminded me they are available. The pastor at the Apostolic Church said “Remember, the church is a place of comfort,” and that is what I received throughout this day from all these angels.

As for Judith, I could only see the gift in retrospect – the gift of her courage, finally, to act and end what really was not working. To think about the agony she must have been going through, trying to set herself free, finally willing to look at herself and taking the space to do so, is the biggest moment of true courage and true strength I have ever, ever seen her display.

Thought for Bedtime

Marianne Williamson words that are usually attributed to Nelson Mandela, and sent to me again by M in Ontario took me through this first night, as a Truth I long knew but was unwilling to walk. I have been afraid to accept this truth because I felt that I owed my partner a life-long debt as it was her presence, her light that helped me to discover and uncover mine.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, "who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?"

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of god.

You playing small does not serve the world.

There's nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone.

As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

And as we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

So, I will enter Day 2 with some anxiety for sure but certainly one step along the healing journey, with greater clarity and slowly opening the match box to relight the flame - I hope.



Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wilderness Journal

A woman came to visit me this afternoon. I have ‘known’ her for just over a year now and quite frankly we did not get on particularly well. We were too much alike in more ways than one yet so different and those differences got in the way of us really relating.

This afternoon, Sunday, October 22, 2006, we spent what I would describe as the best two hours we have ever shared – and neither of us had to change who we essentially are to do that. What happened, however, was that we shared our lives – as much as one can in such a short time – our hearts touched and not only were we both moved to tears but we went to our core(s).

In doing that, touching the core, this tall no-nonsense member of my faith community did for me what Jesus did for the blind beggar, Bartimaeus. Here is the story from Mark 10: 46 - 52:

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 49Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher,* let me see again.’ 52Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

One of the defining moments in my early spiritual quest was hearing the televangelist, Joyce Meyer, say, “Make your mess your message.” Ever since that day, I committed myself to always proclaim my mess in a truthful and open fashion even when it is dirty and painful. This blog came about as part of that mission, hoping that by “making my mess my message,” I will help even one “as I go along, then my living would not be in vain.”

Through one simple enough word, “dysfunctional”, Miss T helped me to see again. As she said it, a street lamp, not a simple light bulb, went off in my head casting its light through my heart. What I will do with that insight and all the others that the many people over the last two weeks have helped me ease into my resistant heart, is to intentionally put myself through a process that examines all aspects of who I think I am called to be and who I have been.

I am calling this my “Finding Wisdom in the Wilderness Journal” and will publish the insights from my exploration over forty days – the same number that features prominently in the story of the Exodus of the Hebrew slaves from bondage by the Egyptians.

These insights will come from my daily walks with my dog, my professional life, my alone time (this should be quite a bit now, haha), my time with the psychologist and from my conversations with just about anyone (please don’t stop talking with me in fear of it being posted!).

They will also come from things that I notice around me, from my ‘being in the now’, from the meals that I have or do not have, from my health condition and visits to the doctor or pharmacy and from the weather. Basically, they will come from any and everything that enters my life over the next forty days, beginning today.

The Buddhists, I believe, calls this mindfulness – that is what I will be doing – being ever more mindful in all my relating and relationships so that I can ‘get it’, be just that further along the healing journey that is so necessary for me right now and for any one who has or is experiencing the kind of emotional trauma I recently did.

Now, let me say this clearly - it is not my intention to focus on my ex-partner, albeit issues will be mentioned that have their roots in our 16-year relationship. The focus will squarely be on me and my journey through this Wilderness of Healing.

Also, I do not expect to be ‘healed’ per se at the end of Day 40 but I do anticipate movement in my perception(s), hopefully a paradigm shift and an end to the suicide ideations that still plague me causing panic attacks. I hope to not only cry spontaneously as I have been doing but genuinely laugh from my belly bottom. Most of all, it is my deepest desire to be walking even that much closer with the Spirit – in which we all move and have our beings.

During my Clinical Pastoral Education training, I articulated that my personhood is lived from four dimensions. Again, the number here, four, has significance. This time the insights come from Native American spirituality with the four Cardinal directions on the medicine wheel and the four Sacred Colours. The Center of the Circle on the medicine wheel is the Eternal Fire.

Every morning, as I did this morning, I envision myself standing at the Center of the Circle – the Eternal Fire. That is my daily starting point – in surrender to the Fire allowing it to burn off any falsehood that I am cloaked in and leaving me free to move into the direction(s) for the day.

Four is also symbolic of the aspects of my being. I try to live, think, speak, do and be out of my four dimensions that I named as my 4P’s:

  1. My Personal

  2. My Pastoral

  3. My Professional

  4. My Political

So, over the next forty days, beginning tomorrow, I will share excerpts, the insights and “lessons learned’ from my “Finding Wisdom in the Wilderness Journal.” My hope is that you or any one that you know who is going through or has gone through a traumatic experience, particularly a divorce or end of a long-term relationship, might find some help from it. Additionally, writing truly clarifies things for me and so once something sinks in my brain, when I ‘get it’, putting it down on ‘paper’ helps me to live it, make it happen and modify where necessary.

I hope and trust that it will help at least one other. So, until tomorrow…



Take My Hand

No…I did not kill myself. I thought of it though…seriously thought of it.

I left the Chapel on Friday (October 20) certain that my course of action would be to visit the pharmacy before returning to my hotel room to purchase some aspirins to finish the job. I had switched to my most business-like personality and this was just another business plan.

The meeting had already begun and not soon after sitting down my cell phone buzzed. I had forgotten to turn it off. The thought crossed my mind to ignore it but I flipped it open, saw a number I did not recognize and curiosity got the better of me.

“Miss Claudette?” the voice of my dear Dr. P chimed. “What are you doing in Toronto?”

I walked out of the meeting room while explaining to Dr. P my business in Toronto and then she asked, “How are you?”

Wrong question. The floodgates opened and, as I cried, I told her all that had happened. “Yes, yes, I know,” she responded, “I just read your blog and sent you an email but somehow I knew I had to find you.”

We spent about twenty minutes on the phone and again it was the telephone call that saved my life. The truth is, I was and still am in a very dark place. Dr. P understood this and across the ocean separating Jamaica from Canada she felt that I needed help and offered it.

Ever the metaphysician, over and over she reminded me how much God loves and wants me to evolve to the fullness of who I am. “Try to see this as possibly your breakthrough, Claudette,” she offered. “God can now do all that She wants to do through you.”

Intellectually, I understood what she was saying but it was not taking control of my heart. Probably sensing this, she started quoting scriptures. Remember, Dr. P is one of my former Ministers in Jamaica but more so, she is a model for me – of a woman who has completely transformed her life. It was this fact, knowing that she once was a very highly placed public official and a woman of power in a material way who left all that behind to live an authentic life, to live from her core that made me continue listening to her.

These are some of the scriptures she offered me - the ones that were right on point for me in that moment. They were the life line that helped me to make it through Friday, resisting the temptation to call Judith and beg her to not leave me with a promise to do any song and dance that would make her happy.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths". (Proverbs 3:5-6)

"...forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:13-14)

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13)

We rang off with an offer and a promise from her to call me every night before bed time for the next 30 – 40 days or however long necessary. Holding onto those scriptures and that promise of help and spiritual support, I returned to the meeting.

All throughout the day, waves of panic attacks would come over me and I just kept repeating “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” It became my mantra until a panic attack so severe had me doubled over in the meeting room. Lady Serendipity stepped in.

A movie about the history of the Black Church in Canada was running and in the moment of my most severe physical agony, the gospel song “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” was being sung by a choir.

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand.
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand, Precious Lord, lead me home.

In that moment, I made another huge decision for me. I left the room and called Ann and told her I needed psychological help.

The rupture from Judith was too great, too sudden, too cold and too abrupt for me to handle without professional help. I just could not do this on my own or from just one angle – I needed to pull out the big guns, so to speak, if I was going to have a chance to get my life back. And so, I gave Ann several possible dates thinking that it may be hard to get an appointment.

Knowing that Dr. P had my spiritual back and that Ann was going to get me into a psychologist gave me the strength to make it through the rest of Friday’s proceedings, although I still could not hold down the little bit that I was able to eat. As if to make sure I did not change my mind, less than an hour after speaking with her, Ann called back in the middle of a presentation I was making. I answered as I saw it was her and she told me that she got an appointment for me to see a counselor first thing on Monday. I think she bribed her way in – that’s my girl Ann.

However, the panic attacks did not end. The next one came as the group of us approached the hotel where we were staying. I really did not want to be left alone but how could I ask for this group of stranger to stay with me to keep the suicidal thoughts from re-emerging in my head?

And so I decided write. That was the ‘Shamed’ post.

At this point let me apologise to one person in particular for any upset I caused her. Sorry M, it was not my intention to cause pain or to scare anyone. I was trying to get rid of my own pain by writing away my fears. “Writing clarifies,” I have heard it said – and it does for me. As I was doing that, the phone rang and it was Dr. P so I ended the post at that point, so grateful to hear a kind, compassionate and loving human voice to lead me through the night.

No sooner than I hung up from Dr. P than my cell phone rang. I hesitated to answer as it was a strange number and it was approaching midnight in Toronto. Answering just before the voice mail picked up I heard, “Hello? Claudette is that you?”


“Tell me you are okay, tell me you are okay!” this unknown female voice was demanding from me. “I want to hear you say it, tell me!”

“Who is this?” I asked.

“M,” she replied. “Tell me you are okay!”

It was one of my wounded healers from Toronto. She joined this community a few months ago and we were to meet for coffee when I was in that city back in the summer but we could not after all. She was up and read my post “Shamed,” and terrified that I had overdosed on aspirins or at least in the process, she called a friend to pray while she dug up her files or something for my cell phone number.

As I said, I have never met this woman but she was the third telephone angel that dragged me an inch further up the dark tunnel. Dr. P’s call was great and writing the post released some of my tension, however, I really did not want to be alone. I was fearful that the thoughts were going to return in the middle of the night and I was not sure I had the will to live.

M stayed with me on the phone for over an hour, constantly reminding me of God’s love for me – one that is unfailing and unchanging. I shared with her my fear about the suicidal thoughts coming back and the other thoughts that kept taking me either back to the past – what Judith and I had, all that we overcame, the manner in which she told me it was over and how that felt like outright cruelty or punishment to me. I also shared with her my thoughts about the future – unsure that I really had one, not being able to picture life without Judith being a part of it somehow and all the travel, vacation and retirement plans we were making only two weeks ago.

“I know this is easier said than done, Claudette,” M responded. “But I want you to stay in this moment, not yesterday, not tomorrow, but right now.” What she did was to give me a tool to make it through the night – that one night – without calling Judith, the voice that I really wanted to hear – even if it had the now familiar harsh edge or if the snarl that has become a feature of her face (at least with me) was hitting me through the telephone line. I just wanted to hear her voice and I would sometimes call and listen to her voice mailbox message. M helped me to focus on listening to the Spirit in me – or at least try for that one night.

Saturday (October 21) and I decided to just turn my phone off for most of the day and be in every single moment. The only calls I made were to Ann and to my Minister in Edmonton. Both calls occurred as I tried to overcome major panic attacks that had me shaking uncontrollably.

Ann got me through the first and my Minister’s partner got me through the second that was the more severe, threatening to cut off my breathing entirely as it came closer to the time to leave for Edmonton.

I did not know how to return to the memory-filled apartment, how to live in a place where every item would remind me of our history. How would I live in the city that was finally beginning to feel like home and not remember every step I took with Judith to do so? I actively wondered whether it might not be best to jump on a plane to anywhere else – with just the clothes on my back and my identification.

I also called Judith.

She was to pick me up at the airport (go figure!) and as I sat in the Chapel again Saturday afternoon praying for guidance it came to me that it was time to do my own closing ritual.

I fell to my knees at the altar and slowly took off one of the earliest pieces of jewelry, a ring, she ever gave me. I blessed it and thanked God for the intent at the time it was given. Then I took off the 10th anniversary ring she gave me. I blessed it and blessed the one that I gave to her in absentia. I asked God to cherish it wherever she might have discarded it and to keep sacred the words and promises that were made at the time. Then, with much difficulty, I removed her chain that I have constantly worn, rarely ever taking it off over the past 16 years. I thanked God for what it symbolized to me.

However, I could not remove the diamond earring she gave to me for another of our early anniversaries. I have hardly ever removed it since the time she gave it to me, possibly some nine or so years ago. I could not remove it even as I did this ritual now because she has not left my heart. I will remove it if and when that day comes.

Holding these three pieces of gold in the palms of my hand, I raised them to the heavens and said something like this:

“Judith, I will always love you unconditionally. You asked me to let you go and they say what you love the most you set free. So, with much difficulty I open my hands. Fly away my love.

Keep in your heart and know my love that if life every gets just a bit too much for you to bear and you need a friend who loves you eternally – just call my name and I will be there.

I bless you and pray that you might find the inner happiness and inner peace you seek and so greatly deserve. My deepest pain is that you could not have been honest with me before now nor be compassionate as you finally came to your truth. My deepest truth is that it hardly matters now.

I know that with the passing of time my pain will heal and so will yours and all the people who have been affected by this trauma brought on us because of untruths and secrets.

Right now, I am in a very dark place, struggling to crawl back up and out. It might be long but it will not be forever. You may very well be in your own dark place too.

Go in peace, go in love and always grow in Truth.”

Raising myself up off the floor, I stood before the altar with my hands stretched above my head and I cried out loud, “Precious Lord, take my hand!”

I knew that I was absent from the meeting for a while but I went to the telephone and called her and asked her not to pick me up at the airport.

It has ended. It is closed. A new chapter can now be written.

Friends, I thank you for being a part of my life. I thank you for your calls of support. I thank you for taking my calls or for your emails and for holding me. Josh Groban sings this song entitled, “You Raise Me Up,” and that’s what you all did for me:

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary; When troubles come and my heart burdened be; Then, I am still and wait here in the silence, Until you come and sit awhile with me.

My dearest friend Ann here in Edmonton, Dr. P. in Jamaica and M in Ontario, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continuing journeying with me through these dark days and nights in particular.

My minister in Edmonton and who turned up at the airport (Saturday, October 21) to meet me, reminding me that I have a faith community that loves and cares for me, I thank you. If not for myself, I must heal to continue walking beside the people of Southminster-Steinhauer United Church who you so graciously represent. You, your partner and the entire congregation are teaching me a lesson in commitment and loyalty.

Longtime friends of Judith and I, Delly and Z both in Jamaica, I thank you for your emails of encouragement and good old Jamaican no-nonsense – pick up your self girl!

I thank you N, a friend of Judith’s, who emailed me with her prayers for both of us.

I thank you B, for coming over for coffee and for your telephone messages.

Thanks Y, my former co-worker and friend who claims that I was her angel when she had a similar experience. Thank you for reminding me that I had the strength for you – so I can dig it up for myself.

C and D, partners and friends in Ontario, thanks for your email of encouragement and yes, I truly believe in God and although I am not conceiving of entering another relationship any time soon, I hear you!

My arduous journey back to my former state of wholeness and better is not over – not for a long stretch. Judith’s, my daughter’s (who has been caught in the middle of this) and my life have been severely ruptured. We are all hurting.

For my part, I still cannot sleep for more than a few hours (4) each night and food has lost its appeal. I have not had a proper or full meal in a few days now but look at the bright side, I will lose some weight. Congregational Care Committee of Southminister-Steinhauer I know you have been calling but please do not bring any casseroles – I cannot eat them!

This will be a painful struggle for me, as the panic attacks continue even as I write this and the question - “what’s the point in living?” and the tempting idea to end it all continue to lurk. I will enter counseling on Monday submitting myself to the care of a professional healer blessed by the Divine.

I ask you all to continue to hold Judith, my daughter and I in your prayers. I ask for special prayers of strength for each of us as: Judith finds what she so desperately seeks; as my daughter grapples with the intricacies of intimate relationships that we have modeled over the last 16 years of her life and as I embark on the journey of creating a new life for myself – putting the pieces back together and allowing God to be God through me – however She wants to be.

Most of all, what I have learned from this experience is that I am loved – that there is a real value on my life and my presence in the lives of others, even if my beloved has chosen not to have me in hers or when others chose to betray and try to humiliate.

The pain of the past two weeks has been crazy making. But, it is the love that I will always remember.

The love that I have experienced over the last couple of weeks is phenomenal – one that I have never experienced growing up with the woman who birthed me. It is a love that Judith over our years together was preparing me to receive. Maybe you are right Delly – maybe it was time to test if I am ready – mission accomplished. Wha next God?

“Precious Lord, take my hand and lead me home.” Amen.

With much gratitude and in humility, I offer you all blessings.


Friday, October 20, 2006


This is possibly the fourth version of this post and hopefully it is the last. I have been writing it in my head since last night (Thursday) after arriving in Toronto at approximately 11:00. Yes, my dear Toronto friends and wounded healers who have been emailing and calling me since my disclosure, I am in your town. I was not sure I was going to make it here. In fact I was not sure I was going to be anywhere.

On the bus this morning on my way to the office where the meeting that I am in town for is being held, I noticed that my lips were very dry. Then it struck me that my face was also very dry when I looked in the bathroom mirror of the suite that the Church’s head office had put me in. I thought it had to do with the fact that I had hurriedly packed my bag and left my moisturizer and not to mention my deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, hair oil and all of my make-up.

But the truth, the reality soon came to me.

My decision to jump on the plane, after all, came quite suddenly. This meeting was planned since April of this year and my ticket had been purchased and emailed to me a couple weeks ago. My time was booked to be in Toronto but things changed and drastically so.

The only thing that I had remembered to pack, other than clothes and underwear, was Vaseline. The irony of this is that Vaseline was recommended to me as great for dry lips by the ‘friend’ who helped to make my world quite different from how I imagined it was going to be. Thanks love.

Applying the Vaseline to my by now very cracked lips, I tried to remember the first time I was ever in this place. As the memory came to me, I cried and tried to wipe the tears from my eyes without catching the attention of the woman sitting next to me. It was a very painful memory – not unlike the one that I will forever hold about this past 10 or so days.

It was 1988 and I had decided that there was no way I could continue in a relationship in which my sense of ‘woman’ was being utterly eroded. So, although A, my daughter (yes, I am a single parent again) was only just over a year, I had asked her Dad for a divorce. After one fine beating, I took refuge at the apartment of her nanny. However, I needed to return to my ‘marital’ home to retrieve some items and while there my soon to be ex-husband broke in and raped me in front of my baby girl. When he was done, when he was satisfied with his ‘accomplishment’ he laughed and left me on the floor.

Utterly devastated, shamed and bewildered I crawled to the balcony and although I could hear A crying in the background, I was about to launch myself off. Someone, an angel, saw me and came running up the eight flights of steps in record time and pulled me off. He cleaned me up, dressed me, comforted me and helped me back to a place of dignity; however, the damage had been done.

On Wednesday last (October 18), I made another attempt to take my life. I tried to commit suicide. The damage had been done. I went right back to 1988, to the exact place of devastation, shame and bewilderment.

Making a long story short, very early Wednesday morning I left my partner in bed and went to read through my manual and notes for a marriage preparation session I was to have with a lesbian couple. As I read I felt like a fraud. Feeling very sorrowful, I shared my feeling with Judith, the partner who I had just left in bed and who had told me she wanted out of our 16-year relationship. She left the apartment immediately, although two hours early for work, saying that she could not be my friend or comfort me in any way.

I tried to go through my day as normal as possible meting with this lesbian couple and others. As I listened to and watched their expression of love I felt my energy waning. I left work early and after making a few phone calls, including to Judith, I knew that things were really going to change forever. At some level, I still had not accepted that. I was still hopeful but as the lies and mystery unraveled so did I.

Ann came over to support me as I worked through my anger and grief. She helped me as best as she could but when she realized that I was literally about to faint she said it was time to get to the hospital. So we went and as we waited in the Emergency Room, she started trying to get a hold of my daughter and Judith to let them know that she had taken me to the hospital.

Her (and my daughter’s) attempts to get hold of Judith was unsuccessful as my dearly beloved’s new “friend’ had both lied to and blocked us. Bottom line is that my partner and her shield had decided that it was purely drama on my side.

Things took a turn for the worse when I got on the phone and called this ‘friend’ myself. That was a mistake.

It was now close to one in the morning and the suspicion was that given the stress, I might have suffered a mild heart attack. Speaking to this woman, who was supposed to have also been my friend but clearly had chosen a side, I pleaded with her, reminding her that I only have Judith and my daughter in this country (Canada). She basically told me to f..k off.

What pushed me over the edge, however, was when she told me that I should be ashamed of myself for my desperate efforts to get in touch with the woman whose dream to come to Canada I had not only orchestrated but followed.

Devastated by those words, Ann dropped me home with the promise to return in fifteen minutes although I was begging her not to come back. By then I knew what I was going to do – just not how. She threatened to call the police if I did not buzz her in upon her return.

Crying, full of shame and feeling used and discarded, I went into what was our apartment and changed from my jeans to this beautiful white linen outfit Judith had purchased for me for my baptism in 2000. She also gave me a Bible with it. I wrote both her and A notes, laid their pictures beside me and started taking the pills that I thought would put me to sleep before Ann returned.

Ann is known to always be running late but not early Thursday (October 19) morning. The phone rang and it was her and she was yelling at me to let her in. I refused and she became threatening and I took more pills. Then she started to call me “love”, sweetie,” and pleaded with me to let her in and so I did.

I don’t remember much else other than hearing a man tell me how much this was going to hurt. I smiled and thought “no worse than I have been hurting since Thanksgiving buddy!”

Instructions were given to the hospital staff how to contact my family and throughout the night, apparently, they tried to call Judith and they tried to call her ‘friend’ to no avail. They got my daughter’s voice mail and left a message. It was six hours after my being rushed to the hospital before my partner of 16 years was reached. “Your daughter and her partner are on their way,” the nurse told me seemingly hopeful that knowing that would calm me.

I opened my eyes to see her entering the ‘room’ and I bawled. After looking at me for maybe about five minutes, she proceeded to tell me how done she was with me and all the reasons why. She tried to convince me that it had nothing to do with me that she just wanted to “regain her sense of self,” having been caught up in my identity for all these years. I reminded her that for all the years she was a broadcaster I was the one caught up in her show, I was the ‘girlfriend’, the ‘roommate’, and the ‘friend’. I reminded her how many times I was never introduced at functions we attended together.

The light bulb was slowly going on in my head that this was really done and so I begged her to give our 16 year the type of closure it needed. I told her that the way she has done this break up has left me feeling shattered, shell-shocked and lost. The lies from her and from her ‘friend’ but more so the shaming by her ‘friend’ had left me dirty and cheap; and so I begged her to give me closure – a ritual, a prayer or a joint session with a counselor just to honour our time together. She said that she would ask the counselor if she would see us.

As I waited to be discharged, I was praying that at least the session with the counselor would happen. In the meantime, I had to see the hospital psychiatrist before they would discharge me. I said the right words to him; convincing him that I was not going to try to kill myself upon discharge. He also shared a key insight with me. Being a Catholic hospital, this doctor was a Christian and he shared with me the story of Isaac and his well digging adventures. The moral of the story is – don’t give up, instead hold the pain as you keep on trying, fill your life with whatever you need.

It was in that moment I made the decision that I was going to be on the plane to Toronto in a couple hours after all.

To her credit, Judith picked me up from the hospital that afternoon. We got home and while I tried to pack my bag we discussed our financial obligations, drafted an agreement and signed it. I was trying to make the break and temporarily switched to my most business-like self to protect my interest as 95% of our debts are in my name.

On the way to the airport, I asked again about the possibility of a closure ritual. She refused, saying that she had taken off her ring because we were done. I think what she was saying is that that was closure enough.

Still hopeful that we could at least have a friendship, I asked whether I could call her as usual to say that I had arrived in Toronto. She said no – she wanted nothing to do with me, she did not want to talk with me and she did not want to know anything about me.

There is a wonderful truism in that movie, Brokeback Mountain, and I repeated it to her. “Judith, I wish I knew how to quit you.”

And so, as I sat on the bus this morning, discretely wiping the tears from my eyes, I realized why my skin was so dry. I also remembered the doctor saying that the only reason I am alive or not seriously injured is the fact that I took about 100 ibuprofens and about 30 aspirins. It’s the aspirins that are the killers.

As I entered the building for my meeting at 7:30 this morning (October 20) I thought to myself, “This time I will take more aspirins.” Then I went to the Chapel to pray for forgiveness: for Judith, her ‘friend’ and for myself for what I was going to do tonight.