Comforting Words: Wilderness Journal: Day 29

Monday, November 20, 2006

Wilderness Journal: Day 29

From the Center

Introduction
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 12
Day 15
Day 20
Day 21


Something seems to be happening with me and Day 30. It was again my thought to not write a post until that Day and here I am at 4:41 a.m., after sitting at the Center of the Eternal Fire, writing.

It has been eight days since my last post and my time has been spent in deep reflection on ME and what this ME needs and wants.

On Day 22, I entered my psychologist’s office with an agenda. The wailing and recognition on Day 21 that my life and vows to my ex mirrored that of the biblical Ruth, drew me into a place where more than ever before I wanted to see ME.

One telephone ‘conversation’, if you can call it that, with my ex helped to propel me in this direction. Expressing my desire to maintain a friendship with her, something that meant and still means a lot to me, her response was that I must let go of my guilt.

“Guilt?” I asked looking incredulously at the telephone. “I am not feeling guilty. This is not about guilt, don’t you get that?”

None of my effort to bridge the widening gap between us has been about guilt, at least not for me, of that I am sure. Certainly in the early days of this drama, I wondered about my own behaviour over the years and how they contributed to the break down in communication between us. I also confessed in a very long letter to her that my pride prevented me from speaking the whole truth about my discontent with the relationship.

However, to interpret any of this as guilt is totally off the mark.

Mindfulness

Self- Awareness: Locating Oneself

“Where are you today?”

Since childhood, my greatest form of entertainment has been reading. While most other children could be found outside playing, I would be ensconced in my room or under a tree reading some fiction or the other.

This has not changed much as I have grown. Books have been one of my greatest sources of not only knowledge but wisdom. Reading opens my mind to new approaches, to a world far greater than the one I inhabit and invites me to think and dream bigger than I might be doing in any given moment.

It is therefore no surprise that as I walk through this Wilderness, books are my constant companion – propelling me even deeper within myself; excavating the deeper ME.

Last Monday (Day 22) as I entered my psychologist’s office, in my hand was one of these companions. Several prior conversations with women (verbal and non-verbal), who Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott (I will speak more about her later) refers to as “Personal Evolution Tutors,” led me to the stance I was about to announce to my therapist.

The basic thought-provoking ideas of these conversations were:

  1. “You teach people how to treat you” – and I was not giving a very good lesson up to that point.
  2. “If you have to fight with people to accept what you are giving as an act of love; they are not worthy.”

As I sat with those thoughts the previous day (Day 21); as I wrote them down repeatedly on sheets of papers and taped them to my wall, pacing back and forth passing them and as I allowed them to sink into my being, I felt the full strength of my Power returning to me.

Dr. Carter-Scott in her book, “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules,” correctly observes that life presents us with lessons – not accidents, not mistakes, not mischief but lessons to be learnt. Further, she states that the lessons will be repeated until we get it and that was the case for me, particularly on Day 22.

It was 4:00 a.m. and I was up and about and by 6:30 a.m. I was checking email. As I opened one of my three (or four) email accounts, I immediately noticed one from a dear friend in Jamaica, Z. She is the woman who has so generously taken on the reward less task of monitoring and liaising with my mother. Her email simply announced to me that my mother was again in the hospital – no reason given.

After several unsuccessful attempts to get Z on the phone, I called my daughter to tell her the news. Then I called my ex as this news might very well have had financial implications for us. The long and short of this episode is that after leaving several detailed voice messages and a message with her landlady – whose number I scourged through the infamous telephone record and found – she did not return any of my calls.

Eventually I got through to Z, who still could not give me anything concrete about my mother only to say that she got news that she is in the hospital and that she, Z, would try to visit either later that day or by the next.

Where did all of this leave me?

By the time I was parking my vehicle to go up to the therapist that afternoon, my desire to get ME back was almost choking my breath off. The impact the news of my mother’s hospitalization had on me, the heart felt tears that it brought to my eyes – tears that I have never cried for her before – made me realize what the lessons that Life was calling me to get.

Lessons to be Learnt

A sidebar here: If you have never read this book by Dr. Carter-Scott, “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules,” and if you feel ready to start understanding how to grow into your humanity – I strongly recommend it.

The words of my Personal Evolution Tutors, the news of my mother’s hospitalization and what I experienced as coldness and sheer indifference from the woman who I journeyed with for 16 years all said to me – it’s time.

As Dr. Carter-Scott outlines, I knew it was time to:

  • Remind myself that my recent experiences are only part of my learning process – not punishment.
  • Be present and pay attention fully to the experiences.
  • Diligently take action that enables my “getting’ the lessons being presented to me.
  • Ask Spirit for answers.
  • Listen with an open heart – to Spirit, to my Tutors, to those who I perceived as ‘mean-spirited’ and most importantly, to Life.
  • Explore all options.
  • See all the judgments that I had made of people, events and/or experiences as a mirror – a reflection of my inner world, my thinking and how I was being in the world and in relation to others.
  • View each crisis (including this new one with my mother) as an opportunity for growth rather than a reason to shrink into bitterness.
  • Trust myself.
  • Believe in myself.
  • Look within myself, to my higher self, for guidance on all my choices.
  • Extend compassion to myself first and to others.
  • Always remember that there are no mistakes, only lessons.
  • Love myself, trust my choices and know that everything is possible and all is well.

When my therapist asked me how I wanted to proceed in our session – a polite question she normally asks – my response was, “You know, I am done talking about my relationship. I want us to start with me and if it comes up then that’s okay. I am over the crisis and I think it’s time to come into my ME-NESS.” I then proceeded to quote the words of Rollo May, from his book “The Courage to Create,” it was my companion for that day.

“S,” I said, “I want to recover my courage to create. As Dr. May wrote, ‘courage is not the absence of despair; it is rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.”

Up to that point, Day 22, I was still in deep despair but I also knew that it was time for me to fully take responsibility for the way my life had unfolded to that point and to boldly create a new life for myself.

This important – the difference between guilt and responsibility. I was not and am not feeling guilty as intricately connected to guilt is blame and negative feelings. I am not blaming myself nor am I blaming any one else and am trying to move away from the trap of negativity.

Responsibility on the other hand is when you stop hiding from the full truth, when you take ownership privately and publicly and stop hiding behind other people - especially those who are just are blind as you are.

“Blame is stagnant, responsibility propels you forward and onward to your greater good,” writes Dr. Carter-Scott and that is my direction – forward.

Across the Sands

That resolve – to be courageous and create a new life for myself and to take even greater responsibility than I had up to that point – opened me up so much over the next few days. Here is a synopsis of the major ‘events’ from the afternoon of Day 22 to Day 28:

Day 22 (Monday):

My ex finally responded to my call about my mother almost twelve hours later. I almost did not answer the telephone when I saw her number on the caller display, however, I did. After listening to her tell me that she only got my messages, twelve hours after the fact, I said, “Thanks very much for calling. Goodbye.”

I danced and screamed after hanging up – happy at my ability not to follow my anger at what I perceived as her seeming loss of compassion and capacity for kindness.

Then I made the next major decision for ME. I called the telephone companies, for my cell phone and my land line – and had my numbers immediately changed. My decision to do this was my way of taking care of myself and also accepting my ex’s choice.

I had had enough of sitting by the telephone waiting for her to call me. If she doesn’t know my number then I could not expect her to call.

Secondly, things work both ways – and so as my ex had consistently, adamantly and even unkindly insisted that she does not want to hear from or about me, that she really does not care what happens to me then this works both ways.

No, not that I do not care what happens to her – in fact I do very much care, yet we must be careful what we wish for: if one’s desire is to have a complete communication lock-down then one must expect it to work both ways – I don’t call you, you don’t call me. I went a step further with this communication lock-down and blocked her from sending me emails from all my accounts.

It was time to protect and take care of myself. I had had enough of the insults and attempts to shame me. I had had enough of being misunderstood. I had had enough of the attempts to blame me for everything that went wrong. Enough!

My response to my ex’s request to leave her alone was finally, “Okay and would you please do the same and not have anyone call me with your requests as you recently did? Except for the outstanding business (financial) between us – I leave you alone and you leave me alone.”

Day 23 (Tuesday):

One of the many beautiful things that have happened as a result of this situation – is the growing re-connection between my daughter and me. Regular readers will recall that back in May my daughter decided to move out and the uproar that caused. Our relationship was strained for several months, with her not visiting home until October for Thanksgiving Dinner.

On this day, not only did she invite me over to their place, but she prepared a meal for me, concerned as she was/is about my lack of appetite. She also had a gift for me – a body care package. However, the greatest gift was seeing that they had placed a fairly large photograph of me on the centre table in their living room. My daughter it seems has been trying to walk the lesson of forgiveness much faster than many adults!

Day 24 (Wednesday):

I started stepping back fully into my world – the one that has cared for me so compassionately this past month or so. I journeyed with a lesbian couple preparing to make marriage vows to each other; I called almost all of my Personal Evolution Tutors and friends who have been so caring and nurturing of me through this process to yet again tell them thanks. Later that evening, it was time to give back to a woman who has done the unasked for me – including leaving the warmth of her home at midnight to meet me at the airport a month ago – just because.

Day 25 (Thursday):

Bumped into an old CPE colleague who now lives in Calgary and we agreed to meet for supper. We ended up buying Chinese take-out and spending the evening at my place in conversation and tears. Anyone who has ever done or experienced a partner who is in CPE will understand that crying and getting in touch with one’s feelings is very much a part of that process. We did that and what a time of healing it was!

Day 26 (Friday):

Took one more step back into my world and got some work done that I have neglected for over a month. Also, finally had over an hour long conversation with my friend Z who filled me in on the detail of my mother and this brought me a great amount of comfort. Also, spent some time apartment hunting – trying to find whether there was an immediate option to end one aspect of the financial bondage that I am experiencing. This was unsuccessful but I took it like a big girl.

Day 27 (Saturday):

This day marked exactly a month to the date that I attempted suicide. It was also the day of a Family Constellation Workshop that my friend and I were to attend.

My day started at 1:15 a.m., with me checking in with myself to see what my feelings were. I had to admit that:

  1. I sometimes experience a deep sense of contentment – when I felt like shouting, “Yes!”
  2. I sometimes have a sickening and sinking feeling when I recall the lies, deception and what I experienced as utter betrayal of trust by my ex and her friend, particularly in my house.
  3. I still love and feel loving towards my ex – in spite of everything. You just don’t dispose of 16 years overnight – it just doesn’t happen!
  4. I feel hopeful that I can and will create a new life for myself.
  5. I am affirmed in my humanity, my service, my path, my sense of worth and my capacity to give and receive by my work colleagues, supervisors and in particular the women I serve.
  6. I am truly loved.

Before leaving for the workshop, I made another step towards my freedom – I completed an application for private medical insurance and put it in the email. I also put in the mail a form to my ex to have myself removed from her work insurance plan – as this has been a source of stress and worry for me; not being sure whether the commitment will be honoured and needing dental work but afraid (and told not to) call her to discuss this. Yes, this is an expense that will greatly stretch me but by taking this step I am taking control of my own health and my life!

I will say more about the Workshop at a later date but will just mention that it was another moment of great healing for me as it allowed me an opportunity to walk in both my parents shoes, to understand the inter-generational pain and suffering that both sides of my family underwent and most importantly, it propelled me further into taking responsibility for my past, my choices and their consequences and for my future.

Ended Day 27 by attending an Harvest Family Dance at my church! This was an hilarious experience. I was doing line and other types of dancing with my minister and the wonderful group of people gathered. I returned home with mixed feelings – thankful for the community and sad that my own family is splintered.

Day 28 (Sunday):

Before leaving for church, I called my daughter to make sure that she got home safely as she worked a late night shift. She assured me that all was well and then proceeded to inquire about my plans for the day. As I finished sharing that, she commented that maybe she should not tell me something. I asked what was it and encouraged her to speak to me.

The story that followed had me shaking, fighting to catch my breath and concerned for my daughter’s emotional health.

Basically, what she told me was that on her way to work her Aunty J (that’s was her name for her) and her new companion boarded the bus - hand in hand. The companion saw my daughter first who confessed to giving her a dirty look. Aunty J was then apparently told of my daughter’s presence on the bus and she, the only other parent this child knew really, sheepishly told my daughter “Hi.”

They exited a few stops later and again the woman who raised this child, who influenced this child’s life for 16 years, could only manage to say, “Bye.”

My daughter continued that as she sat on the bus later that night after work, she could not shake the image of them and feel the betrayal of her love by Aunty J. So she decided to send a text message to her. Whether it was received neither of us knows as she did not receive a response – maybe because of the content. My daughter said she wrote something like this:
“I hope you and (the woman’s name) are having a wonderful time. God knows you deserve each other. Remember what goes around comes around. I thank you for your help raising me but I have no love for you any more, so please do not contact me.”

Yes, I was shaking from the fact of them actually walking around town having vehemently denied what was happening, even to very, very recently, when I ws told she will consider entering a relationship with this companion if that would get rid of me!

Yet, I was happy that my daughter saw them for herself as she thought maybe I was mistaken.

My concern, however, for her emotional health was greater and so I sought support for her by providing her number to someone I trust to counsel and support her on this necessary path of forgiveness. I called her, my daughter, later that day and told her to expect a call from this counsellor.


Final Words

And so, that is my journey these last eight days. I am now entering the last lap – the countdown to Day 40.

This is my intention for this las ten days: I know that the major lesson for me throughout this period is deep forgiveness of myself and others.

As Dr. Carter-Scott writes, my task is to understand that “human growth is a process of experimentation, trial, and error, ultimately leading to wisdom.”

The guide that I will be using for this last phase is a book called, “Radical Forgiveness,” as I seek to:

  1. Be even more compassionate – open my heart even wider.
  2. Forgive – erasing emotional debt and engage in a process of conscious and deliberate release of any residual resentment I may be holding for myself and others.
  3. Solidify my ethics – knowing and embracing completely my internal (moral) codes and aligning my external actions to match them.
  4. Laugh – inviting laughter and amusement into all situations that might otherwise be or have been disastrous.

I pray for your continued support.

Blessings,

Claudette

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