Comforting Words: 01/2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Open Letter To my Women-Friends

A few days ago, I sent an email requesting prayer support from the Comforting Words Community and my friends around the world.

This request was precipitated by an event and a misunderstanding that resulted in my feeling that it was time to make a major decision about my life.

Since circulating that email, I have had quite a few responses – some supporting my thought to move from Edmonton and start afresh in a city or town where I am not known as “the woman who tried to commit suicide twice.”

Those who supported this idea felt strongly, like I do, that while it is factual that I made two attempts on my life as a result of the devastation I felt at the abrupt and cruel way in which my 16-relationship came to an end, this perception and constant image of me could prevent my forward moving.

The concern, again one that I share, is that for as long as my friends, well intentioned as they are, continue to support this image of me – although I have stated categorically that I recognize the folly of my choice – will keep me locked in a negative and fearful place. That is the last place I want to be.

Then there was another set of emails that, quite rightly, reminded me that you take your baggage with you wherever you go. They quite correctly counseled me, again reminding me that if I do not spend time clearing the bags, sorting through the proverbial shit that they contain, I will keep making the same mistakes. For example, if I rush into a new relationship without “doing the work,” sixteen weeks, months or years down the road I will be in the same mess!

Another group of wise women ( and a few men) who responded to my email confirmed that while they are holding me in prayer and in the Light and Love of the Divine – the final decision is for God and me to make and once a decision is divinely inspired it will be the right one for me.

My reason for sharing the fact that I sent this email, the responses and writing this “Open Letter” to my women-friends who said “Yes” to the Divine to play this sacred role at this time in my life is no different from my fundamental reason for hosting this Blog.

My commitment to openness, honesty and truth is unwavering. I firmly believe that if one person is helped from any of my stories or any part of my journey – my work on Earth is done. I have personally felt the effects of secrecy – not only recently – in fact throughout my life. And so, I vowed that my life would be an open book, as one person said it, because it might be “the only Bible some people might ever read.”

And so, contrary to the many suggestions, assumptions, storylines, etc., that have been put forward regarding my decision to not answer my telephone for half a day last Sunday (January 21) my reason was simple. It might sound like hocus-pocus to some, it might be unbelievable to others or even an excuse. But guess what? I don’t care.

Since this entire ‘drama’ started on October 8, I have willing gone with every wind that blew. I have allowed myself to be tossed and turned by every emotion that swept through my body. I gave little thought to what was behind my feelings and just went with them – particularly the feelings of intense pain, betrayal and abandonment. My sense of self and Self were lost for almost three months.

My therapist asked me where was my God or whether I considered God when I was stuffing those pills down my throat. My response to her was I completely blocked and separated from my “Wise Mind,” as I swallowed those pills, totally locked into my need to stop the pain.

Looking back, I honestly do not believe I really wanted to die. My only desire was for the pain to end. The pain of the betrayal, abandonment, rejection and even the shame that I experienced from the words of my ex’s new lover and/or "exclusive friend" and the shame I felt as she hid and called the security to have me removed from the parking lot of her work place.

Added to that, was the pain I felt about all that I have lost – having to drop out of school, losing the contract for a project, the financial losses and the debt that I now have to carry on my own due to the decisions we made even in the midst of her making her plans to leave me.

Literally, I spent three months in anguish, resulting in a diagnosis of clinical depression and now having to pop more pills – anti-depressants and tranquilizers on a daily basis. During this time, I pleaded to God for help but I was not listening to Her response as much as I ought to have been so my healing process was stymied a bit.

On Friday, January 19 during a very intense session with my therapist – to use a hackneyed phrase – the light bulb finally went on and it was a 100 watt bulb! Later I would comment to a couple of my women-friends (the same ones who would later be upset with me) that the session was both insightful and emotionally devastating.

Intellectually I have always understood the concept that “children live what they learn,” and to some extent could clearly see how that played out in some areas of not only my life but those with whom I have had intimate relationships, even the most recent one. However, as I worked with my therapist that afternoon, the full extent of how much of an illusion I have been living in for the longest while, denying the reality of what has been staring me in the face was, as I said before, insightful yet extremely emotionally devastating.

I left that session feeling much like an open wound that someone had began to pour some salve on. Then the next day (Saturday, January 20) a woman-friend and I attended another very, very intense Family and Systemic Constellation Workshop. This was my second time at such a workshop and whereby on the first occasion I ‘presented’ an issue, meaning I volunteered to have my break-up examined, this time I felt my role was to support and serve others as they presented their issues.

For those who have not a clue what this type of work is, I would just say it is a groundbreaking and phenomenal way to go deeper into one’s family (intergenerational) history, stories, pain and hurt and see how it has influenced your life today.

After two days of such intense self-reflection and psycho-emotional digging I was drained – both physically and mentally. My only desire was to get home as quickly as possible, after picking up a package of meditation tapes and prayer books from the post office, and be still and in solitude.

This need for stillness, solitude and private conversations with the Divine has been something that I have longed to do for some time now. I can recall telling my then partner that should she make her transition (die) before me, I would join a religious order and spend the rest of my life in prayer and contemplation and working for justice.

As I came home that Saturday evening, I popped in a CD by “Mary, Mary,” intending to play a particularly song that has always given me strength – “I Just Can’t Give Up Now.”

As fate would have it, that was not the song that played. This song was the one that played instead and as I listened to it , I knew it was time – I could not and should not wait for February 15th (my birthday) when I plan to go on a solitary and silent weekend retreat .

The song is entitled “One Minute” and here are the words:

...I know it now that I was such a fool to turn my back on you

When You had given me everything I let You down, I know that's true

Now I've come to realize that there are no happy days because
You're not here, I need to know if There's a chance for me again,

Oh All I need is one minute of Your time

Five seconds of it may change Your mind

Ten seconds to make You see

Fifteen to say Lord I'm sorry for all the things I've done

I'll take twenty more to say You're the one

Nine to think it through I

'll take the one to say I love You

Late at night when I was all alone You held me in Your arms I strayed away only to find there was no place to hide

Lord please hear me when I say I'll give my life to You

Whatever I've gotta do show me Lord and I will live for You

I'm not willing to, to give up on You knowing that You always stood right by me

Until you forgive me my world won't turn

So if you hear me Lord I'm saying that I'm sorry

Said I'm saying that I'm sorry...

I must have hit the replay button ten times and then fell asleep knowing what I had to do – I had to recommit my life to the Divine but this time not in the intellectual way that I have been doing.

Remember the words of the Aboriginal Elder? “The longest distance is between the head and the heart.” As I listened to that song, I knew that I have been in a head relationship with God for the past six years; since my baptism.

The gift of the abrupt goodbye that I received was that I was now free to embark on the journey to my heart, to the place where the Divine resides.

This is something I have always wanted to do but the journey was challenging as I thought I needed to have my companion, the person who I thought was my soul mate, my spiritual partner go with me.

That was my mistake – this journey was mine and mine only to make. I had not yet met my spiritual partner and still have not, so in the meantime, I must walk alone.

For me, part of this process means preparing myself for the journey, as anyone would do who is embarking on a trip. My preparation entails seeking Guidance and getting a spiritual compass for the journey and that means being still. That is what I did on Sunday, January 21 and I make no apology for it.

Certainly I am sorry to my dear woman-friend, who I love very much, for whatever anxious moment she had and also to the others who were contacted to find out if they heard from me and entered into this latest drama. However, I will never change my voice mail message to say I am in prayer or anything like that because I am always in prayer. My friends, near and far, those in email contact or telephone contact will need to understand that that is where I am right now – I cannot and will never again try to serve two Masters.

Further, I need to heal me and unless I am given the space and a chance to do that I cannot be there fully or be fully present with anyone else. No one can give what they do not have – I am no different.

I do not need money from anyone. I thank those of you who have been kind enough and supported the cost of my initial therapy sessions. I will take it from here, thank you very much.

I do not need to have any swearing and cursing at me because I have made a decision to lock myself away for an hour or a week. I have been abused for most of my life, including in the recent months – physically, sexually, emotionally and verbally – I will not tolerate any more.

I have no desire to play with anyone’s head, worse yet their hearts. I have had both my head and heart played with, again for most of my life and in recent months and I know the pain of those kind of games.

The truth, the bottom line right now is simple – I need time to heal, I need time to reconnect with my Source, I need to pack my bags for my journey to my heart, I need to free myself of the baggage and not ignore the realities that have been staring me down for so long. I need love, real love without strings attached – not lectures, not judgments, not assumptions and certainly not accusations.

For almost two going on three years now, I have given and continue to give my all to many friends, strangers in hospital beds, and women in a place most of my readers would and could never imagine themselves in. I have and will continue to stand up and speak truth to authority and to name lies and liars for what they are. Along the way, I have made mistakes, missteps, caused hurt and confusion and chaos in my life and in my relationships.

Right now, I need to rest, regroup, recoup, restore and recover my life. I need to explore and find the real CLAUDETTE – I have never met her, having been too busy living other people’s version (or at least trying to) of who she is or who they needed her to be so that they could hide behind her.

And so, as I return to my spiritual roots, one that ‘requires’ me to re-enter a sacred and secret place where my search for me as the Divine has asked me to live Her Life on this Earth plane, I ask for your love, compassion and understanding.

This does not mean that I will not be in contact or wish to discontinue my friendships. One of my earliest spiritual guides/teachers (Joel Godlsmith) says it best. It is not my intention to “withhold the cup of cold water” but itis my desire right now, the desire of anyone on an earnest spiritual search to be in union with what is Sacred. Teresa of Avila calls the destination the Seventh Dwelling Place in the Interior Castle. As one lady at the workshop said, I want my "tears to water my [spiritual] growth."

So, if you do not hear from me via telephone, email or even through this blog for a day, two days even a month – trust me I have not committed suicide; I am journeying. If you get really anxious, my daughter always knows where I am or whether I am alive -- she just knows.

I love you all.



Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Woman of Strength

What I have learned over the last three months is to be very careful how I use the word 'friend'. It has been a hard lesson but a worthwhile one.

People normally say you know your true friends when trouble comes and that has been my experience.

The picture above was taken by my dearest woman-friend. I have explained before why I use the phrase "woman-friend," -- these are women in my life who are not only friends but who have experienced the worst they could have imagined and are now living testimonies of the "will to live."
I have a few women-friends -- all across this country (Canada), in Jamaica and across the world as far as Australia. They have been calling and emailing daily. They have comforted and challenged me. They have conjoled me and given me very swift kicks. Some have come to my side from afar and have helped me packed the final pieces of my 16 years of illusion and taken them back to the magician.

Anni is one of those women. She called me most excitedly recently to say, "Claudette, I have a wonderful surprise for you!" I hauled myself over to her house, as I really needed to get out of my apartment - a place that is both a prison and safe place for me.

I have no recollection of Anni taking this picture. She tells me that she did so one evening when she came over to support me in one of my worst periods.

Anni says she is struck by my smile in the picture. According to her, when she looks at this photograph she sees a Claudette she has never seen before -- despite the fact that it was taken maybe a few days before I would again try to take my own life.

"There is a glow, a ray of hope, skinny as you have become, I see my Claudette and more coming through in this picture," Anni declared.

One of my projects for January is to create a wall of friendship. It is part of my continuing effort to make my prison (apartment) livable, a way to drive out the demons of infidelity, inhumane treatment and lies that continue to haunt me.

Anni suggests that this photograph should be at the center, encircled by photographs of the women who have been sharing their strength with me throughout "my time of trouble." I have already collected a few photographs and waiting for a few more to finish the wall.

In addition to putting this wall together, I have finally gotten to the book Imentioned in an earlier post, Radical Forgiveness. This book came to my attention one morning as I entered my workplace and while waiting to be "checked in," one of my colleagues, a psychologist, had this book in his hand and without any prompting and knowledge of what was going on in my life, he turned to me and said, "You must read this book, I think you will fiind it very helpful."

Whether he meant helpful for me or for the women I work with I do not know. What I have learnt a few chapters into this book is that it is revolutionary. So revolutionary that it requires me to go away for a while and truly let it sink deep into my soul.
That is what I plan to do for my brithday this February 15 --no pyjamas party for me this year. I am booked into a retreat facility from my birthday and the entire weekend, where I will hopefully take one step closer to fully regaining the strength that was once characteristic of me. It will be a weekend spent alone at this facility and in prayer.

I have already been somewhat on a kind of retreat, leaving my house only to go to my part time job and to the appointments with the various medical professionals that I now have to see. My semi-hibernation has nothing to do with winter - albeit it has finally arrived in all its glory here in Alberta - but more so with a need to fall to my knees and ask the Divine for help to regain my strength and belief in Love and kindness that has been so severely shattered.

My Aboriginal colleagues have always shared their great wisdom with me and yesterday was no different. In recent weeks, I have immersed myself not only in Christian and New Age rituals and prayers but also Native Spirituality, including smudging, blessings with sweet grass and wearing a medicine bag. It was an Elder who told me that "the longest distance is between the head and the heart."

Yesterday, another Elder shared this poignant poem with me -- it is one that will form part of my meditation as I go into retreat.

A Strong Woman vs. A Woman of Strength

A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape…
But a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape…

A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything…..
But a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear….

A strong woman won’t let anyone get the best of her…
But the woman of strength gives the best of herself to everyone…

A strong woman makes the mistakes and avoids the same in the future…
A woman of strength realizes life’s mistakes can also be the Creator’s blessings and capitalizes on them….

A strong woman walks sure footed…
But a woman of strength knows the Creator will catch her if she falls

A strong woman wears a look of confidence on her face…
But a woman of strength wears grace….

A strong woman has faith she is strong enough for the journey…
But a woman of strength has faith, that it is in the journey, that she will become strong…

Author unknown
Blessings to you all,