Comforting Words: On the Other Side

Sunday, April 22, 2007

On the Other Side

Slowly opening my eyes, I rolled over in the king-sized bed that has been mine for four nights now. I groped in the dark for my real vision-assistance, my spectacles, to see the clock on the night table to the right.

The red light of the clock said it was 5:15 a.m., but it was really 3:15 a.m., for me. Although I have been in this town five days now, my body was still on Edmonton time. My flight is scheduled for noon today (Sunday) and so I could sleep a few more hours but this post has been rolling over in my head for days now.

The previous night (Saturday), on my now nightly call with someone who has joined me on this leg of my continuing journey, I shared the news from the conference I am attending in Montreal, including the fact that it was now official – that as of January 2008, I will be the Chairperson of this national body.

I also shared that I needed to write this post. “But you sound tired,” my dear sojourner observed. “Yes I am,” I responded, “It was a very trying day that ended well. Maybe I should write the post on my flight back home.”

Was it the fact that today, April 22, 2007; is the 6-month anniversary of my decision to start what I then named my “Finding Wisdom in the Wilderness Journal” that woke me so early? Or was it more the realization that the four aspects of my life are coming into greater alignment that had me so excited that the king-size bed could not contain me any longer?

It was all this and more.

Six months to the day, I am in a very different place. My world as I knew it was turned upside down overnight and “shell-shocked” is the only word to describe my then state of being six months ago.

Today, April 22, the lyrics of Tracy Chapman’s song, “You and Your Sweet Smile,” poetically describes my journey over the last six months. Listen to it if you can, but here are the lines which best reflect my initial pain, my healing process, the Lesson that I have learned and where I am today:

You and your sweet smile
You and your tantalizing ways
You and your honey lips
You and all the sweet things that they say
You and your wild wild ways
One day you just up and walked away

You left me hurting
But I can forgive you for that now
You taught me something
Something took half my life to learn
When you give all yourself away
Just tell them to be careful of your heart

Be careful of my heart heart
Be careful of this heart of mine
Be careful of my heart heart
It just might break and send some splinters flying
Be careful of my heart heart
Be careful

You you you
You you you
You you you
Took my love
Thought you took it all

You you you
You you you
You you you
Took my love
And now you're gone

But I'm not breaking down
And I'm not falling apart
I just lost a little faith
When you broke my heart
Given a chance
I might try it again

But I wouldn't risk it all this time
I’d save
A little love for myself
Enough for my heart to mend
A little love for myself
One day I just might love again
One day some sweet smile might turn my head
One day I just might give all myself away

Six months to the date of my first attempt to take my own life in my desperate desire to stop the hurt; I am standing on the other side.

Six months to the date of my literal flight to escape the splintering of my heart; I am standing on the other side.

Six months to date of my losing my faith that the Creator is real in my life and could heal my pain; I am standing on the other side.

Six months to the date of my thinking I could never love again; I am standing on the other side.

A Course in Miracles teaches that there are only two emotions: Love and Fear; and the latter is not of God. Obviously, although I would describe myself as a budding student of The Course (as it is commonly referred to) I never truly got that lesson – until now.

As I continue to write, it is now 4:15 a.m., in Edmonton – an hour and two cups of coffee has passed since I started writing this post. And as I reflect on the where I am today, to use biblical language, I know it harvest time.

Like Tracey Chapman, if she was referring to herself in the song, it took me half my life to learn that in all my loving; I was neither told nor taught that I must love myself first. “You cannot give what you don’t have,” is a dictum that I have often used but truth be told it was one that someone needed to have sat me down earlier and pound in my own head.

In a way, that is exactly what Life finally did back in October 2006.

"One day you just up and walked away; You left me hurting; But I can forgive you for that now; You taught me something; Something that took half my life to learn..."

On the other side of goodbye, there are many gifts for which I can now say with all sincerity that I am grateful to have received.

Introducing my “Wilderness Journal,” back in October 2006, I wrote:

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

Six months later and on the other side of goodbye, not in the same order as above, I can now thankfully say:

Pastorally: I am serving the people – women and children in difficult circumstances – as I committed myself to do many, many years ago. I am doing this through my paid employment, which I would be happy to do even if they did not pay me. Recently, I became Board Member of a church supported not-for-profit organization, serving children who need a place and people to call home and family.

Professionally: Although there is a major outstanding academic issue (finalizing my paper for my second Master’s degree) finally I feel I can truly and wholeheartedly focus on my calling which is also my professional path – to serve God’s children who are oppressed, marginalized and/or disenfranchised – without excuses, delaying or compromising.

Politically: This aspect of who I am has been on hold for many years – sixteen in fact. Over the years, I have kept abreast with the issues that most concern me but have limited my actual involvement in the process. Today, that is over. The preparation has started that will facilitate my stepping into the arena in a way that will best serve the communities that I feel called to journey with – women, the LGBTQ community, youth and young adults, immigrants to Canada and, more recently, the Aboriginal communities. I have added the first peoples of Canada to my list of constituents, as their spirituality has greatly helped me to weather the choppy seas that I have been through, and I have been journeying more closely and have become even more aware of their culture and way of life.

Personally: I am happy at the core of my being. My relationship with my daughter (and my ‘son-in-law’) has deepened to a degree I would never have anticipated had my life not been turned upside down. There are truly blessings in storms. My relationship with my woman-friends and man-friends have also taken a dip into a deeper level of honesty, sincerity, openness and trust as I am now free to be even more available to receive and release love. My heart has been and continues to heal – and in recent weeks it has had some extra help. Happiness does in fact sneak in through the door you never knew you left open. Thank you D for being in my life – whether for a reason, a season or a lifetime – you are an answer to a special prayer that was put out to the Universe. I just know that.

Six months later and on the other side of darkness, despair and desperate attempts (on my part) to hang on to what I thought was the truth, I have found ME.

I am finally in love with ME. Mira Kirshenbaum wrote in her book “Everything Happens for a Reason:”

The good that comes out of the bad things that happens to you is to help you
become your best, most authentic self.”


For months, I have been seeking and even begging for closure. Today, six months later and on the other side…I have “opensure,” a term coined by Kirshenbaum which basically means that one opens and remains open to life’s experiences – whatever they may be – with a soft, accepting and willing heart.

Six months, two suicide attempts, countless sleepless nights, 35 pounds lighter with a diagnosis of clinical depression brought on by severe emotional trauma - I am open.

I am also happy and know that I am truly blessed and loved.

May you all also find “opensure,” in the storms of your lives!

Blessings,

Claudette

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