Readers would not know this, but I went out of order in writing this chapter on purpose because in this moment, it is cathartic for me to do so. We all go through periods of healing, and have relationships that challenge us to be better, stronger, wiser and more true to ourselves. These relationships are healers in and of themselves, as what we deny about ourselves is the truth of their mirror.
The faults of others, and blaming the failure of friendships and relationships on others, is merely us being in denial of how we are the exact same way.
Perhaps we do not demonstrate it in the same way. And this is not meaning that someone else’s actions are not harmful, hurtful or even unintentional; but it is a calling to see where we are letting ourselves—and others who cherish us—down.
Which brings me to how apropos writing this chapter is in this moment, as the experience for me has just come full circle. What began as a curiosity about yet another healing technique completely transformed my entire life. And I know people say that all the time, and I know I have alluded to intense experiences that affected me profoundly throughout this book. But this one truly led to multiple levels of awareness, healing and transcendentalism in many areas of my life.
Sometimes the deepest revelations come from your own backyard; literally, and figuratively.
For me, this experience opened up many doors: forgiveness, compassion, true intimacy and a keen sense of why we need to live in the present, and not the past or the future. I attended a weekend seminar that really made me take a hard look at my life, and how everyone else was to blame for life circumstances—except me, of course. I had to own my shit (excuse the language) because there was no mercy in this seminar.
No, oh you poor thing, of course you are the way you are, it’s because XYZ happened to you. There was no understanding; no excuses; no blaming; no outside transference of our internal state of affairs accepted. We literally had to look in the mirror and see that it was our responses, our stories and our refusal to move passed the past that locked us up. Only we have the key to open it up.
You got out of this seminar as much as you were willing to put into it. You had the choice. Talk or take action. Me? I surprised myself by taking action.
After 12 years of refusing to speak to him for leaving us and resenting him for having more love for a
beer bottle than he had for me, I called my father out of the blue to reconnect with him. I gave him my forgiveness, and asked for his forgiveness in return. For I had realized that I had abandoned him as much as he had abandoned me, and his sickness had no reflection upon his love for me. It was exactly that—a sickness—and it was time to repair the damage and move forward.
I have never felt so peaceful in my entire life, to give up that never-ending story of how he didn’t love me because he loved alcohol more. Once I gave that up, I started building a relationship again with him, and I can actually see the love and emotion that was always there, just not in my perfectly created vision of expectation. He loved me on his terms, in his own way, and expresses it differently that I ever could or would, but that shouldn’t matter. It no longer matters. I can finally look past my judgments to feel the love that is truly there, and believe in it. I cannot even begin to describe the immense amount of freedom that accompanied this profound childhood forgiveness.
He even came down shortly after my phone call to visit, and to finally meet the grandchildren I had been denying him. It was pure joy to see the love for them in his eyes, and theirs in return. They loved him, and I was so spiteful in keeping the one thing he always dreamed of away from him: a son (in the form of a grandson).
And to witness that bond, not just for his sake, but also for my son’s, really showed me that the power of love is so much stronger than the power of anger, fear, revenge or hate.
And this newfound relationship with my father began a spiral effect upwards in my life of repairing the relationships I had that needed some work, and opening myself up to new ones. Over the course of that weekend, I had also made peace with my ex-husband, and took ownership for my role in the destruction of our marriage. I could no longer make him take the full blame for what transpired, even though I found some of his actions to be irresponsible and hurtful at times.
He is my mirror: so were mine, just in different ways. We reached a new level of understanding that day, and although we still have our issues, as any couple—together or apart—do, it is easier for us to work through them because that underlying co-hatred was dissolved, and we now can work from a place of forgiveness and peace.
I also had a heart to heart with my mother about some of the events that had transpired over the years between us, and I was surprised at how well the conversation went, and how good it felt to reconnect with my mother again. Even though she had always been there, years of tension caused a rift that we were now ready to repair.
I began a quest to restore my closest relationships that had taken a hit throughout my life, whether due to misunderstandings, jealously, power struggles or simply my cold, hardened interior and wall blocking out the love and genuine care others had to give.
I spoke with my sisters, a co-worker at work who I had been especially (and unnecessarily) harsh to and a few friends who had tried to be there for me, but I had convinced myself they really didn’t care, just like all the others before. I laid it all out on the table, and life was improving across the board.
There were still a few relationships that actually needed my immediate attention, but I just couldn’t find the courage to deal with them. I was too busy being self-righteous and trying to find a way to communicate how I felt. I wanted to make peace, but not invite certain situations back into my life—I just didn’t know how to handle it, so I let it go with the thought that when the time is right, I will deal with it.
I just never counted on death to take that opportunity away from me.
With one shocking phone call, I was rocked to my core: my cousin had unexpectedly passed. My family was now facing an unspeakable tragedy, and reality hit hard that day. I had made peace with my father, knowing I did not want him to pass without us healing things, and never saying what we’ve always wanted to say. And then it happens with my cousin. The guilt was all-consuming.
Not only that, but I had to face members of my family who I had been somewhat distanced from because of my estrangement with my cousin; a family I feared was now torn apart forever because of it. My cousin had died; I had rejected him in life, and I was afraid they would reject me now, and ban me from being there for his death. The wait was torture; I could not call to offer my condolences. How do you tell a grieving family you are sorry for everything, when you can’t even take anything back? It was too
late now. Or so I thought.
My cousin (with the help of divine powers) had better plans for all of us. I went over to see my aunt and uncle, anxious about the possible anger they had towards me. But instead, my aunt opened her arms and hugged me. She said my cousin always knew and accepted my distance, and never blamed me for how I felt. He had understood, and had told them that over and over, and they felt like they had to respect that; if he knew in his heart it was okay, they had to be okay, too.
So the tragedy that could have torn us all apart, actually ended up drawing us closer together.
I still have pangs of guilt from time to time about not physically working it out with my cousin, but I do talk to him now, and can feel his forgiveness and understanding. But it sure taught me a great lesson—you really can’t expect tomorrow to come to say the words you need to say, to express or ask for forgiveness, or to show compassion to those that need it the most, even if you are angry or not aligned with them. It was an extremely tough lesson to learn, but an extremely important one. And I am filled with gratitude daily for the graciousness and forgiveness my family showed to me during this time, accepting that my grief was real, and that my heart was just as broken as theirs over this tragedy.
As if all of these conversations and experiences during only a three-month period weren’t intense enough, during this time, I also became involved in an unconventional relationship that tested my boundaries—well, pushed them actually, but mostly in a good way. It broke down many walls of fear that I had built up as a result of my childhood and marital experiences, and it taught me profound vulnerability. I learned the true value of allowing intimacy on every level, and the powerful experience of letting someone in to your most sacred of spaces, and feeling safe to do so.
This relationship taught me pain, but it also taught me passion.
It brought me down to the lowest feelings of unworthiness at times to recognize the depth of self-worth that I had, recognizing that it was only my self-judgment that made it so. It challenged my beliefs to strengthen them. It gave me courage, support and a sense of unstoppability in going after what I wanted in life, helping me to see who I am at my core, and the amazing person that I truly am. It was definitely life-changing, and I wouldn’t give up any moment of it for anything. It was exactly everything
I needed to experience at the time, and I have so much love and gratitude for the blessing that it was.
In heartbreak, I found self-love. In showing vulnerability, I found acceptance and surrender. In communicating honestly and openly, no matter how difficult, I found release and peace. For all
of its many downsides on the surface, and the ego-responses and stories created about this relationship, there were just as many upsides and karmic healings that needed to take place for the both of us throughout our journey together. And it was a very special one that has left a significant imprint on my life, and in my heart.
Our season is over, but the lessons are not. Everything that has happened as the result of opening up during this seminar continues to bring me to greater awareness, better connections and deepened self-love. A whirlwind of intense, unexpected healing was upon me, and I could choose to walk away, or do the work and fight for my life.
I didn’t have to go far to find everything I was looking for, to feel whole and complete. I didn’t even have to go to this seminar in New York City, or my actual backyard. I just had to go within. And this repeating lesson was finally starting to click with me.
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