I’m in Starbucks ordering a chai tea latte, I think it’s the one on Ambleside down the street from Gyra’s office, my therapist during those dark days full of hurricanes and touch down tornadoes. Or maybe it’s the one in Caulfield village, in the same plaza as the Safeway where I used to run into her, where we would stop and smile and talk in the cereal aisle, me on my way to the vegetable section, she on her way to pick up bread, or perhaps something from the cold meat section. She’s a carnivore, I know that. No vegetarian could wield a flesh cutting knife with as much precision as she.
But I’m allowing myself to become sidetracked. My Judge quickly backing up my Victim. It’s good to give them a voice now and again, to let them speak, to hear them out. To acknowledge them before gently guiding them back to their seats. It’s my Avenger’s turn to manage the show.
So, back to my dream. Did I mention I’m dreaming? It actually begins in that trance world between awake and sleeping, the best birthplace of Active Imagination. I’m lying on my back in the wee hours of the morning, warmly comfortable nestled under my blue and yellow quilt and I’m barely aware of the early morning dawn birds just beginning their Spring concert. I’m floating in that magical realm of almost, but not quite awake, slowly replaying the film of my last dream, which must have included elements of my used to be marriage because suddenly and seamlessly I’m in Starbucks ordering my soy, no-water chai tea latte and in walks S., otherwise known as The Other Woman, or during those dark tsunami days (and some days since) as Witch Woman. So named because even then, even so wounded and full of unrecognized anger I could not bring myself to give her the name that rhymes.
I’ve been here before, in this netherworld of Active Imagination. In this particular scene. Always in Starbucks. Always ordering or waiting for my chai tea latte. Sometimes with a friend, but most times alone. And always, always, always unprepared to run into her. Mirroring my awake fear.
What will I say to her when first I see her again. After. After she deceived and lied and manipulated and connived and betrayed. So many Ands. After she lived for two years having an affair with my husband while making nice Safeway small talk with his wife. So many Afters. What will I say to her? It’s been six years since I woke up to see the Red Bird of Betrayal flying over my life. Six years since my marriage blew up and six years since I’ve seen Her. We live not far from each other, yet since I gave her my husband, I have yet to run into her again.
In all my other reverie world Starbuck encounters, my words don’t come as I want them to. In that, I mean my shadow self always steps forward and disempowers me by blaming and shaming. My Wounded Child and Victim join hands crying out and pointing fingers, “You are a Black Hole sucking energy from everything around you, spewing out toxic free radicals in your evil witchy wake!”
Once again I’m at Starbucks, this time I’m waiting as the barista makes my drink, when I turn around and there She is. I’m the director in this Active world of Imagination, so she stands silently. Caught. There is no more avoiding me. I have my BlackBerry in one hand, to appear important, supported and needed. I hold the silent support of all my contacts in my hand, my big, huge team is fanned out invisibly behind me. My other hand is warmed by my soy, no-water chai tea latte, a symbol of my own self-love, care and nourishment. I’m standing in Starbucks, where I often sit to journal or to write. We are on my turf here.
I turn to her and say, without attachment, as if observing my thoughts as in meditation, “What you did was wrong. The pain you caused was overwhelming, not just for me, not just for my four children, but it rippled out further than you can imagine. You acted without any care or compassion. You lied, deceived and betrayed.” I look at her and shake my head, turning to leave, “It was inexcusable and so very, very wrong.”
“Can’t you let it go already?” She demands, “You should learn to forgive and forget.”
This time my answering words come without force, without conscious thought, through a channel of Grace of understanding. I am looking at her with sadness and compassion, finally seeing that she is buried so far underground that she can’t see the light of Truth that surrounds her. “You have no idea whether I’ve forgiven or not. Forgiveness has nothing at all to do with you; it’s something I do completely for myself. The truth of what you’ve done can live side by side with Forgiveness. One does not negate the other.”
Then I’m climbing a sturdy, narrow, wooden ladder and with a hammer I have broken through the ceiling so that the ladder can now rise higher and higher through the jagged opening into the sunlight above. “I’ve broken through!” I exclaim with a smile just before I wake up.
I chuckle as I think again of the ladder leading to my “break through.” I’ve been searching and working on Forgiveness for years and finally ‘get’ it. I don’t need to forget the Truth of my wounds in order to Forgive. I don’t even need to release the pain of those wounds, I need only to detach. To release means simply to ease out the hook of attachment and let my emotions swim and swill in the swamp with the rest of life’s injuries. If needed for my work as a writer or actor, I can cast a hook into that swamp and reel it back up. But this time I’m in conscious control of the fishing rod and can choose which worm to catch and when and where to release it.
I’m not finished with my forgiveness work and it will remain a daily practice, but now I have a strong foundation to support me.