Category Archives: forgiveness

Happy Birthday Dad

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My father was born eighty-two years ago today. He died almost thirteen years ago, still so young and vibrant that I have trouble imagining him as an eighty-two year old man.

I’ve just finished writing the ‘fairytale’ of my life, the culminating project of my two-year Spiritual Guidance course and my dad features prominently in it. He appears as a potter who lives in the spirit realm who both formed my own spirit and also watches over me as I go through a dark night of the soul.

He was a potter in real life and my first spiritual teacher, although I didn’t recognize him as such at the time. Very early on, shortly after the birth of my first child, he began initiating conversations about parenthood, our relationship, and about life. Existential conversations. Conversations that examined the whys of decisions made in my childhood and how those decisions affected my life. We probed and questioned. He showed me how to take a step above the ego to look without judgement. We apologized and forgave each other when we found wounds.

I learned and experienced transcending forgiveness for the first time.

I feel him in my life everyday. Even now, as I type these words honouring his existence, his energy swirls around me. He is my teacher, still.

A Potter's Legacy

A Potter’s Legacy. Artist: Patrick O’Neill

 

 

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Meeting Karma

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I began to seriously study Buddhism about ten years ago. And by study, I mean reading copious books, highlighting and taking notes and incorporating various practices into my spiritual life. I’ve attended dharma talks at the Kadampa Centre but didn’t really connect to the community. It felt like everyone knew what they were doing except me. The myriad of Buddhist disciplines confuses me.

I’ve been to hear the Dalai Lama talk on several occasions and have even taken my first Bodhisattva vow in an elaborate ceremony over which he presided from his golden throne. And yet, I’ve received no formal teachings apart from the few dharma talks I’ve attended. For years I’ve longed to find my own teacher.

One of my favourite authors, Natalie Goldberg, studied with her Zen Buddhist teacher, Katagiri Roshi, for twelve years. It formed her life and infused her writing with powerful messages. I read her first book, Writing Down the Bones, almost thirty years ago, and have read almost every one of her fourteen other books she’s written since then. She has merged the words practice and writing and birthed a spiritual movement. Writing is a spiritual practice, not a craft to master, and this is both permission to let go of the critic, as well as a call to discipline. I’ve long wanted to study with Natalie, to attend one of her workshops to sit zazen with her and to write.

The Great Spring, Writing, Zen and this ZigZag Life is her latest memoir and her most intimate book yet. In her mid-sixties, with a bout of cancer newly behind her, she writes of how she is nearing the time to leave her body.

And I think, “Not yet! Not until I’ve had a chance to study with you!” With a new grandson pushing me even further away from my own birth, I’m imbued with the feeling of time pressing.

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to listen to Natalie read from The Great Spring and answer questions. I’ve had this date marked in my calendar for weeks and wanted a good seat at this free event. I arrived at the Vancouver Public Library an hour before the 7pm start time to find over fifty people already lined up along the wall outside the room. Dratigan. I stand behind a woman in a silver parka and geometric leggings just as the line curves back in on itself. She swipes her finger along her phone and I watch as more and more people join their friends in front of me. Oh well, I think and smile to myself, I would do the same thing if I had a someone joining me.

I have an hour to wait, but instead of pulling out my own phone I take the time to gently meditate, feeling the energy vibrate through me and down into the floor. I scan the crowd and write silent stories in my head, eavesdropping on conversations around me. I wonder if it is too obtrusive and obvious if I take out my notebook and actually write. Will they know it is them I am transcribing?

The door at the front finally opens and the line slowly shuffles forward. I move into the already crowded room and begin scanning the back rows of chairs, looking for an empty one with optimum viewing. Lots of seats are being saved and just as I’m about to turn into the centre aisle I feel a hand and see an older woman leaning forward to block my path.

“Are you alone?” she asks.

“Yes,” I nod.

“Sit here.” She instructs, removing a rice-paddy-straw-hat from the seat beside her. “I need someone with calm energy to sit beside me. The energy in this room is too excited.” She slides the hat under her seat.

I thank her and sit, folding my puffy coat onto my lap and resting my purse on top of that.

“I’m a Buddhist nun.” She says, leaning towards me.

I truly look at her now and see the familiar burgundy garb and the shaved head covered in an orange knit toque. I can’t believe the incredible synchronistic happenstance. I’m sitting beside a Buddhist nun in the first row directly in front of the dias behind which Natalie Goldberg will soon be standing! Seriously! Ask and ye shall receive.

“I don’t know why I’m here,” she confesses several times, “I’ve only read part of a book she’s written….Bones?”

 “Writing Down the Bones.” I affirm. I know exactly why she’s here.

I go with what the Universe has handed to me and make my own confession. I talk about my interest in Buddhism and my scattered studying. She stumps me with question after question, whereupon I finally sigh my ignorance.

“All the different forms of Buddhism really confuse me.”

She smiles, “Everything is confusing.”

And so begins a remarkable conversation. She shows me picture after picture of her teachers on her phone. We share our thoughts on how energy affects us. She asks if I’m a writer and I find myself telling her about the book I’m working on, about how it’s about going beyond forgiveness.

“Beyond forgiveness?” she asks.

Oh no”, I think, all of a sudden it feels like I’ve stepped into a world in which I’m wholly inadequate. Who am I to talk about going beyond forgiveness to a seventy-two year old Buddhist nun?

“When you’ve reached a level or an awareness that transcends forgiveness, where you realize that there is no need for forgiveness because there was no injury in the first place.” I’m talking about soul to soul contracts, but in the whispered confines of our conversation there is no time to expand. I wonder if I’ve jumped off the deep end and have lost my nascent connection with her.

“No injury…” She repeats, leaning back slightly, and then nodding her head she begins to share her own story about a physical injury she’s being challenged with. Now we are simply two women sharing tips on healing physical injuries and operating on an energetic level within a potentially litigious world.

Just before Natalie Goldberg takes the stage, my Buddhist nun friend takes my contact information and forwards me an email containing dharma talks that may interest me. She promises to text me and we make tentative plans to have tea together.

I spend the next hour listening to Natalie Goldberg read and share bits of writing-practice wisdom. I smile to myself. I’m sitting in the front row listening to one of my favourite writing and spiritual teachers, and beside me Karma quietly murmurs. The Universe has placed me exactly where I asked to be – both in front of and beside a Buddhist teacher.

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The Quiet Gift of Desperation

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I seem to be at a pivot point in my writing ‘project’ and feel like I’m standing on a slippery moss-covered rock in the midst of crossing a fast moving stream and suddenly the way forward is blocked. Perhaps the reason I’m blocked is because I keep calling it a ‘project’ instead of admitting and committing to the fact that I’m writing a book.

Because it’s scary to even think I’m writing a book.

Because, “Who am I to think I can write a book?”

But then…..who am I to think that I can’t write a book?

I’ve written a lot of words, almost 50,000 of them, covering the wounding-enmeshed-in-Victim part of the story. My story. This part is called The Red Bird of Betrayal because I like the colour red, which is also meant to convey the blood of the wounding. And because I like alliteration. And because it’s only a ‘for me’ title, not one which will carry forward into the book. Yes, it’s a book.

Red Bird of Betrayal ~ line drawing by Patrick O'Neill

Red Bird of Betrayal ~ line drawing by Patrick O’Neill

Now I’m at the pivot point, the point where the healing begins. Where I begin living by my new mantra of I will show my children what is possible in a time of crisis (which later, much later, became shortened simply to I will show what is possible).

And this is where we find me standing on the slippery moss-covered rock in the middle of that fast moving stream. Confused and frustrated. I’ve written the first part in almost chronological order, but that doesn’t feel right for the next part, so the way ahead isn’t clearly marked with stepping-stones. I have to find a new path, a new way to forge the river.

And maybe that’s just perfectly fitting because that’s exactly what I had to do in my life, in my healing. Find a new way of Being. Perhaps I need to just begin where I am and trust in the process.  Trust that the right words will find me.  Step off the rock and slip into the flow of the stream and stop trying to row the boat.  Now is the time to let go, to surrender completely into the writing and be surprised by the discoveries that move through my fingers.

And now I’m excited because I know the words are there, that the wisdom is there, just waiting for the opportunity to download onto the page.  I simply have to surrender to the process and delight in the discoveries.

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By the way, the title of my newly proclaimed book is, Transcending Forgiveness – Healing into Wholeness After Betrayal.

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The Dark Truth of Healing

In the wee small hours of the morning….While the whole wide world is fast asleep…..

Frank Sinatra’s soft, smooth voice wraps around me and warms me from the outside as the toasted walnut tea hugs my insides.  My daughter gave me this CD on a September afternoon six years ago, just after I’d been pushed off the end of my world and was desperately looking for something to hold onto.  Something to keep me breathing.   I would light my forest of candles and listen to Frank over and over and over again.

“Once upon a time, not so long ago and not so far away, there lived a King and Queen in a huge beautiful palace.”  So begins the second half of Slumming, the play I’ve just finished as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival.  I tip toe into this 30 minute almost monologue as my character, Grace, eases away from Britney, the young street worker who has just been raped.  Britney has asked for a ‘made up story’ and Grace is looking for anything with which to give comfort.  The play has suddenly taken a turn into darker territory.

I begin the play as an obviously unstable street person, yet one who is just as obviously not used to living on the streets.  Throughout the almost monologue I slowly lose the tics and characteristics of Grace “the street person” and grow to become the Queen within the fairy tale.  The words I speak hold great power.

The fairy tale is a story of great betrayal and an even greater, darker revenge.  The very last words of the story strike like MacBeth’s dagger and kills any remaining comedy.  The coda of the play leaves many in tears.  There is such power when Truth is carried with strong intention and conviction.

Several days pass and I receive an email from the writer and director of the play.  She writes, in part, “Writing the fairy tale in Slumming — and then watching you render it so wonderfully — has been cathartic for me.  I no longer feel anger towards_____; in fact, I feel nothing.  I feel free.  I keep waking up saying “Free at last!  Free at last!””

 I am so gratified and so grateful to have been given the honour and opportunity to play a part in her healing.  It has also been an important step in my own healing and journey towards forgiveness.  I’ve been working especially hard this past year to come to a place of complete compassion and forgiveness.  To remove the thin sticky threads which keep me from giving and receiving open-hearted love.

The brilliant and mystical Larry Moss says, “The imagination is bigger than anything you can remember from your own life.”  I manifest the truth of this when I play the character of Grace on stage; when I stand over the sleeping King in the fairy tale and raising MacBeth’s dagger on high, “stab the cheatin’ bastard in the heart!”

Throughout the run of the play I greet many friends and relatives at the end of the performance that give me hugs of congratulations and words of “well done.”  Some are wiping tears from their eyes and some chuckle knowingly, “I guess you didn’t have to go too far to find the emotion and motivation for that, did you.”   They’re talking about my own story of betrayal.

And here’s where I’ve stepped into a magical discovery.  As I weave the story of the fairy tale, casting a spell of make-belief, I come to realize that my own painful curse has been broken.  As I speak the Queen’s words of her wounding betrayal I am no longer able to use the power of my own story to drive the performance.  I try and try to envision my used-to-be husband and my own Other Woman, but they keep disappearing into the vapour of the spell, and the engine of the performance threatens to choke and sputter.

Instead, I call upon the incredible power of my imagination and use that to fuel my words.  Instead of the face of my own betrayer, I see the man who betrayed the playwright.  It is he who appears amidst the smoke of the spell I am casting.  And just like that, I discover that I’ve forgiven those that have wounded me.

I have healed my own wound of betrayal so well that now, as an actor, I must use my imagination instead of the tool of substitution.  What remains behind are great gifts; the intricate, delicate and subtle shades and tones of my emotional pallet that I can now use to colour my performances.  This is where my own Truth comes out to play, and instead of wounding it comes out to help in the healing of others.  What is in the One, is in the Whole.

And so, as I sit behind the wings and listen to the gathering audience laugh and talk before the lights darken, I close my eyes and go within.  I ask that my heart remain open and vulnerable and that I paint the words of the play with the blood of my own healed wounds.  I ask to be used as an agent of healing and to honour the words of the playwright.  May I dwell in the breath of the Truth.  May my healed wound touch one within you and so begin your own healing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dreaming of Forgiveness

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.

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A City Defined by Thugs ~ Finding the Bully Within Me

Massive mob of people surrounding car engulfed in flames. Huge cloud of black smoke rising. I’m sitting at home manning facebook and twitter on my laptop while the breaking news on TV flashes images of burning cars and a raging riotous mob in the downtown streets of my beautiful city of Vancouver.  Echoes of 1994 all over again, only worse.  I am disgusted, disheartened and more than slightly worried.

My two sons are “over the bridge” having gone downtown to watch game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals on the big screen in front of the CBC building on Hamilton Street.  The last I heard from them was at the end of the first period; a quick phone call telling me they were heading to watch the game at their sister’s place a couple of blocks away.  Today is their 22nd birthday, a day meant for celebration, not for roving riots of punk thugs and their accompanying complicit silent observers.

I send a carefully worded mother text asking where they are and telling them to be aware and to be careful.  Fifteen minutes later I’m rewarded with a reply, they’re safe in a bar in Yaletown.  Inside and safe from the mob.  For now.  My mother worry won’t settle down until they’re safely back home on this side of the Lion’s Gate Bridge, however.

There is a flurry of facebook updates among my friends as well as in my twitter stream -social media once again leading the pack on the frontline of breaking news.  It’s also the platform to share our absolute and complete disgust at what’s happening within our city.  I am drawn into the discussion when fear and speculation turn into generalities and judgments.  The need to understand the apparent inexplicable is an over-riding human characteristic.

Blue jean's clad thug kicks the shield of the riot police.

My friend Kristina posts an update, “What happened, what’s going on, that a generation of young men are looting and creating violence? That is all who I see all over downtown tonight. Is this how far we have come? Are these the leaders of tomorrow?”

Within minutes I reply back to her, “We must remember that there are scores more of other young men who did not partake in the disgusting display of narcissistic destruction – who are just as dismayed as their elders…..I applaud each and every one of them. They are the leaders of tomorrow.”  I am thinking of my two sons and the thousands more like them who would never deign to act with such selfish disregard for human life and property.

With the bridges now closed by the police, my two boys walk well clear of the thinning downtown drunken mob to the Waterfront station and catch the seabus to the North Shore.  Within an hour they are walking in the front door, quiet and subdued, having witnessed first-hand the dark shadow of the bully archetype.

I spend a restless night with interrupted sleep and awake in the morning neither rested nor restful.  This morning, more than any other, I head to my yoga class without a clear intention but with a very strong need.  A need to find calm through the physical practice of mindful hatha poses.

I think of my sleeping sons as I settle myself onto my yoga mat and as we begin our morning meditation my intention streams through with strong clarity.  Compassion.  I dedicate this morning’s yoga practice to forgiveness and compassion towards those who have destroyed so much and hurt so many.  As my yoga teacher, Chris, says, “It matters where we put our energy.”  And I choose to put my energy into cultivating compassion and kindness.  I choose to find joy in this world.  To shine a light into the darkness that overtook our city last night.

  I’m driving home, replenished and relaxed and am listening to the CBC radio as they discuss the whys and wherefores of what will forever be known as the 2011 Vancouver Riot.  I smile as the announcer speaks of the hundreds of volunteers who brought brooms and garbage bags in the early morning and joined the city sanitation department in cleaning up and reclaiming our city.

Caroline Myss says in describing the Bully/Thug Archetype that “symbolically, our phsycial bodies can “bully” our spirits…” and that “underneath a bully is a coward trying to keep others from discovering his true identity.” (Which is more than slightly ironic given the mass amount of cell phone documenting going on last night.)

The Shadow attribute of the Bully was shown only too vividly, in all it’s dark thunderous colours last night in the smashing and burning of cars, in the broken storefronts, in the looting and violence.  It was shown in a more subtle and perhaps nefarious manner in the “mob mentality” of the onlookers who watched silently and sometimes cheering as the active thugs smashed, crashed and burned.  To stand by, cell phone outstretched and do nothing is to act in accord with the Bully.  Silence and inaction in the face of wrong doing puts you in the same camp as those doing the wrong.  You are complicit in the crime.

I’m contemplating thugs and bullies as I’m driving along the Upper Levels highway, feeling complacent in my existential distance from them.  A light blue van speeds by on my left and comes to hug the bumper of the car in front of her.  Tailgating so closely that it would be impossible to stop in the event of a sudden braking.  “What a bully,” I think to myself.

Suddenly I’m aware of every time the Bully archetype has manifested its shadow side in my behaviour.  The times I have acted with impatience while driving.  The times when my defensive city driving has boarded on intimidation driving.  At once my heart fills with gratitude towards last night’s bullies and thugs for holding the mirror up to myself.  Who am I to judge?

My friend Lynn writes on my facebook wall, “how unbelievably sad this morning!! As my lovely daughter said “what’s sad is that people are abusing our freedom”…..this was the evening after we spent dinner with William who is now on his way back to the Sudan to make a difference and to empower people. Many of those people have never experienced freedom…..sigh….my heart is truly heavy!”

I want to say to Lynn to find the gift that last night’s thugs left us.  The chance to look at the Bully within each of us; to become conscious of even the most subtle wisp of shadow smoke that filters through our lives.

I want to say to Lynn to cultivate buoyant joy and to be a harbinger of happiness to those around her.  It is with joy and lightness of being that the dark shadow that roared through Vancouver and into our souls will be swept away.  Fill your heart with light and let that shine through, for we are surely seeing the Light attribute of the Bully archetype glowing with every sweep of every broom held in this morning’s clean-up.  Our spirit is stronger than we think.

Caroline Myss says “the archetype of the Bully manifests the core truth that the spirit is always stronger than the body.”   That is the core truth.  The spirit is stronger than the physical manifestation of the shadow.

As Chris Clancy said in ending our yoga class this morning, “We must be brave enough to allow our light to shine.”  And remember, it matters where we put our energy.

And hold on to the truth that these thugs that infiltrated our streets, our hearts and our spirits will be caught and punished.  Apparently these Bullies were also without brains as they committed crimes in front of hundreds of facebooking, tweeting and you-tubing cell phone filmmakers.  Their faces and actions caught and uploaded for all the world and the Vancouver Police Department to see.

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Ghost of the Younger Me

There’s something about visiting Victoria that always seems to push me moderately out of whack with the rest of the world – or I should say the rest of MY world.  I’m shifted somewhat out of phase, like in the gap between here and then but not quite in the now.  It’s slightly unnerving and I spend much of the time trying to figure out what’s going on.  Trying to find the experience on the tip of my tongue but never quite grasping it.

It happens most vividly while driving down Quadra street, the ghost of my memories coalescing so strongly into a whisper of my younger self that my entire being seems at once to vibrate and separate so that I’m living two life lines at the same time. The string of my life is cat cradling together & I’m neither here nor there. Now is my past and my future as the gossamer strings touch together in science fiction truth.

Me, being me, I try to figure out what I’m supposed to be learning, what I’m supposed to be hearing.  Who is the teacher, who the student?  There walks my nineteen-year old self along Quadra, there she is riding her white ten-speed bike in the days before helmets.  Alone, always alone.  Where am I headed? Away from home or towards home?  Am I leaving or going?  I am a ghost, yet I am here.

Ghost Bike in New York - art installation. Image found on the web.

I’m driving in the car with my 21-year old son beside me while my 19-year old self appears and disappears in front of me.  I’m here to visit my youngest-by-seven-minutes son who is nearing the end of his third year at the University of Victoria, my alma mater.  His UVIC experience is different in so many ways than mine was another lifetime ago.  Is this why I haunt myself?  Because I can see the possibility of what could have been or might have been?  A shimmering glimpse into the road not travelled, the path not taken?

I’m filled with a quiet sadness.  The sun shines but doesn’t quite burn away the melancholy that has settled into me.  I need to sink within this sea of sorrow and swim down into the dark depths and see what is pulling at me with such strength.  I feel strongly that it’s related to my life work right now, in fact I know it is.  That I’m encountering the vibrational energy imprint of my much younger self here in Victoria is not surprising.  I’ve been much on my mind of late.

It is here in Victoria where I started my life with the man who is still technically my husband.  The man with whom I shared my life for almost 30 years.  The man who is the father of my four children.  The man who was my Knight in Shining Armour who took my hand and rescued from a world of confusion and then eventually catapulted me into the dark abyss of rebirth. Knights in Shining Armour can sometimes wear nefarious disguises.

I’m sitting on my son’s sagging, stained, blue couch nestled between him and his seven-minutes older mirror image brother.  My feet propped up on the found in the alley coffee table, six empty beer cans pushed to the side along with the jar of ashes from the communally owned houka.  My two nephews, who share the house with Braden, plop down on the other couch beside us.  All four boys are simultaneously watching the Whitecaps first away game on TV while reading and typing on their laptops.  This is most obviously a resident of young males.

I push the worrying mother voice aside, “Are they drinking too much beer? What are they doing contaminating their young lungs with smoke…..” and try to find the small speck of a girl buried under years of fear.  It’s her words that need to be voiced, her voice I need to hear.

And so that is the part of the work that lies in front of me – to breath life back into this young girl, to give her the strength I now have to hear the words she unconsciously feared.

Forgiveness begins with compassion directed inwards.

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