Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Angels In My Life

Dear readers, lest you think I am more advanced than I actually am:
I got in a fight with my best friend the other day. We were walking around the park with another friend and this friend announced that her daughter was marrying the man with whom she had been having an affair. I tried to encourage Mary to accept her daughter and the new situation because I think people can change and I don't think it is true that every cheater is always a cheater. I say this because I have been a cheater and I've changed. The other friend, Carol, lapsed into a tirade about how permanent this character flaw is and that once someone has made a choice to cheat, that has determined what kind of person they are FOREVER. Of course, her husband cheated on her and she has never gotten over it. I tried not to take this latest tirade personally, but it's the third or fourth time she has really labeled me and indirectly assumed I should feel shame for the rest of my life.

What hurts is that she has been there for me through the whole process of trying to extricate myself from a very manipulative, narcissistic predator - actually a stalker. It has been the hardest thing in my life and she has listened and encouraged me all the way (interspersed with projections of her own pain: identifying with my lover's wife - even though she moved out of their bedroom and essentially out of his life YEARS ago - I know, that's no excuse for my behavior). The last thing she said in the conversation was, "...but YOU think it's all right to sleep with a married man." Yes, my behavior said that for a number of years, but that's in the past, but obviously, not for her. I was pretty upset at this point, so I said, "I'm going home now."

As I walked away I said, "I don't think we can be friends." It just came out. I think I meant it. Why would I want to hang out with someone who thinks my character is permanently flawed?
(And yet, I sort of think this is true for John Edwards - but then, I think if he has a classic Narcissistic Personaltiy Disorder, there is NO hope for change- big challenge in my life - looking at narcissists through Taoist eyes).

This incident has led me to more self-examination (on that count, Socrates, my life must be very well worth living). My self-examination usually involves some angels in my life that I refer to often.  They are: Pema Chödrön, Elizabeth Lesser, June Spencer and Clarissa Pinkola Estés. What I have gleaned:

From Clarissa in Women Who Run With the Wolves: "Tears are a river that take you somewhere.  Weeping creates a river around the boat that carries your soul-life.  Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, carrying it downriver to someplace new, someplace better.  For most women with stories associated with shame, these secret stories are embedded, not like jewels in a crown, but like black gravel under the skin of the soul...The majority of women's secrets revolve around having violated some social or moral code of their culture, religion, or personal value system...Some of these acts, events, and choices, particularly those related to women's freedom in any and all arenas of life, were often held out by the culture as being shamefully wrong for women, but not for men. 

The problem of secret stories surrounded by shame is that they cut a woman off from her instinctive nature, which is in the main, joyous and free....A woman who carries a secret is an exhausted woman...So, it is usually a matter of time before a woman calls up her courage from the soul bones, cuts herself a golden reed, and plays the secret in her own strong voice."

From June in No Bad Feelings!: "Relationships are the primary playground for the game of validation/invalidation. Those of us with an aversion to invalidation or an addiction to our separate identification will have difficutly with relationships.  We will invalidate ourselves by accepting the blame for another's feelings, or invalidate and blame another for our feelings.  The tendency to put responsibility on or take responsibility for another can be the single greatest roadblock in the path of a beautiful relationship. One of the most difficult rules to remember in any relationship is the need to put responsibility on, or take responsibility for another, is in direct proportion to the inability to take responsibility for one's self.

Reminder: Connecting and disconnecting are of vital importance...Once we eliminate the mental barrier between the two, we recognize that we must disconnect in order to connect. We perform this ritual of connecting and disconnecting literally billions of times each day. It's only when we attempt to avoid disconnecting that we bring the ritual's natural cycle to a screaming halt. It's our avoidance, not the disconnection that causes our discomfort."

From Elizabeth Lesser's Broken Open - How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow: This whole book cannot be quoted here. It IS me - broken open- transformed (still in the process). From this book, I know that I was meant to experience the rapture of being alive, even at the cost of breaking the rules.

From Pema in The Wisdom Of No Escape (from a 'letting go' meditation): "...say to yourself, "Thinking," and as you're saying that, basically what you are doing is letting go of those thoughts. You don't repress the thought. You acknowledge them as "thinking" very clearly and kindly, but then you let them go.  Once you begin to get the hang of this, it's incredibly powerful that you could be completely obsessed with hope and fear and all kinds of other thoughts and you could realize what you've been doing - without criticizing it - and you could let it go. This is probably one of the most amazing tools that you could be given, the ability to just let things go, not to be caught in the grip of your own angry thoughts or passionate thoughts or worried thoughts or depressed thoughts."

Thank you, angels.



standing on my head said...

there is so much to this post. so much resonates with what i have been and am now in the midst of. connect/disconnect/connect/disconnect-how do our hearts stand it? ah yes, let go, breathe.

LimesNow said...

GJ, I was happy to see you'd hopped on my bus today and when I saw the angel picture come up, I jumped right over. I am strongly drawn to all winged creatures, so I expected to emit an "Ah". But reading your post is what got my "Ah". Way too much for me to comment on without giving it much thought. I will eventually comment, but right now it feels like walking on broken glass and I'm already a little fragile. Thank you for the image and the written treasure.

Busana Muslim said...

WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..