A friend of mine going through a similar situation I was in asked me, “why stay?” I hadn’t actually thought deeply about why I ended up staying for so long even after I realized the truth about my husband. Here was my response:
A friend of mine going through a similar situation I was in asked me, “why stay?” I hadn’t actually thought deeply about why I ended up staying for so long even after I realized the truth about my husband. Here was my response:
Once upon no time, there was a little Soul who said to God, “I know who I am.”
And God said, “That’s wonderful! Who are you?”
And the Little Soul shouted, “I’m the Light!”
God smiled a big smile. “That’s right!” God exclaimed. “You are the Light.”
The Little Soul was so happy, for it had figured out what all the souls in the Kingdom were there to figure out.
“Wow,” said the Little Soul, “this is really cool!”
But soon, knowing who it was was not enough. The Little Soul felt stirrings inside, and now wanted to be who it was. And so the Little Soul went back to God (which is not a bad idea for all souls who want to be Who They Really Are) and said,
“Hi, God! Now that I know Who I am, is it okay for me to be it?”
And God said, “You mean you want to be Who You Already Are?”
“Well,” replied the Little Soul,” it’s one thing to know Who I Am, and another thing altogether to actually be it. I want to feel what it’s like to be the Light!”
“But you already are the Light,” God repeated, smiling again.
“Yes, but I want to see what that feels like!” cried the Little Soul.
“Well,” said God with a chuckle, “I suppose I should have known. You always were the adventuresome one.”
Then God’s expression changed. “There’s only one thing…”
“What?” asked the Little Soul.
“Well, there is nothing else but the Light. You see, I created nothing but what you are; and so, there is no easy way for you to experience yourself as Who You Are, since there is nothing that you are not.”
“Huh?” said the Little Soul, who was now a little confused.
“Think of it this way,” said God. “You are like a candle in the Sun. Oh, you’re there all right. Along with a million, gazillion other candles who make up the Sun. And the sun would not be the Sun without you. Nay, it would be a sun without one of its candles…and that would not be the Sun at all; for it would not shine as brightly. Yet, how to know yourself as the Light when you are amidst the Light -that is the question.”
“Well,” the Little Soul perked up, “you’re God. Think of something!”
Once more God smiled. “I already have,” God said. “Since you cannot see yourself as the Light when you are in the Light, we’ll surround you with darkness.”
“What’s darkness?” the Little Soul asked.
God replied, “It is that which you are not.”
“Will I be afraid of the dark?” cried the Little Soul.
“Only if you choose to be,” God answered. “There is nothing, really, to be afraid of, unless you decide that there is. You see, we are making it all up. We are pretending.”
“Oh,” said the Little Soul, and felt better already.
Then God explained that, in order to experience anything at all, the exact opposite of it will appear. “It is a great gift,” God said, “because without it, you could not know what anything is like. You could not know Warm without Cold, Up without Down, Fast without Slow. You could not know Left without Right, Here without There, Now without Then.”
“And so,” God concluded, “when you are surrounded with darkness, do not shake your fist and raise your voice and curse the darkness. Rather be a Light unto the darkness, and don’t be mad about it. Then you will know Who You Really Are, and all others will know, too. Let your Light shine so that everyone will know how special you are!”
“You mean it’s okay to let others see how special I am?” asked the Little Soul.
“Of course!” God chuckled. “It’s very okay! But remember,’special’ does not mean ‘better.’ Everybody is special, each in their own way! Yet many others have forgotten that. They will see that it is okay for them to be special only when you see that it is okay for you to be special.”
“Wow,” said the Little Soul, dancing and skipping and laughing and jumping with joy. “I can be as special as I want to be!”
“Yes, and you can start right now,” said God, who was dancing and skipping and laughing right along with the Little Soul.
“What part of special do you want to be?”
“What part of special?” the Little Soul repeated. “I don’t understand.”
“Well,” God explained, “being the Light is being special, and being special has a lot of parts to it. It is special to be kind. It is special to be gentle. It is special to be creative. It is special to be patient. Can you think of any other ways it is special to be?”
The Little Soul sat quietly for a moment. “I can think of lots of ways to be special!” the Little Soul then exclaimed. “It is special to be helpful. It is special to be sharing. It is special to be friendly. It is special to be considerate of others!”
“Yes!” God agreed, “and you can be all of those things, or any part of special you wish to be, at any moment. That’s what it means to be the Light.”
“I know what I want to be, I know what I want to be!” the Little Soul announced with great excitement. “I want to be the part of special called ‘forgiving’. Isn’t it special to be forgiving?”
“Oh, yes,” God assured the Little Soul. “That is very special.”
“Okay,” said the Little Soul. “That’s what I want to be. I want to be forgiving. I want to experience myself as that.”
“Good,” said God, “but there’s one thing you should know.”
The Little Soul was becoming a bit impatient now. It always seemed as though there were some complication.
“What is it?” the Little Soul sighed.
“There is no one to forgive.”
“No one?” The Little Soul could hardly believe what had been said.
“No one!” God repeated. “Everything I have made is perfect. There is not a single soul in all creation less perfect than you. Look around you.”
It was then that the Little Soul realized a large crowd had gathered. Souls had come from far and wide ~ from all over the Kingdom ~ for the word had gone forth that the Little Soul was having this extraordinary conversation with God, and everyone wanted to hear what they were saying. Looking at the countless other souls gathered there, the Little Soul had to agree. None appeared less wonderful, less magnificent, or less perfect than the Little Soul itself. Such was the wonder of the souls gathered around, and so bright was their Light, that the Little Soul could scarcely gaze upon them.
“Who, then, to forgive?” asked God.
“Boy, this is going to be no fun at all!” grumbled the Little Soul. “I wanted to experience myself as One Who Forgives. I wanted to know what that part of special felt like.”
And the Little Soul learned what it must feel like to be sad. But just then a Friendly Soul stepped forward from the crowd.
“Not to worry, Little Soul,” the Friendly Soul said, “I will help you.”
“You will?” the Little Soul brightened. “But what can you do?”
“Why, I can give you someone to forgive!”
“Certainly!” chirped the Friendly Soul. “I can come into your next lifetime and do something for you to forgive.”
“But why? Why would you do that?” the Little Soul asked. “You, who are a Being of such utter perfection! You, who vibrate with such a speed that it creates a Light so bright that I can hardly gaze upon you! What could cause you to want to slow down your vibration to such a speed that your bright Light would become dark and dense? What could cause you ~ who are so light that you dance upon the stars and move through the Kingdom with the speed of your thought–to come into my life and make yourself so heavy that you could do this bad thing?”
“Simple,” the Friendly Soul said. “I would do it because I love you.”
The Little Soul seemed surprised at the answer.
“Don’t be so amazed,” said the Friendly Soul, “you have done the same thing for me. Don’t you remember? Oh, we have danced together, you and I, many times. Through the eons and across all the ages have we danced. Across all time and in many places have we played together. You just don’t remember.”
“We have both been All Of It. We have been the Up and the Down of it, the Left and the Right of it. We have been the Here and the There of it, the Now and the Then of it. We have been the male and the female, the good and the bad; we have both been the victim and the villain of it.”
“Thus have we come together, you and I, many times before; each bringing to the other the exact and perfect opportunity to Express and to Experience Who We Really Are. And so,” the Friendly Soul explained further, “I will come into your next lifetime and be the ‘bad one’ this time. I will do something really terrible, and then you can experience yourself as the One Who Forgives.
“But what will you do?” the Little Soul asked, just a little nervously, “that will be so terrible?”
“Oh,” replied the Friendly Soul with a twinkle, “we’ll think of something.”
Then the Friendly Soul seemed to turn serious, and said in a quiet voice, “You are right about one thing, you know.”
“What is that?” the Little Soul wanted to know.
“I will have to slow down my vibration and become very heavy to do this not-so-nice thing. I will have to pretend to be something very unlike myself. And so, I have but one favour to ask of you in return.”
“Oh, anything, anything!” cried the Little Soul, and began to dance and sing, “I get to be forgiving, I get to be forgiving!”
Then the Little Soul saw that the Friendly Soul was remaining very quiet.
“What is it?” the Little Soul asked. “What can I do for you? You are such an angel to be willing to do this for me!”
“Of course this Friendly Soul is an angel!” God interrupted. “Everyone is! Always remember: I have sent you nothing but angels.”
And so the Little Soul wanted more than ever to grant the Friendly Soul’s request. “What can I do for you?” the Little Soul asked again.
“In the moment that I strike you and smite you,” the Friendly Soul replied, “in the moment that I do the worst to you that you could possible imagine ~ in that very moment…”
“Yes?” the Little Soul interrupted, “yes…?””Remember Who I Really Am.”
“Oh, I will!” cried the Little Soul, “I promise! I will always remember you as I see you right here, right now!”
“Good,” said the Friendly Soul, “because, you see, I will have been pretending so hard, I will have forgotten myself. And if you do not remember me as I really am, I may not be able to remember for a very long time. And if I forget Who I Am, you may even forget Who You Are, and we will both be lost. Then we will need another soul to come along and remind us both of Who We Are.”
“No, we won’t!” the Little Soul promised again. “I will remember you! And I will thank you for bringing me this gift ~ the chance to experience myself as Who I Am.
” And so, the agreement was made. And the Little Soul went forth into a new lifetime, excited to be the Light, which was very special, and excited to be that part of special called Forgiveness.
And the Little Soul waited anxiously to be able to experience itself as Forgiveness, and to thank whatever other soul made it possible. And at all the moments in that new lifetime, whenever a new soul appeared on the scene, whether that new soul brought joy or sadness–and especially if it brought sadness–the Little Soul thought of what God had said.
“Always remember,” God had smiled, “I have sent you nothing but angels.”
by Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations With God
A friend of mine reached out to me in despair after being dumped by his girlfriend of 7 years. Worried she was seeing someone else, his life suddenly went from successful world-famous dancer to “I want to quit everything and move far away.” He suddenly lost all focus on his upcoming dance competition and drank himself to oblivion every night for several months. His nights were filled with hatred and bitterness, suddenly painting an evil picture of the woman he had loved for so long. In his mind, she was a monster. Underneath all that pain and anger, we all knew, was sadness for the loss and pain from disappointment. He said it was easier to drink away his sadness than to deal with the pain of being left by the woman he loved so much. He called a few months later and said he realized he was an alcoholic and needed help. I suggested therapy and recommended an amazing AA group in the area. He went a few times, but he quit because the work it took to heal was exactly that- WORK. I do love my friend dearly, and sadly, sometimes inner work isn’t for everyone. He suffers even to this day. Drowning his sorrow in distractions, anger, and alcohol. This story is far too common, and it breaks my heart to see my loved ones suffer so much.
Flowing through hard times is hard, and the reason it is so hard is because our instinct is to run from pain. No one wants to feel pain. An angry tiger coming after us is certainly a realistic fear of possible pain. To not run from that would be insanity. But what does the pain from heartbreak feel like? Does it tear into our skin and make us bleed to death? Does it sever limbs from our body as we lie helplessly on the ground? While in a moment of emotional distress, we may be convinced that that is definitely what it feels like, in reality if we really took an honest inventory of the actual pain from heartbreak, it is (fortunately) much less physically painful than being torn to shreds by an angry tiger.
Unfortunately, however, our mind perceives heartbreak (or potential heartbreak) the same way it perceives a vicious lion attack: DANGEROUS!! We are so afraid that the feelings that come with heartbreak will literally KILL us that we run as quickly and as far away from it as possible (and sometimes we even turn around and attack those that we feel are breaking our heart). Instead of processing our feelings, we stuff, drown in addictive behaviors, deflect and deny all those feelings of sadness, loss, grief, and unrequited love, burying them deep inside a dark pocket called “unforgiveness” thinking that we have escaped the threat of pain. In reality, packed up inside our hearts, it slowly eats away at our hope, joy, trust, and inner peace. Whenever we sense those feelings of loss, sadness, or anger creeping up, we repeat the process: drown, deny, deflect. These unattended feelings and emotions end up making us weaker and less able to handle “hard times”, eventually killing us slowly over time. Instead of getting stronger, better, happier, we get weaker. To put it bluntly, it’s a self-inflicted wound.
Now, I can’t speak for everyone out there, but the thought of me being the main cause of my suffering is very unsettling. Who wakes up in the morning and says, “Ya know, today is a great day to suffer. I think I’ll make myself suffer just a little more today than yesterday!” But we all do it, and it comes so naturally, because to do the inner work it takes, to hold the pain and unwanted feelings from being hurt by another, is inconvenience, uncomfortable, and undesirable. It doesn’t give us the immediate satisfaction and sense of accomplishment like counterblaming, deflecting, or distraction. This is where delayed gratification is so important. We can either put off our immediate need to escape discomfort for the sake of obtaining inner peace and lasting joy, or we can take immediate gratification by pointing the blame and hating, but suffering long-term consequences, which typically include heavy emotional burdens and a negative energy that permeates your body and soul and follows you around in all your relationships (professional and personal). It’s all a choice.
So instead of thinking, “is this person deserving of my forgiveness?” think, “how do I want to demonstrate inner strength in handling my own life?” Think, “do I want to prove how resilient I am, demonstrating my skills in flowing through all kinds of life situations? Or do I want to allow all the worst parts of life to take up a large portion of my livelihood, clouding my sense of happiness and purpose in life, causing me much emotional baggage that will end up pouring over into all of my relationships?
The truth is, you can cope with a lot more than you think you can, so long as you resolve to. You have the capacity to handle all kinds of situations. Be brave. Someone once told me: “The degree to which you have forsaken your own drama is the degree to which you are available to others.” So be the change you so desperately want to see in this world. How is anyone going to learn how to overcome life struggles if no one is willing to model it?
So flow… it’s the best gift you can give yourself and others. It takes work, but it takes so much less work than the alternative.
I came to realize that when I held negative feelings or thoughts toward another person, I began to suffer. I felt pain. Heartbreak. Sadness.
Yet nothing inside me wanted to feeling anything more than that, toward the person that had hurt me the most.
So the longer I held on to those negative feelings, the deeper they grew inside me. The sadder I felt. The lonelier I felt. But what was worse, was that his behavior never got better. In fact, it got worse. And the worse he got, the more bitter I got (you can see where this goes, right? Nowhere.)
I began to take a step back from my own personal experience and thoughts toward this person and tried to put myself in his shoes. This man was clearly suffering. Yes, I too, was clearly suffering. That meant we had something in common. If we were both suffering, was I contributing to his suffering in any way? I definitely could identify how he was contributing to my suffering. What I hadn’t realized was that a lot of my suffering from his actions was the beliefs I had about them. I thought they were personal.
What would happen if, instead of seeing his behavior as personal, saw it as a “lack of skill in dealing with his suffering”? What would happen if, instead of muttering hateful words about him, I said a small prayer for him? Dear God, bless his heart. May he know peace, kindness, compassion…
It didn’t take away the fact that he was responsible for dealing with his suffering in a more skillful way. It didn’t justify his behavior or make it “ok”. What it did was to help me take it less personal.
If I were him, with all his experiences in life, would I make the same choices? Would I feel the same? I don’t know, and that is a fact. All I did know was that he was dealing with it the only way he knew how.
Why do we do the things we do? Why do we choose the way we choose? I believe it’s because all of us, no matter how good or “bad” we are, simply don’t want to suffer. So we make choices daily, hourly, and sometimes by the second to avoid suffering in search for joy.
Sometimes our choices hurt others. Sometimes our escape from suffering comes at the cost of other’s pain. We, too, are just as guilt of causing others pain.
We will never have the ability to make people change, or learn better coping mechanisms so that they can stop doing what we don’t like (and if you try, you will constantly subject yourself to more suffering, which is insanity), but what we can do, and where our power lies is directly in how much negative energy we put into ourselves and onto others based on circumstances that are completely out of our control.
When it is raining, you can curse the sky, but the rain doesn’t care. It still rains. How you feel about it and what you choose to do in the rain is your choice.
The past few months went from hope and faith that some “higher power” would heal my marriage to acceptance that it wasn’t supposed to be saved. It wasn’t real. The moment I recognized that my marriage was a sham I had two very clear paths in front of me: Path 1 was to be a victim, get angry, and blame my husband for horrendous atrocities and live bitterly in resentment about how he ruined my life. And then there was Path 2. Path 2 was to change my story from being a victim to being responsible.
Anyone who has been hurt, betrayed to, and abused may think, “why should I have to be responsible for any of this? I didn’t cause it!” While I can agree that we may not have caused it, and while it may be entirely true that none of it was even fair, the fact is we ARE completely responsible for what we choose to do with it. We can choose to take revenge, add fire to the flame, increase hostility and negativity… or we can move on.
I will be the first to admit that it is so much easier said than done. But the second you acknowledge that you actually HAVE that power AND responsibility to change your perspective of being a victim to something else (honestly, it probably doesn’t matter what you change it to, so long as it is empowering and positive. Be a unicorn, be a queen, be whatever…), that is when the sobering reality comes in and corners you, asking, “what are you going to do about that now?”
What I’ve learned through this was that my suffering was primarily about the story I was telling. The story I kept telling myself and others. This story was on repeat in my head ALL day, 24/7. What I hadn’t realized was that I CHOSE that story. The story didn’t choose me.
That’s a nasty pill to swallow, but it was true. If ever an “oh shit” moment, that was mine.If it is true that I was creating a story in which I was a victim, the story had been repeated so often that my entirety believed it true. I’m not saying that what my husband did wasn’t wrong. It was! It was horrendous! A real prick! My bitterness wants to say these kinds of people shouldn’t be allowed to breathe on this Earth… but that’s bitterness talking…
The fact of the matter was that I was NOT getting joy from choosing Path 1. Yet, I continued to choose Path 1 over and over, and when I realized that I could potentially choose another path and could potentially feel a WHOLE LOT better, the idea of choosing Path 2 became a little more attractive to me.
Path 2 wasn’t an easy path though, because Path 2 required me to feel my pain (and honestly, who wants to feel pain!?). It required me to sit with and grieve the loss, forcing me to deal EFFECTIVELY with the normal woundedness of being a human being. And with that grieving, came a promise of healing. To me, that sounded pretty attractive, even though the cost (feeling pain) didn’t seem alluring at all.
Path 1, my chosen path for several years was be a victim, complain about it, argue about it, fight it, lament it, and then hope and pray that through some godly miracle, the other person will finally see the light and change and make me happy (not happening). Path 2 was: deal with the shit effectively.
Path 2 allowed me to complain about it, argue about it, fight it, lament it, and kick the floor, but it required me to get it out of my system by EFFECTIVELY processing it, and then MOVE ON. People that choose Path 1 don’t like the “move one” part.
But when we do move on, one day we realize you simply don’t need it because we’ve grown through it. We’ve felt the pain, let it shake us to our core, and then we reach the first moment of real choice: Do I stay a victim? Do I stay powerless? Do I stay irresponsible? Or do I choose a different story now?
Everyone makes that choice to stay a victim or to move on. Most people like being the victim and subconsciously rationalize that it’s just too hard to grow up and take responsibility for themselves, so instead of doing anything effective, they continue to complain like a helpless victim and continue to make life “wrong”. I did that for the majority of my life. What I didn’t realize is that the prison I thought I was in was a prison of my own doing. No one forced me into it.
The past few months, I’ve had some time to do some inner reflection and really question what it is that I was trying to get out of all of this and the answer was simply, “JOY”. I want an inner peace and joy that cannot be shaken by external circumstances. And allowing external circumstances to shake my joy was me working against my goals. The hard part about all of this is, again, all about CHOICE. If my unshakeable inner peace and joy is my goal, what am I willing to do to achieve it? Do I continue down a path that clearly wasn’t working? Or do I choose another completely different path? A NEW way of thinking?
A new way of thinking is hard, because our brains are hardwired to take the blame path. It’s all based on fight/flight, and while it is natural, it’s also primitive, and we need to evolve or we will suffer. The solution is not to “delete” these patterns (we can’t) but to create new ones. This is the challenge, but this is where your control is.
Now, when I find myself ruminating on the past, the pain, or even the uncertain future, I bring myself back to the present. And since I’ve realized that hating my husband just brought me more pain, I choose an alternative path again, which was to say a silent prayer for him: “Dear God, I pray that he receives everything he wants in life, including the experience of unconditional love, peace, and happiness.”
I don’t know how it works…but somehow, when I offer unconditional love to even those that have hurt me, creates an inner peace and joy I’ve not felt in decades… and guess what!? THAT was my goal.
All I needed…was always within.