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  • on my dreams, or You Can't Save Everyone.

    One of the most significant skills I gained while working with a Jungian psychiatrist last year was dream analysis. Funny enough, I've been interested in dreams since high school. I have a dream dictionary that I got when I was 19 (actually I failed to return it to Sandusky Public Library before I went to college - sorry, library :( ), and I've always had an uncanny ability to interpret dream imagery for others and myself. However, sometimes things are not always immediately clear. Lately I've been paying attention to the dreams I remember and writing them down. I'll revisit them on my own as well as discuss them with my therapist. There's one dream in particular, which I had recently, whose imagery wasn't immediately clear.

    I was on a road on a hill, walking up. To the right of me was a ledge or a stoop, just a few feet off the ground. Under that stoop were three cats who were all covered in blood. Of the three cats, only one was actually injured. She sat on the far right, holding her paw up, which was seriously injured and bleeding. In her panic, she'd gotten blood everywhere, including on the other cats. My heart went out to her, and I wanted to help her, but there were no resources for me to do so. It broke my heart to see her in pain and not be able to help. I felt frustrated, sad, and helpless. I called around for others to help, but no one else could either, and as I looked around I noticed there were hundreds of animals on the side of that road, all injured, all needing help, and my heart hurt when I realized there was little to nothing I could do for any of them. 

    I didn't immediately understand this dream, although the emotions I felt in it stuck with me for several days. This past Friday, in my therapy session, I pulled up the dream note to discuss with my therapist. Before I even got a chance to tell her about it, a realization regarding the imagery came flooding into my mind and heart: You can't save everyone

    Immediately I started to cry as I understood the message. I can't save everyone. No matter how much I care, how much I love someone, how much I want to help, I can't save everyone. There will always be hurting people, always. I can (and have) beat my head against the wall forever trying to get someone to see the answer, but life and people don't work that way. 

  • the struggles of forgiving and being forgiven

    The biggest challenge I've faced in the last 3.5 years is forgiveness. At the end of 2011, I was deep into a book which spoke on living life with love and from the heart. When I came upon the passages that delved into forgiveness, a light went on inside of me. I had held on to so many resentments for so long, and at that time in my life was holding on to an enormous amount of pain and anger from a betrayal. I'd carried it for almost 6 years. As that light went on, I realized that what I needed most was forgiveness. A day later, I contacted those involved in that betrayal. We began a dialogue that ended in a morning tea and peace found between all of us, which still exists to this day. What I realized, in terms of these people, was that the reason there was so much pain and anger for me in this situation was because I loved and cared about them very much. For years, I told myself I hated them, that they were awful, heartless people, and in doing so denied not only the truth about these people (because as Mr. Rogers says, even good people sometimes do bad things) but also the truth about myself and my own feelings and actions. Their actions may have been the first to occur, but in the years following there were plenty of times where my own words and actions in response to my powerful emotions were also hurtful, abusive, and cruel. While I'm sure that my offering of forgiveness had an impact on the ones I chose to forgive, by far the greatest impact this had was in my own life. The lightness and freedom I felt at allowing the chains of anger and resentment to fall away was both significant and immediate. Most importantly, forgiveness allowed me to look at the larger picture of the situation, and finally offer an apology for my own actions. The understanding of just how important forgiveness is has never left me, and as difficult at it always is, it’s something I’m dedicated to reaching in every situation. 

    Difficult indeed. There are many situations in which forgiveness seems impossible. There are many situations, including several I’m dealing with in the present, where apologies will never come. It is absolutely possible to forgive without ever hearing “I’m sorry”, but in those moments where you find your mind, body, and spirit wracked with pain and anger, when grief encloses you in a cocoon from which you feel you’ll never emerge, it’s hard to imagine forgiving someone who carries no regrets for their actions, or who firmly believes they have nothing for which to apologize. Indeed, when the pain, anger, sadness, and grief you feel are so great, it’s often hard to offer forgiveness even when the other person has already offered their sincere apology. 

    Several months ago, I purchased The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World, written by Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho. I’ve recently experienced betrayal and abandonment by the people I held most dear in my heart. Once again I found myself filled with anger, pain, sadness, and a deep grief. I knew from my past experiences that forgiveness would ease the burden and the pain and so I made the conscious decision to forgive the ones who had hurt me. What’s been the most difficult for me is that even having made that conscious decision, forgiveness hasn’t turned on like a light as it did in the past; in fact, quite the opposite. It sputters on and off like a loose bulb. My mind grapples with this daily, knowing of the immense freedom and peace that forgiveness brings, yet finding myself, day after day, unable to reach that point. For me, this adds yet another dimension of pain and anguish to a situation: being angry at myself for not being able to offer forgiveness. It’s a terrible catch-22, knowing that forgiveness will free me, knowing that everyone is deserving of forgiveness, knowing that I too have hurt others and want to be forgiven, yet still not finding that place inside where I am able to let go. I have no problem understanding and accepting the desire for forgiveness in my mind, yet my heart and my gut feel and know that I have not yet forgiven. It is often incredibly difficult not to be angry at myself in the face of these circumstances. 

    Tutu’s book outlines a fourfold path to forgiveness: Telling the story, naming the hurt, granting forgiveness, and renewing or releasing the relationship. Well before setting eyes on Tutu’s book, my heart understood these steps and I was able to follow them in a number of situations. The situations I’m currently facing, however, are significantly more of a challenge due to the nature of the relationships and deep love between myself and the people involved. Forgiveness in these cases is neither easy nor immediate. It is a long, painful, and difficult path that winds back on itself, taking me in what often appears to be the opposite direction I want to be. I’ve found myself having lost the path altogether at times. Bishop Tutu makes it clear that this is normal. Forgiveness isn’t a linear progression, nor is it always instantaneous. We will and do find ourselves stuck on one or more of the steps as we attempt to free ourselves. There is no time limit on offering forgiveness. So long as we are committed to that goal, we have the ability to get there - getting to that point will take the time it takes, however long that may be. Every day I remind myself of this fact, even though I struggle with it frequently, even though I’m faced with anger from others at not being able to forgive “soon enough”, and faced with anger inside myself towards others at not being forgiven.

    I am determined to keep following this path, no matter how long it takes or how difficult it may be at times. I do not love lightly or foolishly, and those who are dearest to my heart have become so for significant and valid reasons. Conflict does not erase the deep love I have for them, regardless of any present circumstances. Neither does the anger, pain, and resentment I feel towards these people. Indeed, if I didn’t love them as much as I do, the pain would not be so deep and difficult. That, I feel, has been the biggest realization of this journey: The ones we love the most are the ones able to inflict upon us the biggest wounds. My healing will not come from holding anger against those who I feel have wronged me, nor will it come by dismissing them and/or attempting to deny the realness and depth of the love I feel for them. This is not an easy path, by far. Bishop Tutu stresses that “…the preference is always toward renewal or reconciliation, except in cases where safety is an issue.” I am very much in agreement with this, even though it is not an easy choice to make. Pain can and will inhibit our willingness to work towards renewal; pride and our persistent need to be justified in all that we do will insist that we immediately choose release. I currently face a vast number of challenges manifesting physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and am well aware of how these challenges are affecting my journey down the path of forgiveness. There’s not a day that goes by when my gut screams at me to release, to run away, to avoid any more difficulty, but I know that in the long run this does not honor those whom I love but who have hurt me, nor myself, nor the trueness of the love I feel. I will not be making this decision for quite a while. I will continue to follow the path I have chosen, wherever it leads, however difficult it may be, because I know the immense power of the freedom the journey brings. 

    “There is no magic wand we can wave to go back in time and change what has happened or undo the harm that has been done, but we can do everything in our power to set right what has been made wrong. We can endeavor to make sure the harm never happens again. We all need forgiveness . There are times when all of us have been thoughtless or selfish or cruel. As we have said earlier, no act is unforgivable; no person is beyond redemption. Yet, it is not easy to admit one’s wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. “I am sorry” are perhaps the three hardest words to say. We can come up with all manner of justifications to excuse what we have done. When we are willing to let down our defenses and look honestly at our actions, we find there is a great freedom in asking for forgiveness and great strength in admitting the wrong. It is how we free ourselves from our past errors. It is how we are able to move forward into our future, unfettered by the mistakes we have made.” - Tutu, Desmond; Tutu, Mpho (2014-03-18). The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World (p. 167). HarperCollins.

  • La da da da dee

    I take the sharpest shears, 
    A ball of twine
    Cut a string for everyone in my life
    To my belt loops I tie each string so tight
    And attempt to hold on
    But did you think its a spell for letting go?
    I cast a spell for letting go
    Oh...
    At the end of each string
    The souls of my loves I bring
    To the bridge (to the bridge)
    I might set them free
    A symbol of all thats haunting me
    Their names are la da da da dee... 
    Their names la da da da dee...
    La da da da dee...
    In a desperate attempt
    A will that I left
    In a river from that heart of stone
    As my fate approached
    I felt a pull on those ropes
    I looked up and saw those souls
    Oh thank you la da da da dee...
    Thank you la da da da dee...
    La da da da dee...
    So easily I felt I freed myself
    Cutting strings one at a time
    Goodbye, la da da da dee...
    Goodbye, la da da da dee...
    La da da da dee...

  • just hold on just hold on just hold on

    SWF seeks an exit from PTSD, grief, and depression after 1.5 years in. Been digging a tunnel out, but my shovel is dull, my hands are covered in blisters, and there's still 10 feet left before the surface. Wizards, magicians, angels, magic wands, and miracles accepted. 

    I've stopped comparing myself to other people. I'm not exactly sure when that happened, but I noticed it shortly before Christmas. There's no one to hold myself up to except myself, there's no one to emulate except the person that I am inside. I took the time to introduce myself and we're getting to know each other well. She's pretty great, and I care about her a lot. I think she has a lot of potential. She's wicked smart, compassionate, talented, insightful, and funny, with a huge heart and a lot of interest in serving others. 

    I love too deeply, too much, and I don't know how to let go or move away from it. I'm trying but it won't leave. There's something automatic, instinctual, that's taken over. Some frightened animal in the corner that snarls and growls when I get too close, and all I can do is sit and stay calm and wait until it calms down enough for me to get close to it. 

    There's only so much pain over so long a person can take. I come too close to my threshhold too often. I was given a second chance, twice. There won't be a third. Recovery isn't a straight line, it's a rollercoaster with dips and turns, and when those dips come, it scares the hell out of me. How much can one person be expected to take?

    I'm doing this on my own. There's no one here but me and a couple of cats. Maybe some ghosts too. Being responsible for my own well-being when working through a disabling illness isn't anything I'd wish on anyone. Honestly, I wish I knew someone else in this situation, just so I could take care of them and have something else to focus on. 

    I've had enough grief and enough pain, but I don't have any choice but to face it and work through it. I'm scared. I'm scared because I love myself, but I've hurt for so hard so long, and I need it to lift. I want to move forward, but afraid I don't have the stamina to get to the point where it's easier before cracking again. I'm afraid I'm pushing things down again, and that didn't do me any good before.  My cup is already filled to the brim. Add anymore and there's gona be a huge mess everywhere. I'd just like this to be over now, please? 

    This is my prayer, Angels. This is my prayer. Lighten my load, lighten my load. 

  • the cosmic scorecard does not exist

    Facing difficult spots lately. Medication side effects mostly, but also acceptance of things as they are, acceptance of my grief and pain, learning to be gentle towards myself, accepting when I make mistakes. Understanding the difference between mistakes and "being human". Disliking negative thought patterns, being hypervigilant about them and how that's hurting me. I asked for some guidance last night, and got an interesting reply from Archangel Michael:

    "There is no galactic scorecard that averages your 'positive' thoughts vs. your 'negative' thoughts, 'loving' or 'unloving', or black/white thereof. We do not put checkmarks on a board every time you have an unproductive thought, You need to be able to have these kinds of thoughts, it's part of being human. Whether our actions mirror them is another matter. But, if you allow them in the first place, allow yourself the indulgence of being human, allow yourself the indulgence of the release of these energies through thought, you will likely find that you do not feel such a need to release these energies through word or deed in ways that may be harmful for you or others.

    Do not police your thoughts minute to minute. Allow them to come and go, ebb and flow. Recognize that some days will be light, while other days will be heavy. Heavy days, heavy thoughts are not wrong. When heaviness appears, it is up to you to figure out what it is that is heavy, embrace it, and release it to us. We make it feel heavy so that you pay attention. It's a scavenger hunt, if you will. Don't ignore it. Listen to that guidance. Find it and figure out how to release it, but not by replacing it with other thoughts or denying its heaviness. There is always more to find than what you think you've found.

    As you act with compassion, also THINK with compassion."

    It's definitely difficult to be mindful of this when the prevailing "spiritual" attitude in my present environment is one of rejecting the shadows and the negativity. Every moment is an opportunity for learning and growth. I've feared my shadows for far too long, I am blessed that I am receiving these reminders not to be afraid. 

    In the end, it's not about reaching my own personal bliss and satisfaction, or even helping others find their personal bliss and satisfaction. It's about all of us, it's about the big picture, how we all of us can be of service to others, and how in the end, we move towards that goal as one. 

  • love hurts

    Sometimes I wish love didn't hurt. But to be honest, if it didn't, it wouldn't be love. 

    It’s to do with knowing and being known. I remember how it stopped seeming odd that in biblical Greek, knowing was used for making love. Whosit knew so-and-so. Carnal knowledge. It’s what lovers trust each other with. Knowledge of each other, not of the flesh but through the flesh, knowledge of self, the real him, the real her, in extremis, the mask slipped from the face. Every other version of oneself is on offer to the public. We share our vivacity, grief, sulks, anger, joy… we hand it out to anybody who happens to be standing around, to friends and family with a momentary sense of indecency perhaps, to strangers without hesitation. Our lovers share us with the passing trade. But in pairs we insist that we give ourselves to each other. What selves? What’s left? What else is there that hasn’t been dealt out like a deck of cards? Carnal knowledge. Personal, final, uncompromised. Knowing, being known. I revere that. Having that is being rich, you can be generous about what’s shared — she walks, she talks, she laughs, she lends a sympathetic ear, she kicks off her shoes and dances on the tables, she’s everybody’s and it don’t mean a thing, let them eat cake; knowledge is something else, the undealt card, and while it’s held it makes you free-and-easy and nice to know, and when it’s gone everything is pain. Every single thing. Every object that meets the eye, a pencil, a tangerine, a travel poster. As if the physical world has been wired up to pass a current back to the part of your brain where imagination glows like a filament in a lobe no bigger than a torch bulb. Pain.

    - Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing, 1982

    Additionally: 

    There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. 

    -Martin Luther King, Jr. 

  • to feel is a blessing

    Tonight one of my guides said to me:

    "You know that saying, that it is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply? That's crap. It's a blessing, plain and simple, to feel so deeply. Especially in these times where man seems not only to have forgotten to feel, but to rail against it entirely. 

    "Never forget that even the deepest pain is filled with the presence of God, or the Universe as you like to say. All the depth of emotion that is unique to this sphere is both powerful and powerfully transformative. Good or bad, happy or sad, you're blessed, kiddo."

    I love it when angels call me kiddo. hah.