************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Old friends and amends

It's been another difficult week. Someone I've known for over twenty years, someone who was a very good friend to me, was diagnosed with breast cancer last Tuesday. Saturday, she had a mastectomy.

Heairng this news, I came to some hard realizations. I knew I had amends to make to this friend - not for anything really obvious, not for anything done on purpose, but for not letting her in the way I think she wanted me to. I didn't know how to be a good friend, twenty years ago, and maybe not even five years ago... but I believe I'm learning now.

So, I believe that is possibly part of the reason for the headache I had for over a week. It finally, completely dissolved today as I wrote her a long letter. I'm going to post the letter here... It has a story within it that I needed to share with my friend and that I think is worth sharing beyond our friendship.

I've left out and changed some names, but otherwise here it is in its entirety:

I heard about your surgery, and I've been thinking of you. I hope you are at least comfortable now that you’re home. I know how hard it is not to overdo it… but it’s so important, so I want you to know that I’m here if you need anything.
And, I also wanted to tell you a story which I’ve told countless times in the last twenty years… but it occurred to me that you might not know or remember this.
[My son] will turn 21 tomorrow… but twenty years ago when he was a baby, he was very sick. He had bronchialitis, and that led to asthma and also something else which no one could explain to me. Despite the antibiotics and other medications, he kept running a fever for months, and he wouldn’t eat anything without my forcing it down his throat.
It started when he was ten months old and went on through his first birthday, through Christmas, and then it was New Year’s Eve and he was still sick. He was so skinny and listless... it was scary.
You called me on that New Year’s Eve and invited me to come to your house for a get-together you were having New Year’s Day. You said you knew I hadn’t been out of the house for weeks, stuck as I was with a toddler and a sick baby, and you said, “Just bundle him up and come over for a while.”
So I did. [My husband] must have been working that day because I don’t believe he was there, but I came with the two kids and [my son] just clung to me. He wanted to be carried all the time at that point.
Father Cassidy was there. It was the first time I’d met him. He took one look at the baby and said, “Oh, the poor wee lad. What’s the matter with him?”
(Doesn’t it make you smile a little just to think of him?)
I told him I didn’t know what was wrong, that I’d done everything I knew to do – taken him to doctors and the emergency room twice and given him all kinds of medicines and stayed up all night with him when he wouldn’t stop crying…
So Fr. Asked if he could bless the baby.
I said, sure. Honestly, I didn’t know what that would entail. You know I tried that catholic thing for a long time but it never really took… I don’t have anything against it, but it doesn’t feel like the right path for me, now.
Regardless, on that New Year’s Day,  Fr. took some oil from his pocket and anointed my one-year-old son with it, making a sign of the cross on his forehead, and he said a prayer. I can still see him, holding him so tenderly...
It was not five minutes later that [my son] started squirming to get down. He walked to the coffee table, where there were some cookies, and picked one up, and it was the first thing he’d eaten without being coaxed for weeks.
He got better every day, after that. To see him now, so tall and confident, it's hard to see that sick baby in there, anywhere.
I’ve told this story many times to people who were open to it, because it taught me a very valuable lesson. As you know, I wasn’t raised with any religion and so prayer is not something that comes naturally to me. When I told Fr. Cassidy that I’d done everything for [my son], in reality there was one thing I'd never done – and that was pray for him to get better.
I’ve believed, ever since that day at your house, that prayer is very valuable and, while I still don’t really get all the catholic stuff, I have a very strong spiritual connection that I tap into all the time and I do attend a Unity church, which seems to give me more freedom to believe as I need to.
So, I wanted to tell you this, and to let you know that you are in my prayers now. It isn’t a hollow statement… it’s the truth. And, I really do feel as if I owe you a lot for that day twenty years ago – for being such a good friend by thinking of me, and for being the one to bring me to the truth about prayer.
Beyond this, there are also other times when I know I could have been a better friend. I was always so caught up in the kids’ lives that I often forgot about everyone else. I held people at arms length, even you who were such a good friend to me, and I'm sorry about that. I'd really like to be there for you now.
So… I’m sure you have all kinds of things on your mind, right now, and maybe there are things coming up that are going to make it difficult for you to get to the every-day-stuff, like dinner or shopping. I’d be glad to go to the store and pick things up for you, and also, it would make me very happy if you would let me bring dinner over – for whomever is there to eat it. I cook for my family most nights, anyway, so it would be no trouble to make dinner for you, as well. Maybe you’d like me to bring dinner tomorrow night? Or would Saturday or Sunday be better?
Let me know what I can do. I’m here, thinking of you,
I put the letter inside a get-well card, and put it in her mailbox just a few minutes ago. I talked to my sponsor and my therapist about this today (finally). It's been so hard to know what to even ask to gain clarity about this. As I said, I haven't done anything overtly wrong, but I know I was not the friend I could have been. Now, at least I've given her the opportunity to open things up again if she wants to. I haven't talked to her in a couple of years... and she lives only about two blocks from me.

My sponsor told me to remember that I might not hear anything, that all I could do is "my part" and then let it go... and then she congratulated me on making my first official amends.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Pattern of Life

I know the last post was kind of out there. I've been struggling with how to write what's in my head for weeks.

I've always looked at the God question like it was black and white. Either one believes or one does not. Of course there are those who question but don't completely deny, but that's not what I mean. What I'm trying to say is that believing isn't the end of the story. There are infinite levels of God.

I know my definition of God is not exactly mainstream. I think of God as everything. Our world and every other planet, the sun and every other star, every living thing and all matter and all the spaces in between, every breath of time and any other thing one can imagine and all the things we can't fathom. It is all God.

By my definition, God is as big as the universe and as small as the smallest speck. God isn't only all around us and within us. We are God, just as everything is.

I've been reading a lot of spiritual literature. Some of it is Eastern (Most recently, Buddhist) and some of it is Western (like the religions we are more familiar with in this country - from Judeism and Christianity to Islam). I have a hard time picking one philisophy -one path - because they all seem the same to me. I try to look beyond the rules, the various slants placed on the concepts by well-meaning individuals, as best as I can. When I take off the layer of bias I find the same thing written again and again.

I found God when I was very young. I didn't call it God - I'd never heard the word. No one told me about God or religion because it was my parents decision that we would be raised without any of it - that we would "figure it out on our own" and decide for ourselves.

 I've often hated that decision. I felt so unconnected to other people, so isolated, because everyone else seemed to have some belief - even if it was atheism - and I had nothing. I so wanted to be part of it - to belong in a church or temple or somewhere....

I've come to appreciate my unique position on God. Because I was not told anything, I know God is real. I know it in a way I might not if it was only something I was told. This is because I really did figure it out on my own.
I was three or four years old. I was supposed to be taking a nap, but I wasn't sleepy. I was in the "nap room," a small room downstairs near where my mother watched TV in the afternoons. I was lying on the day bed and I was not to get up until my mother came to get me.

Wide awake, my mind was active and wandering and then
something popped into my head. I don't know where it came from, or what led me to see it, but a pattern seemed to appear in my mind and somehow it seemed important. If I had known the word profound, that would have been a perfect description of how I felt about this simple pattern.

In my  mind, the pattern wasn't attached to anything concrete. I have spent a lot of my life trying to make the pattern more explanable - to make it into something that could be seen or heard or understood -  but it is really hard to put it into an image or music or words.

Regardless, I'm going to try to explain it.

Imagine that the pattern is just two things - black and white, for instance. The pattern would look like this:

black white white black

That's it. Just one thing, another thing, the second thing repeated and then the first again. That was what I saw in my head. Simple yes, but for some reason it felt profoundly important. I didn't understand why it seemed important, but right off the bat I loved the pattern because it was balanced. It wasn't immediately going from black to white, like walking from the left foot to the right foot, but it was still balanced in the end.

I thought about the pattern as I lay in that bed, and I thought - I could make it bigger:
black white white black
white black black white
white black black white
black white white black

I was delighted with this bigger pattern. I expanded it out another level

black white white black
white black black white
white black black white
black white white black

white black black white
black white white black
black white white black
white black black white

white black black white
black white white black
black white white black
white black black white

black white white black
white black black white
white black black white
black white white black

It took me a while to get it right. I kept losing my place as I tried to imagine the pattern moving from the first to the second thing and then switching it when it was supposed to. When I finally got it right I could almost see it in my mind. It was like a pattern of light and dark and it seemed perfect.

It was in that moment that I understood something else - the pattern could go on forever! I could keep expanding it, making it bigger and bigger and the tiniest portion would still be there, perfectly balanced, inside the bigger and bigger pattern, no matter how big it got. I had never heard the words "god" or "eternity" or "infinity" - but somehow, this pattern made me realize that everything can go on and on, that the universe is infinite and that all the things within it are also perfectly balanced and eternal.

About a year later, I was staying with my grandparents and they took me to church. As per my father's instructions, they did not talk to me about God or religion, even as they dragged me off with them that Sunday morning. It was what they did - attend church every Sunday - and so I had to go along, but they said nothing to me about it except, "Come on, we're going to church." Even when I asked, my questions were pushed aside.

I sat in the pew next to my grandmother and listened carefully to what the preacher was saying. It clicked. I understood that what they were calling "God" and "Jesus" was like my pattern. He must have said something like "never ending" and somehow I put it together.

Since no one was telling me anything, I assumed the God in that church was not for me. I wasn't supposed to know, that much I understood. It was their God. Their God was in that building and the books and the songs and the words the preacher was saying. That's why my grandparents went every week - so they could be connected with their God.

I decided the pattern my God. I didn't tell anyone about it because I didn't want it to be taken away from me. For some reason I was not suppose to know about God, but I did because of that pattern. My never ending pattern helped me understand God, but I kept it secret for most of my life, even as I tried to put the pattern into music and drawings and poetry.

When I would "disappear" into a dissociated state, it was my pattern I focused on. I could get completely lost in it when things were stressful. I would let my pattern take me away and keep me safe. I didn't call it God, but it was my God. It was my safety, my sanctuary, a place where I knew I would always exist no matter what.

Recently, I've had a new kind of spiritual opening. I wrote about my experience with the deer here. After that experience, I freaked out. I began to be very afraid of God because I suddenly understood it wasn't black and white at all. There were levels of "God" and it felt as if I was moving into a new level.

I began to think of what it had taken for me to understand God in the first place - all the pain of my childhood, all the awful things I had to endure - had brought me to the level of understanding I had up to now. I never would have understood it if I hadn't needed it so much.

So I began to wonder what would be required of me to move into this next "level of God"?

My logic was flawed here, but I didn't see it. I only saw my fear. I thought of what I'd given up as a child and then I began to ask myself what I was willing to give up now to attain this new kind of understanding. My life? Yes... I could do that. My health? That's harder, but I could do that if I had to. As I went down the line of those things I value most, I came to my children.

I am not willing to sacrifice anything to do with them. Not my relationship with them, not the health of any one of them or certainly not their lives.
I thought, NO! There are things I will not give up! If this is what I have to do then I don't want it.

I cut off all connection with God for over two weeks. I did not pray or meditate or look inward or do anything that might bring on the kind of stillness that would suddenly bring God back into focus. I was drinking a lot, and not sleeping much at all. My life was spinning out of control so fast that I couldn't even see it.

Then, a moment of stillness came from out of nowhere. In that moment - clearly and perfectly - I knew that I was safe. God isn't going to ask anything more of me in order for me to move into this new level. I'm already awake! I'm already on a path and it can only lead to one place. The things that happen in my children's lives are their lessons to learn. They will happen for reasons I can't know whether I turn towards God or turn away.

So I'm moving forward. I don't know where it will take me. I don't even know who out there will understand what I'm writing here - I hardly understand it myself. Gradually I've been unraveling this truth for the last week. I've spent a lot of time on images that try to bring this pattern into clarity - and I gave up for a day because it is not possible.

However, then I realized that even though I can't perfectly express this pattern in any two-dimensional drawing, it was bringing me closer to understanding in my mind with each drawing I did.

I could do them forever, but I decided to go ten levels and stop. It would be so easy to fall into it obsessively so I had to set a limit. I'm going to post the ten levels drawing here... for anyone who is following this and interested. Maybe now that I have this down here I can get back to living my life.











It can go on infinitely. If they were really properly portrayed, they would get bigger left, right, up and down, exponentially. In addition, they would also expand in depth from one layer, to four, to sixteen - and so one.

Because I couldn't resist (and I really am going to stop now) I did an eleventh one. If the level one image is "4" (because it has four dots) the following image would be expressed with this number, according to my calculator; 1.04438888143152506691752710716E+1233 - and that's only if it stays a two-dimensional object! To get the real size you would have to multiply the above number by itself...


It goes on forever expanding infinitely... and somehow I know, this is what makes up the universe.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Putting the U in Universe

In our lives, we know only our tiny piece of the puzzle

If we really pay attention
- really work at living consciously and being aware -
we may begin to see other tiny pieces of life that exist nearby

And maybe we will become aware of the layers
- the pieces that exist in a pattern of life beyond the dimension we see and hear and feel  -

But even if we could see it all

We couldn't know what we were seeing

It is an unfathomable incredible immensity

We would get lost in the intricacy of the infinite possibilities

There are things we can try to imagine
Things we can't possibly know
And he colors of the infinite universe are made up of both

Night and Day
Black and White
Good and Evil
Me and Not Me

All of that duality is part of the illusion

An illusion woven into a pattern of infinite immensity
Perfectly balanced
Unbearably wonderful
With layers made of every shade
Of every color

Layers so densely packed they fill every speck in the universe

but if you could pull the layers apart


And if you looked very carefully


You might find a tiny shape


Which seems familiar
You are there
Inside that pattern of perfection.

You are part of it

And it can't exist without you

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Christmas Mourning

Painful growth... as I go through the past a piece at a time, I'm coming to finally release the last of my denial and see my mother's part in all of it. It's hard. She has always been the "good" parent. Yet, where was she when I needed her most?

I twisted my ankle Saturday night. When I mentioned this to my mother - a fall down the deck stairs and a sprained ankle - what do you suppose her response was?

She told me of her dinner plans with my brother.
That's it.
And the thing is, while I felt hurt, dismissed, unheard... I wasn't surprised. It was the catalyst for the grief I'm entering into.

I know - I've always known on some level - that her concern is really only with herself. Even her constant support of my father is selfish in that it is fed by her fear of abandonment.

When given a choice between my father and me, well... there's never been a choice. No matter what he was doing, she stood by as if the world was a perfect place and never said a word.

It is what she has not done that cuts the deepest, and her lack of compassion this weekend was the straw that broke the back of a camel called denial.

Christmas Mourning

The child wants
The child needs
And so the child must believe

Anticipated fancy’s flight
Pledges of a daybreak bright
Hope, a beacon in the night
That never sees the morning light

Hurt and fear and sorrow fade
Promises divert the pain
Longed-for wishes softly prayed
This time let it be okay

The child wants
The child needs
And so the child lives the dream

Words of comfort, Mother’s touch
Doesn’t really hurt so much
Her back is turned, her smile a bluff
It’s what she doesn’t do that’s rough

Keep dreaming child, suckling malaise
While mother seems to proffer grace
With offerings prepared in haste
To keep the world’s eyes from your face

The child wants
The child needs
Watch closely and you’ll see her bleed

Cold as wintry blizzard drifts
Are Christmas morning’s promised gifts
And foiled and failed family trips
Bring about another shift

Mother’s eyes are vacant holes
As empty as the child’s soul
As the fractured walls explode
What does she have; what can she hold?

The child wants
The child needs
The child is grown and she is me

The pretty ribbon’s ripped and cut
The wrapping paper's torn apart
The open box, my fissured heart
At hope's end I must learn to start

Like storefront gifts on Christmas morn
Disguised, empty, and timeworn
True concern and care, stillborn
So sad there’s nothing there to mourn

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Magic Mirror

Who Am I?

I may tentatively tell you
Who I once was
Where I’ve been
What I’ve done
Who I desperately wanted to be

I have meticulous memories
Of isolated incidents
Complete with emotions
Every perfect detail of things I didn’t want to know
And those I only wished to be true

I may cautiously present
The ghostly personas possessed by ‘shoulds’
I  thought I ought to be
I’ve desperately tried to be
I know I’ll never be

But I don’t know which
Of the broken pieces of my reality
To keep
To discard
Are completely ingrained
Or were never mine

The illusion
Was nearly perfect
To a casual observer
Or a master denier
Camouflage, untouched
By tears
Or Rage
Or longing

But now see
While a magic mirror illuminates, with sincerity
Inside the façade
Beyond the frozen mask
The world tilts at an impossible angle
And nothing is what it seemed to be

I want to pretend
To lie
To scream, that is not my reflection!
But I only gaze at what is not there
A child’s complexion
Adolescent hair, dark and full
The dimpled knuckles of a toddler

That is what was
But what is
Is Ordinary
And completely unsure what to hang on to
In this topsy-turvy landscape

I dart through the twisted halls
Of my internal dwelling
Straitening the crooked images
Hanging copies in empty corridors
My purpose in question
My motives askew
My sense of self as tenuous
And fragile as dust
Scattered in the swirling wind

Monday, October 4, 2010

Can You Identify Yours?

I believe there are two distinct kinds of twelve step programs. While programs in either of these two categories have many similarities, there is one big difference that sets them apart:
How does one measure sobriety?

In a program like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA(Narcotics Anonymous) , sobriety is measured by giving up a specific substance. If you are not consuming alcohol or using drugs, you are sober.

It's a lot harder to know what where to begin in programs like CoDA (Codependents Anonymous), SLAA (Sex and Love Addiction Anonymous) and OA (Overeaters Anonymous).

How does a food addict measure sobriety? One can’t walk into an OA meeting claiming to have given up food! More subtly, one also needs love, friendship, and, arguably, sex, so how does someone in SLAA measure sobriety? And what is a codependent supposed to give up in order to move towards self-reliance and interdependence?

It’s widely accepted that there is a driving force that pushes an individual to self-defeating behaviors in first place. In AA, there are terms like “dry drunk” which describe someone who is sober but still not “working the program.” This shows that even within AA or NA, there is an awareness that simply giving up an addiction is only the beginning.

When we engage in addictive or obsessive behaviors, we are reacting to something from the past. This could be things that happened to us or things that were missing, in childhood. These ghosts of the past are painful to see, so we find ways to avoid looking at them - like over-eating, drinking or drugging, or focusing on others. By engaging in these behaviors we can make the whole world, including the problems of the past, go away for a while.

That's control, isn't it?


Eventually, we learn that this only makes us feel more out of control. We give up another little part of ourselves for that brief interlude of peace. By the time we realize it isn't worth it, it's very hard to figure out how to unravel the ties we've wrapped around ourselves. 

The key is to identify those underlying behaviors which are “reactive” rather than “active”. I’ve said this before, and so was fascinated when I went to an ACoA meeting, last monday, and found that “my” theory was a foundational concept in that program. Their document, called “The Solution,” states:

When we release our parents from responsibility for our actions today, we become free to make healthful decisions as actors, not reactors.
But how do we identify these underlying behaviors? Whether we are attending AlAnon meetings – and trying to understand why we allow another person’s addiction to control our lives – or have labeled ourselves as codependent, we must understand what the driving force is behind the harmful thoughts and actions that make our lives unmanageable.

And this brings me to what ignited my desire to write this post in the first place. At a website I frequent (Get to the Inside), Melissa Greene writes:

A bottom line behavior is a behavior that, when engaged in, leads to loss of self. Engaging in this behavior can prevent the addict from experiencing valid and necessary feelings of anger, grief, or even intimacy. The bottom line behavior is sometimes used as a smoke screen to avoid the uncomfortable feelings of anger, grief, or intimacy. Engaging in the bottom line behavior tends to bring an immediate relief, an ah-h-h-h feeling, at least in the early stages of addiction. As addiction progresses, an addict often has to engage in more of this behavior or more intense forms of it to achieve the "high."

… If you are an addict trying to define your bottom line behaviors, ask yourself these questions, "What is the behavior that, if I stop doing it, I'm going to feel like I'm going crazy? What behavior, at the thought of no longer doing it, makes me almost panic? What behavior, when I stop doing it, is immediately going to send me into emotional withdrawal symptoms?" Whatever you answer to these questions-- that's your bottom line behavior.
So, I challenge you. What do you do to avoid looking at what you most need to address? What is keeping you from being all you can be? What are your bottom line behaviors?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To Tell or Not to Tell?

To tell or not to tell? That's the questions of the week. At CoDA meetings, after sharing in Story Circle at church, at the ACOA meeting, from friends in my writer’s group with whom I’ve confided, and here in loving comments left on my blog, I have heard the repeated and ever incredulous, “you haven’t told your mother?”

The short answer is, “No.”

This is sometimes followed by dubious looks and the ‘why not’ hangs in the air whether or not it is asked aloud.

At this time, I am strong in my conviction that telling my mother, or any member of my family-of-origin, is the wrong choice for me. I do understand that exposing the abuser has been a big part of healing for many. I would not condemn others for their choice to tell, to shine a light on the demons of their past in order to bring their own truth clearly into the light of day. I see the value of it – for others.

However, it does not feel right for me and I’m going to try to explain my perspective, here, for once and for all. But first, a little history....

For those of you who are not very familiar with American History, the year 1929 may not have a lot of meaning. However, if you lived in the U.S. at that time, this year would flash like a neon sign in your mind the way 9-11 stands out to us, today. It was the year the stock market crashed, the beginning of the great depression.

I can remember my step-grandfather telling me about his life during the depression. One thing he said that stood out to me, as a child was, “You could buy a loaf of bread for a penny. Of course, nobody had a penny.”

My mother’s parents grew up in a small farm community. In 1929, they were fourteen and seventeen years old. The great depression began, nobody had money to buy farm produce, farmers had to sell at a loss and suddenly could no longer support their families. My mother's parents found themselves in a dying community. They eloped and moved to “the city”, which for them was Chicago, to find work.

My mother was born less than a year later. Her parents were teenagers suddenly thrown into a new life, and they struggled as anyone might in that situation. They partied like rock-stars, from what I’ve learned from other ancient relatives, who have mostly passed on, now. They smoked and drank and gambled and left my mother and her brother, who was born when my mother was two, with neighbors and relatives for days and sometimes weeks at a time.

Regardless, my mother had a special relationship with her father. She was daddy’s little girl. To this day, her face lights up when she remembers her childhood times with her father.

Looking at it from the outside, it's easy to see why two children who eloped at such a young age might not be able to make their marriage work. Looking at it from my mother's perspective, it was quite different. When her father left my grandmother for a younger woman, my mother was sixteen years old, and she was devastated.

Then, at seventeen, she met my father. My father was an “older man” of twenty-three, divorced, with two small children of his own. Just in those facts alone, you can see how he was like the father she was replacing. My father can be charming when he wants to be, and he swept her off her feet and filled that need she had for a man in her life in the wake of her father’s abandonment.

This background story may help you understand why my mother has spent her life as she has. She grew up in a dysfunctional home and then was abandoned by her father. Her father went on to have another daughter, whom he cherished, and my mother had no contact with him for decades. Her fear of being abandoned by my father has always been intense, and she learned about denial at a very young age as she accepted her life in a dysfunctional, alcoholic home.

My mother was eighteen when my older brother was born, nineteen when she had my sister. I believe things went along in a fairy-tale way – for a while. They were the perfect family, on the outside, my father teaching school and writing books and even getting published a couple of times, back in the fifties. My mother staying home with her babies. I think they were happy... in their own way.

I’m not sure when the storybook façade began to crack. My father is not stable. He is narcissistic and  lacks empathy, and he is a master manipulator. He actually did his thesis on Dale Carnegie, the author of, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He brags about moments when he is able to coerce, manipulate and control others. He thinks it's a good thing.

If there is something my father wants, he is ruthless in his efforts to attain it. When there is something he can’t get, he is vicious in his retaliation. I doubt there is any member of my family who would refute these truths, despite the intense state of denial that is still prevalent in my family-of-origin. The usual party line is, “well, his mother was like that.” I don’t understand how this makes it acceptable. Using that logic, my siblings and I should all be that way, as well. Thank God, we are not.

Yes, there was neglect and mistreatment in my childhood. Yes, it was wrong, and it was not my fault. My father was abusive in any way you can imagine, taking out his own repressed feelings on his children and any other defenseless people (or pets) who crossed his path. He used people and still does, if they let him. He was most abusive with me, possibly because he was gone for the first year of my life and therefore never bonded with me the way in a paternal way.

And, yes, my mother is also to blame for what went on in our house. She existed within her fairy-tale view of the world, living in complete denial for her own self-preservation. Her intense fear of abandonment pushed her into putting her relationship with my father above the needs of her children. All of those things were harmful to me and enabled the dysfunction in our house. I know that and I’m angry about it and I intend to take steps to heal and protect myself with whatever boundaries I need to put in place for the future.

Here’s the thing:

My mother is an eighty-year-old woman who has been married to the same man for sixty-three years. Bringing her out of her denial now, would be forcing her to realize that her entire life has been based on a lie. And quite simply - it's not mine to do. Her life, her rules. I'm an adult and can move on in ways that were not open to her decades ago.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ninth Step Revelation

For the last couple of weeks, I've been dealing with the aftermath of newly surfaced memories from the past. As has happened before, these flashbacks have gradually come in and I've been left with disorganized thoughts, disconnected emotions and a general feeling of being broken.

Today, I feel as if I am beginning to put the pieces of my life back together. I’ve been going back through my blog, noticing all the loose ends I’ve left in the wake of this latest wave from the past. I didn’t finish the telling about the CoDA retreat. While the details have begun to fade, there are a few parts of that weekend that I still want to share.

For this post, I’m going to concentrate on one important piece of my personal CoDA puzzle, which I found during the second half of that weekend.

My friend, Rev, is in the same place as I am, in her step work. We are both trying to find our way through the ninth step. I finished my eighth step in May and then I started avoiding my sponsor. I believe Rev has been stalling on this for about as long as I have.

 The ninth step of CoDA is:

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
I must have read that a hundred times, over the summer. I read about it in every CoDA book I have, in AA literature, on line, but still I could not get myself to move forward. I couldn't even write an amends, much less make one.

I didn’t really understand why I felt so stuck. If I hadn’t gone to the retreat, I likely still would not understand.

Lucky for me, Rev was diligent in her search for answers. I was with her quite a bit, and several times she took advantage of the wonderful group of people who attended the retreat with us to ask program veterans how they had worked their ninth step. I listened in on these discussions with great interest, each time wishing I’d thought to ask. I think I commandeered the conversations a few times with questions of my own.

Late Saturday night, Rev asked an older couple who seemed to have a lot of wisdom and experience to share. The man admitted he hadn’t worked a formal ninth step. The woman began to talk about her ninth step, years earlier.

She had that calm sense about her that one sees in people who have worked hard to get their lives in order. I wanted that. I wanted to be able to have that serenity. That knowing, composed ability to speak about such things can only come from a deep understanding of what is true in one's self. Hearing her speak spotlighted how stuck I felt in my own inability to work step nine.

I felt a need to rationalize my feelings. I said, "I’m having a hard time doing my ninth step because there are people on my list that hurt me very much. It’s hard for me to imagine making any kind of an amends to them."

She said, "If they hurt you, you probably need to be making an amends to yourself before you do anything else."

In that moment I realized that I’ve been doing something kind of stupid. I had decided that I didn’t want to talk to my sponsor about making amends because I was sure she was going to tell me I had to make amends to people who had hurt me and I didn’t want to do that. The things is, I’d never discussed it with her! I was putting words in her mouth without even asking her what she thought about it. When this woman spoke of making an amends to myself, I realized that my sponsor might have told me the same thing, months ago, if I’d given her the chance.

A few days after I returned from the retreat, I called my sponsor to set up a meeting time. She seemed overjoyed that I had finally called her. When we met, I explained the entire thing to her much as I have in this post. Then, I made an amends to her for putting words in her mouth, and I asked her what I should do next.

Guess what... she did not tell me I had to make amends to people who had hurt me. I walked out of that meeting feeling a thousand pounds lighter. I had let fear keep me from moving forward, and that brought with it an all too familiar sense of hopelessness. It is wonderful to be back on track. I feel as if I am in charge of my future, once again.

So, despite my frame of mind at the retreat, even with the dark and ugly cloud hanging over my head and obscuring so much of the healing I could have found there, I learned something invaluable.

It’s said at meetings that co-dependent people have a tendency to think they can read minds. This real-life lesson demonstrated exactly how that might look. There is no way I could know what my sponsor would say in any situation unless I asked her, but I had defeated myself and stalled my step work for four months because I thought I knew what she would say and I didn’t want to hear it.

In retrospect, I realize that asking could have brought two possible outcomes. I could have heard exactly what I thought I would - that she wanted me to do things I did not feel I could do. In that case I would have had to make some tough choices, one of which might have been to find a new sponsor. Asking did not mean that I was going to be forced to do things I didn’t want to do – that was another false assumption. The choice of how I live my life is still always mine, regardless of what my sponsor or anyone else tells me.

The other possible outcome is that she would have answered in a way that helped me understand what I needed to do so I could make an informed choice about which amends I should make first and which I should never make at all. That is the place I now find myself, in my step work. It's a positive place to be; a place of hope.


Monday, September 13, 2010


A story from my sponsor. I don't believe it's hers... just something that gets passed around twelve-step meetings. If anyone knows who's idea this was originally, please let me know.

What would you do if someone gave you 89,000 dollars tomorrow and you had to use it all tomorrow, but then you would get another 89,000 dollars the next day, and the next and the next for the rest of your life?

You can't keep any of it, you can't invest it or save it, but you are going to have enough to do ANYTHING you want, for as long as you live.

Would you make a down payment on a jet? Take trips to the far corners of the earth? Donate to charities that are close to your heart?

So, just think about that for a few minutes before you read on. Really try to imagine what choices you would make if money was not an issue ever again. What things would become important when money and cost became irrelevant?

Now… here’s the twist.

Why 89,000 you might ask?

There are 89,000 seconds in a day.
Today you were given 89,000 seconds to use up. You can’t save them, get them back or roll them over for the next day, but tomorrow you will get another 89,000 seconds… and the next day and the next day for as long as you live.

We take time for granted. Because it feels limitless, we squander it and can’t appreciate the real gift it is.

What are you going to do with your 89,000 seconds tomorrow?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Anything After No...

At a CoDA meeting last night, someone said something that is worth sharing. (No surprise there... nearly every meeting is seasoned with insight and inspiration.) The phrase she used was new to me, although it had the sound and feel of an old saying. Perhaps you've heard it before.

In AA, it's pretty easy to determine when a relapse is occuring. It's a bit harder to identify a CoDA relapse. Rarely do people seem aware they are about to plunge off the interdependent wagon until they hit the ground.

Last night, a woman was speaking about a relationship she recently ended. She was obviously frustrated with her recent slip. After describing in some detail why she had ended the relationship, she said, "I can't believe how stupid I was. It isn't like I didn't know that anything after no is abuse."

Anything after no is abuse.

I heard that and thought, That is exactly the kind of identifier I could use.

In CoDA we're taught that if we feel angry, isolated,fearful, frustrated, confused, hurt, resentful or a barrage of other difficult sensations, it is an indication that a codependent issue is at hand. These could be a great indicators that one should step back and take a moment before proceding.

The problem is all of the emotions listed above tend to push people into reactive behavior. We are anxious to make the uncomfortable feelings go away and so we are quick to react, doing whatever is easiest in the moment to ease the current stress. Then, an hour, a day, sometimes a year later, we wake up and realize that we've done it again. Once more we are caught in the CoDA web and it's very tricky to pry ourselves loose.

But the phrase she used, Anything after no is abuse, seems like the kind of sign I can put out on my path. I believe I could train myself to notice when I've said no and that is not the end of it. I believe that kind of red flag might be enough to remind me to step back before I even feel angry, hurt, or afraid.

So there's my wisdom of the day. If I say no, it means no, every time. If someone argues, procedes regardless of my stated no, uses hurt or anger to try to sway me or in any other way does not accept no as no, that is a sign that a big swell in the road is coming up. When I see that red flag, I'm going to try to remember to stop the action before my wagon hits the bump and throws me off again.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An Awareness Award

I received an award from Katie at Sharing Our Spaces. This is an Awareness Award, which makes it very special to me. If there is one word that could sum up all that I’ve achieved in the last few years, awareness would be it. Along with the award, Katie created this lovely image:

And asked this question:
What does awareness mean to you?

Here is my answer:

Awareness is what is needed to be active in my life.

In the past, there was a bubbling undercurrent of feelings and lost memories that swayed every stroke of my brush as I painted my life. If I was asked what I wanted, felt, thought, preferred, I would be stuck for an answer. A blank space would appear on my canvas and I would quickly cover it with the black. I didn’t want anyone to know about the blankness inside me. I didn’t want to know it, myself.

By facing that darkness, by seeing the roiling feelings and thoughts and pulling those memories out of the black hole inside me, I have learned who I am. I have learned that those things that happened to me as a child do not have to define who I am today. I have begun to understand why I have been who I’ve been, behaved as I have, and how to move forward in an active way.

Without awareness, I lived reactively. Everything I did was a reaction to the past. By living reactively, there really was nothing of me in my life. My focus was still on people from the past. My entire life revolved around the powerful and passionate desires left by a childhood in which I didn’t get what I needed most.

Awareness is knowing where I’ve been, who I am and what I am capable of in the future.
I don’t want to live my life reacting to the past. I want to smile when I’m asked for my opinion and actually have an opinion to express. I want the portrait of my life to look like me, the real me, and I want to be able to love what I see on that canvas.
I want to be active in my own life and today, I am.

Thank you Katie, for the award and for being you.

I would like to pass this award on to Gail at Know Your Its
And Middle Child at Anybody Listening?


Here is the award:

Please paste it on your website to accept the award and then answer the question, “What does awareness mean to me?”

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Hardest Part of Parenting

Leave at nine in the morning.
Drive 160 miles.
Sing together in the car.
Enjoy deep conversations about Physics and Hippies, Television and God.
Wait an hour in a line that barely moves to finally pull into the parking lot behind his dorm.
So many parents, so many kids.
Unload all his stuff.
Move the van to make room for the next one.
Walk three blocks back to his dorm, thinking,
He will walk here.
He will see this.
He will know this place and call it home.
Help him put together the futon and desk chair.
Help him figure out how to organize the many many things he has in the small space.
Sneak the letter under his pillow.
Wonder how he will do, sharing a room for the first time.
It's 3:30 already.
Take him to Walmart for the things he still needs.
Stop at a Friday's and eat.
Drive back to the dorm
Fewer cars in the lot
Empty boxes, parents crying and hugging and looking back over their shoulders...
Help him unload the newly bought items and carry them to his room.
Not a bad room... it's right at the top of only one flight of stairs.
Five p.m.
The awkward pause.
This is it.
The hug and kiss "I love you" and "Call me"
"I'll walk you out"
One more hug downstairs
Turn towards the van.
Look back.
Unlock the van
Now the hardest part...
Drive away and leave him there.

I should have brought tissues for the drive home. I never needed such things in the past...
This whole business of "feeling things" is not all fun and games.

Friday, August 20, 2010

In The Meadow

In the meadow
They come forward
Exactly what they need
In the palm of my hand

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wise Words

Why is it so much easier to believe other people are worthy of love and respect than it is to believe it of myself? So often it seems I know the exact thing to say to someone else but can’t see how the words that come from me could be applied to me.

After a CoDA meeting, on Friday evening, a friend (who I will call V) approached me to ask my advice. She said she was thinking of talking about her loneliness to her adult daughter. She wanted to tell her daughter that she felt alone and needed support and to ask if they could plan to get together every other week. She said that while this felt like expressing her feelings and asking for what she wanted, something kept nagging at her about it… it just didn’t feel right to her.

I knew what to say right away. The problem with her request lit up like a neon sign in my head – so much so that I had to slow myself down to be able to express what I was thinking in a calm way.

I told V, it’s good to express your feelings. Telling your daughter you feel lonely and want to see her more is fine. Saying how you feel right now and asking if she is free this weekend, for instance, is fine. However, locking her in to getting together on a specific schedule seems like controlling.

She nodded and smiled. "Yes, you're right."

I said, “you never know… it may get to the point where having a rigid schedule with your daughter would feel confining to you.”

She laughed at that, but nodded as she thought about it.

Another friend (Gail at the "Know Your Its" blog) posted a post in which she sometimes talks about her heart-wrenching experiences watching her mother deal with old age and poor health. In a recent post she was especially discouraged and wrote about her anger at God. She seemed defiant in her anger, as if she was afraid someone was going to call her on it and say she should not have such feelings where God is concerned.

This is part of what I wrote to her:

It's heartbreaking, Gail. You paint the picture so well I feel as if I was there with you...
Anger is real. It is human. It is part of God's creation and God can take it... It's okay to be angry. It's okay to say, WHY? and to cry and to scream and to tell God you are angry.

Being angry does not mean you don't love... just like all the bad things that happen in the world don't mean God doesn't love.
When I read that last sentence I was really surprised at what I’d said. What a profound thought! It had come from my fingers to my keyboard before I hardly knew what I was thinking.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Labyrinth Meditation

I’m always looking for new experiences. So when I read this description of an upcoming event in the area, how could I resist?

This month's meditation will be a special summer edition, a Labyrinth meditation, which will be held outdoors.

For centuries, labyrinths have held great spiritual significance. Labyrinth patterns have been found on pottery and clay tablets dating back 4,000 years. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Spaniards, Native Americans, Vietnamese, and South Americans have used labyrinths for thousands of years to draw closer to the divine. During the Crusades, Christians walked the labyrinth to simulate the journey to Jerusalem, in Native American culture, the labyrinth is called the Medicine Wheel, and the Celts described it as the Never Ending Circle. In mystical Judaism, or Kabbalah, The Tree of Life has been likened to the labyrinth.

The labyrinth has been called a metaphor of life’s journey.
This sounded too interesting an opportunity to miss. I had seen something about labyrinth use in Native American traditions. The labyrinth patterns have been found on artifacts all over the world – including in the Americas and Australia. It has been hypothesized that Native Americans arrived on this continent between the time dogs were domesticated (at least eleven thousand years ago) and the time horses were domesticated (less than six thousand years ago). This theory is based on the fact that there were domestic dogs in the Americas, but there were no horses until the Europeans brought them here.

If, as the similarities suggest,the labyrinth idea was carried by the earliest settlers of these continents, then it must date back close to six thousand years. That is fascinating to me.

It was a beautiful July evening. My kids and husband had plans for the evening, leaving me free to check out this labyrinth meditation. The Unity Church where this was being held was over thirty miles from where I live, so I got myself together early, anticipating rush-hour traffic. After a drive which was free of anything one might associate with rush hour, I arrived at my destination a half hour early.

My usually internal chaos began to fight with reality, bringing some panic as I approached the church. I often feel like an outsider in places of worship. Knowing that is a learned response doesn’t make the feelings go away.

Once inside, I could see the Labyrinth through the large windows on the other side of the building. Someone had set it up using stakes (sticking out of the ground about six inches) and what looked like orange tape. I wished I’d brought a camera. I was instantly intrigued by the pattern of orange on the summer-green grass.

Will we stand around it?
Will we walk inside it?

This is the pattern used for the labyrinth.

This pattern is called the Chakravyuha. According to the Mahābhārata, (one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India) It is supposed to look like a blooming lotus flower. The story and this particular labyrinth pattern is thought to date back to about 400 BC.
While I was researching labyrinths in order to write this review, this morning, I came across these paragraphs:

When walking through a labyrinth, your body tends to turn back and forth - first you're moving right, next you're going to the left, with a 180 degree turn each time. This causes you to shift your awareness from the right side of the brain to the left, and then back again. It is believed that this is one of the reasons why a labyrinth walk can induce varied states of consciousness.

Consider for a moment what problems -- either physical, spiritual, external, or emotional -- you would like to find a resolution for at this time. As you walk towards the center, you will begin working out solutions for your problem.
You can read the rest of this article here

This sounded so much like what I do in the DNMS sessions with C that I have to wonder how much of a role the left/right shift actually played in my euphoric feeling last night.

For a Wednesday night, the Unity Church seemed pretty busy. People were talking in the hall, while others were carrying guitars and other instruments. A book store was open and several people were milling about. I asked if anyone knew what was going on with the labyrinth meditation, but those I spoke with said only, “Well, there is a labyrinth in the garden… they built it this afternoon.”

Standing around there I was beginning to feel very out of place. I was refusing to let myself give into panic, but I was considering the options.

My car is only a few steps out the door.

At around seven fifteen a group of women, all with a purposeful gate and friendly demeanor, came through the doors. I asked them if they knew about the labyrinth meditation.

They did. They welcomed me warmly and invited me to join them outside, to wait near the labyrinth. I began to feel much calmer.

One woman was wearing an ID around her neck, which said “Chaplain”. I am so ignorant of terms like this that I really am still not certain what that means, but I gathered that she was somehow connected to the church. As we all sat outside on a patio and waited for the festivities to begin, we introduced ourselves.

The topic of religion and spirituality was a natural at an event like this. It was quite obvious they all knew each other, but they did their best to make me feel included. They asked me what had brought me to this event. I told them I'd found the announcement online, that it sounded interesting, that I hadn’t been raised in any faith, but I have been looking into all the possibilities, recently. I mentioned my fascination with Shamanism, and said I had been to the Unitarian Universalist church a few times.

The Chaplain said I should come by on a Sunday.

She said it calmly, with a friendly, relaxed face, but I was wary of being coerced. A memory from my childhood flashed in my mind.

I had accompanied my grandparents and my great aunt to a Southern Baptist church when I was around ten years old. There wer people walking up to the front, in tears, and I was not at all certain what was going on. In all honesty, I'm still not clear what this was about. I was already kind of afraid, seeing these adults crying as they approached the altar. Then, my great aunt turned to me and asked if I ever felt lost.

I had no idea what she meant by this and I knew I didn't have time to figure it out, then. It was obvious to me that the wrong answer to this question was going to lead to me having to walk up that aisle in tears, just as I'd seen these adults do. My grandmother, who was standing on the other side of me put an arm around me and pulled me to her, while she chastised her sister.

I have not thought of that in so many years, but right now I can almost feel that protective arm around me.
I told the Chaplain that this was a long way from my house, and then changed the subject as quickly as I could. I asked if the Unity Church is like the Unitarian Universalist Church - since this is the only church I've attended in recent history.

The answer was no, and then was softened to, “not really.”

There was an awkward pause. Choosing her words carefully, the Chaplain told me that while the Unity Church did follow the teachings of Christ, they did not acknowledge his divinity. I wish I could remember exactly how she said it; what you are reading here is only my interpretation.

It’s interesting to me that I may have, in my wanderings, stumbled onto the only two “churches” that do not consider Christ to be the one and only savior. Of course, I don't really know this, but I can tell you that there are a lot of people in the Baptist church I occasionally attended as a child with one grandmother, and the catholic church I occasionally attended with my other grandmother, who would not be very receptive to this concept.

I had the sense that there was tension among all the women around me as they waited for my response.

I said, “So you think of Christ more as a prophet.”

Someone repeated the word Prophet, and there seemed to be a silent sigh of relief all around me as the Chaplain smiled and nodded.

By seven thirty there were around twenty people outside on the little patio. A woman came out and told us that we were meeting inside, first, and we all filed into the hall and then into a lovely chapel. I can’t tell you what it was, exactly – the bright light coming in, the soft meditation music, the air which seemed to be slightly perfumed with yesterday’s candles or incense – but something made me feel very comfortable.

A man went to the front of the room to join the woman who had called us all inside. I had a strong sense that I’d seen him before, but I couldn’t place where it was. When everyone was seated, he asked that we, one at a time, say our name and then one word of “intention”. I listened as others said their names, but was really focused on the word that followed. I loved what I was hearing – peace, wisdom, stillness, courage, harmony, understanding, strength, and all were said with conviction.

I had a dozen words swirling in my head, from which I would have to choose just one. I felt a renewed need to let go of some things that had been dragging me down all week. Letting-go was really what I wanted to say, but it was two words and – me being me – I had taken the instructions very literally. The word I chose was “Release.”

Next, they explained what was going to happen. We were going to do a group meditation in the room, then they would signal us to go outside about five at a time. Once outside, we would walk the labyrinth, in silent contemplation. While we would all be in the labyrinth at the same time, it would be easier to navigate if we were spaced out a bit.

A labyrinth has only one entrance, which is also the exit. It was suggested that we take a moment to think about our word of intention before stepping inside the labyrinth. We would follow the path, which would lead us eventually into the center, and then take a moment of contemplation before turning around and heading back out. At times there would be people going both ways on the three-foot-wide paths. When we had completed the labyrinth, we were to come back inside for a closing meditation.

It sounded simple enough. I admit, there was a moment when I wondered if this was really going to be worth the forty-minute drive.

It was.

There are some experiences one can hear about and get a pretty good understanding. I am going to do my best to share this with you, but there really was something about physically walking the path that brought home fundamental truths I’ve been trying to solidify in my mind for some time.

The music was turned up just a little.
Words of meditation were spoken in a soft but deliberate tone.
I closed my eyes and put my hands, palms up, on my knees.
I went pretty deep with my meditation, almost forgetting where I was. Sometimes this seems very easy for me, and this was one of those times.
I was a little surprised by a tap on the shoulder. The man said my name, which surprised me as well. He remembered my name. He signaled that I should move outside.
I walked through the door and saw shoes lying here and there and I know I smiled. The idea of feeling the grass under my feet seemed exactly right. I kicked off my sandals and approached the entrance to the labyrinth feeling a connection to the solidness of the ground beneath me.


The energy was really strong as I passed the threshold. I put my foot down inside and then took another step and from that point on each time I placed my foot on the ground it was with intention.

Once or twice, I worried if my pace was all right. I wasn’t gaining on the woman in front of me, but I wondered how close the man behind me was. I admit I stepped outside my meditative state long enough to check on that as I rounded the first bend.

While the initial turns took me towards the center, the path then began to lead back towards the outer edge. I think that is when I had my first feeling of excitement. Suddenly, I understood the connection between the labyrinth and life. There seemed to be a real correlation between the path I was walking on that summer grass and the one I had been traveling since my birth.
Each step I took made this feeling more clear.

I am on my own path.
There are people traveling in the same direction as I am, but we each have to walk the path in our space, at our pace.
I see people who seem to be going the wrong direction, but I know now that in reality they are only a little ways back or further along on the journey.
I could try to step off the path, to push my way onto another lane and continue in another direction – but in reality it would not take me anywhere except where I am meant to go, anyway.
I will be led to the center and then there will be nowhere to go but back out.
We all begin and end in the same place.
We all follow our own path.
We all walk together and alone.
We must make room for others to pass us at times, stepping aside while still continuing on our own journey.
In the end, we will all reach the same destination.

I saw the first person step out of the labyrinth and I thought of my mother, so much nearer the end than I am. I felt such sadness for her, in that moment – not because her journey is closer to over, but because of how narrow and dark her path has been. I realized that she could not have been or done anything different.

This was her life path, these were her lessons to learn, and it wasn’t about me at all.

I’ve had such anger at my mother for the last few weeks - old anger, ancient in terms of our lives here on this Earth. Suddenly I felt a shift, a softening… and it was so overwhelming I actually teared up.

Back and forth, the labyrinth led me. The energy of others was strong and I felt I must have been exuding energy of my own.

The person in front of me slowed down and I realized we were nearing the center. I stopped briefly before turning onto the last lane that led to a small circle. I took three slow steps, and then a fourth brought me right into the middle of the circle.


All around me people were slowly wandering their paths, seemingly in every direction and yet I knew that they were all really on the same path as I was.

The only path
In and then out
Guided, led, brought to where we need to be

While it may seem as if there are infinite ways to wander, the reality felt so clear to me, right then. We are all heading back to the place where we started. On the way, we will sometimes face the center and other times it will be behind us and hard to find. At times we will find that center and if we look up at that moment we will notice that all around us life is going on as it does, as it must, and then we will turn to be a part of it, again.

We will spend our lives moving in and out
Moving away from birth
And towards death
But always
We are being guided on a path that will lead us where we are meant to be
which is right back where we started.

I felt exhilarated as I made the trip back out. While I followed the path towards the edge, towards the center, towards another edge, I knew that no matter where the path led I would eventually be at the starting place, again.

I was heading back home, to a place I knew, with a journey behind me that was carefully planned and marked off so I would not get lost -- and as planned, I found my way out and paused once more before stepping away from the labyrinth.

I found my shoes.
I walked inside the church and took the same seat I’d had before.
The music was soothing and sweet.
I closed my eyes
People filed in behind me, one by one

The woman who had first told us to come inside at the beginning stood up at the front again. She read a meditation that echoed all the thoughts I’d had as I’d walked through the labyrinth. What she said was so close to what I had experienced and thought, that I knew when I wrote this now it would be hard to do so without saying almost exactly what she was saying.
It gave me so much comfort to hear her speak of being guided, of lives that cross ours briefly and people who walk the path with us, of paths that lead where we are meant to go…

I knew as I listened to her that I was not the only one who had been thinking these thoughts. I imagined the Roman soldier, young, afraid, perhaps about to be sent to a country he’d never heard of, entering the labyrinth. I imagined a young Mayan on a vision quest, wandering between the great mounds that had been created in patterns very much like the labyrinth I’d just been in. I felt a sense of awe that somewhere, someone had realized that walking through a labyrinth, from side to side, to the center and back, would evoke these important spiritual concepts in others, and I wondered at all the people who had found these same truths on the paths of an ancient labyrinth.

On my way out of the church, I stopped to chat for just a moment. I said, “It was awesome,” and felt as if that hardly covered it. One woman looked at me with a glow in her eyes that told me she knew what I was feeling. “Yes, it was,” she said emphatically.

I asked if anyone could take a picture of the labyrinth and email it to me. The man who has spoken at the front of the church – the one I am still certain I’ve seen somewhere before – told me he might have a chance to get a picture from the roof on Saturday, and if he could he would send it to me. If I get that picture, I will post it here as soon as it arrives.

On an impulse, I asked the Chaplain, “What time on Sunday?” I realized as I said the words that I really would like to see what it’s like to be part of the service in this very friendly place. There didn't seem to be any coersion, any strong persuasion that things must be done their way, and that made me feel much more comfortable with the idea of listening to what they had to say.

She said, “Nine and eleven – eleven is livelier.”

I said, “I’m likely to be livelier at eleven, as well.”

They thanked me for coming and I thanked them for having me.

I needed this last night. I really needed to find this connection to my higher power, to feel it and know it like this. This morning I have a sense of the path I am following, and I’m so glad my path led me to a labyrinth outside a welcoming church on a warm July night.


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Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.