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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Unconditional Love and Forgiveness

Last night, I went to a Forgiveness Workshop, facilitated by Mary Hayes Grieco. I learned of this workshop in January when one of the women from the Wild Souls Retreat saw that Ms. Grieco would be giving the free workshop in my area, and sent me an email.

The woman who sent the email, said she had been able to attend a lecture given by Dr. Edith Stauffer, years ago. Dr. Stauffer was a spiritual teacher who developed an Unconditional Love and Forgiveness workshop, and when she retired, she passed it on to Ms. Grieco.                                     

Creating Space by Shen

The first hour of the free, two-hour workshop was full of entertaining anecdotes that made me understand Ms. Grieco as a real human being. There was no preaching-from-the-pulpit feel to this presentation. Everything she said came from a place of honesty. Yes, she seemed to say, I am not perfect, but I am learning and I am getting better all the time.
During the second half of the workshop, she talked about the Eight Steps to Forgiving Another. There are also Five Steps to Self-Forgiveness. These were not new concepts to me - I have been an active student of "how to forgive" for some time now - but hearing her real-life examples and seeing everything outlined so succinctly, helped to clarify and solidify the ideas in my mind. I know the steps to forgiveness are going to be extremely helpful to me, not just next week, but for as long as I remember to use them.

These phrases particularly stood out to me, as she spoke last night.

Spirituality is a state of presence
Master your life
Remember, but forgive
Aim for alignment – spiritually, physically and emotionally
Be present in the moment
Resentment and unresolved rage are toxic to the soul
Shift the energy
Anger is an emotion. It can’t be resolved mentally – it must be resolved emotionally
Look at yourself as God sees you - perfect and whole; a cherished child

The other really important thing I got out of hearing Mary Hayes Grieco speak last night was clarification of an idea that has been growing inside me for some time. I know that C has said almost this same thing to me. I know others have, as well, and I've read things like this in books and blogs. Sometimes it just has to be the right time and place, and I think I am in that time and place, right now.

So, here is my “wisdom of the day”:

The resentment you carry is the connection between you and the one with whom you are angry. When you release that resentment, the connection is gone. Your anger is literally holding you to the one who has hurt you! Dissolving that attachment can unblock the flow of energy and love in you and make space for all the good things you want.

Could the timing of this workshop have been any better, for me? As I said, I heard about this five months ago and had nearly forgotten about it until an email reminder came out a couple weeks ago. To me, it is just one more thing that points to my Awareness Ceremony being exactly the right thing at the right time. So many things are coming together. Everything feels as if it is in alignment.

I brought my copy of "Be a Light" for Ms. Grieco to sign. I was a little embarrassed when she opened it to sign it and it was already signed. I had bought it online, and it came as a signed copy. It really is not the same as having her sign it in person. I explained, she smiled, asked my name and signed my book to me.

I bought two of her CDs, last night. One of them is called A Woman’s Ways. It is about developing intuition. The other one is called, A Peaceful Heart. This one I will be putting to good use, next week. It is “A practical guide to unconditional love and forgiveness”.

I will be using the CD on Wednesday, along with her Steps to Forgiveness, and some other tools I've collected along the way, to guide me through the rest of the emotional baggage I am still carrying. When I sit down for my ceremony on Thursday, I want to be completely ready. I’ve done a lot of work, and I feel very certain that this will be a final piece of release, for me, about much of what I am carrying around from the past.

I don’t want to carry it, anymore. It’s heavy and dirty and ugly and I have much better things to do with my life. Somehow, I know that releasing all of this old clutter from my soul is going to make room for something really wonderful. I know that the space I am creating is necessary and I have such a strong sense of anticipation.

I can’t wait to see what will fill me up.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grace in My Garden

From people in the meetings, and in books on Co-Dependency, three terms seemed to be used as synonyms:
Letting go,
When I first came to CoDA, I heard people speak these words and my heart would immediately close. I would hear that these things were things we needed to do.
It was explained that forgiveness was not for the person who had committed the offense.
Forgiveness was for the victim.
I’d think, “How is that possible? It makes no sense!”

Over time, I began to object to the way people used these terms interchangably.
Acceptance seemed like something I might be able to achieve. Letting go was still out of reach, but the idea that I could accept that my life was how it was and move forward from there was very different from forgiving those who I blamed for putting me on the course I'd been following. To me, it felt like forgiving was the same as saying what had happened to me was okay. It was like saying, “I’m not that important. It’s okay if you hurt me.”

I told my sponsor, last summer, that I would never forgive my father. A defiant child inside me screamed, “You can’t make me!”

In the garden of our lives, the wounds of the past are barren places. Many of us avoid looking into these dark deserts of despair. Fear of these bleak, infertile spaces haunts our thoughts, dreams, actions and aspirations. No one showed us how to care for our garden. We allow ourselves to be victimized and avoid the things we need most. As the sterile darkness spreads, we find ourselves in smaller and smaller cages of denial, but still we refuse to face that which is preventing us from becoming what we can be - what we are meant to be.
It feels hopeless.

In our hands, we hold the seeds to Acceptance, Letting Go, and Forgiveness, but until we take the time to step into the barren places, push the dirt aside, and place the seeds in the ground, there is no hope for them to grow.

For me, I believe I began to bury those seeds in March of last year.
If I had a bottom, that was it.

I recently heard this question asked at a CoDA meeting:
When does one hit bottom?
The answer: When one stops digging.

I looked at the holes I’d been burying myself in and decided, instead, to plant those seeds I’d been hanging onto. Continuing my Inner Child work in therapy has let sunlight in my garden. Working the steps in CoDA has been the much needed rain. In the last year, I believe the seeds have grown into something tangible, something I can almost taste, but still there is something missing.

In my garden, acceptance is a tangy, not quite ripe orange. It is hard to peal, but I have been working at it for some time. The sections I have free are not as sweet as I would like, but I can get them down without too much discomfort.

Letting go.
With the first sections of orange inside me, the green limes of letting go have become thin-skinned and ripe. I can open them up and breathe in the citrus smell, but the tartness puckers my mouth before I can swallow a mouthful.

Yellow lemons grow in my garden. They are forgiveness; beautiful to look at, but impossible to digest. Just opening them makes my eyes water.

I am writing out my eighth step, this weekend. This step is:
“Made a list of all persons we have harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”

The timing on this seems perfect. My “Acceptance Ceremony” is only ten days away. What better time to begin to take responsibility for my part in it all?

I have not been perfect. As Melody Beattie says in “Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps”:

“It is hard to be nurturing, loving nonshaming and present to...if we have never been nurtured or if all we know is control and shame, and if we ourselves are doubled over in pain. Being without boundaries, not being able to set appropriate limits… is doing harm.”
I could continue to play the victim and relieve myself of all responsibility because of what has happened to me in the past, but does that really serve me? Even if it did, wouldn’t this kind of attitude mean that I also have to relieve those who have harmed me of responsibility? Surely their behavior has stemmed from unmet needs and abuse in their own lives….

As suggested in the Beattie book, I am taking breaks to “find peace” when it feels overwhelming. I wrote the first part of this blog post during the first break, and now I am coming back to finish it.

I think I understand what was once missing in my garden.

I believe there is more to creating life than sunlight, water and earth. For my seeds to grow into something I can ingest, something nourishing and sweet, I need divine intervention.

As I said, I have not been perfect. How unbelievably lucky I am that there is a thing called “unconditional love”. If there is anyone who can love unconditionally, it would have to be God. Since I feel the presence of God in my life anytime I sincerely look for it, and since I believe in unconditional love, I know that God loves me unconditionally.
I am not meant to live in shame, anger and fear.
I am not alone.
I have been forgiven.
This kind of presence, forgiveness and unconditional love has a name.
It’s called Grace.

Grace is the final ingredient I need to make my garden flourish. Grace is like sugar, sprinkled generously on the tart and tangy fruit I am finally harvesting. Sweetened, watered and warmed by the sun, what was once impossible to swallow is becoming something too sweet to resist.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Invisible Red Ink


Distress and
Full out fear
Hold back
They can’t see what is real
I am here
I am real
But invisible
Notice me!
Doesn’t help
Demanding attention
Doesn’t help

Anger and
Full out rage
Not fair!
What’s the point?
Fuck you!
Doesn’t help
Lashing out
Doesn’t help

Sadness and
Full out heartache
Don’t cry
If they come when you cry
It is meaningless
Won’t help
And a lump in my throat
Doesn’t help

I am worthy of love!
Don’t beg
I am not invisible!
Don’t want
If they would just push the film aside
They would see the world
For what it really is
They could see me
For what I really am
They would know
What they want and need and
They could step outside of

I want them to be with me
Because they want to be with me
I want to be worthy of their attention
I want them to notice me

Even when I am NOT being a bitch
I want them to see me

When I am NOT crying
I want them to spend time with me

Because it makes them happy
I want to be wanted
And seen
For what I really am
They could love me
If they tried


Oh I know what you'll say
It isn’t about me

But do you know why?
It can’t be about me
Because I am hidden

Behind a magic red film
And what I want to be
And do
And have
And what I am
Is written in invisible red ink


I am

Even here
Beneath the film of red
I still am
Even if no one knows
I am


When I was little, I had a magic book.

I don't know what it was called or even remember what it was about. What I remember is that on the left hand pages there was writing and on the right hand pages were pictures. In between each page, there was a thin, almost transparent sheet of red cellophane.

The magic was that part of each picture was drawn in the same red as the cellophane. When I looked at it through the red film, the red parts were invisible. Then, when I lifted the thin red film, I would be able to see all the red parts of the pictures. The entire picture would suddenly change and I could see it for what it really was, and always, the change was miraculous and wonderful.

Spending time with my family-of-origin, this past weekend, reminded me of that book. I've changed so much, and being with my family is different than it used to be. I look at them and know what they will do, how they will react in every situation. They all know their roles, and I am very aware of what my role is supposed to be, too.

The thing is, I don’t want to play my role, anymore. I am ad-libbing most of the time, now, it seems, but what is really frustrating is that nobody notices! They just run through their lines, like seasoned actors, and look at the world through a flimsy red curtain, and anything that doesn’t belong to the landscape they expect comes out in invisible red ink.


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.