The art of letting go

John Gull

In a healing path, there is no direct line to healing. There is no miracle cure that someone can give you and things will all be fine. It is a constant effort to find the place of continual acceptance which brings joy. Some equate the journey like an onion with multiple layers which we peel off one by one to expose the next layer. I rather think of the journey as a connected spiral that rotates upward. Each circle has items and many experiences we need to examine and decide whether we keep them or cast them off. On each spiral there are teachers, lovers and friends and those too we decide to keep or move on without. It is all natural and normal. If you do not cast off the things you no longer need the circle because heavy and will spin downward. The concept of casting things out of your current circle is known as letting go. It is the only process that allows healing from past hurts and disappointments that may clutter the path upward. It is necessary to move forward. But I want to include something that is crucial about letting go, because letting go is an art.
When people say “let it go” they mean well, but they are not the judge you need to listen to. Often someone may tell you to let go of something because you make them uncomfortable when you talk about it. Only you are the one that matters in the decision of letting things go. I caution anyone who has had a traumatic experience and works with someone who says simply “to let it go” and then expects that it will be accomplished so easily. The work is only started when you decide to let something go. The choice to let go is inconsequential as to the outcome of what you retain. See, every experience we have has a meaning, whether you choose to embrace that fact or not. To totally toss out some experience because it may have been a painful one is actually not going to ever happen. You cannot wipe out your life without consequences. You did live through the experience, it is your history. What needs to change is the reaction in the present moment. You cannot change what happened then; you can only change how you feel about the experience now. And feeling bad, angry, trapped, hurt, disappointed and so on to something that is over is wasted energy and will only slow the path to healing down. That is the work that takes time and effort and if you as lucky as I am, great support to help you.
There are things that have happened in my past that I have had to examine closely. They are not all nice and they are not all bad. The ones that had me in their clutches and were holding me back were the hardest ones to redefine. I cast off their hold, but not the lesson. I feel very strongly that what I have experienced is something set in front of me to learn about and then teach others. It has taken me over two years to grapple with their hold on me. And every day, something comes up new to work on. I accept that we are never truly done being human, which is what this is all about, until we are dead. But I have also learned new tools to deal with things that make the new challenges less traumatic. And that is because I do not bring everything from my past into my present. That is what letting go means. But I also do not tolerate or walk into the same situations. That is wisdom, and that too comes from letting go.

Small joys

Bishop in the old garden

Bishop in the old garden

The one thing I have found more in my life lately is small joys. Today was filled with small joys. I do not usually write two posts, but I had to tonight.

It seems that mornings have been filled with sadness for me lately. I have been very consistent with my meditation practice and it seems to help with sending whatever angst I bring from my dreams on their way. This morning, I sat and wrote and then after I posted, I meditated and all the feelings of …and I am not even sure what it is…. were gone. I proceeded to go outside and sit with the trees and birds. Ah, this is the music I longed for in the blowing and freezing wind this winter. The sun warmed me gently and slowly, the grip of worry, fear and sadness were totally gone.

I donned a support brace for my ankle and armed with my brand new rake, I began to clean the lawn of dried grasses, doggie presents, twigs and stones. After a while, my husband joined me as we had just purchased his and her rakes. The sun at that point was warm enough for me to hang the wash out on the line. I even changed into a sleeveless top and shorts and we worked until we had raked the whole back yard. We paused often to enjoy the sun and the doggies who cannot resist a lap.

With the lawn all raked and cleaned, we proceeded to empty the shed and bring all the garden ornaments out and in to their designated spots in the yard. My husband proudly put his whirligig into its spot and spun it a few times. We worked in tandem and in short order, the garden was alive again. It was amazing. The one ornamental shrub, which I have no idea what it is, was blooming. It is always the first and attracts many bees. The big trees are barely budding. Upon close inspection, I saw the very tiny nubs of new growth on my roses. The multiple wind chimes were singing in the soft breeze. At this point the dogs were worn out from running around and barking at passer-byes. They lay in the sun, one watching for any action, the other content to just close her eyes.

After we returned from dinner with my in-laws, we all raced outside to enjoy the garden and the sunset. The dogs, revitalized from their nap while we were gone, ran and played and then hopped up into our laps to sit and be adored. The sun slowly turned the crimson and both of us thought that the raked dirt seemed to have a green haze forming. Slowly the multiple solar lights blinked on and grew in their sparkling glow. We both sighed and talked about how nice it would be to spend our time not having to rush and get ready for work. It is coming in a few years. For now, as the sun set and the chill came over the garden fence, we headed in to prepare for the week.

The contentment and joy is so large in my heart right now. I am blessed in so many ways. I needed the connection of the soil to become grounded again. I needed the air and sun and the feel of the trees and my flowers coming back to me. My husband said that I am totally different after being in the garden all day. I said, “I have chlorophyll for blood.” Neither of us laughed as I think it is true. I am sore, I have a blister, and I am sunburned. I love it. The amazing thing is that the foot and ankle that was so awful all week is not swollen at all. I took the brace off early in the work as it was irritating. My husband even sees how special the garden is this year which is wonderful. I know we will be spending many hours enjoying it. Even though my trusted and beloved Bishop, who spent hours with me in the garden, is no longer here, I could sense him everywhere. The new pups fill it with a different energy and it is fine. I am so glad that winter is over. I am sure I will be boring everyone soon with pictures. – Namaste

Fear fighter

Spring on Lake Ontario

Spring on Lake Ontario

When my parents were growing up, there whole world was tenuous at best. They came into the world at the end of World War I and by the time they were young adults, they were facing World War II. In between there was the depression. My mother’s parents separated and my grandmother moved back to the farm in West Virginia to have help with her two girls. My father’s brother and father died tragically in a car accident on a rail road track at the hands of a fast train when my father was 3. I watched my father’s business dissolve and he lost sequent employment until he finally was forced to retire without any pension and live on social security. I was with my mother as I witnessed the ravages of cancer take her at 59. I was bedside when my father crossed over 11 years later. I lived through the time as he adjusted to only having one leg. He had an amputation when he was 54. Their life was based on fear.

They lived in a time when how things look was more important than how things were. They were taught propriety and keeping up appearances at all cost. My parents were extremely judgmental. My father felt it was his duty to evoke his opinion on every difference in a person including the color of their skin. My mother was appalled by any person whose appearance was less than perfect especially weight. She never had an issue and was blessed with the ability to eat like a horse and remain tiny.

Their marriage started out with all the trappings of being very wealthy and successful. My father was excused from the war because he was a sole heir. My mother began her family with the comfort of domestic help and doting grandmothers. All of this was lost by the time I was five and by the time I was 14, they were living in an apartment and my mother was employed for the first time since she was married.

They lived in fear and they were angry. Both of them drank every night. Their ritual of cocktails, as they called it, was their escape of their world. It began as a habit of glamour and social acceptance and became their island of peace. Unfortunately, the results of their self-medicating turn ugly and their anger was often leashed upon me. I was the last at home as my other four siblings had moved on with their lives. My mother and father instilled fear in me and they taught me to be judgmental as it was necessary for survival at the time.

I am writing about this because I am working very hard on letting go of fear. It is extremely hard for me and I have to work on it every day and every minute. I have learned techniques to establish a sense of safety when I recognize that fear is creeping in. I hear my parents’ voices with their exaggerated warnings. I hear their voices also in judgment. This is the hardest thing to cut out as I replay their criticism willing. And while I am getting better at not uttering out loud comments about people, I struggle mightily with silencing the critical and nasty voice in my head. It is because I believed them.

I had to focus on why the two people in this world who had the power to influence my being more than anyone would be so cruel. It is because they lived in such abject fear. It is their fear, not mine. It was their world, not mine. I can forgive them as I understand and I can release their grip. I would not have been any better in their circumstances and I think few would. But it is not my truth.

So every day I am allowing the cleaning out of their thoughts. Sometimes it is painful but with the understanding that I am no longer buying into it, I can release it. This is a slow process as it is very deep. I had thought I had gotten past the need to do this, but then I realize that it is a step process. And this is what I want to share more than anything.

When I started the work I am doing on myself, it was overwhelming all that I had to deal with. I am not one for going slow. As I peeled layers back, new raw sores would appear. There were times when I would think I was never going to get through and eventually I did. I am sitting here in the realization it was and is all perfect in its manifestation. There were some huge hurdles that needed to be jumped and then removed. And with every jump and successful landing, I became stronger and mightier. I am quite confident that the path is peppered with more and will be through the rest of my life. It is called being human. But every time my feet hit the ground again, I am fortified for the next. I realize, actually as I am writing this, that I am not as afraid. There is movement forward when you work at releasing the things that weigh you down. Ah, the pun of what I just wrote. We will save that for another time.

Letting go 2014

falls TSP

Yesterday was a beautiful day in upstate New York. I put all the laundry and shopping off my to-do list and my husband and I took a ride in the Finger Lakes. The trees on the outset were not showing any promise but by the end of the day, they had sprouted and lawns were greening up. We headed to an Amish store where I buy my oatmeal. We then proceeded to a state park I had not visited since 1986. I did not tell my husband about the memory attached to the park because I wanted to see what would come up for me there.
Back in 1986, I was married to someone else. And that someone else betrayed me by having an affair. I found out in the worse way and it destroyed me. I knew he was unfaithful, but I never had to really face it. There was no escaping it as he had to tell me he had the possibility of passing a STD on to me. The humiliation of it all was so great. At that particular time, I wanted to save the marriage and so we headed off to a park to walk and talk. This place has a falls that is magnificent. The idea of being in a neutral ground was mine. What happened out of this was to be with me forever.
We got to a place where there was an overlook. In those days, they did not protect everything from the stupidity of humans. You could walk to the very edge of the rim and look down. It was very high and dangerous. I am not one for heights. I walked to the very edge where a tree was growing and wrapped my arms around the tree. I lost all awareness of him or anything else except this one thought: If I let go and fall, all the pain will be gone forever. I was so hurt I seriously contemplated letting go. I have never shared that.
I did not let go, not of the tree and not of the pain. We walked the hiking trail (those were the days when I could hike for miles) and he continued to share his tale of lies. I asked too many questions and he fed me crap for answers. He continued to lie about the situation by declaring it was a one shot deal and it was over. I of course found out it was nine months in the making and he never ended it. In a last ditch effort to hurt me during our divorce, he sent me something in an envelope with her return address on it.
I worked very hard on saving the marriage. We remained married for another 16 years. They were not good years and he continued to lie. He became violent and very angry. He pinned all his errors on me saying I caused him to be that way. I should have sought help sooner, but I was too afraid and ashamed. It is this knowledge of helplessness and shame that I want to help others learn to survive by offering counseling. One day he pushed too far and I realized I was at the lowest point possible. He requested to bring his girlfriends into the home for overnights. I had moved out of our big bedroom into the guest room at that point. He left for a hunting trip and I went to a lawyer. He was served at work in front of all his asshole buddies who were also doing similar feats of crap to their wives. It was the beginning of learning to be a warrior for me.
But yesterday, with my gentle and kind husband, I could no longer walk to that spot as it was fenced. There was also no hiking to be done. I was just grateful we could walk even a very short trek to the current viewing area. The falls were there and not much else had changed except me. I was so glad I did not let go back then.
As we continued on with our day, we went to several other falls so I could take pictures. As we were driving I realized that I had let go. I let go of the pain and I let go of the shame. Being honest, I have not completely let go of the anger but it is truly a tiny part of me. I think it remains so I will continue in the fight to help others. My ex and I parted legally in 2002 and that was the last I ever saw or heard from him. We had spent almost thirty years together. It took over twenty-eight years for me to realize I had finally let go of that tree. But I did not fall, I learned to fly.

cu falls

Thanking Raphael

raphael

I was newly divorce living on my own for the first time in my life, ever. I had noticed that my middle finger on my left hand would get very cold and numb. I smoked. I figured it was Raynaud’s or poor circulation. Sometimes it was fine. I also drank a lot and I mean a lot. One night during a pretty heavy binge, I fell on the stairs. I remember thinking I had not spilled my drink that I was carrying and was actually proud of it. The next morning, I had a very funny feeling. I was off to pick up some kitties to come live with me. I got to the destination, and felt completely awful. I was dizzy, sweating and I could not feel much. There was a loud buzzing and when I walked, I walked with a lean to the left like I was walking in a circle. Someone took my pulse and said they could not find it. I feigned I was fine and actually drove home. I remember literally crawling up the stairs and passing out in bed. I woke sometime much later and my side of my face was numb and buzzy. I tried to eat, was not too successful and went back to bed. The next day, I was better but I was scared. I called my doctor and she said go to the hospital immediately. I have never shared this with anyone except the doctor.

My friend drove me. I told her there was something wrong with my finger. The put oximeter on my finger and I remember they said they thought the meter was broken. They put it on another finger, and it was a strong reading. Back on the bad finger, and it was ridiculously low. They told my friend to go home and pack me a bag. Little did I know it was going to be 11 days later before I just left.

They put me in an observation room and I was left there over night. I do not remember anyone coming in to check on me. I thought one thought; I was as alone as anyone could possibly be. I was not scared, I was alone. I remember thinking in the dark, as the room had no light, which on reflection was very strange, that I could just let go. No one would care and so I did. The next day is a blur, but I ended up having my left arm sliced open and they pulled an inch long clot out of my left wrist. Somewhere in the next day, they scoped me and found five more clots. One was in the subclavian artery close to the heart and was the size of a jelly bean.

This is not about the surgery. This is about what happened the night before the surgery. The doctor had told me to get “my affairs in order.” My dear friend came and signed the health proxy and all the other crap that makes the doctor feel better if he messes up. The prognosis was grim, but they were going to perform open heart surgery and hoped they would not move the clot the wrong way or any other ones.

That night, I had the room to myself. The patient who was in there with me had crossed over. Not a good sign. But I was totally numb to the whole thing. I was not panicking which would be my normal reaction. Around midnight, a thunder storm blew in. There was a huge window and it faced Lake Ontario which was off in the distance. I had a beautiful view. I heard someone approach and sit next to me on the arm of the huge chair I was in. Now I think of it, he perched as there really was no place for him to sit. He was a young male nurse. I was instantly struck by his presence and we did not say much. He just asked if he could sit with me. As I am writing this, eleven years almost to the day, he said hardly anything. But he stayed with me. I was in awe of the lightening which was fierce and fabulous. We did not talk about the surgery or anything. But I felt comforted and calm with him there. I can barely describe him visually: young, male, dark short hair and a square but very pleasant face. He wore blue scrubs. But I can remember distinctly the calm and assurance he provided me. I think I asked him if he had other patients to see and he said he was assigned to me or something similar. I was fine with that. He stayed the whole storm. When he went to leave, he leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. I thought absolutely nothing about it until years later. Nurses do not kiss people.

I just spent the past weekend in a spiritual retreat to continue my lessons on Spiritual Healing Touch. I never got the whole angel thing and struggled mightily with the concept of spirit guides and guardian angels. I had connected with one guide this past year and I have learned to rely on her subtle messages when I quiet my mind. The past month, I have also felt the presence of others who I joking refer to as my posse. They are still nebulous but I am often aware of the sense of support of others coming from behind me. Believe what you will, as I had a lot of doubts about this myself. This weekend, a couple of the techniques required calling on angels to support the healing. At one point, before we started a treatment, you call a specific angel to help. I called on Raphael, who is an Archangel of Healing. (I did not know that when I called him. That was just the name I used. I just google it) I felt someone behind me and then become part of me. It was so overwhelmed I was crying during the whole treatment. My partner thought there was something wrong but they were tears of joy. I actually felt the same thing a couple of more times last weekend. It was amazing, but I would not have believed it two years ago or even six months ago.

So back to the night of April of 2003. I now know this nurse was not a nurse. He never came back. No one had a clue who he was at the hospital. I just let it go and did not think about it much until the other night during a guided meditation. I am not going to go into that. What I will share is what happened the next morning after his visit. I was prepped for surgery, and there is a funny story about the walk to the OR, but I wrote about it once before. The short end of the story is I woke up in the ICU. I patted my chest and realized they did not cut me open at all. They had knocked me very deeply out and re-scoped me. They found nothing. There was not a clot to be found. I stayed in ICU until I was thrown out for being such a wise ass with my friends. I stayed in the hospital for nine more days because they were sure I was going to pop a clot somewhere. I made friends everywhere and I actually was allowed to walk around the hospital as there was nothing wrong with me. I never found that nurse from that night  and I was on the same floor.

I had no one to take care of me and my dogs and if I had had the surgery, the chances were not good that I would have been ok afterwards. They diagnosed is a hereditary disease called Factor 5 Leiden. Since then, I have been able to help my family become aware as my brother has it and one nephew. My father died from it and his mother had it.

To my midnight visitor: I just want you to know how grateful I am for your love for me and your miracle healing. I never said thank you. I was blessed as anyone could be. Thank you.

(I went looking for an image to use for this blog and found the one I posted…. It took my breath away when I found it in a Google search for Raphael which I did after I wrote this blog….wow)

Giving to yourself

Take off

I just spent three days in a wonderful spiritual workshop with ten other lovely ladies. It is in a series of classes I am taking on Spiritual Healing Touch. When I took the first class over almost a year ago, I was filled with doubt and fear so much that I almost did not go. But on the recommendation of a long time mentor, Dr. Kates, I went. This started quite a significant part of my journey. I look back and think how I was then and what I thought I was supposed to do. I was stilled trapped in figuring out what people wanted from me and what the expectation was in everything I did. It always filled me with trepidation.
This is the third class and in between we have had Circle nights where we get together and either just talk or learn new techniques. I had in my head that this was about becoming something and now I know I was placed here for something I would not have understood a year ago. This was for me; a gift to learn more than how to lay hands. The healing was from within for me. This was the true gift. I would not have been able to accept that in the past because I would think “I am not worthy.” But I know better now and the only way to move forward is to “heal thy self first”. And it is not selfish; it is our right to be healthy and whole. It is our destiny. And if you are willing to do the work, and there is a lot of never ending work to do on yourself, it is the best gift you can give or get. No one else can do this for you. No one can truly heal another. We can guide, we can support each other and we can help the energy to find healing but unless the receiver is willing and able and most important: engaged, it is all for not.
I came away from the workshop with so much more than one step closer to my achieving a goal, which was the original intent. I find the completion of the class less significant now, although I will finish the series. I did come away with some powerful tools to help others. But I came away with a ton of things to help myself. Every morning we had to pick a word from a deck of little angel cards and share it. Or add our own word to demonstrate how we were feeling. I used my own words that came to me in the morning before class. They were acceptance and courage. One of the last cards I selected was Love. Those were the gifts.