Tag Archives: faith

To paraphrase…

Hello.

It’s been a while.

Did you miss me?

Right, I have some instructions for you:

1) Turn off the lights, close the curtains, close your eyes. Maybe even put some headphones on.

2) Turn up the volume, press play and… listen. Really listen. To every word.

And now, for the sake of clarity, here they are, those words:

Joni Mitchell

 

There is so much here. So much said between the lines and try as I might (and I have begun to a gazillion times) my efforts to paraphrase just sound trite.

So, in a nutshell:

1) You look at the world through fresh eyes, and it looks amazing. You dream. Big. You are filled with optimism. It’s a rainwashed street, shiny and fresh. It’s a blank canvas, full of promise. It’s castles in the air.

2) You are dealt a blow. Given a lesson. You are sobered up. Fast. You grow up. Your world becomes real. You challenge your beliefs. You change your perspective. And it hurts. Hell, it really hurts.

3) You emerge from that cave.ย  You understand now that it isn’t what you dreamed it was. But, and here’s the thing, it isn’t what you thought you learned it was either. In fact, you don’t really get it. You just know what it isn’t.ย Your eyes are open, but – now – so is your heart. And your mind. And you have lost so much. But… hey. Look. You have gained so much, too. It’s okay. Let it go.

So, look back at what you believed, at that younger, more naive and innocent you, with fondness. It wasn’t all wrong. And you know? It got you to where you are now ๐Ÿ™‚

And, as I heard Wayne Dyer say the other day:

So many things that I did in my life, I look back and think that I would never do those things today. And yet all of my past actions have contributed to helping me be the man I am today. Say to yourself, โ€œI had to be that person and Iโ€™ve learned from him (or her).โ€ Forgiving yourself is every bit as important as forgiving other people. You did the best that you could, given the conditions of your life, and you canโ€™t ask any more of yourself or of anyone else.

 

Joni Mitchell. I salute you.

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Trying on a new hat for a good fit…

autism3I’m considering having this made into a t-shirt ๐Ÿ˜‰

Generally speaking, in our daily lives, we are fortunate enough to have a wide circle of loving and understanding friends, who have made it their mission to investigate the situation we find ourselves in with Ted, and how best to interact with and understand him. Those who cannot understand it, or who expect us to ‘carry on as normal’, have naturally fallen by the wayside. Without rancour, but it is much too stressful to pretend to be something you are not, to have to keep apologising for something that should require no apology, to navigate places and people who have unrealistic expectations of what is possible. It is a much less stressful proposition, we have learned, to have a meal with friends at their house, or at ours, than to attempt to sit through a meal in a restaurant. Although we are learning those little tricks I have mentioned before (stocking up on little toys from pound shops etc) to get through such situations, should we have to.

We don’t encounter too many folks who clearly weren’t told not to stare as curious children, but the sad fact is that we tend to avoid areas and situations where there are too many people or too many expectations to conform to a standard mode of behaviour since, as I have mentioned before, judgment is never far behind when you are attempting to live a ‘normal’ life out in the big, wide world, with an autistic child in tow. And of course, as I have said before, part of the issue is that there is nothing obviously marking an autistic child as autistic. By and large, an autistic child looks like any other child. Which reminds me, I also love this:

met one

Because the fact is, while autism has many common traits, no two children display the exact same ones, and like every other child on the planet, each is different. So there is a very real danger of making assumptions or basing expectations for a child with autism on your experience of another, totally different child.

At the outset of Teddy’s investigations I, too, was guilty of the sentiment behind one of the most common exclamations I hear:

“Oh, I thought they weren’t supposed to be able to do that!”

It’s a difficult statement on many levels. First, your child is being lumped in with everyone else, which is never a comfortable situation, even without the challenges that autism brings. Secondly, it can engender a very uncomfortable desire to defend the diagnosis and, if you are not careful, you can find yourself listing all the ways in which he does conform to it. That brings with it a horribly dirty feeling of betraying your child, since you spend the vast majority of your life with this small beloved person focusing on the positive. On what he can and does do.

A simple example to demonstrate this point is that many autistic children cannot stand to be touched. Teddy, on the other hand, spends that small portion of his life that he is not running around his immediate environment, climbing furniture, or demanding food, snuggled into or onto either of his parents, usually with the command: “Big cuddle!”

You know what? It’s a minefield. You think one thing is positive and a sign of hope, and then someone in the field of paediatric care comes along and says “Ah yes, they often do that. It means…” something completely opposed to the hopeful spin you had given it.

But no matter what anyone else thinks, says, or has experienced, Teddy surprises and delights us every day. The moments in which we throw one another puzzled or dismayed glances at some particularly troubling new development or behaviour are regularly and completely eclipsed by the moments in which our hearts and souls soar with love, pride and joy at some tiny, tiny milestone we were never sure he’d reach.ย Speaking to his occupational therapist the other day, I said to her “It’s baby steps, really…” and she looked at me quizzically.

“Have you said that before, during this meeting?”

“No. That’s the first time.”

She paused.

“Then it was one of the mothers I saw this morning. The exact same words, in the exact same tone.”

There’s a reason for that.

As soon as the word autism has been heard (and you will never unhear it), the facts, experiences, and literature ingested and digested, the biggest and most helpful thing you can do is open your mind (your heart, of course, is already cracked wide open) to everything. And your eyes and ears. Because, if you are not careful, you can miss those baby steps.

Two years ago, when Teddy was progressing more or less as you would expect for an 18-month old child, he could tell you all the sounds the animals make. It was one of our favourite party tricks and I remember very clearly the pride we felt as we heard his beautiful responses.

As he became less and less verbal and responsive, he stopped doing that.

But with the acceptance of his challenges, investigations into changing his diet which produced immediate and dramatic results, we have watched him slowly coming back to us.

Driving to nursery the other morning, we passed a field of cows.

“Moo,” said a little voice from the back seat.

Baby step. Don’t miss it!

“Yes…! … Teddy? What does a sheep say?”

“Baa!”

“Yes! What does a dog say?”

“Woof woof!”

Once, such responses were taken for granted. Now, the smallest response can set you up for the rest of the day. Once, I was grateful for big things, and took the rest for granted. Now, the smallest things rock my world.

If you want your child to be understood, I have begun to learn, then you need to teach people how to understand him.

autism2


Peaks and Troughs

I don’t think my heart has ever been this heavy.

But, paradoxically, I don’t think it has been as light either.

Which, I suppose, brings a kind of balance to life, doesn’t it?

Yes, we’re on autism again ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s all so relatively new, and we’re wading through it, learning more each day, struggling through the hard times: the unpredictable and sudden lashings out and meltdowns; rejoicing in the good: taking Linsey’s hand and walking into nursery without a backwards glance. Grateful, oh so grateful, for people like Linsey, who understand. And friends, too, with children on the spectrum, or with other challenges, who are not only mines of information, but incredible support. These are the ones (and you know who you are) to whom you can make confessions nobody else would really know how to respond to. You can say to them “I don’t know if I’m cut out for this” and they know what you mean. They know you don’t mean “I’m about to run away, this is too much”. They know you do mean “I’m struggling. This is tough. Sometimes I just can’t get my head around it”. They know you’re not feeling sorry for yourself, but that you are full of worries: how will he be accepted by the world, what will he struggle with, how much will he be capable of, will he ever have any independence, how much has he progressed already, what can I expect for him, I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know what’s normal…?!

And then they tell you you need an SEN. And you look at them blankly. “A Statement of Educational Needs” they explain. And you nod as if you suddenly and miraculously understand. But you don’t, really. So you own up. Why? What is it for? “It’s so he can get the help he’ll need.” Oh. It will tell you how severe he is. If he gets a level this or a level that will make all the difference. You find yourself hoping he gets a levelย that so he can get more care, even though a level that means he’s more challenged… And you chide yourself for wishing such a thing.

They ask you to fill in a form about him. They explain that they will, too, and that when you read theirs you mustn’t be dismayed by how negative it sounds. It’s just so he can get the help he needs.

It’s a strange in-between world you’re asked to inhabit at this point. You spend your life looking at the positives, noticing the tiniest yardsticks of progress: “He just said ‘Where ‘loon gone?’! That’s a whole question!” “Did you hear that? He just said ‘Door’! He wants you to open it!”
And then there’s the other place where they want you to look at all the challenges, all the difficulties he has, all the things you spend your daily life glossing over, ignoring, attempting to improve without actually saying them out loud. You find yourself on this strange rollercoaster of believing the best whilst being asked to prove the worst.

I don’t mind telling you it’s tough.

Then you have nights like tonight, where you’re plum tuckered out with it all, and he’s just dumped two pints of water out of the bath all over the floor, and your strength is waning.

And you get him out, onto your bed to get his jim-jams on, and his chubby little arms snake around your neck. He sticks his little lips out, as he’s seen the frog do in his favourite film, and he pulls you in for little hot kiss after little hot kiss. Then he just holds you, around the neck, your cheek on his cheek, and before you know it, his breathing has become deep and even and he’s fallen asleep.

His world is exhausting.

And you dress him through his sleep, and deposit him in the strange makeshift bed on the floor (because he refuses to sleep in a real bed) and you’re on a strange and wonderful high.

Those little arms are still around my neck.

And, believe me when I say this, because it’s from the heart, suddenly I remember: I’m grateful.

Addendum: I guess, what I’m really trying to say, is that it’s all too easy to lose sight of Teddy in the sea of ‘requirements’… And Teddy, put simply, is perfect. Just as he is. ๐Ÿ™‚

My Two Wolves

I’m sure this story isn’t new to many of those reading this. But it bears repeating since, like so many things in this adventure called life, it is just a strand of the tapestry that has recently taken a more discernible form in my consciousness.

So here it is:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

โ€œMy child, there is a battle raging inside us all. It is between two wolves.

โ€œOne is Evil โ€“ It is anger, fear, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

โ€œThe other is Good โ€“ It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.โ€

The grandson thinks about this for a minute or two.

โ€œWhich wolf wins?โ€

โ€œThe one you feed.โ€

It’s simple, isn’t it?

But, like so many things of such apparent simplicity, although 1) it’s true, 2) it’s much more easily said than done. Partly because the battle isn’t confined to an arena within ourselves. And ye gods, it’s a tough enough battle when it is confined to that arena.

Before I go any further, I’m not talking here about good and evil. There is no evaluation or judgement in what I am trying to say. What has become abundantly clear to me is that so much human relationship goes wrong when the relating is fear-based, and love is forgotten.

There is of course, the moment you start talking about love, a very real danger of sounding like a blissed-out hippie (which is no bad thing in itself, incidentally ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I mean, the Beatles, man. They said it, right? “All you need is love”? And YES! I want to shout. It’s TRUE! And if everyone is operating from the same field, removing ego from the game, without becoming a doormat (another fine balance) then there’s nothing to fear. You’re safe to love, and to be loved.

Trouble is, as I see it, if one person is operating from love, and the other from fear, the wolf driven by fear will keep on, teeth bared, until one of you backs down. Usually Love, because Fear will just continue attacking, for fear of being attacked. At which point, after repeated attempts to stop the fight, a few bite-marks and battle-scars acquired, Love shrugs his shoulders, patches up his wounds, and whispers (inaudibly, to Fear) “When you’ve lost your snarl, retracted your teeth and claws, I’ll be here. Until then…”

It seems to be another truth that people will suspect you of operating as they do. Their prediction of your response is based upon the way they would respond in the same circumstances. And if you are driven by fear, then attack is your predominant modus operandi – kill or be killed – and you will expect attack from everyone else, regardless of the wolf they feed. You feed fear, so you expect everyone else to.

It is a very difficult thing, eschewing fear and embracing love. (It is actually also proving rather difficult to talk about without sounding… oh, I don’t know, trite, or naive, or as though you have all the answers – hah!) Maybe it’s something you can achieve once and for all. Eventually. When you attain enlightenment. ๐Ÿ™‚

But for most of us, it is a battle we are invited to on a daily basis. And the most important thing I have learned about this fight,ย every single time it comes around, is:

The more you feed love, the stronger it becomes.

And fear? Well, it just kind of ceases to matter….

 


Alchemy?

I’m constantly amazed by the way life works.

In awe, really.

I’ll start as I so often do: a few things have been tumbling around my head lately ๐Ÿ™‚

I suppose what it really is is an amalgamation, a sort of alchemical process by which several truisms, so often bandied about, posted on facebook (guilty as charged) and generally thrown casually into conversation that they have become cliches, have all become one big ole realisation somewhere deep down. Like dried yeast in warm water, it has bubbled up and popped on the surface of my awareness just in the last day or two, and I’ve been trying to find a way to express it.

Putting it into words is tricky – it’s much more a feeling, or… not even that… a kind of new part of what I have come to know, I suppose. Eek, you see? I’m already tripping over myself! I guess I’ll start by listing the four main components of this one new whole:

1) Orange Juice

This is the patently obvious truth that if you squeeze an orange, the only thing you’re going to get out of it is orange juice. You can’t squeeze it and expect a sparkling Pinot Grigio, or a glass of milk. In just the same way, if someone squeezes you, you can only react with something that is already inside you. Or, put another way, you can’t give something you haven’t got.

2) Hatred and Love

“Hatred cannot cease by hatred, but by love alone is healed.” Originating from the Buddha and used by such noble fellow beings as Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

3) Fear

Fear paralyses. Fear of the future (and what is a ‘What if…?’ if not fear of a future calamity?) is a waste of the present, leads to negative, defensive and angry pre-emptive behaviour, escalates animosity, perpetuates hatred… And the rest!

4) Boundaries

Accept no abuse. Value yourself more than that. You would not sit by and watch someone you loved being abused, so why allow it for yourself?

In some way or another all of these lessons have been kneaded and melted and moulded and shaped into a single way of being, of looking at myself and the world of my fellow human-beings.

First off, eliminate the fear and hatred, both of which we are all too easily seduced by. Like pretty much everyone else I have known the paralysis of fear, and I can categorically say it served no purpose whatever, neither in preparing me for what I had to face, nor in helping through it. We live through what we live through. We take the lessons from those situations that they had to teach us. And we carry them into the next.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

– Helen Keller

Or indeed:

“I’ll tell you a secret about fear: it’s an absolutist. With fear, it’s all or nothing. Either, like any bullying tyrant, it rules your life with a stupid blinding omnipotence, or else you overthrow it, and its power vanishes in a puff of smoke. And another secret: the revolution against fear, the engendering of that tawdry despot’s fall, has more or less nothing to do with ‘courage’. It is driven by something much more straightforward: the simple need to get on with your life.”

– Salman Rushdie

The point I am trying to get across is this: if you can drive fear and hatred out of your heart (and I am not suggesting for a moment that a) this is easy or b) I have cracked it), then when you are squeezed they cannot come out. And if they cannot come out, there is more chance of healing both at a personal and a universal level. But this, too, is an affirmation of healthy boundaries. Because if there is no longer fear and hatred inside you, and you are squeezed (abuse is attempted), and a compassionate response has no discernible good effect, you can walk away with your boundaries intact and your inner life undisturbed. Nor, happily, are you likely to have made the situation worse. We cannot control others or their reactions, after all: only ourselves.

It’s all part of the process, and there are no shortcuts, but each milestone is an enormous liberation, containing enough lightness to propel you to the next. I’ve listened to a few of my favourite gurus today: Dr Wayne Dyer and Jack Kornfield being two of the most influential in the help with shaping my thoughts. Jack Kornfield described his return from years away, meditating and practising as a Buddhist monk. His mind was trained, he was an unflappable spiritual being… Until he came back to the States and discovered that he was really rubbish at relating with his fellow human beings. So his message must be that it’s all well and good understanding what this Practice is, what these lessons are, the path of least suffering, and it’s pretty easy to get a hold of, excel at even, when you are alone in a room, or meditating, or…

But using it in everyday life – there’s the challenge!

 


What next…?

Bertie (a whopping 6 years old) is… well… I guess boisterous is the best word to describe him. A little like Bagpuss (do you remember that kids’ programme?), when Bertie’s awake, the rest of the house is awake. He wakes up hollering, goes to bed hollering and does a fair bit of hollering in between. There’s no volume switch, no brakes. Bertie hurtles, headlong, through life, stopping only when he meets resistance, and even then only if he has to. And his demeanour is almost invariably one of noisy cheerfulness.

But just of late, as so often happens at around this age, he’s pondering the bigger questions. I guess Easter throws this up a little for children – they’ve been talking about it at school – death and resurrection. And it got me thinking about how confusing, and a bit scary, these big questions can be for our smallfolk.

“Can you ask god to give you a new body, when you die, so I can see you again?”

You see, one of his favourite bedtime stories just now is “The Mountains of Tibet” which is a rather surprising choice for one so apparently oblivious to the deeper potentials of his surroundings. “Gumboot’s Chocolatey Day” is far more up his street, you’d think. But the Mountains has obviously struck a chord somewhere. Resurrection at school, reincarnation at home… It’s beautifully written and illustrated, and provokes rumination on all sorts of levels… for an adult at any rate, I’d thought.

After all, his previous command had been far more in keeping with one his age:

“Be a boy. Then you won’t have to lay babies.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m not afraid of death. I don’t want to die, you understand. But I’m not afraid of it. For myself. (My feelings around pain are much more ambiguous…) I have young children, so naturally I have concerns about their well-being were their mummy not around to look out for them. And I see and feel compassion for their fears when they talk about it themselves. I want to tell them not to be afraid. That it’s just a transition. That it’s all part of the design. But I know they’re a little young for all that, and that they’ll have to work it out for themselves a bit…

“I don’t want you to die, Mummy” said my 8 year-old at breakfast this morning. One introduces a theme, another runs with it…

“I don’t want to die either, darling.” I tried to explain that these days people tend to live a good long time, although we can’t rule out accidents or illness. We can’t know when we’re going to shuffle off. And I tried to tell him that if I did, I hoped he would be thankful for the time we had together, and would show me what a good job I’d done being his mummy by living as full and happy a life as he could. At that he nodded, and smiled again for the first time since the conversation had begun.

But by now I was worrying. I had this terrible vision of a young man slogging his guts out trying to be happy, to prove to his dead mother that he could be, that she had been a ‘good mummy’! ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s a minefield, death, life, happiness, spirituality, purpose… And it’s a sticky wicket when it comes to sharing it, too. I don’t subscribe to the theory that I have the right to tell my children what to believe. I can tell them what I believe, but to my mind they have no obligation at all to feel the same way. What they do believe, they will work out in their own good time. When they are ready and the time is right. They will, most likely, embrace, reject, struggle, and make peace with all kinds of channels of thought.

And that, as it is for the rest of us, is simply their journey.


Eureka… ! (Phew)

I just had an epiphany. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been in a shocking grump since yesterday evening.

Yesterday morning, the sun was shining for the first time in what feels like forever. I was beginning to think we had moved to Narnia – the land of interminable winter. But the sun didn’t so much stream as positively gush through the window and I stretched into it and felt instantly energised. I was positive, buzzing, happy… But by the evening, the grump of the previous day had returned.

I can list my grievances: the cold is back, it is snowing again, I have two very poorly people at home and feel rather run ragged, I’m tired (when my alarm went off this morning, I was more asleep than I have been in an age). And on a bigger scale, my family situation is more screwed up than any I have heard of, other than in books giving extreme examples of how wrong families can go…

So, I was hanging out the laundry this morning, with that catalogue of disaster running through my head. On loop. Again and again and again. And above it all I clearly remember these two sentences registering:

“I feel like I’m on a fucking rollercoaster. I hate it.”

“So get off. “

Now I read and listen to people I admire and respect speaking about the power of thought all. the. time. And intellectually I get it. I totally understand that your thoughts can change your life. That what you think is what you become. After all, the man in my life had begun to cower in a corner as I quite literally became my grump. My head was aching, my brow knit, my shoulders slumped.

But I’m not kidding – when I heard those words (which I guess I thought to myself anyway, huh?) “So get off.” it was as though a lightbulb had switched on over my head.

I got off.

The headache lifted that instant.

I straightened up, smiled. It had gone.

I remember reading both Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie talking about moments of total turnaround. I suspect theirs were much more profound and life-altering, and permanent. I’m not claiming for an instant to have cracked it.

But for today, at least, my world has changed.

And isn’t today all we have?


A Light in the Darkness

Destiny

I saw this text the other day and it struck a chord.

And got me thinking.

I’m not a believer in ‘fate’ as such, in its simpler definition. I don’t believe that on a certain day at a certain time you are destined to meet a certain person. Nothing quite as prescribed as that.

But I do believe that we are all here with something specific to learn in our ever-onward quest to be the best we can be, heading toward that ever-elusive enlightenment, following our path. And each of us is born into this life with specific challenges to overcome and learn before we can take the next step, climb the next ladder-rung. But I should make even that a little clearer. It’s all about energies, really. You’ll be born into a particular type of family, with a particular type of energy, in order to figure it out. And in not figuring it out, you’ll carry it with you into the world, where you will attract more people and situations who will challenge you to figure it out. And in avoiding those people and situations, you’ll encounter yet more who will challenge you to figure it out. Keep avoiding, keep encountering.

Until you figure it out.

And it isn’t going to be easy. In fact, shining that light into that dusty old corner will probably be one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do, because you will find your own ego there, staring back at you, and you will have to face it, and then let it go.

But however hard it is, it is made all the harder in the avoiding.

Fear, too, has been pottering around my mind the last few weeks. The way it prevents us from taking the next step, following our hearts, evolving as human beings, as souls. And, of course, the two go hand in hand. There are, I believe, two types of fear that stop us taking the action we need for our souls to evolve. The first is the human fear: what will everyone else think? And the moment you stop caring what everyone else thinks is the moment you are released from that fear. The second is the soul fear of what we will find in the dark that stops us shining the light in there. But if we don’t shine that light, then we simply continue to live in fear. And only the development of faith in the process, and then taking its leap, will drive outย that fear.

So, to live without fear, your light must be shone.

First inwards, where you can face yourself, and then outwards, for the world to see.


Keep going…

I heard this today:

The person who is really on the way, falling upon hard times in the world, will not as a consequence turn to those friends who offer them refuge and comfort and encourage their old self to survive. Rather, they will seek out someone who faithfully and inexorably helps them to risk themselves, so that they may endure the difficulty and pass courageously through it. Only to the extent that a person exposes themselves over and over again to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found within them. In this daring lies dignity and the spirit of true awakening.

Karlfried von Durckheim

Food for thought.

If, like me, you subscribe to the understanding that 1) everything is as it should be and 2) everything happens for a reason, then it follows that, if you are going through hell, the fires of the forge will leave a new, purified you upon your emerging.

In the simplest of terms, adversity teaches you who you are.

I have long loved the maxim:

If you are going through hell, keep going.

Don’t turn back and decide it wasn’t for you; you’d rather sit and stagnate where you were. Don’t berate the universe for your terrible lot. Don’t run for the cover of old, tired, fruitless patterns of behaviour.

Remember this: Nothing is permanent. Everything changes. Life is a journey, with all the requisite bumps in the road: sometimes it takes you through the roughest part of town, and sometimes through breathtaking scenery. Joy and sorrow each have their part to play.

So, if you’re going through hell. Keep going. Don’t lose sight of your true self. Don’t sacrifice your integrity. Stay focused, don’t attach to the story, believe in yourself, believe in the bigger picture. Hold onto love, don’t give in to hate.

And one day, basking in the light at the end of that tunnel, a little older, a little wiser, the sorrows assimilated, the joys welcomed, you’ll look in the mirror and recognise the you that has always been.

And head off into the next unknown.

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A few more thoughts on forgiveness.

Today, I have been listening to the dulcet tones of Jack Kornfield. He has the most soothing and calming voice, which helps a lot, but it is the content of his talks that is the most enlightening. For anyone who hasn’t heard of him, he is the author of such excellent books as “A Path with Heart” and runs the Spirit Rock Meditation Centre in California.

I was pottering about my kitchen, everyone else in the family occupied, listening to his guided meditations. Possibly not the best way of meditating, but better than not at all, to my mind anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

And, in his inimitable fashion, he fed me some gentle food for thought.

The way it works for me is this:
I’m washing up, listening, drifting away, my mind snags on something. I stop what I’m doing and focus better. This is what snagged me:

“Stand up for yourself.
Tell the Truth.
It will be okay”

Which was just what I needed to hear at that moment. (Another fabulous way this universe works).

But he went on to do a lovingkindness meditation, which led me down the forgiveness route again.

I often write about the same theme many times. Sometimes I worry about that. About repeating myself. But here’s the thing:
These themes are things that we, as human beings, can struggle with our entire lives. I can’t write about it once and just ‘get it’, like flicking a light switch. It is tidal. The tide comes in and you have it. It ebbs away again and you struggle to hold onto it . But the difference here is that it never goes out quite as far as it did the first time, and eventually, instead of a turbulent and stormy ocean, you find the water has stopped at the shoreline, and you have a still, peaceful lake.

You have it.

So, forgiveness.

Forgiveness is vital to the healing process.

But it isn’t a sticking plaster. You can’t paper over the hurt with it. You can’t force it, even. And this is important.

You cannot force yourself to forgive.

It is a process.

And there are many stages to this process, not dissimilar to the stages of grief. For those unfamiliar with the five stages of grief, the Kubler-Ross model is this:
1) Denial
2) Anger
3) Bargaining
4) Depression
5) Acceptance

And anybody who has been badly hurt will experience most if not all of these stages. My understanding of it, though, is that it is not until you get to the Acceptance stage of the process that you are able to forgive; it is not until you have worked through it all, and truly understood and assimilated, that you are able to let go.

I have said before that we have this perception that forgiveness lets your aggressor ‘off the hook’. In fact, the person being let off the hook is you. You no longer have to dwell in that world of holding on with hate, of clinging desperately to your injustices., of being locked into a cycle of vicim consciousness, which is disempowering to say the least. You are free to move on, unshackled from the ball and chain you’ve been dragging behind you for too long, empowered and in charge of your own life, responsible for your own happiness, no longer at the mercy of someone else’s responsibility for your unhappiness. From victim to conqueror!

Many victims of abuse become angry at the suggestion that they must forgive in order to move on. It has often taken such an enormous effort of will to stand up for themselves in the first place, that they fear that forgiving will set them back into a vulnerable position, that they will have to go through this all over again. And at that stage you are not ready. Your anger fortifies you, stiffens your resolve not to allow such things to happen to you again. It is natural, healthy and in the order of things that you feel it. But it is not a place you can live healthily in forever. The time has to come when you have strengthened yourself enough there to shed the anger and move on with your life, the lesson learned, the boundary strengthened, your happiness lying ahead, and not behind.

Anger, hatred, all those negative emotions are a chain around your heart. They may be protecting it from past (or present) abuse, but they are also preventing you from letting love in, from future happiness, from freedom.

So, when the time is right – and only when the time is right – cut the chain and let your heart fly free.

You cannot lose.

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