This was a crazy experiment in life. Did I do the right thing? Would I ever be happy when my heart was breaking every day? Could I overcome my fears and insecurities? Could I live with the jealousy that was destroying my peace? – Here is part 2 of our story.
Eventually Brenda did move in with us. She slept in our bed. At first it was quite awkward. I felt like I was drowning much of the time, and I cried a lot. I still thought about suicide frequently and I eventually told my doctor who prescribed Zoloft and Elavil. I didn’t tell her what the problem was, but I had begun to have panic attacks and I just wanted to not exist anymore. I was terrified. My imagination was insane and it came up with stories that tore me apart. I imagined them cuddling and making love in the morning after I had left for work and my day was ruined. I imagined that when they were at work together they were finding ways to get together, just like I imagined they did before she moved in. I imagined so many things that sometimes I was completely insane and almost unable to think. If not for the teachings of the Course, I would have completely lost it. But my mind was set on Awakening from the dream of separation. Intellectually I knew that this was a gift and a lesson.
I used everything as much as I could to look at my insane thoughts and beliefs, and it began to work. I began to see the power of forgiveness and trusted it could heal my mind.
I had a lot to learn about forgiveness, and now I was in a real emotional pressure cooker. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I was confident that there was a purpose that I did not understand. This was not the first time I did something insane because I felt guided to do so by some unseen benevolent force. My long time relationship with Jesus gave me confidence that all would be perfect. My ego told me that it was going to be hard and that I was going to be mistreated. Many times I listened to that voice and it made me miserable. Until I understood why I wanted to be miserable, I nursed my wounded heart with a poison tonic.
“Healing is accomplished the instant the sufferer no longer sees any value in pain. 2 Who would choose suffering unless he thought it brought him something, and something of value to him? 3 He must think it is a small price to pay for something of greater worth. 4 For sickness is an election; a decision. 5 It is the choice of weakness, in the mistaken conviction that it is strength”. – ACIM Manual for Teachers M-5.I.1.
By realizing that I really do have a choice, always, to see through the eyes of a forgiven mind, I began to recognize the opportunities I had to give up the value I perceived in the world and its rules. I saw very clearly that everything I had ever believed was a rule or a boundary on truth was something I made up, a story in my mind, and that I do not need to suffer because of an idea I hold in my mind as true. Of course, now things are much different than they were that Spring over thirteen years ago. We went through a lot of crap together, and much of it was not pretty. In case you don’t know me, I have a volatile temper. My parents called it Irish, my astrologer says it is a conjunct Mars and Venus in Aries. I can turn murderous in a flash, and when I do, look out!! She was almost always sweet and sorry, and I couldn’t be mad at her for long. She was so kind and forgiving of my every upset. It drove me crazy!!! I begged the Holy Spirit to help me get over it and to move on.
It was a lesson in forgiveness, to give my brothers the freedom to love each other and me in whatever way it came to them to do so. That I decided not to restrict love and set it free. At the time it seemed like a bargain made to set me free. I didn’t do it willingly, I really didn’t want to do it at all. But I felt I had no choice. How could I deny love a place? I imagined something would happen from this, but I could not imagine what it would be. Thank God for my curious nature and my absolute (albeit it wrong minded) faith that if I do what God asks, then I will be rewarded. Every time I thought that should just kill myself, I reminded myself that the goal is salvation and that I had a lot in my hands as a savior of the world. Yes, I realize how silly that reasoning seems now, but at the time, this is how I was able to do something that seemed very outrageous. I believed that I could accept something painful without resistance and, in exchange, I would eventually see the Truth.
We worked together to do many things. I helped her go back to school to get two degrees, graduating with honors. She helped me through a devastating accident, two surgeries to repair a broken knee and several surgeries to repair a detached retina. The retina failed and I lost total vision in that eye. She stood with me and nursed me through it all. I don’t know what I would have done without her. Through ups and downs, we are still together, more open, more loving, and freer. Every day I am presented with many opportunities to look at my thoughts.
Every day I have the opportunity to join with a brother in love and we continue to set each other free.
This is a powerful lesson in forgiveness that started with a real grievance, a story of anger and revenge because Brenda made a mistake. Louis may eventually have considered giving up the grievance without my encouragement, I can never know. What I do know is something that I have long known. Whenever someone opens their heart to another in an effort to open true communication, and the other is open to accept the communication and forgive the grievance, the only possible result is love. It is human nature for us to love one another. Grievances prevent us from acting out of our true nature of Love, that is why they hurt us. The pain can be masked and hidden by projecting it out into the world, but that only adds more pain into the world. Louis chose to forgive Brenda, he opened his heart to her. Her choice to respond with an open heart opened a channel of communication that had been impossible. Because both of them were open to a new possibility, a relationship grew. It may be that for them, the only way that relationship could express was through intimacy. What other form of expression could they imagine? It makes sense, but that is a guess and a story on my part too. How can I really know how or why this relationship expressed the way it did? All I know is that my guidance was to let them be as they were and not restrict them by my own judgment and determination of how that love should be expressed.
I decided to let them be free, and to free myself from the rules of the world that had been made up to protect the ego’s brand of love. To say the least, this was not easy. Most days I felt like Lucy Ricardo frantically trying to control a process she had no skills to manage. Sometimes I was so angry and hurt, I wanted to die and I prayed for a way to keep this misery from killing me. Other times I was so happy and joyful about the ways my life had changed. I truly did love Brenda and I was so happy to have a friend who was playful and fun to be around.
It was a daily struggle for my conflicted mind. Just watching the two of them working on something together, being playful, laughing and joking made me want to die. I felt left out, and yet it was my own decision not to join and instead to be angry and hurt. Ego told me I deserved to feel bad and I could punish them through my anger. That only hurt me. They were having fun and I was not because I had two minds telling me what was right, and they didn’t agree at all. I was having fun by being angry, I was enjoying my victimhood, and I was plotting my revenge. This conflict took a long time and many lessons for me to overcome.
I would like to say I was gracious and loving through the process, but that would not be true.
Recently I asked Brenda about that time. I wondered how she had stayed so positive through it all and she gave me the most surprising answer. She said, “I felt like being around you was magical. You were such an incredible person to me and I loved everything about you. I just wanted to be with your magical being.” That amazed me, and I remembered a time when I too, had known an amazing person who was magical to me. I realized that I would have given that person anything to be able stay with them. The longing to be with that person was beyond love and romance, it was a real spiritual relationship. I had recognized that with Brenda and I felt a great responsibility to help her. As I helped her and joined with her in purpose, a great love began to grow. That love continues to this moment, and I am grateful for her sweet and open heart and her willingness to look at love and life in a different way.
I look at these insane lessons and I am so grateful. The peace and joy I experience today is whole and constant. What I imagined would kill me, what I thought I could not endure, what “no sane woman would ever put up with” became the greatest lesson I could ever have asked for. The thing that was the source of my greatest fear in this world was the thought that I was not lovable. I really did not know what love was. I had built a box that I called love and I defined it with the stories the world told me. I realized that what I called “love” was a trap. Once I went into that box and closed the door, I was not available for anything else. My job became guarding the door and punishing anyone who tried to get out of that box. I escaped, and yet the guard still tries to capture me and lock me back up.
For a short time, when I began to write this story, I became upset and afraid when I remembered the feelings I experienced back then. It was interesting to see how I could begin, again, to believe I was a victim and that I was being mistreated. I began to look for examples of that mistreatment and I found them!! I had about two hours of hell before I came to my senses and saw what I was doing. I was surprised to see how easily I let that happen by remembering stories of the past. I also saw that there was still some resentment in my mind and still a lot of work for me to do to truly forgive this world. As my beloved teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj said “I am not interested in what you have let go of, but what you are still holding onto.” I am so grateful for this mirror to look at my mind. I asked for this healing, and it has been given to me in the form of a relationship. What a gift.
What would I say to the Lyn of 13 years ago, or a year ago, or even of yesterday? She had some limited ideas and seriously wrong minded thinking. Beliefs change moment by moment – they are never true, but being open to examine those beliefs, to question their reality and to seek correction… that is all we can hope for. What happened in the past is not happening now – even if it happened a minute ago or years ago – it is not happening now. The problem about remembering the past is that, unless my mind is healed, every time I bring it up, it hurts me again. I can bring up some perceived injustice from the past, and I can choose to feel like it is happening now, activating the past in the moment and projecting my suffering into the future. “I will never get over this” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – I will not get over it as long as I choose to keep being the victim of the injustice.
Even in my the most chaotic circumstance, I still have a choice about what I want to think. Characters in the dream “do bad things” sometimes – after something terrible has been done to me, I still have a choice about how to see it. If I feel it has hurt me, I can choose to let it stop hurting me anytime I want to. If I want to continue to be hurt by what happened, I can go into endless stories about how it happened, why it happened, who did it to me, how painful it is, I can choose victimization and grief, OR I can choose to let go of the grief and stop bringing it back to my memory.
“Decision cannot be difficult. This is obvious, if you realize that you must already have decided not to be wholly joyous if that is how you feel. Therefore, the first step in the undoing is to recognize that you actively decided wrongly, but can as actively decide otherwise. Be very firm with yourself in this, and keep yourself fully aware that the undoing process, which does not come from you, is nevertheless within you because God placed it there. Your part is merely to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace. Say this to yourself as sincerely as you can, remembering that the Holy Spirit will respond fully to your slightest invitation:
I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace. I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise. I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace. I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him. I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.” (ACIM T-5.VII.6)
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book “God is Free”. Stay tuned for more…….