“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” Richard Bach
This is a true tale. It is not heartwarming, earth shattering, exciting or inspiring. In fact, many people find this story shocking, scandalous and sacrilegious. It is my profound experience of the power of forgiveness. (some names have been changed to protect the innocent)
I suggest you take a moment and ask for the presence of mind to suspend judgment and remain in a loving heart space. You will need it if you want to understand my story about the miracle that continues to set me free.
My partner Louis worked as a network and database manager at a medical facility for children. He is a skilled programmer, and he had been building a complex database that would help the center manage the details of the children’s treatment plans and generate reports. He had been working on this for several months, and had finally gotten the system up and ready to run. He was doing a final “save” of the program, overwriting the trial program. At the same time, an electrical contractor had come to the facility to perform some type of work. He wanted to shut the power down, but he was asked to wait until the program was saved. The secretary called down to ask my husband how long it would be. He told her it would take about a half an hour. Thirty minutes later, she told the electrician to go ahead and shut the power down. It was too soon, the program was not saved, it became corrupted and destroyed months of my husband’s hard work.
He was furious!!!!
For weeks, all I heard was complaints about Brenda. He hated her, thought she was the stupidest person on the planet, wished horrible things on her – every day he had a story about her. It made me sad that he was so angry with her. She was a sweet and beautiful girl. I liked her quite a bit, and I felt bad for her because I knew how mean he could be if he was mad. I don’t know why, but I talked to him one day and I asked him to please forgive her. I don’t remember what I said, but for some reason, he listened to me.
It wasn’t long before he started telling me about their developing friendship, and I was glad. I felt proud of myself for helping him change his mind about a woman that he had just recently wished was dead. Soon they started eating lunch together every day, and when I baked cookies or something special I would send some in his lunch for her.
One night he and I were talking in bed. He said, “Poor Brenda, she is having such a hard time, I wish she could move in here.” I looked at him like he was crazy and I asked him where she would sleep. He patted his side of the bed and said, “Right here.”
I felt like I had been kicked by a horse!!
I was stunned!! My world spun into a deep abyss, just like it did when my sister died. I wanted to leave, to run away, to just not be here anymore. How could I escape the terror that struck my heart?
My heart was broken. For months we argued about it. I was dead set against it and he insisted. He said he loved her and that was killing me. It was as if all of my conflicting thoughts and philosophies had been energized by the level of fear I was experiencing. I felt betrayed, even though, conceptually, I didn’t believe in betrayal. I believed that we are not separate individuals and that it was natural for us to love each other equally. It was an amazing and confusing state, constantly arguing with myself about what it was I really thought was true. If you ever wonder what you really believe is true, ask yourself an impossible question and see how you feel. “What if my husband falls in love with another woman?” is not a question I wanted to entertain.
The concept was terrifying, but why?
I had just started studying A Course in Miracles, and I knew without a doubt that it was true. (As when I was a young girl arguing why the Catholic church was the only true Christianity, or why my teacher was right, I still retained my zealous defense of the thought system I believed in.) I knew that I was wrong to be upset, I knew that it was wrong to deny love, I knew it was none of my business who he loved because I believed that it was not natural for humans to be monogamous. When I was younger I was greatly inspired by the book “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert A. Heinlein. Many of my friends became my “Water Brother” and I dreamed of a utopian life where everybody loved each other equally, wholly, and completely. I had these open minded and loving beliefs, and yet I was going insane from jealousy. I was drowning in terror.
Every waking moment I wanted to die.
Looking back, I see that my reaction was greatly influenced by thoughts that I had learned from the world. I had not chosen to believe through my own reasoning, I had not asked why they were valid. I thought that what the world was telling me was real and important was actually MY OWN belief about what was real and important. I had questioned so much of my thinking about things that really didn’t affect me, or that were easy and politically correct for me to question. In a conceptual way I had agreed that people should be free to love whomever they find to love. If it had been someone else I would have consoled them and helped them to question their thoughts about it. But this was my life, my partner, my love. My heart was broken. How could I live with that?
I didn’t give myself any good advice. I never questioned my belief in the sanctity of my relationship with him. I never imagined that he was looking to someone else for relationship, that he wanted or needed more than I was giving him, or whatever other crap I was telling myself. Believe me, I was telling myself every story I could think of, the more painful, the better. I wallowed in grief, I had every reason to be heartbroken, and on and on it went. As I continued to read and try to practice the workbook lessons of ACIM, I was getting daily, practical lessons in giving up judgment and practicing forgiveness.
Forgiveness seemed impossible to understand when I was so angry. I was not aware that I had a choice about this that didn’t involve sacrifice on my part. I didn’t see how giving up my claim to victimhood would result in justice for something that was so obviously wrong.
I didn’t see that so many of my ideas of what was right and wrong were just ideas. I couldn’t see how my beliefs were all based on an idea of a world in which love is special and there are some with whom you share special love some with whom you do not. The belief that giving love to some diminished the amount of love you have available, is a belief that love is so limited that it has to be guarded and protected through whatever means is necessary. Every book or movie I ever saw affirmed that to me. You had to fight for your man, true love conquered all, eventually the pirate returns as her true love and they lived happily ever after. None of them said your husband of over 30 years would fall in love with another woman and the woman your husband is in love with will move in to become a second wife.
Normal people just don’t do that.
Sometimes I was beyond myself in fear and grief. I was having other problems too, I was under a lot of stress from my job and my life seemed to be crumbling. I called out to a stranger for advice. Even though I was new to A Course in Miracles, I had joined two Yahoo groups, The Disappearance of the Universe and The Peace of God. David Fishman ran the Peace of God site and he had put his phone number on the page. I called him up. I told him my situation and I waited for the sympathy to pour out. Instead, he asked me one simple question,
“Have you asked the Holy Spirit about this?”
I was stunned – a light came on – I had not asked the Holy Spirit for anything but to make it go away. Just like when my step dad was dying and I was saying hundreds of rosaries, night and day, I was begging God to make it go away. I was never asking to see what it was for. I never thought that the things that happened to me in my life were purposive and exactly reflected the lessons I need to learn. I had learned concepts and I tried to use them to explain things, but I never thought they were actually explaining something to me. The hidden fears and guilt in my mind were being displayed in living color, but I saw it as an attack on my being.
I didn’t understand the lesson I was being shown, and I was suffering because of that.
Upon reflection later, I realized that I had asked before to be shown the errors in my thinking, and when a perfect school and mirror showed up, I fell apart.
Recognize what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something “outrageous,” do it because it does not matter. 2 Refuse, and your opposition establishes that it does matter to you. 3 It is only you, therefore, who have made the request outrageous, and every request of a brother is for you. 4 Why would you insist in denying him? 5 For to do so is to deny yourself and impoverish both. 6 He is asking for salvation, as you are. 7 Poverty is of the ego, and never of God. 8 No “outrageous” requests can be made of one who recognizes what is valuable and wants to accept nothing else. (T-12.III.4.)
I realized that to Louis and Brenda, to be together was a form of salvation. If I believed this Course was true, why did I insist on believing that anything was more important than to be giving them salvation? I had taken the Bodhisattva Oath at an early age, Jesus Himself had asked me to help Him save the world and I had said yes. I never knew how I would do that, but now I was being given a chance to do just that, to save the world. How could I refuse?
At the time I thought I was being some kind of a hero. I thought it was a sacrifice that I was giving up something in order to make him happy. All the while I was getting to know her, getting to know her family, to see if we could get along. It turned out that we did got along really well. As we became friends, I began to see that it might not be such a bad idea after all. Eventually I said yes. Thus began a crazy experiment in life, could I do what I believed was the right thing, even 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?
There were many twists and turns that eventually led to the restoration of my peace, follow this blog for rest of this story………