Friday, August 3, 2007

What's in it for me?

When I first got my life back May 21, 2003, thoughts of Conrad infused my thinking -- but I didn't want to think about him! So, I named him, 'he who cannot be named', and kept banishing him from my thinking.

In "Protecting the Gift" Gavin de Becker writes, "the only way to banish a thought is to consider it." For me, the only way I could actually banish thinking about Conrad was to ask myself, "what's in it for me to keep thinking about someone who tried to kill me?" In the answer to that question lay the freedom of thinking about him without the emotional triggers that threatened to overwhelm me in the tsunami of grief that erupted with my release from the living hell of that relationship.

It is hard, if not downright terrifying, some days to consider thoughts from the perspective of, 'what if it's true?', or 'what do I want?' or even, 'what's in it for me?' So often, the voice of self-rationalization speaks up in justification before I even get a chance to search my mind for the deeper questions and their answers.

Recently I had contact from a cyberfriend who, in the first heady days of freedom, shared a vital and significant part of my journey. Her email was a welcome gift and one I cherish. Our friendship had ended one day a couple of years ago when I felt maligned and she felt confused about what was going on. There was a third party involved. Someone we both believed to have the 'better' good of everyone involved at the heart of all her words and actions. In that disturbing incident the one question neither of us asked was the one that could have saved us lots of pain and embarrassment over the years.

"Could she be lying?"

As human beings, we want to avoid the possibility that someone could be actually, purposefully, knowingly lying to us. Even after the debacles of our relationships, we still struggled with asking the tough question -- could she be lying?

In the incident the third party manipulated all of us so that all we could hear and see was her 'truth' about what was going on. In her version of the truth, I was an evil cyber-predator on the hunt for people's souls, looking to steal their stories for my own nefarious publishing purpose. To my friend, she stood up as the Joan of Arc de Cyberville. Her sword was mighty, her voice was strong. "I can rid our village of this evil perpetrator. Let me tell you what we must do!" And so I was voted off the island.

At the time, as the debris settled upon my monitor, and just the message, "This is a member's only site" flickered back at me with its shaming reality of exclusion from the fold, I sat at my keyboard, tears running down my cheeks, the pain of betrayal running through my veins. How could a group of people with whom I've spent countless hours, who've read my posts of healing for over two years, think I would do such a thing?

It was easy. It was hard. In my confusion and hurt I didn't see that at the center of the conflagration that was my exile from the group, was a person whose intent was different than mine, different than the managers of that site, different than the other members. That individuals intent was not to unite everyone under a banner of healing. It was to divide and conquer. To hide her intent, she had to pose under the guise of being concerned for the greater good. In ousting a member like me, she then had the opportunity to later invite me to the site she created in the weeks to come.

That was then. This is now. The friend whom I cherished had the grace to contact me and we've reconnected and can laugh at the antics back then that caused a disruption in our friendship -- but like true friends, even those born in cyberspace, time is not the issue, being real, being honest, being forgiving, being loving and being willing to accept our mistakes and staying committed to integrity at all times, makes the difference between a friend lost somewhere out there in the ether-zone or one who lives in my heart forever and a day. She's an in my heart kind of friend.

Gifts come in many disguises. Truth is, there were many gifts in my banishment. In the case of that incident, the gift came in giving me the time and space to focus on me, not on avoiding that which I needed to do. It was as a result of that exile from Cyberville that I got down to business and completed, The Dandelion Spirit.

When I was banished I had to ask myself the question, "So, Louise. You live in the 3-D world and yet, a one dimensional cyber slur seems to be consuming a great deal of your mind. What's really going on?"

Tough question, 'what's really going on?'

Self-rationalization takes up a lot of the space I'd otherwise devote to getting clear. In answering, 'what's really going on', however, I give myself the gift of stepping away from my excuses into my reality. What was going on for me was, I needed the adoration I received from a group of cyber-friends. I needed the feeling of being wanted, needed, part of a group of people with common goals, who shared a common experience and were looking for common answers to their problems.

And perhaps, that was where the greatest healing came. Our answers to having been abused are not of the common variety type that say, 'Yeah, he hit me. I wanted to hit him back but I didn't. That makes me the better person." There is no 'betterment' in someone hitting and not hitting back. The growth comes in having the courage to take yourself out of the line of fire, to do what it takes to create a world free of abuse, a world of safety, a world where you are free to become all that you are meant to be. A world in which you live everyday with the joyful knowledge that you are free to fly, or simply coast, or step cautiously -- the choice is yours.

When I was in an abusive relationship I couldn't think about 'getting free'. Because I couldn't think of it, the thoughts lingered continuously at the edge of my consciousness. To quiet them, I had to turn my back on the possibility and delve deeper into his disorderly conduct. Not acknowledging the possibility of freedom, kept me stuck in believing I didn't have the option to get free.

Once freed, to quit thinking of him, I had to face my fear of thinking about him. I had to get tough with my reality and my thinking. I had to become disciplined in my approach to every moment without him so that I could turn up for me, in all my beauty, warts and all, and claim my right to not have him in my life. To banish him from my thinking, I had to face the truth of what had happened to me, and what I had done to hold myself in that place of horror.

The answer to the question, "what's in it for me to keep thinking about someone who tried to kill me?" is, "Nothing".

There was nothing to be gained from continually thinking about him. To keep replaying the tape of that affair over and over in my mind. There was nothing healing, loving, caring, supportive nor nurturing in thoughts of him. In the nothing that I gained by doing it, I was giving myself something -- and that something was a reason to stay stuck on pain.

My commitment in freedom was to live my beautiful life passionately and fearlessly. To be real with myself, to be truthful and loving in everything I did and said. In holding myself pinioned to the thoughts of him who could not be named, I hoisted myself upon the petard of my self-destruction.

To stop the pain, I had to stop my self-defeating game of blaming, shaming and denigrating myself. I could only do that if I faced my fear that kept rumbling through my mind every moment of every day -- "What if I deserved everything Conrad gave me? What if I really was the evil person he said I was?"

Just like when I was banished from Cyberville, I had to face myself in the mirror and ask, "Am I who they say I am or am I willing to stand up for me and be counted for who I am when I step free of other people's intentions running rough shod in my life? Am I willing to turn up for me and speak my truth without fear of the outcome? Am I willing to strive to be my higher self, to live by my principles and not buy into someone else's opinion of me?"

The answer is, YES.

Here's wishing you a liberating day flying free of other people's opinions of who you ought to be!

1 comment:

CZBZ said...

Joan of Arc?? O dear Louise! Though it may have taken months of agonizing self-reflection to shatter irrational fears about Imagined Enemies, the Sword MUST, at some point, Be Laid To Rest.

When we dare stand buck-naked in a courtroom of accusers, we have finally restored our dignity and our courage.

The cliche is true: 'There is nothing to fear but fear itself.'

Whelp...that's not exactly true if we're in love with a sociopath, now is it? But we must become very clear with ourselves and STOP projecting threats where there are none. Otherwise---we end up destroying ourselves.

Much love,