Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Power of Good-bye

Even the most troublesome patterns change when you love and accept them just the way they are. Guy Hendricks
Every week I contribute to a website for men and women who have had encounters with psychopaths (p), sociopaths (s), or narcissists (n). The site is designed to provide information on these specific personality disorders, and to provide guidance on how to deal with and, as in my case, heal from encounters of the disorderly constructed kind.

Yesterday, I met with a woman on an unrelated issue to discuss a literacy program for the shelter where I work. "You know I wrote an article for," and she named a major Canadian Women's magazine. "I had to use a pseudonym but I needed to tell the story of my relationship with a psychopath."

"No," I replied. "I didn't know."

I don't know what I don't know.

What always amazes me is the serendipity nature of encounters where we discover we have a connection beyond the surface of conversation. When we realize, oh, you've experienced that too.

It was a revelation for me yesterday. Not because she had a story that parallelled mine, but because in hearing her story, and the pain and sorrow she still carries, I realized -- I have an experience and the voice to speak up that can help other's heal.

Now, I 'know' I have these things -- what I don't always accept is my responsibility and my power in sharing what I've learned to create a better, more loving, caring world around me.

Last night, I shared on the other site, a piece I'd written a year after being released from the relationship that set me free to become all I've ever imagined being. I'm still a work in progress. I continue to explore and expand all I'm meant to be. And every day I come across myself hiding out, I turn and embrace the part of me I've been denying and move into the wonder of asking myself, "What's in it for me to.... play small, be fearful, shut up, act out... or the host of self-defeating games I engage in when I'm refusing to see, I am the creator and the destroyer of everything I ever want to be or have in my life.

I have a pattern of playing small. Today, I choose to play it big. To stand tall. Speak up. Embrace all I am and love myself for all I'm worth.

Today, I choose to share with you a piece I wrote five years ago that spoke volumes about the power of one word to heal and strengthen and release me from my pain. It is a piece I'm very proud of -- and I smile as I write that. My lesser self wants me to repeat after it -- "don't be proud."

See, it isn't just an abusive relationship with another that hurts us. It is the abuse we heap upon ourselves when we play small, act out, undermine our higher good with our lesser intentions of not living up to all we are meant to be.

When I turn the tables on my thinking. When I face the truth -- I abuse myself when I act out, I set myself free to love myself, darkness and light, beauty and the beast, yin and yang. I set myself free to create the magnificent life of my dreams.

The Power of Good-bye

As night settled into its soggy wet blanket, the pooch and I went for a walk. The rain beat a sibilant hiss upon the shiny black road, the streetlights glowed iridescently, casting golden orbs of light, punctuating holes into the dark shadows of the night. I was wrapped in the misty blanket of a rainy evening, my skin moistened by the water-laden air, my breath a frosty vapor leading me silently forward. The pooch pranced happily by my side, her tail a constant metronome displaying the tempo of her happiness as we journeyed forth into the dark.

It was a mystical, magical evening. A night for quiet thoughts that drifted through my mind as effortlessly as the raindrops falling one-by-one from the pearl clad branches all around me.

I thought of love found and love lost and moving on. Of new relationships and old. New found love and love that never fulfills its promise of growing old beside me. Of promises made and promises broken. Journeys taken and voyages lost because the voyageur could not see by the light of the moon and lost his way among the stars. And I thought of my brother to whom I had never said good-bye and the P to whom good-bye was just another word for, 'the door is always open until I say so.'

For such a little word, good-bye carries a mighty wallop.

Good-bye can mean, see you in a while, or see you in a year. It can carry us into the night on the hope of tomorrow or it can sweep all hope away as we look back and see there will never be a next time, another day, or a new tomorrow.

For those who have journeyed into the valley of the abuser, good-bye is a word fraught with the fear that once spoken it can never be returned. It lays frozen upon our tongues, our minds numb in the fear it might slide out on a breath of air and change our lives forever. Terrified we might slip, we pack our hopes and dreams into that one little word and stuff our pride and dignity into the cracks of our pain seeping in beneath the door held fast against our fear that he will leave before tomorrow ever dawns. And all the while, we search for the perfect last words that will either make it all right or make him hear us, just this once, before he slithers off into the dark from whence he came.

And as we flounder in the depths of empty words and promises, we pray that there will never be a time to say good-bye but rather, welcome back, I’ve missed you. Spiraling into the darkness of the painfully long good-bye they began when they said, hello, we silently hold onto the word that will set us free and stumble through the words of begging them to please not say it.

But in the land of lies, the door we thought we held so firmly closed is always open, no matter how hard we push against it. Eventually, when we have worn ourselves out upon the welcome mat of our desire to be all they will ever need, we must face the reality that we will never have the chance to say our fond farewells. They have already left. Gone in search of new tomorrows. Of some other happily ever after which we never saw coming.

In their passing, we are left holding the shreds of our battered hearts in the basket of our dreams, frozen in time. Alone, forlorn, we whisper, good-bye, into the empty space that lays before us, hoping they will hear the soft promise of our hopes they will find out there, that which they could never find in us. We peer into the darkness of the lengthening shadows, our tears puddling around our feet, forming a river into which we fall, in fear of drowning as we cry out for one last chance to say good-bye.

Good-bye. It’s such a little word but it keeps us stuck on the dream of wanting them back so that we can have the last word that will close forever the door to our hearts they so easily open.
In the end, the best good-bye is the quiet hello we whisper within our hearts as we pick at the scab of our wounds that never seem to heal as long as they keep walking through the door to our dreams. Good-bye lies. Hello truth. Welcome back to me.

In our good-byes that are never spoken we will never find the key that will unlock the secret door to their understanding. It resides somewhere in the dark, beyond the edges of the light. But, beneath the scabby, jagged-edge scar of our disbelief, new skin is forming with our welcome home. If we leave it alone long enough to heal from the inside out, we will understand that he could never hear our good-bye. He could never cherish our hearts because he was always and forever, a figment of our imaginations. He was never true.

In our awakening to the light of a new tomorrow without him we discover, it was only the darkness of being without him we feared. And without him, we have nothing to fear.

In seeing the gift of his departure in the light of a new day dawning, we lift our heads and see, the sun is shining. As it beckons, we step into the light of finally knowing, the only way to say good- bye to what never was, is to accept it never will be.



Maureen said...

I am reminded of Ernest Hemingway's words, "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

How wonderful that you could find your strength in your most broken place.

Anonymous said...

"He could never cherish our hearts because he was always and forever, a figment of our imaginations. He was never true."

These words are so true, but so hard to swallow for a long time.