Two very profound things have happened this week, both related directly to abandonment--it's effects as well as the hope for healing. Some new insights have come forward for me which I believe to be very profound, and think they may be profound for others too.
This week, a very dear friend of mine and I spoke after 12 and one-half years of being apart. The fault for this is entirely mine. I had done something which I felt was so unforgiveable that I chose to disappear rather than stay and face the situation and the inherent hurt involved. And, as many of you might be able to well believe, after 12 and one-half years, I can no longer remember what I did that at the time, I judged to be so unforgiveable. Because of this, I chose to cut myself off from one of the loveliest people on this planet. For 12 and one-half years (and, yes, I am repeating this on purpose because I know that each moment of those 12 and one-years without the gift of her in my life is significant--it's a precious, precious loss.), I denied myself the gift of her presence in my life because the pain that I was going through at the time, the fear of being unforgiven and thus abandoned by someone I loved so dearly, was too much for me to handle. Instead, I chose to turn my back on her, and move through this life without Barbara's wit, humor, intelligence, compassion, incredible integrity, and support. How in the world could I have done that, both to me and to her? And the only thing I can say in my defense is that I didn't understand 12 and one-half years ago that I had abandoned myself so very long ago, and because of that, my coping mechanism, in the face of overwhelming emotional hurt has been to flee. Not surprisingly now, it has been something of a pattern for me. Truthfully, I only began to understand this last night, and wouldn't be writing this today if it weren't for the second profound thing that happened to me this week.
A friend of mine who has been so instrumental in my healing over the last year and a half, and someone whom I have come to love very dearly is moving out of the country on Monday. While I have known this for a while, the immediacy of it came as a surprise this Thursday. I am feeling his loss so very deeply right now. Following a very sleepless night, this triggered in me yesterday a flood, although flood is perhaps too insignificant a word to describe yesterday--a tidal wave? and avalance?, of feeling betrayed, desolate, abandoned, and alone. I felt, quite literally, as though I had no place in this world. I thought about moving halfway around the world and starting all over again--another country, another job, another life. These feelings are so familiar to me; I have felt them over and over again as this recurring pattern has played out in my life.
After he told me on Thursday night that he was leaving the country on Monday, I sat in my Jeep, unable to think about beginning to drive home, and asked God, "What do I do now?" And the same answer that has been coming back to me for the last two months came again that night, "Love him." Yesterday, I fought so hard against that. The feelings of hurt--the betrayal, the desolation, the abandonment--were so overwhelming, I could not bring myself to even imagine making the choice to continue to love him. I looked at the world all day yesterday through tear-stained glasses.
He called me last night to check on me, as he knows this transition is hard for me. He kept assuring me that he was not abandoning me, and I kept trying to hear his words. And then he said something very profound after I finished describing what I was feeling. He said, "It's time you had some new coping mechanisms for dealing with these feelings." And after some more discussion, he said the most profound thing of all, "Don't abandon me."
In the moment that he said that, I realized the pattern in my life in the face of overwhelming hurt has been to flee. I abandon others before they have a chance to abandon me, and I do it in numerous ways. You see, and oh, I do hope you do see if you have ever abandoned yourself in the way that I did so many, many years ago, when I made the choice to abandon myself (not that I did it consciously) as such a little girl, I set up the pattern of flight in the face of overwhelming emotional pain. And I have carried it out, time and time again. Sometimes in small ways, and sometimes, as with my friend Barbara, in big ways. And, it is no surprise to me, and shouldn't be to you, that the people in my life that I tend to abandon are women and the people I most fear will abandon me are men. If this doesn't make sense, go back and read my first blog post.
In the middle of my sleepless night, it came to me that my beauty is meaningless without truth. And I desparately needed this truth. It doesn't make me any less sad, but it opens the door for me to truly change my life. I realize now that, in being asked to love my friend in the face of his leaving, I am being asked to stand and fight the fear, to engage and not to flee, to allow space--even if it is just a little bit right now--for there to be a new pattern in my life, a new freedom, a new beauty, a new miraculousness, and a new power in spite of the tears which are still flowing this morning as I type. I am doing what I know is one of the bravest things I have done in my life: I am choosing to love my friend and not abandon him. I am choosing to love myself and not abandon me.
There is a contract with myself on the back of my bedroom door, and I see it every morning and every night when I go to bed. It says, "I am a powerful, passionate, committed, loving woman." And today, I am.