Consider The Possibilities

When he came out of hypnosis, he was clear about the ‘message’ of the experience and he said that the validation was helpful

Continued from Digging Deep

“Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.” – George Carlin

There was no doubt, none, zip, nada … that the person looking back at me was one in the same as my current day brother Pat. It’s another of those unexplainable ‘knowing’ things that don’t fit any logic or rationale. It doesn’t fit into the paradigm of what we can see, hear, or touch but I knew it as strongly as I know my feet are on the ground… and it was weird, comforting, nonsensical and intuitive all at once. I didn’t want to leave that scene. There was so much solace in that room and I wanted to be there longer, to know more. The hypnotist was bringing me out of a trance, misreading my tears apparently and as I came grew into awareness, I was dumbfounded to realize that he had been traveling with me – through time. It made perfect sense to me now.

Along with the concept of reincarnation is the postulation that we reincarnate within ‘soul families’. Depending on who you read, there are different methods of explaining this and various ideas of what constitutes a ‘family’. The best description I’ve heard is that of a LEAF. I don’t recall who first stated this but its description highlights the basic premise well. As a soul, we are like a leaf on a tree – and on that tree, the leaves on the twig with us are the closest although we are also intimately connected to the other leaves on the branch and of course, the tree in general. We may even have some connection, if only in proximity, to other leaves on the surrounding trees but we can’t possibly be connected to leaves on the other side of the forest…

I believe that Pat is a leaf on my twig. We’ve all had the experience of meeting someone where the connection is immediate and easy. It may be your best friend, your partner, a work colleague, or a school buddy… most of us know the sensation of ‘I feel like I’ve known you forever’ thing. It may be because your soul recognizes that person’s soul… perhaps because you’ve been traveling through time for millenniums.

Dr. Weiss shared stories with us about patients and their discoveries and the book Only Love Is Real describes the most bizarre and amazing experience when he realized that two of his patients were portraying the exact same regression – people who didn’t know each other!!

By week’s end, I was relaxed, in awe, and conversing freely with most anyone who looked my direction. I had ‘woken up’. I don’t know if I should attribute it to the cleaning of my chakra, the consequence of being surrounded by so much love, or a realization that I was wasting my ‘moments’ by not being present. In any regard, I was sitting in a common area on the last night there when Michael and a group of others from our seminar walked in. I got up and went over to their table, asking to join them. I had grown some courage in a weeks’ time, or perhaps just gotten to know them well enough to take down my shield. The conversation moved toward parapsychology and people were sharing stories about mediums and clairvoyants. Michael (the guy I sat next to all week) looked directly at me and said “I’ve been wanting to tell you that you’re going to meet a man soon. There is something about Christmas coming through, so maybe around that time.”  All I wanted to know is if he was going to be tall, so I asked… “tall I hope?” “Tall and blonde” he said.

Hmm… my roommate had just predicted that I would meet someone around the holidays. She wasn’t here anymore – I don’t think they’ve met since she was in a different workshop… was it possible that they were picking up on something? The temptation to give in to the anticipation was overwhelming but there were more exciting, more present things to be excited about and I stayed focused on the work we had been doing all week.

I was one of the few people there who was still a student. I knew I had much more to learn and I was genuinely excited to begin studying counseling; how to help people regardless and potentially those who may be affected by past life experiences. It was time to consider grad schools.

On the way home from the mountain, I wanted to call and tell everyone I knew about how mindbending my week was. It’s a hard discussion, though. In order to discuss the impact of past lives, you have to be open to the idea of have had one – or at least that I did. Even if it isn’t a ‘real thing’, there is a need to be open to the lesson or message – even if it is only from your own voice. I didn’t know many people in that arena. I did call Pat, though… he was on the same page and I knew he would buy into my enthusiasm. I didn’t tell him about my regression, though… I wanted to regress him and find out if he might see or remember the same time. I told him only enough that he was eager to go under.

I made a decision about Grad school too. As chance (?) would have it – I received a phone call on that drive home from one of the schools I had been considering. They sold me hard and I agreed – on that phone call – to go ahead and register. The only problem was that they hadn’t yet received their CACREP accreditation… it was in process they said. There was a slight risk by enrolling in a program that was new but I believed in the details to student success that they were purporting. I would start in just three weeks time.

I felt as if I was on fire. I was excited and charged, eager to practice the skills I acquired during my week on the mountain. I let everyone know that I was ‘open for business’ so to speak; that I was offering regression – free of charge – in exchange for the practice. A few people took me up on it immediately.

One of those people was a man in my family – remaining nameless – who, under regression, found himself in a cave, alone and afraid. He was an Indian who had been sent out on a maturing mission, a rite of passage. He was trapped, though. In a shallow cave being monitored by a mountain lion and he knew that he would never leave that cave alive. He was emotional and recounting the experience as if he was describing a football game… he was detached and yet he summarizing the situation clearly and acutely. When he came out of hypnosis, he was clear about the ‘message’ of the experience and he said that the validation was helpful. Validation for the fact that sometimes in ‘this’ life, he feels alone even though he knows he is not… now he knows where this ‘energy’ belongs and can stop second guessing. He expressed a sense of relief.

It was amazing and I stayed excited, reading everything I could find about reincarnation – especially academic material that had science behind it – if only a little bit. Since Hindu’s believe in reincarnation, much of the academic work centers there and there are more… amazing stories. I encourage anyone with an interest to investigate Dr. Ian Stephenson from the University of Virginia. His entire career was dedicated to paranormal research and is meticulously researched with incredible evidence.

Open yourself up to possibilities!

Digging Deep

I was so startled at this realization that a tear spontaneously formed and released.

Continued from Transcendent Study

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” ~ John Banville

If you’ve never spent a week with people focused purely on love and transcendence, you’ve missed an extraordinary experience. It was easy to wake up and shower in a two-foot square cubicle knowing that my day would be spent in a room full of that amazing energy. I got better at talking to the people sitting in my immediate vicinity but I ate most of my meals alone – only because it was the comfortable thing to do in the absence of someone else specifically encouraging me to join them.

I met a Shaman from Colorado who told me that my Solar Plexus (third) chakra (where confidence and the perception of who you are) was full of dark energy and blocked – basically confirming everything that I had been experiencing in my life regarding self-esteem. I was only vaguely familiar at this point with the chakra system with limited exposure to Eastern philosophies. Even with as much meditation, I had engaged in, I had learned it more as an extension of what I knew of prayer versus true Eastern traditions. How had he seen into my core by merely assessing my body’s energy?

He offered to clean my abdomen of the energy blockage and promised it wouldn’t hurt and so… I let him. I laid flat on the floor fully clothed as he moved his hands softly across my belly in a gesture that implied he was wiping something off and then he started a pulling motion. I have no way to accurately describe what happened next. He was pulling at air – not touching me – but I instantly felt nauseous. Within a moment or two, I wanted to cry and eventually tears flowed freely across my cheekbones and into my ears. I experienced a gagging or choking feeling and wanted to roll over to make it stop but he gently touched my forehead with a comforting stroke to keep me flat. He spoke soft and encouraging words in between others that was I unable to interpret. I have no idea of how much time elapsed while this happened, only that it felt like it was but a moment in one minute but an eternity in the next. I couldn’t stop crying although it wasn’t a balling, or a shoulder shaking cry. It was more like the remnants of that… an ending cry – the kind that comes when you know something is over.

Sometimes it quite difficult to believe in things so mysterious, the things we don’t understand and may not be able to see. And yet, we believe in God. There are people who believed in sub-particle physics long before it was proven and so, I chose to allow for the possibility that this man whom I had never met, could ‘clean’ an energy center in my body that would allow me to ‘flow’ and become more balanced. As the day went by, I distinctly remember how calm I felt. Perhaps it was psychosomatic but it didn’t matter, it was great. I again was intrigued by this new experience and I didn’t want it to end. I felt like such a baby – an infant in my lack of knowledge about these ideologies surrounding me. They were so far out of the mainstream of my Mid-Atlantic suburban existence that I was at a loss of how I would foster more growth. It was a challenge I was excited to embark upon.

We continued to practice our hypnosis training. Dr. Weiss demonstrated a number of induction techniques (getting people into a hypnotic trance) and had us practice them on each other. Hypnosis is simply a state of focused concentration and I find, highly misunderstood. Under hypnosis, you are totally aware – just not judging or questioning. It’s the purest state of ‘observing’ that I know of. And “no” – you will not take all your clothes off if someone directs it, unless of course, that is something that you ‘want’ to do. Your subconscious is still very active and you are still completely – you. If you wouldn’t do it in day to day life – you won’t do it under hypnosis.

It was time to break into small groups and do regressions. This time it was my turn to be regressed…

I came ‘out of the mist’ to see trees – everywhere. There was a river in front of me, actually… I was on the river but standing up high. I realized I was on a ship – I was on the upper deck of a ship on a river with vibrant dark green trees on both sides and I could feel the movement, a slow roll from side to side – very gentle and barely noticeable. I was directed to look down, at my feet and the first thing I became aware of as I glanced down is that I was wearing an open white shirt. It was open to my waist but … wait, I realized I didn’t have breasts… what? There was a lot of chest hair and I was sweating. I could see perspiration running down my skin. I saw my shoes and they were large, black, dirty, and they had buckles – square buckles. I noticed that my pants were short and I looked up again. I could see the ship now, the planks and banisters. The sky was blue with a few clouds and I could see birds – practically everywhere. I could hear their calls. There was a dock, seemingly way down there… people were unloading crates of something and I could see barrels stacked on the edge of the pier. There were a lot of sounds… voices, yelling, but no machine noise. I was asked to identify the year but it wasn’t clear to me.

Then, I was asked to move forward in time and suddenly I found myself in a small room. I could see it as if I was there, looking straight ahead. There was a huge fireplace to my right and I could see sunlight coming in from a window. It felt as if I could move my head and I saw two children sitting on the floor. They were sitting on a round rug – much like the rag rug that had been in my old house; a boy and a girl. The boy was young, maybe five or six and I couldn’t see his face clearly. The girl was older, perhaps eight or so – she had her back to me. I could see that her hair was long, past the center of her back and she had on a small print dress – something you might see in the 1800’s … I could see a taller woman, again her back was to me and she was also wearing a long dress, small print. She was off to my left in what appeared to be another small room although the doorway was large. She was wearing an apron, I could see the bow at her waist. Her head was bent down as if she was cooking, or working with her hands. I knew that this was my family.

The house was warm and I realized that I was in a rocking chair… now I could sense the movement – back and forth – back and forth. I realized that I felt tremendous satisfaction and comfort there. It was peaceful. There was a discrete awareness that this was my home. I believe the children on the floor were mine. The girl turned toward me and I could see her face. It was young but something tugged at me… there was a familiarity there – in her eyes. It only took a second but I knew instantly; without hesitation, I was immediately cognizant that I was looking at the same soul that I know today as my oldest brother.

I was so startled at this realization that a tear spontaneously formed and released.  The profundity of this understanding was instantaneous and resonated intensely and genuinely deep within my being.

 

Such Diffidence

I backed away and threw on my invisibility cloak, walked back to my room and spent my night alone.

Continued from Going to the Mountain

“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are
not.” ~Denis Waitley

The experience seeing one’s self, intrinsically knowing it is ‘you’, but not because you look like what you do in the mirror, but because there is a sense of familiarity that only comes from seeing your reflection, is surreal. There was no doubt in my mind that I was experiencing this vision in the first person. I sensed that the hands I was looking at were mine even though they were smaller and denser than the ones I was used to seeing. I was dark skinned, the color my mother would turn after a summer by the pool, a rich brown color. I was standing in the sand, outside, and the air was warm. I was wearing something rough in fiber but I couldn’t really identify what it was. There were small round buildings in the background with thatched looking roofs. In the distance, I could see a tall, dark-haired man and he was walking toward me. Again, I felt a sense of recognition, a realization that the large hunk walking toward me was my husband, my mate. He didn’t get close enough for me to look in his eyes but I knew that he protected me, that he loved me. I felt it. And then it was over.

In a group, large-scale regression you don’t get much more than short blips before the hypnotherapist is bringing everyone back to current time, to reality. There isn’t an opportunity to investigate the memory, only to experience it. It was the second time I had been regressed and I was absolutely amazed at the explicit cognizance it evoked. The vision in my mind was as genuinely real as the memory of what I had for dinner the night before. And yet, there was a part of me that was skeptical; a small part of my psyche that wondered about its validity. I stayed true to my self-promise that I remain open to all possibilities and allowed the doubting thought to pass by.

Dr. Weiss taught us that it wasn’t necessarily important whether or not our memories related to literal events, but to be open to what the memories were representative of… what insight they offered about our life here, now. Since we simply cannot prove their authenticity – or lack thereof – it is important to contemplate their relevance. I considered the short recollection I experienced and what was most dominant in that memory was how at peace I was. There was an overwhelming sentiment of comfort and of being loved. Why did that matter to me now? I couldn’t help but wonder and it set the stage for the rest of my week-long foray into regression work.

As I allude to in one of my very early posts Sand Castles, I grew up with relatively low self-esteem. It was masked by my need to please and my theatrical character, the one that believed it much safer to be in the world as someone else… pretending to embody the girl detective character Trixie Belden, the teen heroine of my favorite series of books when I was young. It was a huge oxymoron – I put myself ‘out there’ as confident and outgoing but inside my own mind, I was – always – fearful of judgment, of not being accepted, or more concisely… of being rejected. If I was the one to rule the room, then I could determine who I had eye contact with, who I paid attention to and when I should leave, and under what conditions. If I wasn’t ‘in charge’ or the focal point, then it was possible to be diminished or to be rebuked and that was my biggest fear. If I was leading the conversation or presenting, it appeared as if I could command the room but if I was just there – just present – then my preference was to blend in and go unnoticed. In that way, I could observe and find a safety net; perhaps a corner or a like-minded person, or a connection with the person in command. It is the one thing that most people truly don’t understand, believe, or know about me as I’ve spent fifty years now attempting to hide that insecurity. I am a wallflower inside. This feature about me was validated years ago by an Astrologist; my birth (sun) sign is a Leo (describes my ego) but my moon sign is Cancer (how I feel inside) and my rising sign is Libra (how others see me).  If you have any interest or knowledge in Astrology, and you know me – this will make sense.

With this information, it won’t come as a surprise that the minute we were released for lunch, I bolted out of the auditorium for the safety of open space and anonymity. I kept my eyes down and walked quickly whenever people were around although I do always smile and say hello when I occasionally meet someone’s eyes. The family style dining room was daring me to break through my shy – or avoidant – shell. I made my way quietly through the buffet line with Vegan options (way before I even knew what a Vegan was) searching futilely for something fried and greasy as I also quickly scanned the room for the least populated table. I was cornered into eating healthy or starve. And just so I’m clear… if the choice was tofu or starve… I would meditate through the hunger.

People were nice and I am not ignorant or rude, so if someone sat next to me or if someone was already at the table, then I would at least say hello. I, of course, would be happy to answer questions and keep a conversation going but I wasn’t going to be the originator. It just wasn’t in me and as soon as I finished eating, I’d smile, encourage them to enjoy the day, and leave to find a bench in the sun where I could daydream or read. If only they had served wine with meals…

The rest of that first day was Dr. Weiss taking volunteers and demonstrating full blown regressions. We watched two or three experiences that were completely debriefed afterward and I was almost spellbound. It was captivating and immensely interesting and I just wanted to know more and more. One of the volunteers was a guy that had sat next to me all day. I discovered that he was there for the second time, having attended a year ago. He was a therapist with an interest in using regression therapy in his practice. He seemed like a nice guy, tall and attractive, but wearing a gold wedding band. Oh well. After his demonstration, I was anxious to ask him a few questions but as soon as we broke, he was bombarded by other people. I was just one of a dozen who wanted to know more. Instead of standing my ground and listening as the ‘group’ formed, I backed away and threw on my invisibility cloak, walked back to my room and spent my night alone.

I reflected all evening on how absurd it was for me to be there, in the company of so many kindred spirits and not take full advantage of their curiosities and knowledge. I woke up Monday morning – my birthday – resolved to do something about this quirky ‘shyness’ that I was embodying. I began to be annoyed by it. With renewed commitment, I attended breakfast and asked to sit at a full table with only one open seat. “Is this seat taken?” I asked as I pulled out a chair… it seemed that everyone was involved in conversation intently enough that I was barely noticed. Ok, “it’s ok”, I said to myself. I looked up and kept a smile on my face attempting to make eye contact with people close enough in which to spark a conversation but no one else turned or acknowledged my presence. This wasn’t going to be easy.

Going to the Mountain

I listened to his voice, guiding me back into childhood, back through time before I was a child, before I was Leslyn…

Continued from Dating OMG

“No matter how you arrive at the awareness and belief that you’ve lived before and will live again, the most lasting healing benefit will be the change in your attitude.” ~ Lianne Downey

There were so many things during the year after Hubby left that impacted my life… dating was one of them and I will come back to it. Another was the continuation of my interest in reincarnation, and the idea that my life here – in this persona – was intentional for my soul’s growth.

I was extensively intrigued with the work of Dr. Brian Weiss, a Psychiatrist – the Chair of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Florida. He was educated at Columbia and Yale Medical school. Impressive credentials. Dr. Weiss used hypnotherapy in the process of traditional psychotherapy and through the experience of his patients, realized that some of their ‘memories’ were not from any experiences in their current existence.  Upon further evaluation, he explored how deciphering the stories of patients from other lifetimes, could heal their maladies in current time. I remained fascinated and inspired by his client examples. I read every book that he had written to date and developed an evaluated curiosity about my own stories. Essentially, I was obsessed with the idea of past lives.

I remembered past conversations with my brother and my excitement, a deep resonation – that just wouldn’t go away – regarding the concept that our souls were eternal and timeless. In my mind, the idea that we came back again and again in human form so that we could learn how to love unconditionally, to become Christ-like, made perfect sense. I knew that in my own life, so many lessons unfolded that correlated toward loss – I couldn’t help but wonder what this lifetime was destined for… what was I to learn from all the loss, the abandonment? If I thought about my ideas, what I knew about the life of Christ, I knew that he would have loved through the loss, he would have honored that journey, the path of the person that left.

I remember thinking after Rocky died that he was only ‘on loan’ to me… that perhaps we had come together for the sole purpose of creating Francis and then his time was done. Christ was the ultimate champion of ‘letting go’ and my life was constantly being challenged with the need to ‘let go’… could that be my lesson in this lifetime? One afternoon talking about these ideas with my Aunt we considered our belief that ‘everything happens for a reason’. IF, that is true – then THIS MOMENT IN TIME – in its INTENTION – must be perfect… divinely designed. No matter the moment, no matter what is happening … if you believe that everything happens for a reason then – there must be a reason for THIS. It seemed so true. So significantly harmonious with the rest of my esoteric ideologies.

I wanted to know more and discovered that Dr. Weiss was conducting Past Life regression training in New York – close enough for me to drive – and I qualified to go as a Psychology student. It was a week long and so I registered, forked out a thousand dollars, and made arrangements with Hubby for him to have the girls seven days in a row. I drove myself to the Omega center in Rhinebeck, New York in late July, just before my birthday.

I drove up a long road, up in the mountains outside of Poughkeepsie, into a compound of sorts that reminded me of summer camp when I was a girl scout. I had selected a ‘shared’ room in a bunkhouse – one building with four rooms and a bath off of one small hallway – but my roommate hadn’t yet checked in. I picked a bed and unpacked then headed out for a look around.

I may have grown up in the seventies in California but I was more or less the farthest thing from a ‘hippie’ and completely disconnected from the ‘bohemian’ lifestyle. If I am to describe that in my mind and seriously, no disrespect intended here… it is someone eating all organic, potentially vegetarian or vegan, wearing cotton with a focus on naturopathy. I don’t mean to stereotype but to fully describe the environment, completely foreign to my suburban soccer mom identity. No one ever described me as ‘earthy’ and yet – here I was, surrounded by the calm, serene, wholesome, earthiness that was the Omega center, and I felt as though I had stepped into a slice of heaven.

I must be honest and admit that it was the first time I had seen tofu. It looked like a brick of cream cheese and I agreed with myself that I would try it. I grabbed a piece that had been sitting in some kind of gravy and sat down at a large round table with three or four other people that I had never met before. I sat there in my Banana Republic button down blouse, toting my coach purse containing my L’Oréal lipstick. The only thing missing were my Sperry’s but I was wearing my hipster flip flops so at least my feet fit in, well… with the exception of my cherry red toenails. I’m not sure I was the typical Omega visitor and yet, I felt at home, just very afraid of being judged. One bite of the tofu and I knew I was part of the minority. Yuk.

The environment was serene. There were benches, gardens, and pathways every direction you looked and I was anxious to explore. I discovered vegetable gardens galore and learned that they grew much of the food that was served in the dining hall. There were small ponds and fragrant flowers; fruit trees, and yoga spaces. No matter what direction I walked, the aura was peaceful and loving. Within hours I knew I wanted to stay for a long time.

My roommate didn’t speak much English. She wasn’t there for the same workshop as me, apparently, they ran several simultaneously and so our schedules were different. Our agenda was fairly rigid… breakfast before nine – sessions until noon, lunch, and then long afternoon workshops before dinner. My first day – in quintessential fashion – I sat up front, in the first row. There were big pillows and we sat on the floor (hippie’esque) as Dr. Weiss walked across the small stage only ten feet in front of me and began to introduce himself. Of course, there was no need on my account, but there were just over one hundred other people in the room that maybe hadn’t read ‘every’ book he’d written as I had. Indeed, I had listened to his regression CD so often that almost as soon as he began to speak, I relaxed – having already been accustomed to the sound of his voice.

He began by telling us about Catherine, the initiating client that had spontaneously accessed past life memories and introduced him to the world of regression therapy. Even though I had already heard the story through his books, I was enthralled to hear him tell it in person. And then, he did a group regression. That afternoon he had us get comfortable and relax as he proceeded to induce us all into a pleasant and easy state of concentrated focus on our past – going wherever we wanted to go – whatever time might be meaningful to us.

I listened to his voice, guiding me back into childhood, back through time before I was a child, before I was Leslyn, to a time when I was someone else and I saw mountains. They were green and sharp rising against a large lagoon of beautifully blue water that was a deep sapphire color, a place that I seemingly was remembering vividly as if I heard the breeze through palm trees overhead. I was grinding something with a pedestal and mortar and I realized that I was short and round with long black hair. I was remembering another life.

Splitting Delusions

…there was a theme unfolding in the aggregation of my reading material. The Universe was validating these ideas again and again.

Continued from The Longest Day

“I’m not crying because of you; you’re not worth it. I’m crying because my delusion of who you were was shattered by the truth of who you are.” ~ Steve Maraboli

Our bodies are designed to protect us against complete emotional obliteration and when the defense system is activated properly, it resembles my image of a ‘zombie’ – flat affect, disheveled appearance, monotone speech… that was me for a day or two… I would sit and stare, at nothing in particular but into the room sometimes watching the dust particles dance in the sunlight wondering how many of them I was inhaling with each breath; curious to know if the hair in my nostrils really was catching them so that they were not collecting in my lungs. It is intriguing to consider the folly of our thoughts when the reality is too difficult to deliberate upon. I was experiencing my life in its most simplistic possibility, practically floating through the hours as they passed. That was God’s gift to me, a respite from the suffering so that I might recharge my depleted spirit and muster the courage to move forward.

And I did. I wasn’t open to talking to Hubby for a few days. We moved through our home and work life with obvious dissent but kept silent because there was simply nothing more to say. He would ask me to talk but I simply could not. There was nothing left in my vocabulary that hadn’t already been said at some point throughout the years and to vocalize the same sentiment was now superfluous. Apparently, the prior pleadings, arguments, or confrontations had only temporary effect and the components of a happy, respectful, monogamous relationship that were important to me just couldn’t be met in ‘this’ relationship – the one that existed between he and I. It had finally – after so much time, pain, and frustration – dawned on me that we had been fighting for the impossible. Hubby and I were not the dream team. I understood that the man I had married was not the man that I saw in my heart. And that man would never – ever – behave in a way that so decimated my heart or that of our family. I finally grasped that I didn’t know this man but what was clear, is that I didn’t like him or want to be married to him.

I saw an attorney and followed her advice. He refused to leave our home, apparently on the advice of his lawyer and so he ‘moved’ into our finished basement. It took a couple of weeks for that transition to be complete, as even in pain there is often a question of its finality. The interim was awkward and painful because both of us were desperate for some semblance of normality and comfort, but in our house – there was none. We would occasionally ‘slip’ into old habits as I found myself laughing at something he said and for a microsecond, the energy in the room felt familiar and easy but I quickly rejected its lie because I now knew that nothing was ever ‘easy’ with us. There was a consistent whispering in the air, a beckoning, to concede and return to life as I had known it…

We told the girls we were separating; that Daddy was moving to the basement and we were going to ‘take a break’. They each reacted differently and I later discovered that our oldest had been listening to many of the ‘fights’ and so she was relieved. Man, the things we do to our children! We divided our time at home so that the girls had an equal opportunity to be with each of us. When it was his night, I went out and vice versa. I usually waited until after ‘bedtime’ to come home so that his bedtime routine wasn’t interrupted. You know how it is… because he had worked so many nights as they grew up, I was the person who usually did the ‘tucking in’, at least on weeknights.

The girls differed on how they were adjusting to our separation and we attempted to answer their questions honestly while offering only what we believed to be age appropriate. Franky, they didn’t have a need to know the details of our adult relationship so we kept it simple and unilateral; no blame. My attorney had suggested a book ‘Mom’s House, Dad’s House’ by Dr. Isolina Ricci – a book I refer clients to, to this day. Even though Hubby and I didn’t have separate houses yet, it was a great guide of how to help kids navigate the division of parental attention.

On weekends that were ‘his’ – I left. I called in every favor I had ever earned and visited with friends and family. I used their beach houses, their mountain cabins, and spare bedrooms for months on end. I became an expert timeshare sales customer. I think over the course of eighteen months, I utilized free weekends at resorts selling timeshares a dozen different times. You see, if you agree to sit through a timeshare sales pitch, you can spend a weekend – free of charge – at the resort you are considering. I was a champ – proficient and skillful – on how to say “no” regardless of the ‘pitch’ or pressure. I spent weekends in the Pocono’s, the Jersey Shore, the Virginia mountains, and New York City. I was alone on these trips and took advantage of the solitude to look at myself in the mirror, to learn meditation, and to grow in the way that the universe was directing me.

One of the first books I picked up after what I will call ‘discovery day’ was about reincarnation, written by Dr. Brian Weiss, a psychiatrist in Miami who used hypnosis in his practice of helping patients cope with pain. One patient – Catherine – went into a spontaneous regression and began offering information to Dr. Weiss that became, ultimately, life-changing. I encourage you to pick up the book – Many Lives, Many Masters and keep an open mind. This book was just the tip of the iceberg with his stories of people under hypnosis in regression experiencing amazing and profound insight. I was immediately intrigued. Most importantly, most what Dr. Weiss speaks to in his collection of writing echoed many other things that I had recently explored by other authors… it was if there was a theme unfolding in the aggregation of my reading material. The Universe was validating these ideas again and again.

In this book the phrase “our task is to learn, to become God-like through knowledge. We know so little … by knowledge, we approach God, and then we can rest. Then we come back to teach and help others”.

This idea resonated so deeply in my soul that I sensed vibrations moving in unison with the words as I read them. That’s empirically identical to the basis of what I had taken away from The Conversations with God series I’d been reading, no… studying over that last couple of years. I grew to believe with no hesitation that I was experiencing a journey, a spiritual, a soulful quest to be the best possible version of myself.

The weekends that I wasn’t being ‘mom’, I used to learn and I became more and more enthralled, excited really… about the concepts that were forming concretely in my heart. I was going to use this pain – this growth opportunity – to be better… to be the best me. And I wanted to tell the world about it but I was only a suburban housewife who had never finished her education.

I decided to go back to school.

Discovering My Soul

I knew that I could look at each hurt and place it into a perspective of how my soul needed to grow.

Continued from Welcome Back

“I value and honor the way that my suffering brings me to further search and surrender.” ~ Maureen Brady

Thanksgiving was right around the corner and I had promised mom that I would try and get to a place where I was at ease enough with Abee so that we could come together as a family. Twin Emma came with her family to help bridge the crevasse and we got through it. I’m not sure who was pretending more that day Hubby, mom, Abee, or me… I had eagle eyes on them the entire time and knew that my heart raced several times an hour as one of them entered or exited the room and I searched quickly to see where the other was. It was hard to relax but I love Thanksgiving and everything it has always represented so I kept trying and reminded myself constantly to ‘give thanks’ that we were all there, beginning to heal.

My spiritual journey was continuing to evolve as I dove into the hypotheses of what constitutes a ‘soul’. My religious teachings from the Catholic church taught the Blessed Trinity of ‘Father, Son & Holy Ghost’. I had always inferred Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit) to mean our soul – although I’m not sure that’s the direct correlation that religious scholars have in mind.

I started to think about our ‘soul’ in a new way. In Conversations with God – Book 3, the author asks God “what is a Soul” (Chapter 11).

As a side note, I don’t believe it is important to debate whether this author was actually talking to God or not. For me, simply reading and opening myself up to a new understanding of my own spirituality was immensely helpful. Who are any of us to tell this man that he was NOT talking to God?? The truth is – we cannot absolutely know for sure. Consequently, reading and asking questions, being open to thinking more broadly, was extremely valuable.

The idea that one’s Soul is the essence of God, a life force that is immortal and evolving across all time, not only made sense but resonated deeply within my own spirit. Suddenly, my religious teachings made more sense. If I took my human body out of the equation and thought of myself as an ageless entity born of the universe and moving through time with for the sole purpose of learning – everything was clearer. My curiosity became almost insatiable and quite naturally, led me right to the concept of reincarnation.

I gradually began to develop a clear vision of how a soul could travel through many human lifetimes, each one designed to teach another lesson much like we Americans move through classroom grades geared to address the knowledge we have accumulated along the way. I considered the term ‘old soul’ – often attributed to someone who had seemingly acquired wisdom, patience, and humility. I thought about people like Gandhi and Mother Theresa, modern day prophets who emulated everything I had learned to want from a spiritual perspective.

I thought about Jesus and his living example of soulful perfection – the goal of a Christian conscience. Surely one could interpret that Christ was born to demonstrate the ideal personification of what our ‘souls’ had the capacity to achieve and that by believing that he was ‘the son of God’ (a perfect representation of the purest soul) and who died for our sins (allowed persecution as a demonstration of perfect love) so that we may live (aim for that example) – I was IN!! Wow, that made perfect sense to me. I want to be like Jesus Christ. I want to learn how to live with the purity of love and humility of his example. If it meant coming back to this world over and over again, learning and growing – bring it on!

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain”. ~ Carl Jung

Now I had a reason for all the pain. I knew that I could look at each hurt and place it into a perspective of how my soul needed to grow. I hated to think that growth was only possible through painful experience but hey – we are human and we are not paying close attention generally unless we are in pain. Of course, more evolved souls know that this is achieved through meditation and prayer but I wasn’t there yet!  In any regard, I was wide open to learning and forgiveness loomed broadly in front of me. Crap… this learning stuff is hard!

Forgiving Hubby for some reason was much easier. I don’t know if it was because I already had practice with it or if my expectations for him were just so much lower. Maybe it was because he was there every morning and as the father of my children, the motivation was much stronger. In any case, I opened my heart and allowed God in, which just meant that I lowered the drawbridge that had been so tightly chained and authorized my heart to be vulnerable once more. I understood that to be vulnerable, God has to be at work in your spirit – you must be open to learning (potentially hurting) and that is the work of spiritual growing. I came to believe that if I was hurting then God was growing me. Any tears I shed really were watering the seeds of love and wisdom that were being cultivated in my soul.

The work of forgiving Abee was much more difficult and I needed a ton of help. Our joint therapy sessions continued and I had derived what I thought was a good idea. I had a bag of polished stones that one of the girls had gotten from one place or another. They were in a purple velvet bag about three inches long and two across, with a drawstring closure. I think there were about ten stones. My idea was that the bag represented the relationship I wanted to have with Abee. While I was not under any delusion that our connection would ever be the same, I at least wanted to be able to be together without stress or emotional duress. The stones in the bag represented building blocks to me and after each counseling session or family time where I believed there to be an advancement in my trust of her – I would give her a stone. The control of rebuilding positive interactions between us became mine and it worked for me.

In December, mom and I traveled to Notre Dame to watch Frank swim in one of his last invitationals. I loved watching that boy swim! It was a good trip for mom and I as well, allowing us uninterrupted time to distance ourselves from the family drama. I was nervous about not being there to ‘monitor’ interactions between Hubby and Abee but mom assured me that she knew Abee’s heart, which apparently was beginning to ‘beat’ for another guy. I hadn’t heard about him but I was working on being ‘like Jesus’ so I practiced letting go… I believed that Hubby and I were in a good spot having made it through so much crap… I assured her that we would probably be married forever. I mean, what could possibly be worse than what we’ve already been through?

Welcome Back

Was the universe allowing these incidents to happen so that I could face my fears?

Continued from Silver Linings

“There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.” ~ Kate Douglas Wiggin

Our focus became our family. We loved to take the girls camping and did so many times throughout the summer. They were good times. When we were away from the world, from work and responsibilities, we were the epitome of a happy family. On our camping weekends, we were about hikes and reading; about relaxing and campfires. It was a time before electronics and so we enjoyed what nature and the campground had to offer. I loved those weekends. They were what I wanted my daily life to be like.

Hubby and I talked a lot. We had learned so much about communicating with each other in counseling and much more about ourselves. When we were being introspective and taking personal responsibility, it was easy to be together. We were developing bigger dreams for the future of our business as it was growing in success year by year. The ‘hard’ times were ending and we could clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel. We were preparing to enjoy the successes of our years of dedication.  We traveled a bit for work that year and got to know a few colleagues across the country who were similarly dedicated to growing their businesses. We enjoyed our time together and made tentative plans to create more travel opportunities together.

Trust remained difficult for me. I stopped several times a day for a small, silent prayer for strength to stay focused on where we were rather than where we had been. I still watched and waited with baited breath when he was a bit late but my concentration was centered on reminding myself that I was there by choice – that keeping my family intact was the number one priority. Things had changed – Hubby was different. He was attentive and involved. We were more emotionally connected than we had been in years. I had hope.

My relationship with Abee had been extraordinarily elusive. I was so unforgiving of that breach of loyalty that I honestly wondered if it could ever be mended. Mom was in an impossible position. She lived with and enabled Abee. Mom was tired and beyond conflict and so she surrendered to the outspoken desires; wishes; gentle demands of her daughters. Most frequently to the one that was there all the time – the one that looked out for her – the one that made mom’s life easier – at least in theory. My goal was to keep mom a part of my life yet because Abee was so intricately woven into hers, mom’s availability to me was often limited. When it looked like my life was going to work out and I was feeling happier, she would express deep sadness because I wasn’t willing to include Abee “what about holidays for the rest of our lives?” she would ask.

I had emotionally shut the door on Abee but I could see that mom was struggling. In truth – if I didn’t veer on the path we were traveling, this family would never again enjoy a Thanksgiving or a Christmas altogether. Was I really expecting mom to take sides? Our therapist began working with us together. Once a week Abee and I would meet together with the counselor and word by word we attempted to unravel the convoluted mess that now existed in the space between us. She would sit in a recliner in one corner of the room so that she didn’t have to look directly at me, sitting on one end of a sofa as we both kept our eyes focused on the person who was trying to help us find our way back to one another. By fall we were starting to talk outside of therapy. Sometimes at lunch, we would sit out back of the office on a picnic table and it would – for a tiny minute – feel like old times. I could go to moms if Abee was home as long as she wasn’t sitting right there in the room with us. I agreed to let her come to the house to see the girls if I was home but I wasn’t willing to have her interject herself back into their lives at full force. I still didn’t trust her either.

From time to time I continued to be plagued with lightheadedness and shortness of breath. Since my exams and tests hadn’t identified anything conclusive, I trudged through the ‘episodes’ as they came but I was always a little afraid of ‘what they may have missed’ and when my mind got carried away with visions of a slow and painful death from some rare brain tumor, I would pick up a book of inspiration and read.

One of the sentiments from the first book Conversations with God (pg. 54) is the quote: “Emotion is the power which attracts. That which you fear strongly, you will experience”. I thought about that quote a lot because so much of my life in recent years was based on a collection of fears that had accumulated over time.

My fear of never being able to satisfy my husband sexually.

My fear of not being needed at home because Abee could simply step in and never skip a beat.

My fear of not being able to provide for myself.

My fear of people finding out that I was living a life of lies.

I coupled those thoughts with the principle I had learned in SAGE regarding the Law of Attraction and suddenly I was wondering if I had created all of this drama in my life just because I had been afraid… was I responsible for all of this? Was the universe allowing these incidents to happen so that I could face my fears? Was this more than just some ‘silver lining’ lesson?

My therapist was wonderful about helping me digest many of the thoughts that moved through my awareness, listening, validating, and encouraging me to keep thinking. She would gently settle me when I was too hard on myself and yet would push me to move beyond my mental comfort zone when it appeared as though I was settling for the easy answer. I reconciled that I was certainly NOT individually responsible for everything that had transpired. I created a list of the areas where I was most admittedly culpable and I understood how I had ignored myself; my voice, for many years. I vowed to make sure never – ever – to move that far away from ‘me’ again. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of who I was and could acknowledge the strength that so many people had seen in me.

I realized then that like so many others in my life, I, too – had abandoned me. One day, I looked in the mirror and smiled saying “Welcome back Les… don’t ever leave again.” And I knew I wouldn’t.