Before reading this I will remind you that you are only hearing my very biased side of my story, and an abbreviated version at that…..but I want to share why, though to outsiders the last few years, especially 2015, may have been a horrible year for me, to me it was one filled with incredible growth and a love story too long denied.
2013 seemed to be the year to say “good riddance” to.
My ex-husband and I had each sold our “his” and “hers” pre-marriage homes (neither for what we were hoping) and purchased one together to be “our” age-in-place home. The home inspector missed a few things, some big things, REALLY big things and long story short due mostly to lack of structural integrity and black mould the house was torn down to only the original cement foundation, one external front wall with 10 ft on either side, and the main subfloor. All new electrical, plumbing, roof trusses, framing, etc., etc. had to be rebuilt. We were now basically in debt for two homes in order to have one. After a very, very cold winter living in our fifth wheel in a trailer park, we moved back into the now new home on the May long weekend of 2014 and I was thinking life should now be on track.
In the fall of 2014 my (now ex) husband was becoming more and more angry at what seemed to be life in general. In November, through friends, we heard out about the Hoffman Process and he immediately signed up for the 8 day residential retreat in determined to find some peace in his life. When he came back he immediately began pushing me to go and complete the process for myself – not for “us” he reminded me, but for me. He asked them to them call me for an appointment to discuss my going and pushed hard for me to attend the next session in January.
Only weeks afterwards he left me, stating nobody had ever supported him or loved him unconditionally as I had. On December 8th we had our our first and only meeting with a marriage counsellor. I will never forget the marriage counsellor stating “people state the opposite of love is hate, it is not, it is indifference, and ex-husband you radiate indifference”. The counsellor stated that, although he should not be putting words in his mouth he could see that ex-husband did not want to hurt me, but no longer wanted to be in this marriage. That is when my ex finally admitted to having met and made a spiritual and emotional connection with another woman unlike any other…..though he did not admit to a physical affair at that point I had grave suspicions that it had happened.
I felt thrown away, crushed, worthless. The tears would not stop. Heaven forbid someone would innocently ask “how are you?” as the wracking sobs would begin.
Now I could not wait to say “good riddance” to 2014.
January came and I called Peter at the Hoffman Process again. I was hurt and angry, feeling like a victim and told him that I had grave reservations about attending a retreat that, after attending my husband decided to throw away his marriage for another woman…what were they really teaching people because that was not the same core values I lived my life by. I felt I was too vulnerable to go. Family and friends began to gently try to dissuade me. The psychologist I was seeing to try to work through this point in time was anything but for the process…concerned it was like the tea-party thing of the 70s…but she gave me sage words of wisdom that truly helped me to focus on me and make the most of it. She told me to take care, to be sure to focus on myself and not get caught up in the group atmosphere, to share what I felt was right for me and to allow myself the space to leave if I felt it wasn’t right.
During that January call Peter’s words were filled with such kind compassion, and also ones I will never forget. He reminded me that people have free will choice and unfortunately I had been hurt by the decisions my ex had made, but that was most definitely not what Hoffman teaches. Peter assured me that now, in my most vulnerable and raw state, was actually the best time for me to go. It was now that I needed this process the most.
Peter was right.
I drove into the Sanctum Retreat outside of Caroline where the Hoffman Process is held, raw, vulnerable, afraid, somewhat skeptical, and exhausted. My Hoffmates, as we call them, could all attest that I wasn’t able to even introduce myself without beginning to cry and sob. I am certain that, if there was a stock market based solely on tissues, it would have increased dramatically in the week that I was there.
But something happened, I found and fell in love with my soulmate, and her name is Glenna.
Although by the end of the retreat my cheeks hurt desperately because I could not stop smiling it was work, hard work, and don’t think it wasn’t. It is work each and every day. It is an almost impossible experience to explain, and to do so would take away from anyone’s experience that considers attending. For the first time I really looked hard at myself and my life and the patterns that I had learned and practiced for 40-ish years….how I lived a life resigned with the messages I gave myself like:
- it’s good enough
- don’t expect too much
- nobody is happy all the time
- don’t be vain
- put others before myself
- settle, settle, settle
- I should feel guilty for thinking that way
- I should feel guilty for taking care of myself first
….and on and on those messages went.
During the Hoffman Process I learned to call these messages the Dark Side – those negative self-talk bits that wreck havoc on peace of mind and living an authentic life filled with love and compassion, first for myself and then for those around me. I learned that my emotional child needed love and compassion and to be let out to play and have fun…she didn’t always need to be so serious. I gave my intellect the respect it deserves, and the understanding that sometimes it also needs a break.
And I connected to my spiritual self. That pure, vibrant, glowing love that never waivers and lets me know that I am never alone. For me that means a connection to the Holy Spirit that resides within me and connects to God in unconditional love and strength. It is what glows within and radiates out, connecting to the love and kindness all around me.
And so 2015, the year that brought divorce, debt, what would seem loneliness to outsiders, what should have been preventative surgeries only to find out that I was ending the year with a cancer diagnosis, was a year I did not feel the need to say “good riddance” to but instead “farewell”.
It was a year that I found myself enveloped in love and kindness, the support that came at me from all angles was humbling yet feeds my soul. I have so many amazing people in my life – some whose roles have morphed and changed, some whose roles continue to change, and some of those constants.
There are so many amazing gifts that 2015 gave to me, and most importantly I have finally found a way to give those gifts of unconditional love and support to myself. It feeds my strength, my courage, my determination, my optimism, and my pluck for this next portion of my journey.
It is still work, a lot of hard work, each and every day. I write in my gratitude journal (nearly) every night and if I wake during the night or as I open my eyes in the morning I immediately try to coach my mind to providing me with no messages other than those of gratitude again. I spend a few minutes to start each day for nobody but me, in quiet reflection, listening to my body and spirit to try and identify how I can best support myself in love this day. I dance to the music playing and sing along knowing my version of the notes is often quite different than they were meant to be. I have continued coaching with a wise spirit met through Hoffman who helps to keep me on track when I stumble or need direction.
And on those days when my emotions take a downward spin and I begin listening to my Dark Side, I now know to complete a stop, drop and roll. I pull out one of the visualizations that Hoffman taught me called a light journey. It reminds me that I have choice in life. I can choose to go down the left road by myself, listening to the dark side messages that have left me feeling alone and not belonging but longing for more for so much of my life; or I can choose the right road. The road that is embraced in light and love, authenticity and vulnerability. This is the road that leads to my sanctuary of peace, fed by the streams of my River of Life and in turn soothes my spirit when weary. I imagine a mighty tigress with a powerful tail “thwack” those thoughts of negativity and self doubt away, allowing me to focus on just how amazing this life of mine is through both the ups and the downs. I no longer feel the need to say “good riddance” to a tough time, but instead choose to say “farewell”, begin to understand what I have learned and how far I have come…the person I am coming to be because of it, and now know that I am love, I am loving, and I am loveable!
May today you choose to find your own right road and understand how loving and loveable you are.