Anyway, it's a work in progress, and I'm enjoying the process of learning!
A thought today: It's so easy to judge others and separate ourselves from them and their situation. My father did that recently with regard to my life and his idea of "meaning."
I know I have done the same thing looking at my parents' choices. And I have done it in relationships, taking on an attitude of contempt versus compassion.
This song, by Ani DiFranco fills me with a sense of strength when I hear it and is a reminder that each of us is so much more than one person's necessarily limited view and judgments.
I became clear that he is interested in becoming friends again and getting to know me now to see whether we have that heart and soul connection we felt back then. It seems that we both have thought of our time together over the years and perceived it as unique and special, especially considering that neither of us having experienced that level of connection in other relationships.
Some of those feelings are lessening just in the conversations we have had so far and the responsibility he has taken, the acknowledgment of self-centered attitudes at the time. But another piece I need to talk to him about relates to the circumstances in which I would have probably chosen to have the child.
I have much compassion and understanding for her feelings, but one thing she said felt like a needle poking a wound. She said the phrase "women who choose to abor.t" or something like that. More than once. And whether it was true or projected on my part, I felt some judgment in the way it was communicated. :( ack
I have shared how much I've wrestled with this decision over the years and continue to do so even in this very moment. And this felt awful to read right now.
A little back story: I'm not proud of the fact that he was married when we were together. My only excuse is that I was 23 and naive enough to believe that if you felt the intense feelings we felt for one another, then it was destined, it was "meant to be." I fell head over heels and stayed there for a couple of intense years. . .
Regardless of the dysfunction and uncertainty, not to mention the ethical issues, I realized today that my relationship with him was the only one in which I was completely unrestrained in my love - very risky, but I was definitely not one foot out the door, which can't be said for many of my other relationships since then.
The true kicker in the story though, considering that I am now so very much wanting to be a mother, is that I became pregnant with him very early on and had an abor.tion, a fact that has troubled me deeply off and on ever since. I believe in choice for women, yet based on my experience I truly believe in counseling about the potential emotional impacts of the decision.
In any case, when I found out I was pregnant, this man who I'll call "R" immediately began advocating to end it and made very clear this was the only choice he would consider.
For my part, I was so in love with him and I would say disconnected from my self, I couldn't imagine going against what he wanted and risk losing him. I wish I would have been a stronger person. I wish I would have had the guts to say, "You know what, I am not sure what I want, but I'm going to take some time to think about it. And it is MY decision." But I wasn't and I didn't.
So, basically I've had some complicated grief around that decision and when R contacted me, I knew that I wanted to talk to him about it. So that's what we did this morning. Along with talking about a lot of other things that happened back then and catching up on our lives since (he and his wife divorced several years ago), we got a good start on what is a long overdue emotional dialogue.
And you know what? He was there. He was not defensive, was completely supportive, and agreed that he was selfish and acting on his own interest. He apologized. He said he has thought a lot about it and felt badly. And whatever happens from here, that is a true gift.
I attended a workshop on Saturday called, "The Work that Reconnects," created by Joanna Macy. http://www.joannamacy.net/theworkthatreconnects/goals.html
My recent meeting with the local Transition Towns (TT) "Heart and Soul" group in Albany led me to this workshop, and I left feeling excited about potential of these exercises to empower and build local community. On a personal level, I feel excited about working with these people toward TT goals and that this collaboration might be really fun and fulfilling!
A little more about my experience: The exercises were really deep and engaging and led us into asking deep questions of one another. It was amazing to me what was revealed in such a short time in some of the partner activities, leaving you feeling like you really got a sense of who the person is, of their fundamental life experiences and what shapes them.
Some of the dialogue questions included asking about the person who most gave you a sense of your own worth, about a significant place from your childhood, what you love about nature/earth, and your feelings about what is happening now with the earth and other things - all very rich.
In one of the following exercises, we created a "Truth Mandala" with four corners: leaves representing grief, a bowl for emptiness, a sturdy stick for anger, and a stone for fear. We took turns visiting the corners and speaking to one or more of these emotions. I felt honored and amazed to witness others’ emotional expression, which I experienced as authentic, truthful, and without embellishment or prettying up.
I shared about grief about the current work situation in world: how limited it is and how people are expected to fit into little boxes/niches and are not nurtured and guided to express their true essence/gifts. How wounding shallow judgments can be, such as the judgment that not enough status or money=a meaningless life etc.
The grief started on a personal level stemming from recent conversations with my father and the subsequent emotional shift I've already talked about to fully claim my life and my own identity. . .but also expanded out to recognize the way our system fails so many people, fails to value and capture everyone's gifts, all of which are needed as we evolve to become a stronger, more sustainable (and humane) community/society. I felt safe to let go and openly express those things.
The final exercise we did was in triads, in which each group rotated roles with one person representing themselves and sharing their intention going forward, then alternately expressing their "voice of doubt". The second person spoke from the role of the first person's ancestor, and the third person spoke to them from the voice of a "future being".
Through this exercise, I was reassured that my gifts (counseling, training, creativity) are very much needed and was told the pill to relieve constipated creative expression is FAITH in my gifts. I need to nurture and water the seeds so they can continue to grow. The future being told me that a combination of my gifts is key and that they will be useful, especially counseling, in coming times.
Later, one of my group members, Eva, offered an idea that had really worked for her cousin about volunteering leading to a perfect wonderful job for them and also a networking opportunity with her son who teaches theatre at Berkeley high school. She said he’s gone in the schools and done some social change/socially relevant plays and explorative curriculum with the students, which sounds cool.
You never know where networking may lead. They invited me to a showing of the film, "The Economics of happiness," at their house, which I’m interested in attending and will likely have a chance to talk with their son then.
A last point: I am grateful for the facilitator, Anne, and the way she utilized her own relevant life stories and shared from her heart. She really created a sense of safety for the group.
*Side note: Synergistically, in sharing about this workshop with some ecstatic dance friends on Sunday, I think I may have found a volunteer opportunity providing career counseling services for parolees through a county mental health organization!