A course in Miracles says that a miracle is the shift in perception from fear to love. Both Marianne Williamson and Gabrielle Bernstein have this as central themes in their books.
A friend recommended Marianne’s book to me a year ago when the Big Man had gone to live and work in London. I was consumed with fear. Fear that he would love his serene, independent, fun and free bachelor life more than he loved his chaotic, needy, dependent, secure home and family life. A fear that I had no idea what he was doing, could be doing, my imagination running wild, despite nearly 2 decades of absolute trust.
The book taught me so much about relationships and to calm my fearful head and heart; I practiced and focussed on turning that fear in to love. I practiced every day filling myself up and our relationship with love, forgiveness, appreciation and I let go of judgement and fear.
I had underlined a sentence in the book; ‘the spiritual path involves taking conscious responsibility for what we choose to perceive – our brother’s guilt or innocence. We see a brother’s innocence when it is all we want to see.’
I chose to see the good. Every day. I wasn’t being gullible, or in denial, or an ignorant fool. I consciously chose love over fear, seeing good not the bad. And I look back at that period and despite the devastation I was feeling as I watched my Mumbo slip away, despite the anguish I felt at watching my son hurting at a new school, despite the loneliness of being a single mum during the week, I saw the good, I was grateful each day for the small things and I believe that is how it got me through some of the darkest days.
A year on, I am back in the dark. But I am learning to use the same technique at the hands of Gabrielle, to choose love over fear, gratitude over scarcity. I am choosing to see hope as a conduit for miracles and I am choosing love. By doing so, I can choose how I perceive my situation, despite the spaghetti junction of the many options and paths ahead of me.
Yesterday I stumbled across a Ted Talk by Esther Perel. She opened up a whole new perspective for me, many perspectives, in fact.
Do I want to focus on hurt and betrayal or the opportunity for growth and self discovery?
Do I want to see this as all about me…? Or all about them? What it meant about me or what it meant for them?
Do I want to continue to fear the loss or do I want to see this as rekindling a new life, a new love?
Do I want to see this as a crisis to destroy me or a crisis to initiate transformation and bring back my power?
She highlights the change in the institution of marriage over the years and discusses the causes of infidelity, how they have evolved despite it being unnecessary with divorce and separation being no longer shameful.
To me, the most important question she asks couples torn apart, crushed by betrayal and the one that kept me awake last night,
‘In the west, most of us will have 2 or 3 relationships or marriages and some of us will do it with the same person. Your first marriage is over. Would you like to create a second one together?’
To answer that, my head and heart continue to differ.
And her earlier words ring in my ears; while divorce used to be shameful, staying together is the new shame.
Shame… shame because it shows weakness…. the assumption of others that there has been a retreat, a move towards comfort rather than a move forward, into the danger zone… ultimately, perceived as the ‘easy’ option.
I recall I wrote a blog in July about shame and vulnerability following a different TED talk by Brene Brown…
She said she started with ‘shame’… which lead her to ‘vulnerability’.
For me, I have started with ‘vulnerability’ and ended up with ‘shame’…
Vulnerability comes from exposure… exposing ourselves to judgement of another or others in quiet privacy or open public arenas.
To exposure oneself, one’s thoughts, inner most secrets or pain takes ‘courage’.
So I am reminded that the shame is with those who judge, who gossip rather than show genuine concern, who have opinions of others when they have no right. The shame and the weakness lies entirely with those who revel in the glory of other’s misfortune.
In this scenario, the staying together bears no ‘shame’, only vulnerability on both sides and a courage stronger than any lion or lioness to face the darkness, see any spec of light within and have the strength and courage to see if that light is worth igniting, worth fighting for, for better or worse, for a second and improved time …. or facing the truth, that the light has no fuel left and needs to be extinguished for good.
Esther Perel: Infidelity: