I know and truly love someone who is so sunk in her misery and self-pity that I have had to make the terrible choice to stay completely away, at least for the time being. Perhaps if I were stronger spiritually, or more mature in some way, I might be able to be in relationship and maintain the integrity of my own spirit. But not now. And the being apart has helped me understand myself better.
Today's reflection (in Diane Mariechild's Open Mind -- Women's Daily Inspirations for Becoming Mindful) puts a new perspective on why a person might allow life to become so negative, so burdensome.
"My mother felt sorrow for those who had no spiritual practice or religious beliefs...Such people are often bitter and angry at what they term the unfairness of life."
But more important for me -- because I cannot get into the head of another person, and so cannot say for certain that this applies to my friend -- is turning the thought to myself and my relationships.
I think it's not enough to say I have a spiritual practice. There must be active searching for meditation time, disciplined dedication to setting aside everything else for complete focus on my spirit. In setting aside this toxic relationship, I have given space for the things of the spirit -- love, compassion, understanding, self-awareness -- to relax and make softer the unyielding and hurting place I was in.
With that space and softness, I begin to see how I was buying into the negativity in order to stay in the relationship; that there was something in the hurtful mix that served a purpose for me. I simply would not have become aware of this had I remained close to this person because remaining close to her meant remaining far from my Self.
My sister, Joan Sparks, sent me this text today: "We all have freedom. We cannot control our circumstances but we can choose how to deal with them."
Sometimes those choices for freedom are so hard. They can be inexplicable. The choice I have made to stay apart seems cruel, I know. Yet I now see that I had to remove myself from a destructive cycle for my own sake, and that is reason enough as long as I do so in the context of a deeply felt spiritual life and journey.
For now, I am glad that the circle of the old relationship is over. I pray that a new circle might begin, even as I know that I have no control over whether or not it does.
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Carol D. Marsh
- With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90 days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.