What Everyone Should Know About Grief – Part 2

A big myth perpetrated on those who are grieving a profound loss, and what leads experts to postulate that some people’s prolonged grief isn’t normal, is the prevalent belief that all losses are equal. But all losses aren’t equal for the simple reason that all relationships aren’t equal.

Sure, we grieve the loss of the person, but we grieve the loss of the relationship and the many roles the person played in our lives.

The son of a friend who’d lost her spouse was contemptuous of his mother’s grief, thinking she was overdramatizing herself. He’d gotten over his grief quickly and thought she should have, too, but what he didn’t realize — what most people don’t realize — is that although they lost the same person, they didn’t suffer the same loss. He’d lost a father he hadn’t been particularly close to, and his life didn’t change at all. Her life changed drastically — not only had she lost the one person who had always been there for her, the person she needed to help her get through her devastating loss, she lost her constant companion, her lover, their shared friends, their shared dreams,, her sense of her own identity, a big chunk of her income, and a whole slew of other losses compounding that one big loss. (Including the son since he refused to have anything to do with her.)

And each of those losses needed to be mourned, which makes mourning the loss of a life mate/soul mate a horrendous and horrendously long task.

Most of us who have lost our live mates have had the experience of someone comparing the loss of their pet to our loss, which leaves us speechless. Even if we could think of a suitable comeback, most of us are sensitive enough to understand the other person’s pain, so we don’t say anything, but the truth is, as traumatic as the loss of pet can be, the relationship of a person with their pet is far from the multi-faceted relationship of a person with their life mate/soul mate.

Although most people have experienced grief, all grief isn’t the same. All losses aren’t the same. All relationships aren’t the same. If you know someone who is grieving the loss of their life mate, please be patient with them even if you think they are being melodramatic. Especially if you think they are being melodramatic. They’ve probably lost more than you can ever imagine.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

What Everyone Should Know About Grief – Part 1

Grief belongs to the griever. No one should tell a griever how to grieve, when to grieve, or how long to grieve. No one can bind grief or limit it, usually not even the griever. It’s not so much that we go through grief, but that grief goes through us, and eventually, when grief has done what it’s supposed to do (take us from a relatively safe shared life to a relatively safe new life that can accommodate the unthinkable idea of death), it will leave us in peace.

Sociological forces try to bind our grief. Society as a whole needs people who fit in, and in today’s culture, unhappiness and pain have no importance. Even though they don’t know it, people who are close to us are often the agents of these societal forces. They urge us to move on, to stop thinking about our deceased loved one, to find someone else. Sometimes they simply wish us to be happy. Sometimes they don’t want to be confronted with the issue of death, and if they confront the reality of our loss, then they — like us — would have to confront that terrible reality of death. And sometimes, they are simply responding to societal pressures to herd us back into place.

Grief theorists try to bind our grief with their “stages” of grief, their platitudes, their easy solutions for a difficult situation. So often, the message is mixed. They try to guide us back to normalcy while telling us that everyone’s grief is different, which actually isolates us even more than we already are. No one likes to feel as if they are the same as everyone else, but being too different, feeling too different, makes us wonder if we’re crazy, which exacerbates grief. Everyone’s grief is different to the extent that we are all different, but there are similarities in the progression of grief for many who have lost their life mates, and this similarity is comforting to those who already feel out of place and outside of time.

What few people seem to realize is that there is no place for us anymore. No normalcy. When we have lost our life mate, the one person who connected us to the world and even ourselves, there is no going back. Everything has changed. And everything continues to change.

Eight years and eight months after Jeff’s death, I can still feel ripples of change. We grievers count the days, the weeks, the months, and eventually only the years from the day our loved one died. It’s as if subconsciously we know that on that day of death, we were reborn into a new life. In fact, for many of us, that particular date has more resonance than our actual birthday.

So, if someone you care about has lost a person intrinsic to their lives, please resist the urge to chivvy the griever along. Their grief does not belong to you. Grief belongs to the griever.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Manual for the Loved Ones of a Person Who Has Lost a Loved One

A friend who’s been helping proof my new grief book has suggested my next project: a book geared to the family and friends of someone who has lost a life mate. She said as she read the book, she related it to me, and she seemed surprised by all that I’d gone through. We’d talked about Jeff, his dying, and my grief, but even though I’d tried to explain the immensity and horror of the loss and the rippling effects of grief, a casual conversation doesn’t come close to seeing the truth laid out as I did in the book.

She and I met a year ago, long after the pain of loss had dissipated, so it made sense she knew little of what I’d gone through. If we’d met shortly after Jeff died, though, she probably wouldn’t have known much more because I, like most people who have lost their mates, quickly went underground with my grief. The divide between being coupled and being widowed is too great for most of us to handle, no matter if we’re the one who experienced the loss or the one who has to see us suffering.

And yet, my friend is right — people who love us do need to know what we’re going through. Too often they tell us to move on without understanding that grief is how we’re moving on. They urge us to find someone new without realizing that a new love does not negate the old, and in fact, if the new love doesn’t understand about the long term effects and changes brought about by profound grief, the new relationship can’t hold up. They see what they think is us enshrining our lost mates without understanding that we need something to hold on to. The half of the bond held by the deceased is gone, but our half is still there, like a live wire trying to find a place to ground itself.

Although my new grief book is geared for those who have lost their life mate, it can (and should!) be read by anyone who is struggling to understand what their newly widowed family and friends are feeling. Still, I understand why she suggested a separate manual for the loved ones of a person who has lost a loved one. While the starkness of this current book is comforting to those who are undergoing the angst of loss, it could be a bit too strong and detailed for the as yet uninitiated.

Imagine, though, how comforting it would be for newly bereaved to be around those who try to understand. For example, in my new grief book I explain how the body remembers even when the mind doesn’t, and so when a particular time comes around, we re-experience the loss as if it were new. Ever since my brother died, I’ve been feeling out of sync with life and even myself. His death hit me much harder than I expected, and it reminded me (as if I needed a reminder) that Jeff too was gone. When I told my friend about this odd feeling, she asked me if it was my time. (Meaning one of the times of body memory.)

Although I don’t think this feeling of not quite connecting is part of my grief for Jeff, it made me feel good that she understood. And what a perfect thing for her to have said!

Ever since Jeff died, I’ve made it my mission to take grief out of the closet, to show there is no shame in profound grief, so a manual such as my friend suggested might be a good project for me. First, I need to get this current book published and in the hands of the people who need it, and then . . . who knows.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Too Many Deaths

It seems as if I’ve accidentally taken a vacation from the internet. I haven’t posted a blog in over a month (I even forgot to celebrate the eleventh anniversary of this blog), and I’ve made only an occasional visit to Facebook. It wasn’t planned, this vacation. It’s just that life — and death — got in the way of my usual e-activities.

My older brother’s death affected me — and continues to affect me — so much more than I thought it would. (For someone who thinks she is as self aware as I think I am, my own reactions to death always manage to surprise me.) I thought I’d grieved the loss of my brother when I left him on the street in Colorado, but death is different. Irrevocable. And I am very conscious of his being gone.

My brother had given me the stuff in his storage unit a few years ago with the caveat I wouldn’t do anything with it until he was gone. (Did he know how close to death he was? I don’t know. I thought this disposition of his possessions was just his usual doom saying.) So, in addition to dealing with his death, I had to deal with his possessions. Well, my possessions. It was incredibly sad to see his preparations for a life as a musician he never got to live. It was incredibly sad having to dispose of the provisions for that unlived life. (There is no way I could have kept his things. I have enough of my own — and Jeff’s — stuff in storage without having to add my brother’s, too.)

Jeff’s death brought to the fore questions about death and the meaning of my life as well as fears of my growing old alone. My brother’s death didn’t leave me with the mystical quest Jeff’s death did; instead, it made me question the practicalities of my life. Made me realize I need to prepare for my old age. Considering the longevity of my parents, I thought that old age would be a long time coming, but both brothers closest to me in age, one a year younger, one a year older, are now gone. My younger brother didn’t come within thirty years of my mother’s final age. My older brother didn’t come within thirty years of my father’s age.

Although I have reconnected with other siblings, I still have to deal with life on my own. They all have someone significant in their lives, and I have . . . me. I see friends sporadically, but mostly, I spend my time alone. It’s odd that I am now where I feared to be during those first years of grief after Jeff died. I used to be terrified of stagnating, of becoming the crazy cat lady sans cats, so I kept myself busy with forward-looking activities. After the seventh anniversary, that need for busyness evaporated. Luckily, as it turned out. Most of my grief group friends are now paired up, my walking friends have gone on to other activities, and my dance classes have diminished. (I stopped going to a couple of the classes because they had become a performance group rather than actual classes and caused me more frustration than joy. Most of my other classes, classes that I loved, were either cancelled or are hit and miss.) And my dream of an epic hike evaporated when I discovered the reality of my physical abilities. Or lack of abilities.

So here I am. Alone. But not stagnating. (At least, I don’t think I’m stagnating. But if I am, would I know?) I’ve been spending time with my new grief book, preparing for its send off into the world of agents. I’ve been trying to get back into walking shape — my frequent colds this year and the trips I’ve gone on (to Seattle and to my brother’s memorial) have taken their toll on me. And I’ve been trying to figure out where to go from here, not in a mystical way, but a practical way, trying to figure out where I want to be living when death begins swiping at me with its scythe.

Death. So not a friend of mine! (Though I might feel differently when I near my own end.) I don’t mean to sound morbid. There’s just been too many deaths in too short a time.

Although I should return from my accidental vacation and get back into the discipline of keeping up the blog, I truly don’t want to foist my sadness on others. I did enough of that when I was dealing with Jeff’s death, and there’s nothing new to say.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Sisterhood

When my two sisters and I were on Whidbey Island, we realized that with all the photo-taking, we not did have a single picture of the three of us together. We didn’t see anyone who seemed approachable enough to ask them to take a photo, but we decided it was okay, that maybe every time we got together for a sisters’ event, we could say that it was another time when we didn’t get a photo.

We all liked the idea, actually, until we discovered the 3 Sisters Market and 3 Sisters hooded sweatshirts.

Although the “hood” connection to sisterhood didn’t come to me until after the fact (it was one of those “duh” moments that makes me wonder why it took so long to see the connection) I get such a kick out of the above photo, because — how perfect! Three sisters with hoods celebrating sisterhood. (The pictures on the wall above us are of the three sisters the market — and the farm — are named after.)

It seems weird to me how much we look like sisters in the photo. We never did, not really. We must have grown into it. Nor has there ever been any “sisterhood” among the three of us. We always paired up or if we were together, it was with others in the family. More than that, though, we never considered ourselves “three sisters,” perhaps because we were so far apart in ages and had brothers in between each of us. We are also so different from one another, as if we are sides of an equilateral triangle. (Which makes me wonder what is in the center of that triangle.)

We had such a great time (and surprisingly, got along better than any of us ever imagined) that we are planning another adventure for next year — a camping trip at The Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

How odd to think that after all these years we have discovered our sisterhood.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Sun Shines Brightly on Me

I currently reside in the desert, so very few days pass without some sun, but this month has seemed dark to me. Admittedly, we have had an upsurge of winter-cold days, with lots of blustery wind and even some rain, but the sunlessness has extended beyond mere weather factors.

For one thing, I turned a year older. The years don’t matter to me — what difference does a number make? I never notice the wrinkles unless I look in the mirror, and sometimes not even then. The gray in my hair is not an issue except for my dance teacher who thinks I look good in the wig I use for performances and says I need to dye my hair that color (and except for my sister who thinks I need a purple streak). What does matter is that every added year now brings new aches and pains and weird afflictions, and I have struggled with some small thing every day since the birthday — a pop in my thigh, a cramp in my calf, a swollen eyelid, aches in my fake elbow, and on, and on, and on.

For another thing, March brings the anniversary of Jeff’s death. Like my birthday, the number means little, except to marvel that I have survived so many years of pain and change, but it is a time of remembrance, of yearning, of sometimes even of reliving the last days I ever saw my life mate/soul mate.

This March added another burden, my problem with Deb. Although I do not think I caused the problem, considering that possibility added a different layer of pain to an already untenable situation. For all I know, I could be the narcissist. Do narcissists know what they are? Supposedly they do, at least on some level, so if you wonders, chances are you are not the narcissist. (Narcissists love to make their victims think the problem is with them.)

Another small thing adding darkness to the month was the realization that I will not get as strong or as fit as I would like to be for my upcoming trip, but that’s really a minor blip in the March darkness.

I didn’t just lie down and let March victimize me, however. I’ve been taking shorter but more frequent walks with my backpack. Succumbed to the tears that honor Jeff and the anniversary. Dealt with each small physical infirmity as best as I could. Spent some time writing each day (except for the two days dedicated to grief, and even then, I wrote my blogs). And, most importantly, I did a cleansing ritual in the desert on Sunday.

I discovered this particular ritual on a website about dealing with narcissists. To break the energy and the hold the narcissist has over you, you imagine a thick cord of energy connecting the two of you. You visualize a big, bright pair of gold scissors, such as the ceremonial scissors used for a ribbon cutting event, and you snip the cord of energy. You envision her half of the cord snapping back into her, and you take your half of the cord — all that energy you’ve wasted on her — and send it up into the sun.

So that’s what I did.

Yesterday in class, whenever I thought there might be a possibility of her getting to me, I thought of the sun shining down on me, blazing with the addition of my own energy. How can one be sad under such an image?

Today was the first day I’ve been out walking since the cleansing ritual, and oh! The sun shone so warmly and brightly on me, it gave me new hope for the days that lie ahead.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Bright Scissors And Dull Rocks

I was raised in a narcissistic family, where the children had to cater to the needs of the parents. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that it dawned on me that children are not supposed to make allowances for the parent’s lapses, but instead, the parents are supposed to help the children with theirs. We all grew up eventually, parents included, so that helped, and by doing for my parents what they hadn’t done for me once I was out of diapers — help them at their neediest — I paid off whatever karmic debt had been accrued.

Then, I had to deal with a brother who had some sort of personality disorder, enhanced by the grandiosity of a narcissist. After two years of his abuse, I literally drove him away — took him back to Colorado and dumped him on the street. I didn’t want to do that — I’d planned on getting him a motel room for a week or two, but the laws in that particular city made that impossible. Leaving him there was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I cried the entire 1000 miles back to where I was caring for my dad in his last days. I have not seen my brother since. I did not give him my phone number, and the address he had for me now belongs to someone else. It makes me very sad to think I had to resort to such measures, but it truly was a matter of survival.

You’d think by now I’d have learned to deal with the narcissists that get their claws into me, but since another narcissist has shown up in my life, one I have been calling “Deb” after a character in Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare I am once again researching narcissism. A lovely and very wise woman told me that you cannot control a narcissist, whether by making nice, ignoring, praying, meditating. If they want whatever it is they perceive you have, they will attempt to destroy your reputation, and if you confront them, they will play the victim card. Her advice was to ease my way out of the situation. Although I know the only way to deal with such narcissists is to walk away from them forever, as I did with my brother, in this case, I’d also be walking away from something that once was a lifesaver — dance classes. And I’d be walking away from a friend who is almost like a sister to me.

One thing I found in my research is that narcissists, for all their bragging about how strong they are, are inherently weak. They project themselves onto another person, seeing their bad qualities in that person (because they can’t face them in themselves), and subsuming that person’s good qualities into themselves. And, despite what it might seem with all this recent blogging about the Debs, I am strong. No wonder she has fixated on me!

Just knowing all this will help, but I also came across two pexels-photo-236118.jpegvery good ways to deal with the Debs. One is to envision the energy that connects the two of us, and using bright gold scissors, cut that cord of energy. Visualize her energy snapping back into her and my half of the energy cord shining brilliantly as it rises to the sun. I love this idea because it is energy that really seems to be the issue here — both her negative energy that disturbs the energy created when dancing, and the energy I have been giving to the situation.

Another way to handle the Debs if you can’t escape is to be like a rock. Apparently, narcissists play with people the way children play with Barbie and Ken dolls (or whatever the current doll fad is), but they tend not to be interested in dull, gray rocks.

I’d been mostly doing okay by retreating into rock form and not goading her into the drama that she feeds on, but from what I have been reading, even something as minor as a flinch or a turning away (which I have to admit, I have done) can escalate the drama, especially if another person is there to help it along by calling attention to the reaction.

So, bright scissors and dull rocks.

Sounds like a plan.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Dealing With the Debs

Ever since I started writing about my ongoing problem with a Deb, I’ve been collecting enough hints on how to deal with such characters to write a primer.

(For those of you who haven’t been following this saga, Deb is — was — a narcissistic character in Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare who has come into my life for real, and has been bedeviling me for the past year.)

Following first my own inclinations and then advice from friends (a couple of whom are therapists), this is the list of what I have done so far:

I tried ignoring her, but for the Debs who love attention, being ignored makes them ramp up the pressure for attention.

I tried setting boundaries, real physical boundaries (before my arm was completely healed, it frightened me to have people invade my personal space) and asked her to honor the boundary, but she took the request as a challenge and refused.

I tried being super nice, as a friend suggested, but somehow, the Deb took this as a sign of my conceding, and she stepped up the aggression. (You know the kind of aggression I’m talking about — small insults she laughs off as “just funning” and make you sound foolish if you complain about them.)

I tried standing up to her, in fact got right in her face, and she gave me the innocent act. Though, with the Debs, it’s hard to know if it’s an act. I get the impression sometimes they really do think they are innocent of abusing others.

I tried running away from her — literally running — but she completely misunderstood and thought I was running from someone else.

I tried breathing out the bad energy and breathing in the good, but I got the sequence wrong. You’re supposed to breathe in the bad energy, transform it into good energy and breathe that out. How does one do that? Haven’t a clue, but I will try it.

I just recently tried Ho’oponopono and though saying those phrases (I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you) didn’t seem to work, it did help me to dispel the bad energy as soon as I was alone.

I’ve also just recently tried to use that pent-up energy to propel me into doing something strenuous, for example, the last time, as soon as I got home from class, I strapped on my backpack and went out walking, even though I was already exhausted from class.

One thing I haven’t yet tried is to do standing Kegel exercises in class. Apparently, the pelvic muscles are the ones that dispel stress, and by doing Kegels, you can find your center.

Another thing I haven’t yet tried is to give myself permission to fixate on the issue when I’m alone, which, along with the Kegels, is a suggestion from a therapist friend. She advised really giving in to the energy of the conflict, but to allow myself no more than say thirty minutes to obsess. That seems like a good idea. When I get something in my head, I fight the thought, which keeps it going around and around and around. By giving the thoughts space and validity, maybe I can stop the cycle.

It does makes sense — when you try to think your way out of such a problem, it causes circular thinking because you can’t logically find a way out of an illogical situation.

Eckhart Tolle says, “True intelligence is to rise above thinking as the source of intelligence.”

Dr. Haleakala S. Hew Len, a proponent of Ho’oponopono, says, “The intellect working alone can’t solve problems, because the intellect only manages. Managing things is no way to solve problems.”

So, there you have it — a brief compendium of ways of dealing with the Debs and the negative energy they spew.

If I had known from the beginning that this particular real-life Deb was my Deb, my creation, I might have done things differently before they escalated, but how was I to know? One does not expect one’s nemesis in a novel to appear in one’s life. Now, I’m to the point where I have no desire to deal with her — my only hope is to keep that energy from affecting me, and to dispel whatever energy I do allow to affect me.

Sounds like bliss!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Practicing Ho’oponopono

I do not buy into the philosophy that everyone who shows up in our life is there for “a reason, a season, or a lifetime,” but maybe sometimes it is true.

Lately I’ve been talking about a woman in dance class who seems to be my character “Deb” from Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare come to life. Like my fictional Deb, this woman acts as if she is in competition with me, and her behavior follows the typical pattern of a narcissist. First, she tried to control me with patronization. When I put a stop to that, she tried to crowd me both physically and with small torments. When that didn’t work, she tried to turn the teacher against me. She made a couple of tactical errors there. First, the teacher and I are friends, though it might not seem like it at a casual glance, because she does not pay particular attention to me in class. Second, Deb started to forget herself and make disrespectful comments to the teacher.

Now Deb is aligning herself with another woman, and in doing so, is changing that woman’s attitude toward me.

If it weren’t such a ridiculous and stressful drama, I’d feel sorry for Deb and her need for attention, but it is not my responsibility to fix her, if that were even possible. Nevertheless, she remains a problem.

A new blog friend left a comment yesterday: Why is there always a Deb? And it does seem as if there is always a Deb bringing a dark energy with her. Another friend said that if I quit dance class because of this woman, another Deb would show up in my life.

Which makes me wonder if perhaps this woman is in my life so I can learn how to deal with the Debs once and for all. I have to admit the idea of never again having to deal with a Deb sure is a pleasant one, so I should try to get from this experience what I can.

One of the many reasons I took care of my father after Jeff died was that I wanted to resolve my old problems and lingering issues with him. I knew there would come a time when I was alone and needing to start a new life, and I didn’t want to start that life with any baggage from the past. It worked. By looking after my father, by reversing the parent/child roles, all those conflicts gradually disappeared. There were no father/daughter conflicts at the end, just a dying man and the woman who was there to help him pass out of this world.

Could there be some of this going on with my “Deb”? Am I supposed to learn how to deal with folks like her without reacting to their machinations? Or am I just supposed to be able to see the pattern and do with it what I will?

I do know that when I was younger such situations confused the heck out of me because I could not understand their fixation on me, their insistence on competing despite my dislike of conflict, their tendency to push me around when I did not fight back, and their attempt to get people to see me as they did.

Being honest with myself, as I try to be, I’ve explored the possibility that the problem is with me, but now, even if it is true, I no longer want to admit any culpability, which could be a step in the right direction. That I can see the pattern is perhaps another step. Knowing I can’t fix her is possibly a third step. The fourth step, maybe, is learning to step outside the confrontation so that it doesn’t affect me so much. If so, I have a long way to go, because this situation, like any conflict and unfairness, raises my hackles.

Today, in an effort to overcome the reaction to the energy she spews out, I tried to practice Ho’oponopono around her.

Ho’oponopono means “to make right,” or “to rectify an error.” Dr. Haleakala S. Hew Len says, “The intellect working alone can’t solve these problems, because the intellect only manages. Managing things is no way to solve problems. You want to let them go! When you do Ho’oponopono, what happens is that the Divinity takes the painful thought and neutralizes or purifies it. You don’t purify the person, place, or thing. You neutralize the energy you associate with that person, place or thing. So the first stage of Ho’oponopono is the purification of that energy.”

How you neutralize that energy is by repeating four phrases to yourself: I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

So, that’s what I did today. It didn’t make any difference, but we’ll see.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Prevailing

A friend who follows astrology told me that March 20 (yesterday) begins a time of great change for me, and although no astrological prediction pertaining to my life has ever come true, this one almost did.

After yesterday’s dance class contretemps (hey! I spelled contretemps right without needing spellchecker to correct it for me, though I did need spellchecker to check the spelling of spellcheck), I’d had enough. I simply did not want to play in that sandbox anymore (and sometimes, it does feel as if we are in preschool rather than postschool), so I called my dance teacher and told her I was taking time off.

A long silence, then, “How much time are you taking off?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Ten days. Ten years. I just can’t do it any more.”

She said I was too good a dancer, and she refused to accept my resignation. I’m sure part of her consideration was the performance we will be doing at the beginning of June, but also as a good friend and a lifelong dancer, she has some inkling of what dancing means to me, though it’s hard to explain.

It’s not for exercise — I get plenty of exercise on my own, and would do even more if I weren’t going to class. It’s not for camaraderie, because I’m reverting back to my hermitic ways, and being around people exhausts me. It’s not for fun or enjoyment, though the stress-free classes give me both. It’s more of a thing of energy, of nourishment for my spirit, and too often lately a black miasma hangs over the class that others sometime respond to, but apparently only I can feel.

Still she does know of a lot of the byplay between me and the other characters, and she told me not to let anyone take dance away from me.

I agreed to stay. For a while. So the big change — not taking dance classes anymore — did not happen. But I also firmed  my decision to step up my training saunters with the backpack to allow for a different sort of change.

In the middle of all this, I realized something — no matter what happens, I will prevail.

Did you notice above where I called my classmates “characters’? I meant characters in a book, which they all are — characters in Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare. It seems to me that a lot of what happened in Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare is happening in a sort of parallel reality in class, with the Deb character playing out her solitary (and totally inexplicable) feud against Pat and pulling those who don’t know the truth in to her mind-set of “Oh, poor me. Look what Pat’s doing to me.”

It’s entirely possible I am the villain — writers don’t always recognize the truth of their characters. But I do know one thing — no matter what happened (happens) to any of the other characters in the story, at the end, Pat did prevail.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.