Speaking of bad boyfriends, I think it's really time I forgive Keegan. It's been what? Six years? A few lifetimes for sure since that complicated era. But he's been popping into my mind and my writing lately, and there's that time early each month when I pay down, slooowly, the debt he charged up and left me with. The bad blood is still in me. In yoga body-scan lingo, it's a sticky spot.
Inspired by an Oprah interview (imagine that!) with Marianne Williamson, I've been thinking a lot about the barriers I've constructed against love--not really romantic love, per se, though I'm sure that's one area that could use some attention--but against love in general, against being loving toward myself and everyone else.
After watching the interview, I realized I'd picked up a copy of the book they were referring to, Marianne Williamson's A Return to Love, ages ago at a garage sale. Last night, restless and unable to sleep in the middle of the night, I picked it up and couldn't put it down.
This isn't the first time I've processed through some feelings about that time in my life, and it's not the first time I've made forgiveness my goal. We're all familiar with the idea that forgiveness is for us, not for them, that it's a necessary part of healing, etc. etc. That all seems true, and it's compelling for sure. But it hasn't, apparently, been enough to move me past my attachment to the painful memories about Keegan--the money he took from me, the strategic ways he built me up and tore me down and knocked me off balance. I carry that stuff around with me like some sort of chronic virus, dormant for the most part, with occasional uncomfortable flare-ups. And who knows what damage the virus is doing even in its dormant stage, especially to the places inside me that already feel vulnerable. I don't think it's a coincidence that those Keegan-ish areas in my life continue to feel so sticky--debts and doubts and rocky romances.
Williamson describes the Course's slightly different take on forgiveness, "Traditionally, we think of forgiveness as something we are to do when we see guilt in someone. In the Course, however, we're taught that it's our function to remember that there is no guilt in anyone, because only love is real... We are asked to extend our perception beyond the errors that our physical perceptions reveal to us--what someone did, what someone said--to the holiness within them that only our hearts reveal. Actually, then, there is nothing to forgive."
It's heady and it's radical--instead of judging that there was a wrong done that requires our forgiveness, we're asked to drop judgement and extend love, and even to see only holiness in the "wrong-doer."
Is that really a thing?? Can people do that??? I can feel the tug of resistance inside me--but he did mean stuff! And I'm still in debt! No fair! No fair! But I can also feel the truth of it. He was doing the best he could with what he had. And truth be told, he gave me
Note to Self
Even on a day that is frigid, in the snow, in dim light,
in that marshmallow coat he bought you with blood money,
drug money, get-your-guilt-ready money, stolen from you--
a gift you’d repay for years and years, signing each check
to a sad song with a sad feeling underneath the rage, the asshole.
Even today, after eight patients back to back, each one telling
a story harder to hear than the last, the first
hard enough: feeling ugly and wanting to be touched.
Even after oatmeal for lunch again and just a little furnace here
and there because it’s all you can afford (for now. Change is,
we know, in the heat duct just like it’s everywhere, piping hot
and ready to blow your socks off just as soon as you ask, more).
Even today, your life feels exuberant and all yours.
Just that: It’s yours! Just that is exactly enough. Just, you were not here
and then you were, covered in mucus and screaming for air
that you didn’t know you needed until you did. You were given a number,
a mother, a father, you learned things you think better of now
and try to unlearn, each paradigm lens clear as plate glass and your ambition
a swift bird, fooled until not, over and over, bruise after bruise.
But it’s all yours, this breath, to spend cautiously or wildly, to bumble through
comically or to crawl across on your knees. All of that. Both. You pick
the best song you can think of to set the tone, take one step at a time,
over and over, bruise after bruise, fingers forming fists and then points,
steeples. Don’t forget this! Seek stillness earnestly and laugh like hell.
So maybe there's something to this. Maybe I'll give it a shot. Marianne Williamson recommends praying for someone you're holding a grudge against--praying every day for thirty days or until the anger dissolves. I don't really know these days exactly what prayer looks like for me, but I think it's part of what happens on my mat. So, starting today, I'm going to send Keegan a little love in some form of prayer each day: uttanasana I hope you're safe and happy, anjaneyasana thank you for all of the flowers, halasana I learned so much from you. I'm secretly hoping that the miracle I'll make will roll in somewhere around six figures. But I'll settle for the freedom to move forward differently--with some sticky spots worked out--with more freedom, less baggage and lots and lots of love. Stay tuned!
(Also, check out the video clip of Marianne Williamson talking about forgiveness)