Past The Pain Preview
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Moving with God
Past the Pain…
of divorce, death or any parting of lives once joined
by Pam Carlquist
A memoir of an extraordinary year in the life of Pamela Woodbury Carlquist
It is early morning, still dark, the house silent and empty except for my teenage son, asleep in his bed downstairs. I have stolen from my own rumpled bed, creeping quietly down one set of stairs and up another to my study after another sleepless night, disturbed by dreams of all I have lost since John and I separated nine months ago.
How could I have let this happen, I ask myself for the hundredth time. How could I have thrown away 27 years, just like that? How could I?
I take a breath. It hurts to breathe. I breathe again. Regret consumes me. Anxiety. Sorrow.
Settling myself in a chair, I close my eyes, breathe again and pray.
The pain remains. I don’t know what to do any more. Nothing helps.
Mechanically, I pick up a pen from my nearby desk, rummage through papers for a clean notebook and write. The writing comes easily. I don’t think about it; I just let it go.
Where are you? I need to talk to you. I need you to answer me somehow.
How can I go on with this life if you don’t help me? I’m so alone and so empty inside. I keep reminding myself of what my meditation book A Course in Miracles says, that ‘I am Spirit… safe and healed and whole.’ I don’t feel healed, and I don’t feel whole.
Since John moved out, I’ve felt lonely and incomplete and far less than perfect. Help me. I need you now more than I’ve ever needed you before…
Where are you, God? Answer me. You’ve answered so many others who say they’re no more worthy than the rest of us, so why not me?
Please, please, talk to me.
Nothing happens, of course. What could? I close my eyes again, waiting for the heaviness to lift. I consider going back to bed and trying to sleep. In a few hours, my son Will will be up, and I’ll have to smile at him and pretend everything is all right. He’s so sensitive to my moods these days, so sad himself about the breakup. If I could sleep for even a few minutes…
But I don’t sleep because suddenly I’m writing again. Only it doesn’t feel as though I’m the one doing the writing. The words spill out upon the page.
Dear one, I am here, of course. Here, which is everywhere. I have always been and always will be. And so have you. You must know that only you can heal yourself, though in reality you are already healed. The symptoms may not reveal this yet, but trust that it is so. It has always been so. I can provide answers and guidance, but you must find this healing within yourself. Look for that which is divine and whole, that which is You. Open your heart, see the goodness in yourself right now, know that you are evolving on your journey to Me—and to You, the real You, the authentic You. See your Self as I see You—beautiful and warm and radiant.
Be still now as we talk together. Relax, breathe, be at peace. Let down your guard. Remember, defenselessness is a good quality; it is a quality belonging, as A Course in Miracles says, to the teachers of God. You may feel you have failed an important test today. You let a soul mate’s—your husband’s—anger ignite your own, which was lying like an ember waiting to flare to life. But really it was just a quiz and a small one at that. The ultimate test will end with the score of ‘A.’ Be assured of that. Use your time in this life to move in that direction, the direction of excellence and compassion and forgiveness. The most difficult task is to forgive and to love when you don’t feel loved by another, especially by someone who has shared so much of your life with you and for whom you care so much.
Know that he is healing, too. His anger will diminish with time, and he will begin to see the blessings of your past and current relationship and your life together. Trust that all will work out as it should and that it will be beautiful, beyond anything you have yet known. Believe that. Believe. Have faith, my dearest one. You are safe with me. I love you too much to let anything truly dark befall you. All of this, even the breakup of your marriage, is for your healing and for the healing of many others. You have co-created it, each of you in your own way. Be patient. Meditate much. Pray much. See the beauty around and within you. Drink it in, and let it flow through your veins, cleansing and nourishing you.
All is well, my dear one, my love… All is well… All is well…
I stare at the page, the hairs on the back of my neck prickling. I read the words again and again, trying to grasp what is happening. At last, I reach for my pen, which has fallen to the floor, and answer.
I can’t believe you’re actually speaking to me, God, and actually writing through me. Is that who you are—God? Or are you a guide or an angel or something? I feel love and peace as I write this. Whoever you are, you must be very holy.
It is I. Don’t you recognize me, Pam? Not that it matters so much. If I were a guide or an angel, I would still be God, speaking to you. They are all a part of me; you, all of you, are a part of me. So much a part that without even one of you, I would be incomplete. Yet God could never be incomplete, and neither could you.
You have questions for me. Concerns. Ask away…
And now… skipping ahead to later chapters… (Stay tuned for additions each week.)
“I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Except for my sons, I’m not sure I’ve ever really known how to love completely. Maybe I’m just too caught up in myself. With all my heart, I’d like to find someone who can love me—and I, him—in a way beyond anything either of us has experienced; and someone who will join me in trying to make a positive difference in the world. Will I ever find that kind of love, God? Is it I who prevents that kind of intimacy with another?
Look at your words, Pam. “I’m too caught up in myself,” you say. Quite the contrary, I’d answer. The fact is you don’t love yourself enough, which is why you can’t love another in the way you want. If you loved yourself more, you’d naturally attract love and be able express yourself and that love without inhibition or restraint. You’d show the true YOU always.
Yes, but here’s the other problem, God: I’m never satisfied. Even when I was happily married, there were times before the kids came along when I felt restless and unfulfilled, as though I had not yet met my true love. Instead of seeing my life with John as perfect or, at least, sufficiently happy, I kept feeling there should be something more to our marriage, that maybe I’d settled for less romance and excitement than I wanted and deserved—and that maybe John had, too. It wasn’t as though we had nothing in common; we had everything in common, or most everything anyway, and John was my best friend. I loved him deeply.
The trouble was, I wanted more.
A common refrain, wouldn’t you say, Pam?
Yes, God, I admit that. I’m trying to do better, but… well, it’s hard to break old habits. I am working on it, though.
I’m not judging this, Pam. I’m simply observing.
Well, it’s true; and I’m sure it’s contributed hugely to my unhappiness or, at least, my disquiet over the years.
Anyway, I think it was during one of my college English courses that I first read Plato’s Symposium. In this, as I’m sure you know, the playwright Aristophanes spins a tale about why humans are always restlessly seeking their other half. Supposedly in the beginning, humans were once either male, female or androgynous, each with two heads, four arms, four legs, two sets of genitals, etc.—in other words, sufficient and complete in and of themselves. Unfortunately, in this perfect state, they became proud and began threatening the gods until Zeus, never one to put up with such pride for long, raised his thunderbolt and literally sliced the people in two. And now each of us goes through life, seeking our other half yet seldom able to find just the right one.
I guess that’s how I sometimes felt in my marriage to John—that I’d found a wonderful man, a kind and handsome and exceptionally bright and capable husband, just not my other half.
So I think a part of me was always searching for… something different, always assuming that other people had found what they were seeking and that I needed to find that, too. If I’d only stopped to observe my friends and family more closely, I might have realized that each of them had their own set of challenges every bit as complicated as the ones John and I faced, and that relationships do, in fact, as the saying goes, take work, hard work.
But I didn’t realize it. I just knew that though my marriage was good, it wasn’t perfect—and I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted a husband and lover and spiritual partner, all in one, not just a husband and good friend. I wanted a soul mate.
Maybe John did, too.
Anyway here I am, still searching for that soul mate, wondering if maybe I just didn’t recognize him when we were together—or wondering if he’s still out there somewhere, looking for me, too. Am I being too idealistic, God? Will I ever be satisfied? Or will I go on seeking something or someone that couldn’t possibly exist?
Seek no more, Pam, outside yourself, if you seek peace and perfection; seek only that which is within. Be in love with every moment and with all creation. Don’t worry so much about whether or not you’ve found your ‘soul mate.’ All are soul mates in their own way. Whether you knew it or not, whether you felt it or not, John was indeed a soul mate, despite—or perhaps because of—his ability to take you out of your comfort zone at times. Maybe he wasn’t the most romantic husband always; but in his own way, he demonstrated his love for you and his sons over and over, as did you for him and for them. Neither of you was particularly adept at expressing your feelings through words and affection, yet each of you managed to say, “I love you,” over and over most days, in your gifts of thoughtfulness and support, in your willingness to listen and help one another and in your many acts of kindness.
Still, the two of you have come to this impasse; and though you may think you’ve somehow failed in your marriage and in life, you have not. Your relationship has changed, that’s all, and perhaps this transposition is not so bad as you might think. Is it not allowing each of you to explore new avenues and new relationships and certainly yourselves in a way that would never have occurred otherwise? Is it not causing you to look at what is, just as it is, with a new kind of acceptance and grace?
Reach out to all with love and empathy. As you do, you’ll inevitably attract, like a magnet, those who approach life as you do, your ‘soul mates,’ as you say—though I repeat, all beings are soul mates. Send love out into the world, and the universe will respond with love for you.
Therefore, be your most joyous, peaceful and loving Self. Then, no matter what, you will find the ‘soul mate’ within, and you will be happy for you will have discovered something greater than anyone or anything outside your Self could give. You will have found the true and authentic You, which is Me, which is Joy, which is Love at its best.
And truly, what more could you or anyone else want?
“Lord, let me honor myself this day. Let me be… kinder, gentler, friendlier… not to please anyone, but just to say I am that I am…”
-Science of Mind November 2001
No questions for me today, my dear? And yet, you look so sad.
Sit down a moment, and breathe in. Gaze about you, opening your heart a little as you do, and look again. Be patient. True peace and intimacy comes when you are open to all, when you can look beyond to that which is invisible to the world.
Say often the words from Isaiah: “This is the refreshing.” This-is-the-refreshing. Let the words bring perfect peace. Relax. Breathe them in. Live them. Love. And know that all is well.
Relish the silence, even in your sorrow. Let it seep into your soul and find its source. As a newly fertilized egg propels itself forward, then plants itself firmly along the lining of the uterus to grow, develop and become, so, too, will your inner peace find its place within you. It, too, will grow, develop and become.
And you will heal; indeed, you’ve already begun.