The Forgiveness Chronicles - Disclaimer & Part I: The Alarm
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
The Forgiveness Chronicles
© by Aubrey Gann-Redmon TM (aka Red Feather)
“There is no counterfeit forgiveness.” – Rachel Farris, As You Wish Talk Radio, July 4, 2020
When COVID-19 was looming on the horizon last winter, I could not have predicted what life would look like six months later…though I felt something coming. I didn’t know what. I had felt it my whole life, but had ignored it and shoved it away, and that’s really what this chronicle is about. The virus set into motion a chain of events from which I am confident no prior, unified sense of normalcy can be reclaimed. I'm good with that. Normalcy as it previously existed wasn't as great as I had thought it was. I’ve come to believe that the overarching theme humanity is being asked to explore at this time is forgiveness. How that manifests in each person’s individual life is largely dependent on the choices we make right now, in this epic moment of history.
This is a chronicle of my unabashed journey through forgiveness. Be aware that I have experienced sexual trauma, some of it in childhood. I have grappled with substance abuse. I have been on the receiving end of terrible things. I will discuss these things, so if you are someone who is triggered immensely by these sorts of stories, you may not want to read what follows...although it is my hope that through telling these stories, I might inspire others on similar journeys in healing.
I have no idea how this is going to go; I might just confirm your suspicion that I am completely crazy (you’re totally free to have your opinion and I am not going to judge you for it), or, I might help some people who sense the same struggle within their own life (in which case, yay!). I do not consent to taking on judgments and I choose to have no expectations other than my own, which are simple: chronicle the story as authentically as possible from my unique perspective. All the names and even some immaterial facts have been changed, if they are mentioned specifically at all, to ensure that this is a fictional memoir; it is fictional because it is not limited by whether others agree with my perception of events. Additionally, protections have been taken to ensure attorney-client privilege and confidentiality are maintained when I recount "war stories" from my time as a litigator; facts, details, names, and information have been changed in ways that maintain these important protections, but that authentically gives the reader insight into what the world of being a solo lawyer is really like. These stories need to be told so that my journey into understanding forgiveness can be put into context and makes sense.
I’ve come to believe true freedom is expansion, and to be able to perceive in an expanded way is also to chronicle in an expansive way.
“The Law of Truth
Truth being a vibration of the highest frequency, always prevails, it can be subverted temporarily, but will always prevail. Truth being absolute however does have levels of frequency.” – Flowing With Universal Laws: Cosmic Laws, Universal Laws, Subsidiary Laws by Margo Kirtikar, Ph.D.
Whether or not this work seems more like a work of fiction or a work of nonfiction will largely depend on whether my story resonates with you, dear reader. I am a spiritual being having a human experience. You see that “subverted temporarily” part in the definition up above? It is talking to you, human ego. Given that I currently find myself wrapped inside of a body of flesh, with an ego and personality, I have no shame in acknowledging that I am flawed. My three-dimensional being cannot yet hold the highest frequencies existing in the Cosmos perpetually while in body. As I write this, I am sitting in a human body, and I acknowledge that my truth may not be perfectly aligned with The Truth, though that is always the goal. I am not perfect, omniscient, omnipotent, and I don't have the ability to perceive everything that is. While I believe we are all divine, we are limited in the expression of divinity while in human form. I may fall short. Shrugs. It is to be expected. All I can guarantee is that I will do my best and let Divine Will control the rest.
I recount events as I remember them and as I perceived them, but sometimes my perceptions encompass more than just my five physical senses. When I sense something beyond one of the five physical senses, I will write about it in italics. I want to make it clear that just because I have and continue to have extra sensory perceptions while I am in body does not mean that I am in any way special. We all have these abilities. Some are born with veils, gateways, and portals open in them, and among them, to varying degrees. Others are born with all these channels closed tightly shut, though through steady self-work, they can be opened at a rate only the soul can help determine. Regardless, we all have work to do to expand our potential in a variety of ways. I’ll chronicle my journey in that regard, too. Observe without attachment and see what resonates and what does not. Not all paths and perceptions are alike, even if they lead to the same place.
With Blessings for Peace and Healing,
Om Hum Kem Ketave Namah,
Om Hum Kem Ketave Namah,
Om Hum Kem Ketave Namah.
Part I - The Alarm
Strong slats of summer sun shined their way through the cracked boards of the dilapidated wood shed. Old, molding straw was scattered across the dirt and gravel floor. It smelled of urine and rotting earth.
“Go over there,” the boy pointed to the far corner, furthest from the door.
Everything inside of me told me not to. Everything inside of me wanted to run. I shoved it aside. I was brave. Darkness didn’t scare me. I marched to the corner and stood with my hands on my hips.
“Here?” I challenged. I didn’t know what this game was, but was already growing impatient and craving fresh air. What had he wanted to show me in this yucky shed?
The boy nodded. As he approached me, I saw him grab the waistband of his shorts with both hands and begin to pull. Confusion swept over me in burning wave of fear, as I realized something was not right. I looked around nervously. The door was behind him. I swallowed the lump that hung painfully in the back of my throat.
“What – “ I began.
I never finished that sentence. I was seven years old.
I woke up, grabbed my tiger’s eye japa beads, and said it 108 times, once with each passing bead: Om Hum Kem Ketave Namah. The word 'Hum' was Havana Shakti, the power of offering, sacrifice, destruction, and transformation. Nothing was born without something else being destroyed first. What was I working so hard to offer up, sacrifice, destroy, and transform?
Only one answer came: the illusions that had gripped me since birth and stood as obstacles to forgiveness.
How do you explain the invisible? How do you convince someone that what you see and feel is real if they are not also sharing the same experience?
Energy…the unseen force that permeates us all. It can cross millennia, universes, galaxies, cities, pass through walls, and right into our hearts in the flash of an instant. It doesn’t know time, it doesn’t care about matter. It goes where it is willed, where it is directed, and if you’re an antennae, you receive everything. And sometimes, you realize it…and other times, you don’t. Until you do, and then, how does a person keep their bandwidth and at the same time, say no to the stuff that creates suffering? If the bandwidth is wide, it will catch more than when it is narrow.
I learned the hard way that I could not expand bandwidth without enacting protective measures. That was one of the first lessons I learned. As a woman, I struggled to practice law in the Age of the Divine Feminine Awakening without protective tools because the unchecked, uncontrolled power of empathy, intuition, and manifestation will be an unwieldy beast that will destroy as much as it creates, trampling everything in its surges without temperance. It can be ravenous, devouring whatever is in its path and leaving a scorched earth in its wake.
I stood often, among the acrid stench of burned bridges and dreams, my eyes watering, the heat singeing my spirit. The landscape was gray with ash and smoke obscured the sky. I couldn’t see far, and I couldn’t breathe. My heart felt faint, and I would have laid down to rest, only the ground was still too charred from the flames of fury.
There were so many moments in my life where this is what I felt inside of myself. It happened after trauma. It happened during triggers for trauma. It happened after particularly brutal battles in court. It happened...too often, it seemed.
I made the best of it. There is a certain alchemy in building things from the ashes of the wars others have fought, or that we have fought within ourselves. It is more than hard work; it is persistence and a deeply rooted belief in something greater than. To create something from ashes gave me an endless fount of gratitude that would well inside of me up each time serendipity, life, Cosmos, the Earth, or just a passerby in life handed me something – anything – because everything has value with the right kind of eyes. Every adversity is an opportunity to build strength and resilience in ways I never thought possible. It is a chance to throw off the shackles of limitations and see where the boundaries of love, kindness, and gratitude can be stretched and expanded. Therein lies the alchemy…how to transform and expand pain, discomfort, constriction, and obstruction into something beautiful and abundant. This was the magic of life. Everything – every person, every situation, every thorn – is a sacred messenger. What were these messengers trying to tell me?
I often felt a compulsion to unplug, stop the noise, and be guided by quiet, subtle inner knowings that gently lead – never demand, never force – me to consider the value to be unlocked in the moment. No matter how little fuel was left in the tank through all the illness and through all the long hours in the day, I always made time to review these things and consider: what can this BECOME? How can it be transformed? What is one step I can take next to shape this new outcome? I placed myself into a state of Cosmic Flow and allowed Spirit to guide me when I had no reserve left.
The Cosmic River is like all rivers…when there are storms, there is debris, sometimes rapids, and occasionally, waterfalls. It wasn’t this lazy river you could just plop down into and float around in on an inner tube. My mom’s death was the harbinger that the world I knew would cease exist…much sooner than I expected. Humans crave two things above all else: certainty and belonging. The problem with certainty is that it is an illusion, an assumption, because few things can remain certain when everything is dynamic. Everyone says nothing is certain but death and taxes…but even that is inaccurate. Death isn’t a certainty; ask someone who is dying. Many see it as the greatest uncertainty of all, because no one knows what, exactly, happens next. Some believe there is nothing, that death is it, that this life is all there is. Others believe in Heaven and Hell. Still others believe in reincarnation, and those of us who do, often have diverse beliefs surrounding even that.
And belonging…the things we need to belong are the very things that society discourages just by the way we live our lives: loving kindness, authenticity, gratitude, and generosity create belonging. Who has room for any of those things when we are bombarded with fear and scarcity programming on a daily basis? One of the only ways to exit the programming and create the space necessary to cultivate those elements is to eschew all dogma – religious, political, and otherwise – and create sacred time to practice those things by clearing out the distractions, debris, and clutter. In my mind’s eye, I would find a beach in the crowded Cosmic River and pull off, dragging myself ashore, and taking the breather I needed to regain my strength. Some days, just to stay in the flow, I would have to swim, paddle, and dodge debris to stay afloat, the current was so strong. There are techniques that serve as life jackets, and at times, I was able to put one of those on. But there were many times I almost drowned.
A few of those near drownings were a direct result of putting people in my raft that did not know how to swim and refused to wear their life jackets. Part of being the captain of the ship means having to do most of the navigation of the rapids, most of the paddling, most of the debris dodging, and when the raft is tipped and the occupants panic – without their life jackets on – they will cling to you, clawing desperately for air as they drag you down with them in their panic to stay afloat.
I took my job as captain of my own raft - let's call it the Life Raft - seriously only after my daughter was born. As a lawyer, I wound up in charge of other rafts, too. I was the captain of many rafts: the raft of a law firm, my daughter's raft, my cat's raft, sometimes the rafts of friends and family...it was a lot of responsibility for a lot of years.
During the most intense culmination of my karmic experience, I suffered three near drownings in three months. After that, I knew that I could no longer occupy a raft with those who could not handle white water rafting in the Cosmic River. As 2020 approached, the ride was getting more intense. The voyage ahead was uncertain; there were no maps, as the landscape had changed. Dramatically. I saw the world in a way many others did not, and I knew, instinctively, that we were in uncharted waters.
For years, the Cosmic River has woven its way through my life, a gently rolling prairie, meandering slowly through expanses of tall grasses and fields of wildflowers. Every once in a while, there would be a torrential downpour and the streams, creeks, and tributaries would flood, and the Cosmic River would swell. Eddies would form and threaten to suck me under. The water would become murky with sediment, hiding truths and dangers, forcing me to sense my way along and train my eyes to see beyond the muddiness to the possibilities that lie just beyond grasp. In 2018, the first glimmers of something new rose from the horizon. There were mountains ahead. They were so majestic, I was unable to tear my gaze away from them. But awesome beauty always presents its own peril. As the River approached the mountain range, something began to happen. The landscape changed dramatically. Before I knew it, the wide expanse of prairie had narrowed down to a steep ravine, and then a canyon, as the wide, meandering River became constricted. It picked up volume and force. It began carving its way through rock, eroding centuries of history, exposing sharp edges and jagged cliffs. Snow melt, dead trees, even boulders crashed into the River and were hurled along, pummeling and crashing into one another. The walls of the canyon rose high on either side of the River – the polarity with a chasm of River squeezed in between.
Being in the River means witnessing without judgment and using only discernment to keep above water. When I had people in that raft with me when myself (and it would seem, the rest of humanity) headed into Stage IV rapids in the canyon, they were constantly clamoring for one shore or the other, never realizing the impracticality of their desire, because the world they knew is behind them and won’t ever be the same again. Any shore would require scaling a huge rock wall just to find daylight. The only way was forward. The only way forward is through. The only way through is observing without judgment and practicing loving kindness, gratitude, and generosity of the spirit.
After Mom’s death, the first time the raft tipped and I fell out, it was a client that was desperately clinging to me for dear life. She had eaten all the food and drank all the water in the raft and had even intentionally put a hole in the raft itself. She had no life jacket. She had instead traded her life jacket for a Cadillac she would never be able to take with her, and so, without a raft and without a life jacket, she was grabbing at my ankles as I desperately struggled to make my way to the nearest boulder in the ravine.
All of this is of course a metaphor for what really happened. I was in court, asking the judge to allow me to fire my client. Withdrawing from a client’s case is like pulling ashore and asking them to leave the raft. The ride is over. Next time they venture into the River, they will have to find a different guide or go it alone. This client refused to get out of the raft, even after she had destroyed it. The hardest part was realizing that I had given this person everything they asked for and yet, they were still not satiated. They would never be satiated. They were so self-righteous that they were beyond reason. The client refused to let go of me, and proceeded to tell the judge what an abusive, terrible person I was. The emails showed otherwise, but when your own client lies about you, and your only defense is to divulge attorney client privilege, you have little choice but to remain silent. So, I sat there, in court, enduring the hostility and the lies until a threshold was crossed, and an alarm had been tripped. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it in the moment, because all I felt in instant was my life leaving me. And…I panicked.
Not here, a voice inside of me begged. Not in court. Not in front of the judge. Not without husband, my daughter, my Dad. Mom! The voice inside of me screamed. Where are you?
It had happened so suddenly. A darkness descended upon me that to this day, I am at a loss to adequately describe. It was accompanied by a deep resonance, something out of a Star Wars movie, a wooooommmmmp. My muscles tensed up like rocks and shook involuntarily, as though surrendering to an earthquake. They began to shake uncontrollably, everywhere: my legs, feet, toes, fingers, arms, stomach – all of it seemed to revolt. It was cold outside and warm in the courtroom, but I could not take off my overcoat. My body was dumping sweat and in under a minute, my entire outfit was soaked through. The sweat was sticky, thick, and everything was clinging to me. I stunk. I couldn’t tell what the smell was, but it was terrible and I was so embarrassed that if I let that overcoat fall to the ground, everyone would see the sweat and smell the stench of my torture. I wrapped the coat around me tightly and clamped down, hugging myself, willing the shaking to stop. All the while, as I am fighting to keep my composure while this client slanders me to the judge, nausea is rising in my stomach. The acid boils over into my throat and I choke it back, stifling a gag. Everything feels hot, and yet I have chills. My back, where my kidneys were, ached and throbbed. And then, the worst part happened: my heart felt as though it dropped down into my stomach and then jolted like a rhino ramming a cage…my rib cage. Every time the head of the rhino rammed the cage, the pain was shocking and intense. It was like my soul itself was trying to just charge its way out of my body. It was violent, scary, and when it was over, I was so weak I could barely move. My vision grew dark and on the periphery, I saw stars floating into my field of vision. I knew what this was. I had been here eighteen years before. Part of me wanted to slip into the bliss I knew would be waiting for me, if only I could allow the unconsciousness to take hold. The potential relief was tempting. So tempting.
No. Not here. Not here. The voice within me persisted, and I could scarcely listen to anything around me at this point as I just fought to maintain consciousness. I stared at the microphone in front of me. I noticed it had tiny latticework where the mouthpiece was. Something in me needed something to focus on, so I began counting the squares of lattice. One. Two. Three…
Slowly, the encroaching darkness began to subside. My pulse began to pick back up; I hadn’t noticed that it had been fading and faint until it returned.
“Ms. Gann-Redmon, do you have anything you’d like to say?” Judge barely looked up from his notes and had I been more present, I would have been relieved at this small gesture of mercy. His voice sounded so far away, as though he was speaking to me from underwater. It took me a second to register that he had asked me a question.
“I wish to maintain attorney client privilege and therefore I have no comment,” I managed to say, although I have no idea where that that response came from. I was told later that my Higher Self probably took over in those moments to help me survive.
I was fighting back a blinding headache and nausea. As soon as court was in recess, I grabbed my box and with all the remaining strength I could muster, made my way to the hallway as quickly as I could. I found the nearest trashcan in a corner by the stairs and threw up the meager contents from my stomach. My muscles still trembled, and the sticky sweat was growing cold, my damp, clammy clothes clinging to me. I wanted a shower. I felt like I needed to sleep. And I had a mountain of work to do. I had no idea how I was going to continue to grind on through the day.
It took thirty minutes of sitting in the car in the parking garage watching pigeons shit on the railings like it was some form of actual entertainment before I felt like I could tackle the five-minute drive back to the office. Once I was back at the office, I could barely think. My headache became a migraine and my thoughts were fuzzy. I worked a few blurry hours before returning home and collapsing. I had no energy left for dinner, my daughter, my husband, and even taking a bath felt like a huge undertaking. Everything in me was pushed beyond the point of exhaustion to a state I can only refer to as liminal…that moment right before death, where it all just seems easier to allow everything to slip away into nothingness than to try and salvage what is left. It took me three days to recover, before the exhaustion wasn’t crippling and the weakness in my limp limbs were imbued with enough strength that they didn’t ache when I moved.
The Google Doctors of the world would say that because I was forty, and because I didn’t have any underlying heart conditions, what I experienced was a panic attack. But this didn’t feel right to me. I emailed my doctor, I journaled about it, and I prayed that it never happened again.
But it did. Two and a half more times. The half was the last time; with the love of my husband to guide me out of the woods, we were able to stop it before it manifested itself completely.
Each time, the attack was borne of conflict; perhaps the conflict was normal for the other individuals involved, but it was not normal for me. Something was happening within my body, and more accurately, something was happening within my Spirit and manifesting within my body. The final time, I accomplished something I had never been strong enough to follow through with before: I did not engage; I refused to return the energy. I did not participate; I put on the brakes and did my best to refrain from lashing out. I simply walked away...to the extent I could. I felt it important to state my truth firmly with as much equanimity as possible. I am sure on some counts, I fell miserably short of that goal. I did my best in the moment. I know there are people who might disagree. I've given up caring what others think; it hasn't really served me well lately, if it ever had in the first place.
Walking away was one of the more difficult things I had done in my life. I had felt the attack coming on; this would have been the fourth, had I allowed it. But everything in my Spirit screamed at me not to, as the threats mounted and the alarms began to sound: my muscles began to tense, my breathing became difficult. For three hours, I meditated. At times, I had to aggressively restart the process when my focus broke and I was getting sucked back into the eddy of suffering. I commanded my mind to focus on the meditation, to eschew the swirling energy that surrounded me. The attempts to meditate failed. Miserably. The harder I pushed, the more elusive stillness became. In my exhaustion, I succumbed. I began to shake. My husband grabbed me, his warm limbs wrapped around me, his heart beating against my back, his hand over my heart, as he held me in the late hours of the night. I could feel his strength ground me. He breathed. I breathed. He breathed. I breathed. He breathed. I breathed. He was almost like my human ventilator. And so it went for what felt like an incredible amount of time. When it was over, the attack had surrendered to the more powerful energy of love...but probably also exhaustion. The only thing left to banish were the thoughts. They were so persistent.
In the moment, I could feel, hear, and intensely sense the anger directed at me. Resentment, fear, frustration felt like daggers that were flying my direction and no amount of love or light or gratitude I could surround myself would shield me. I was too tired. I just wanted to sleep, but the rest I needed most didn’t come. I was bathed in a toxic stew of hostility. Did the hostility really exist? It did for me. I could feel it and I was experiencing it. I suspected the source but would probably never be able to confirm it. Was it intentional? Likely not, but the implication is that once such energy is directed, it forms a beacon that attracts like energy to wherever it is directed. In essence, the energy is amplified by all the nearby energies of the same frequency that, like a magnet, are attracted just as iron shavings are and pile on. The last time I had felt that kind of intense heaviness and crushing weight were at two prior critical moments in my life: at age 7, when I first experienced trauma and again, in my 20's, when I experienced a near death experience from an overdose.
The biggest thing that tipped the scales in favor of life at that moment was my daughter. The thought of putting her through the grief and trauma of losing her mother at age 7 – rather than 38 years old, as I had been – was too much to bear. If it had been devastating for me in midlife, what could it do to a child? What story would be told about what killed her mother? My mother died from chemo and leukemia at 63 years old. But what was killing me at 40? Why was this happening to me? Where was my strength? And then, it dawned on me. I was 7 when my innocence was stolen and I was initiated into the world of trauma. What was the message that trauma was trying to send me? What had I not learned, twice before, that I was experiencing for a third time when my daughter was 7? If I could heal the trauma, once and for all, could I prevent her from experiencing trauma of her own?
My doctor ordered me to come in for tests and opined that my auto immune issues were likely causing adrenal insufficiency. Adrenal insufficiency is controversial, though I don’t think it should surprise anyone that all the stress we put ourselves under in artificial environments devoid of sunlight, fresh air, and nature would cause anyone to suffer biological issues in handling stress. Especially in modern America. But there I was, thinking that my adrenal glands were giving out because I had been surviving in fight or flight mode as a litigator for nearly 12 years with few vacations and almost no real rest or recovery. It made sense to me. Or, rather, I wanted that narrative to make sense. The voice inside of me knew better. I didn't listen.
The following week, I met with a medical medium, a shaman, my doctor, and a life coach. The verdict was the same: what energy are you allowing into your life right now?
Since Mom’s death, I had been steeped in spiritual practice. I had spent numerous hours, mostly during the night when plagued with insomnia, trying to open channels within myself in order to reach her. I had closed off so many channels practicing law. It was a necessity for me to survive the profession. Nothing could be taken personally; no lawyer could afford to be emotional in such an adversarial environment. The doorways to intuitive and emotional channels – to love – were walled off with brick and mortar and tiny, narrow passageways were tunneled underground. Only I knew the way to bypass the walls. And there wasn’t much time or many situations where I allowed those tunnels to be used. I had to protect myself. I had a job to do. But after Mom’s death, I began to abandon the tunnels and tear down the bricks. My longing was so deep that I was desperate to find her, to have contact, to feel that love again.
The thing that I intellectually knew, but didn’t experience enough to actually know, was that when those walls started to come down, all the darkness, negativity, and rot in the world would also find its way in with the light. Each day became a struggle to shield myself from the bombardment of negativity that surrounded me with clients, courts, opposing counsel, and the world in general. I was a probate lawyer; when people died, the grief, secrets, and hidden resentments often bubbled to the surface, no longer suppressed for the benefit of the person who had just passed. I was flooded with pleas for justice from those who had passed on; not just in probate cases, but in every case where I dealt with someone who had spirits they weren’t even aware of following them around and influencing them. There were no safe havens. When the floodgates opened, I was bombarded. To maintain my daily composure at work while fielding and warding off the energy flying at me from all directions left me with next to nothing in the tank every night.
That’s why, when the grief, anger, frustration, rage, and fear came at me in ever increasing doses from those in close proximity to me, my body literally shut down and went into revolt. Every fiber of my being was protesting. No part of me wanted anything to do with anyone or any situation that caused that kind of distress. How do you keep the wall open and let love in when you cannot trust that the exchange will be free of such nastiness? What kind of agreement needed to be reached to ensure safe harbor, that the exchanges would be pure, and free from harm? How do you explain this to people who have never experienced a psychic attack? How do you explain this to anyone in the legal profession, which demands evidence, tangible proof, and hard facts for most everything? How do you quantify something so ethereal?
The internet is real. We cannot see it, but we know it exists because we experience it when we Google something or check our emails. Cell phones are real. How a person’s voice gets from Point A to Point B through time and space without wires is something we cannot see, but know must exist because we hear the voice through the phone. For me, the psychic attacks were real. I couldn’t see them, but I could feel them and experience them on multiple planes of reality, and the reaction my body had was tangible, even if I was the only one experiencing it.
I quickly surrendered to the philosophy that anything that cost me my peace would be too expensive. I knew this in the deepest part of my Spirit. I knew that fighting over money, whether for myself or others, would end my life, and it wasn’t the way I wanted to go. I walked away from everything I had been building in my legal career over the last 15 years. I took only what health I had left, my name, and my pride in what I had built, but even then, I would be asked to loosen my grip on my past. If I could just survive, regain my health, and find peace, I knew that I could build a future. Once a person has built something, losing almost everything isn’t so scary, because if it was built before, it can built again. Starting completely from scratch at 40 wasn’t what I had planned, desired, or dreamed for myself. But it was better than the alternative, and I was determined to make the best of it. It took me a while to even realize that I had yet to find gratitude for the fact that I still had my life.
My doctor gave a strict order to stop work completely in order to avoid all stress. The idea was incomprehensible to me, but I complied. I had no idea how to put myself first. I didn’t know where to begin. But, as I had told myself so often over the last decade as a litigator, when things feel that overwhelming and daunting:
Aubrey, how do you eat an elephant? One. Bite. At. A. Time. Start with the tail. Get the ass end over with and behind you as quickly as possible.
That is exactly what I did.
I thought of all the things I had always dreamed of doing with my life. What brought me joy? What brought me love? Where were the limitations and how do I rearrange life to eliminate the limitations and make room for all the good stuff? I journaled in earnest and a plan began to organically fall into place.
I had taken out disability insurance years before, thinking maybe I would need it if I wound up with cancer, like one of my mentors before me, or like my Mom. After my doctor order me to stop working, through the process of making a claim, she ordered an EKG to obtain documentation on a new diagnosis. She was concerned about how low my blood pressure was, and how slow my pulse was. On the first day of my retirement, first thing in the morning, I went into the office and had electrodes stuck to my body as I was hooked up to the machine.
They ran the test.
“This can’t be right,” the nurse said, ripping the paper off the machine and checking the electrodes.
“Is everything okay?” I asked. I had a sinking feeling that I tried to shrug off with a little humor. “Is my barely beating heart telling you I am a vampire?”
She chuckled. “I just think there might be something wrong with these,” she said, continuing to fiddle with the electrodes.
They ran the test again. This time, she frowned, ripped the sheet off the machine, and left the room. After a few moments, she came back.
“Doctor wants me to run it again,” she said.
“Is everything okay?” I repeated.
“The EKG is showing a prior heart attack,” she said softly. “Doctor doesn’t believe it, though, so we’re running the test again.”
I felt tears sting my eyes. Of course, the voice of inner knowing chimed in. Of course. These weren’t adrenal attacks, they were heart attacks. It was the truth I had been avoiding for months. My heart was being attacked. No one meant to attack it, no one intended to attack it, but I tore down those walls and I left it defenseless in an environment where no heart should be undefended. Of course.
“That actually make sense,” I whispered.
I had done it to myself. Nothing can attack us that we do not allow and consent to attack us. That was the moment where everything changed. I had allowed this. I had consented to it. I had stuck around in an ocean of stress, working myself to the bone.
Answering this question led to only one location: the ass-end of the elephant sitting on the plate in front of me. The ass-end was where I had to begin. It was often the hardest part. In my case, it was forgiveness. I needed to forgive myself, and in so doing, I would learn how to forgive others.
The quest to journey the Cosmic River, alone in my own raft, to learn to heal through the Art of Forgiveness had begun.