Ta Da!

We talk so much of resolutions and goals, but what are you proud of about 2019? What’s on your Ta Da List?

I’ve written about mine extensively. It’s the work of my life, the reason I started this blog, but it wasn’t until 2019 that I really saw results. I saw improvement, but I hadn’t yet managed to sustain it, or found a way out of my pattern: crisis/recovery/crisis/recovery.  It’s all I’ve ever known. It’s how my family relates.

I see it now, the shift. I believe in it. I’m so encouraged and excited by that! Time and again, I’ve met with resistance, rejection, assault, attack, or heartache and upset, and I’ve responded with strength and calm.

My biggest success is the biggest loss, but it was my biggest trigger – my mom – and I DID IT! Poorly, but I did it. That was a toddling argument, full of mistakes and regret. Falling everywhere, bumping, crying, anger, re-centering and starting again, in one stilted conversation. If given the opportunity, I could build mutual trust with her. We could get better at discussions of thorny or painful issues. I could build a real relationship between us, with depth and substance. I understand, too, that it’s not available. She won’t.

Acceptance was the huge Ta Da for me in 2019. I can’t force it. I love us both enough not to ask again. The sorrow, of course, is that I feel hollow and unsatisfied by such a superficial connection, and it’s the only other option to shunning. The sole interaction they permit feels uneasy to me, inauthentic, like being loved with an asterisk.

But love it is. Just as Mom doesn’t have the right erase my origin story, I can’t pretend that love isn’t love when it doesn’t behave exactly like I want it to. For now, I can appreciate that. I accept her limits for our relationship, but meaningful acceptance of this quasi-“love” from my family is beyond my skill set for now. It makes me mad. I want to open my heart to it, but I’m not there yet. Layers…

Perhaps I’ll always feel second-class. It’s still love, the only way they know how. Today, it’s insulting. “Isn’t it a shame?” they condescend. “If only she’d stop causing so much trouble, we could welcome her.” I just won’t receive their embrace. Tsk, tsk.

As for their religious estimation of me, “pearls before swine” sums it up, but I don’t mind them seeing me as Esau, tossing my birthright for sin. We both feel superior in that regard, which is sad, really, and antithetical to love, but I can only handle so much. It’s unfathomable to me how they refuse to examine their thoughts. It’s positively willful, but they don’t see the action verb in their behavior. They’re so used to believing without thinking that they’re blind to the blinders they wear.

There’s a song in Book of Mormon Musical, in which the missionaries dance to a wonderfully irreverent tune about those dreaded, creeping questions. Before allowing themselves to complete any thought, they interrupt with the chorus. “TURN IT OFF!”

I know plenty of Mormons who think for themselves. I know countless intellectually curious, courageous individuals who explore truth on their terms and land in their own place on the spectrum of orthodoxy, but my family is culty. Gross.

Look down on me, then. We share that.

Our problems are behavioral, not theological, but I can see how that refusal to look deeply at an issue came from our religious culture. I believe, too, in genetic memory. Studies show that trauma alters genes, which are then transmitted to subsequent generations. When we feel history in our bones, we really do!

I’ve found a lot of understanding and healing in that notion, and when I sit in it, I feel my ancestors. They’re in my blood, pumping and alive. Whether they’re angelic or not (They are), they’re now.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” -William Faulker

I don’t think we’re doomed by genetic memory. In the context of ancestry, we’re all the perpetrator and the victim, and I believe we can heal our spirits and bodies in real time. For me, it’s overwhelming and so fulfilling to consider recovery in a larger framework, one that challenges my understanding of time. The cosmos itself offers too much discovery to bend my mind to, that tells me time isn’t linear. Time is both real and unreal. Can I heal the past? Yes. I’m healing me, and the past is never dead.
healing hurts

Sideways on A Course In Miracles

I’m not a terribly ambitious girl, but when I make up my mind to do something I do it. I’ve had the book, “A Course In Miracles,” for years. It was a gift from a friend in the 90s, for heaven’s sake. I’m a fan of books on inner peace, so I kept “meaning to,” in my fashion, and finally decided to git ‘er done.

42 lessons in, I’m faltering. This morning is the first I’ve asked myself if this is really something I consider important for the entire year. The resistance I felt in the beginning was expected, according to the author, and I tend to be an adversarial person. (“That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” often escapes my lips before I’ve really listened.) So I gave it a pass and kept going.

Every morning as I read, however, I find myself confronting my former struggle against the likelihood of God as some kind of Puppet Master, who grants or withholds assurances and warm fuzzies based on our behavior. Why does any pursuit of peace and kindess toward one another have to involve any “Him”? It no longer sends me into paroxysms of panic… but it annoys me.

I like Jesus. He seems more tangible. I love him, actually. I want to be like him. Jesus wouldn’t accuse someone of stupidity just because he disgreed. I admire that. I don’t need to know or profess or even care if he died for me. Whether he did or didn’t, I expect the same thing when I die (love, the unknown). I believe in Christlike loving-kindness. I believe in acceptance. I’m not threatened by not knowing. But it does make it harder to proceed on a process of self-improvement and tolerance when it’s stated in terms of God the Father.

Now, the authors again preempted this resistance. It was one author’s description of herself (“psychologist, educator, … atheistic in belief”) and the appalling work relationship she shared with her department head that made me excited in the first place to finally begin this study. They were colleagues in a “prestigious and highly academic setting” whose acrimonious regard for one another prompted her boss to insist on a different course. They didn’t necessarily anticipate The Course, but that’s what developed.

Her method of coming by the text further helped sway me. She described it as a kind of automatic writing (though she expressly says it wasn’t automatic, because “it could be interrupted at any time and later picked up again”). I fully believe in automatic writing. I find it to be one of the most effective ways to tap into our psychic unconscious. Just as some excel at Math or sports, others’ psychic gifts are naturally more ready. I think automatic writing can be a universal baseline for all of us to connect to our own personal source (and find, as I did, our individual cheerleading squad). (“My angels”) Her experience was like mine. It took her by surprise. The language that came with it was certainly unexpected. (Although Mormons believe in angels, they’re not commonplace in casual discussion.)

At first I imagined that the scribe who took this “inner dictation” for the Course might be channeling an old spirit guide. Mediums say all the time that persons from different eras speak “thee and thou,” say, (The Course does not) or that they sometimes have to tell the soft-spoken to speak up. They even struggle with the accents of those they “meet.”

I thought, “If an atheist can open her mind to the possibility of paranormal gifts, certainly I can open my mind to the lingo she employs to convey her message. It’s just nomenclature, for god’s sake.” (hehe)

A Course In Miracles excuses the language of the lessons, such as “I am blessed as a Son of God,” saying, “Although Christian in statement, the Course deals with universal spiritual themes.” Sold! That’s me to a T. I’m a western girl. Christianity is a default. Quite by accident, and not even wanting to, I found that I’m intensely spiritual in a very unorthodox, universal way. But I feel like I’m reading the scriptures every day! Why not simply say every blessed morning, “I am blessed”?

I find that just as you are holy, so am I. Life is holy. That belief is contained in The Course as well, but when she says, The Holy Spirit,” I feel sick. In my gut, sick. For me, that one little article, capital “The,” is so alienating and sanctimonious. It actually has the opposite effect. It wholly separates me from this holy thing, and I just don’t think that’s real. I truly believe we are all connected. For me, “The Holy Anything” implies that we’re not.

I continued on, in faith that when she got past the building blocks and into the meat, it would be more “edifying,” as they say. Then I got to today. I had the thought, “I did this already.” Period. My whole childhood was hoping, reading, praying that it would occur to me like it occurred to everyone else. It didn’t. It occurred to me like it occurred to me. I can tell you the day I stepped on the path to my personal peace. (“What I Know”) It was awesome. It was hilarious. God or Whomever is funny!

A Course In Miracles is from the Foundation For Inner Peace. I don’t find it here. Others do. My friend, for example, and one of my favorite authors, Marianne Williamson. I’m willing to read on, accepting that I’ve taken this Course in another form and may drop this version at any time. I’ll keep an open mind. In fact, I want to explore that resistance a bit, in case there’s something to it I’m not seeing yet. But today, rather than simply encountering opposition, I understood that I have, in fact, already done this. And that’s okay.

I’m simultaneously reading a book by Pema Chödrön that gives me so much pleasure, hope and insight. She inspires me and makes me laugh. I didn’t know Buddhists could say “shit.” Even when times are shitty.

I’d rather know that Eber begat Peleg than read these scriptures. The Old Testament at least seems plausible as a historical document that betrays its time and place and the values of that day. A Course In Miracles seems pretentious. And boring as shit!

As for insisting others take my view, lest they be stupid, “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

(… I made it 72 days and simply could not continue. Didactic bombast!)