Tomorrow 21 years ago  (12/21/98) at 11:42 a.m. his heart stopped beating out the rhythm of life when the machines that had sustained him for 5 1/2 weeks was disconnected. The end of a long ordeal that came as a result of end stage liver disease/Hepatits C. Awaiting a transplant that never occurred. Years of failed treatment that robbed him of quality of life. Multiple trips to the ER, numerous inpatient stays that involved draining of fluids, blood transfusions, IV meds, stabillization, rinse and repeat between 1992-1998 when the inevitable occurred. Sleepless nights. Worry. Fear. Hope. Many God-versations. Realization that we are all on loan to each other.

That man was my husband Michael.

We were married for nearly 12 years when he died. A paradoxical marriage with love and dysfunction. On the surface, we presented as a ‘spiritual power couple’ with a successful magazine that we published for 10 years. Not always rosy, behind closed doors. I wish it had been different. These days I am re-writing the narrative. My son who was 11 when his father passed and who was in the hospital room when he took his last breath, is now a happily married 32-year-old who is about to be a father. He tells me that I need to let go and forgive what I can’t change. Not sure what is keeping me tethered to regret and remorse. Even as a therapist, I have not been fully able to surrender that which is etched in memory. The Serenity Prayer at work. Forgiveness seems not to be a one and done thing, but a process.

I just got off the phone with my dear friend and mentor, Yvonne Kaye who reminded me how far I have come and that my son is a ‘friggin miracle’. She asked me to let go for my own sake and know that I have the power to take it even further than I have. To be proud of my accomplishments. To relinquish the guilt. To give the symbolic finger to what transpired between us.

Hard to believe that two decades plus one year have passed. It feels surrealistic. It feels like a story I have told a million times. It feels like someone else’s life. The woman I was, no longer exists. The emotional contortionist who would bend over backward to please people, the deer caught in the headlights when it came to making decisions and the one who was always looking over her shoulder to see if the ‘propriety police’ were watching, has evolved into an assertive, go for the gusto, speak her truth, leap of faith badass babe.

That moment when you are face to face with the choices you made that led to where you are now, can be either earth-shaking or earth-shattering. A friend says that his shake-ups are his wake ups and I definitely feel ‘shaked up and waked up’.

In the past few years, I have become acutely aware from the perspective of time, that if I could go back, I might have taken different steps and now wonder where I would be. All of our choices impact those around us and we never know how the ripples will spread. When I did things on autopilot, I wasn’t aware of how they would manifest all these years later. I ponder the myriad ways that the actions of others; even generations back, impact on my life now. Although I know I am not responsible for anyone else’s feelings or decisions, I wonder how to make amends around this. I wonder how to surrender and relinquish control. I wonder how to forgive and pull the thorns out that I have allowed to fester into wounds and resentments. Workin’ my Program BIG TIME~

I wrote this four years ago and it still rings true.

“Tomorrow marks 17 years since Michael died. I don’t grieve his passing now as much as I do for that 40-year-old woman who had allowed so much of herself to die prior to that time. I still feel his presence occasionally and have made peace with our fragments.  I had given up so much in an effort to earn love and acceptance. Hard to imagine all these years later, my life has done a 180-degree turn and I barely recognize myself. I have learned self-love and compassion, more flexibility and resilience. I have brought into my life so many kindred spirits who have enriched my life that I would not have had he lived. I have embarked on all kinds of inner and outer adventures that would also not have occurred otherwise. I am grateful for the lessons and the love. Ready to relinquish any residual emotions that have stood in the way of my moving on to the next phase of my life.”

In the interceding years, I have opened my heart to love again. Some of the paradoxical aspects of my marriage had stood in the way of fully committing to a new partnership. Never in a million years would I have imagined the various and sundry relationships I have found myself in during those nearly (holy shit!) two decades.. Grateful for those people who are treasures in my life. Forgiving myself for not meeting my own expectations for how I ‘should have been’ in my marriage and letting go of self-blame and shame.

Facing the future, heart forward.

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