junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183

14 Aug

ROBIN WILLIAMS – DEATH BY SUICIDE

There But For The Grace of God Go I

This song, “Calling All Angels” by Jane Siberry & KD Lang  is appropriate for what I am about to say.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRUErh47sao

I can’t imagine one person who has heard about Robin Williams’ death who hasn’t been shocked and devastated. I am one of them. I have taken it hard.

As most of you know, I live with bi-polar illness. I was diagnosed when I was 20 years old. I ‘came out’ when I was 50 years old. It was too freakin’ scary to do it before then. It was terrifying even then. After all, I had a private psychotherapy practice, worked as a mental health worker in a group home and gave educational talks in corporations about mental health in the workplace sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health Association. How could I “come out of the closet” and expect my career to survive. How could “I” expect to survive?

I had just come out of a hospital after another clinical depression. The phones were ringing. People were wanting to come to my new workshops. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t lie any more. I couldn’t go back to pretending all was well with me when I had spent the last month in a psych ward.

Instead I wrote “Madness, Masks and Miracles” – (See link below)  a play about the dark night of the soul that everyone on earth experiences at least once in their life. I wrote about the masks we wear to disguise the pain…(who would ever have known of the unspeakable burden that Robin Williams was carrying?) Many of us have learned to have a public facade that can fool the masses. And finally, my play was about the Miracles, that allow us to take off our masks and be who we really are.

I am one of the lucky ones. I count my blessings. I have had numerous suicide attempts. I can’t describe to you or anyone what I have come to call, “the torture chamber of the mind”. Thank God, for the past 8 years I have been well. Really well.

I’ve had my moments of unrest, sadness, overwhelm. I have never even come close to having suicidal thoughts. I don’t believe I ever will again. The last attempt led me to a near death experience and I woke up in a state of grace and I have never looked back.

I am inspired right now to tell this story. A story I have NEVER told in public. The people close to me know it. I have always been too ashamed to tell it. Me – the one who ‘came out of the closet’ all those years ago standing on stage at the Vancouver Conference Centre in front of 400 doctors and mental health workers at the International World Assembly for Mental Health – a convention that happened to be in Vancouver when we just started staging the play. They heard of us. They asked us to perform it for them. It was the worst experience I have ever encountered. It was also the best experience as it allowed me to speak my truth – in spite of the terror of being criticized, ostracized, marginalized and hospitalized – one more time.

Then just 8 years ago – which also feels like light years ago – I ‘woke up’ in what I described earlier as a state of grace. But the story that preceded it was not pretty. Few people know about it. Today, I came to the computer to do something else. Instead my fingers are flying off the keyboard telling this story – one I was always too ashamed to tell.

Bi-Polar Illness and every other mental illness has many shapes and sizes. It is not a cookie cutter disease as some people may think. Oh, look, she’s really depressed. Oh look, she’s wildly out of control. There are so many layers. Oh so many! And the sufferer of these illnesses and their family, friends and caregivers suffer right along with them.

When I was a young girl, and up until recently, NO-ONE spoke about their mental illness especially in public. The stigma and shame was so unbearably powerful, no-one dared. Hey, I didn’t dare until I was 50! Today, and for several years now, public figures are talking freely about their diagnosis, their pain and suffering. It’s talked about more in the media now than ever – at least here in North America. Still, there is a long way to go. And it is people who do speak out that make it safe for others to do the same.

I have been speaking out for a long time now. It doesn’t mean I am comfortable about it. The fear of being judged is always there. Even a couple of weeks ago, I posted something on Facebook that referred to my mental health challenges. I got absolutely no response. A few days earlier I wrote a funny story about getting married and I got upwards of 80 likes and comments. Yet there were no comments when I mentioned my illness. I felt judged and ashamed and removed it from Facebook.

And here I am again coming out even more. Admitting my suicide attempts. Am I crazy to do this? Apparently I am crazy. Or am I not crazy? Am I wise or am I just a person who knows only too well, the dangers of secrets, denial, self-loathing and hiding in shame? Whatever I may be, all I know is that my fingers are flying off the keyboard and I know I am not manic. I am being propelled by an inner voice, an energy that says…. “ there is nothing to hide, Junie. You didn’t do anything wrong”. Funny how often I still think that.

In 2009 I was raced by ambulance to the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria with hardly a pulse. I swallowed over 100 prescribed pills. I did not intend to come back. I needed to get out of what I have called, ‘the torture chamber of my mind’ a relentless diatribe in my brain, obsessive, cruel, heart-crushing thoughts of guilt and suicidal idiation – and a body riddled with anxiety and a foreboding that never went away. Month after month after month, after month and  I couldn’t bear it any longer.

So I swallowed 100 pills. It was terrifying. I did not want to die. I love life – as strange as that may seem. I just wanted out of this body, this mind, this pain that wouldn’t go away … something that no-one could see because I have honed the disguise so well. I could even go to work. I could even hear and respond to people in a way that no-one would have guessed I was suffering. But I new and I knew I could not hide it any longer. So I wrote letters to the people I loved gulping down tears and then emptied out dozens of vials filled with prescription drugs and I swallowed them all. I was  sobbing so loud I was sure neighbours could hear me but I couldn’t stop.  I apologized to God and to every family member, to the friends who loved me, to the clients who depended on me, to my pets – to the world. And I did it anyway. Once again – as in earlier attempts, I called no-one. I didn’t call an emergency line. I was just wanted out because I didn’t believe anyone could help me. I had lost every ounce of hope that I would ever be able to be well again.

A neighbour who knew I was depressed and had my keys to feed my budgies when I went away, checked in on me. I was told she found me on the floor in the kitchen where I had swallowed the pills. She called the ambulance, I was raced to the hospital but I was already in a coma which lingered for 3 days and nights. Then miraculously, on the fourth day I just opened my eyes and started talking. I felt better than I could ever remember.  The doctors were stunned. Not only were they convinced I would not survive – they were certain if I did, I would have irreparable brain and organ damage. I had neither. Physically, I was well. Mentally, I was what I can only call “in a state of grace” They removed all the tubes and wires from my body and transferred me to Eric Martin Pavillion.- the psychiatric hospital in the city. To me it was an ashram.

No, I did not think I was Jesus, going from person to person blessing everyone. I was simply seeing the dozens of men and women in that big room, all beautiful souls, suffering, lost and in turmoil – just like I had been before I ‘woke up’. I had nothing but compassion for them as well as the for the staff. I could see their frustration and their own suffering and how they were trying so hard to do their best. During this time of observation, I felt grounded, centred and at peace in a way I never had before.

Two days after coming out of coma, I asked a friend of mine to bring me my computer. I knew it was time to write my book. How was that possible? For the past six months or longer I could not even string a sentence together. Even writing an email caused unbearable anxiety. And for me, usually it is writing that does save my life. Writing brings me to the other side of my suffering where the light gets in. And I’ve been teaching this for about 20 years! Before my suicide attempt that was virtually impossible. There were no words. There was no light.

Now, something inside of me said, you must have your computer. It was brought to me and within 9 months, my book, “Re-Write Your Life, A Transformational Guide to Writing and Healing the Stories of Your Life was completed and published. (See link below)

From not being able to write, my words were flowing out of me with passion  and I was loving every moment of it.  Why passion? Because I knew, only too well, from both sides of the couch that it is only in re-writing our painful stories that we find peace. That hanging onto the past – in shame and blame and resentments, grief, sorrow and unforgiveness, will never lead to happiness. It only keeps us stuck. Paralyzed. Grandiose. Depressed, needing to be right – at any cost. It keeps us anywhere but in our hearts.

I knew beyond any doubt – having almost died – that life is precious…oh so precious. And it is not a dress rehearsal. It’s real. The years go by. We grow older. And we will die one day and, my God, if I could help even one person find a way to live life in peace and in joy and to let go of the past and celebrate their life journey instead – nothing was going to stop me. I was going to write and publish that book. I knew this was the most important work I had done up until that time. I had re-written many of my stories already. Now, from this blessed state, I wrote with an inner conviction of truth that would free not only me others who were drawn to its message.

I still live by it. Yet even now, in this very moment, as I sit in front of this computer, the conviction of speaking my truth out loud is still there, but so is the fear of being judged. I’m not sure if that will ever go away. But how could I even think of that stopping me? I am alive. Robin Williams is not. Nor are countless millions of others across our planet who have ended their lives and possibly as many still who are on the brink as I write this. How could I not speak up? How can we not? Together, as one human family, speak up and out – hold each others hands – stop judging and find our way back to our tender hearts.

Robin Williams, a brilliant, beautiful, courageous man who brought joy and laughter into the lives of countless people is dead. Dead by suicide.

I happened to be at movie on Monday ironically held at Eric Martin – the mental hospital I was hospitalized in – where they play brilliant movies and the like. Monday night I was there to watch the documentary, “Of Two Minds” which was riveting. A stunning depiction of several people living with bi-polar illness. It was sad, funny in parts, and oh so very, very real. But my friend, who I was saving a seat for, sat down and told me the news about Robin Williams. I had to leave the theatre and go to the bathroom because I started to cry. Once I was in the bathroom, in a lone cubical, I allowed myself to sob. . In the most sad and ironic way, it is in his death that I am given the courage to come out once again –to come out of the closet about my own attempted suicides. I am hoping in doing so, I will be able to let go of some of the guilt and shame that I did that. I am doing my best to reach into my heart and offer myself compassion for the states of terror and hopelessness that drove me to want to end my life. To reassure myself that I didn’t do anything to purposely cause pain and suffering to others. If I or anyone else who is at that critical place could make a rational choice to do it differently, to find a magical cure to be well again and not hurt themselves or the people who love them and they love too – oh, if only. If only.

Since the last attempt I have been living in deep gratitude and deep humility. There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not remember to thank God. Why me? Why was my life spared and not his? Not countless others? I don’t know. I only know I am here. And I am here to make a difference in whatever ways I can. And one of the ways, I sense, is in writing this and sharing it out loud with you. And tomorrow and the day after that, it will hopefully be with words and deeds of kindness for whoever shows up on my path.

And that’s what we can all do. We can’t all be writers or social activists on the front lines. But we can offer gifts of kindness – first to ourselves – nurture ourselves into healthy minds and bodies and spread the kindness to every living being we meet.

I work part-time at the BC Schizophrenia Society, Victoria as a peer supporter and a trained facilitator of a brilliant program called W.R.A.P. that stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan. It is clinically proven to help people get well and stay well. There are many other amazing programs offered there – support groups for every kind of diagnosis and for the families of same.

Thousands of people go through these programs and are getting well. We provide services that bring hope, compassion, friendship and we give tools to everyone who reaches out. All of us who work there have a lived experience. We all have our challenges, it’s true. We also know the power of helping another who may be in worse shape than ourselves. And we never know where this one act of kindness can lead. Perhaps enough, in some cases, to motivate a person to find their inner strength and eventually pass the torch to someone in their own family or community and on it goes.  All our services are free for those who require them.

We have  the most amazing boss, Hazel Meredith, the Executive Director.   She works tirelessly to make certain that our services continue.  For quite awhile now, as funds are continually being cut, it not always a given.

I am reaching out to you, if you are reading this…I don’t know what to say – other than if you are in Victoria and are moved to volunteer your time and gifts or feel inspired to donate to our non-profit organization – then I invite you to act on your inspiration. Or do it in your own community. Let us all lend a helping hand to one another.

I will leave you with this song from the Young Bloods recorded in 1967.

Listen and watch here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbrn9eXEKWk

Below are some links for services and programs that I just wrote about including Madness Masks and Miracles & Re-Write Your Life.

May each of you be well. May you find love and peace and joy wherever you go. Reach in and reach out. There will ALWAYS be someone to reach back.

 I  Welcome Your Comments

BC Schizophrenia Society, Victoria Branch http://bcssvictoria.ca/   Any size donation would be so welcomed and appreciated.

Re-Write Your Life – A Transformational Guide to Writing and Healing the Stories of Our Lives – Book https://junieswadron.com/products-and-services/re-write-your-life-book/

Re-Write Your Life – Workshop https://junieswadron.com/workshops/re-write-your-life/

Madness, Masks and Miracles – the play I wrote to dispel myths and stigmas about mental illness https://junieswadron.com/mental-health/madness-masks-and-miracles/

The Academy for Creative and Healing Arts for People With Mental Health Challenges – my initiative to have a centre where creative expression changes mental illness to mental health   https://junieswadron.com/mental-health/academy-for-creative-and-healing-arts-for-people-with-mental-health-challenges/

WRAP – Wellness Recovery Action Plan   http://www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/

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12 Aug

Davida – If You Only Knew…

davidapaintingsm

A painting that my friend Davida created as a gift for my 40th birthday.

Happy Birth Day Davida. Baruch Hashem

The following letter, another among the many that I am writing for my new book,
If You Only Knew…A Book of Letters is dedicated to Davida Hoyos. She was my friend for over two decades.
Today, August 11th would have been her birthday and it is fitting that I honour her today although I wrote this some time ago. It remained in a drawer with much of my other writings. Today I am removing it from that drawer and onto this public forum to share my love for her out loud.

Davida, if you only knew…

If you were still alive, today would be your birthday. And more than likely, we would be celebrating it in the one of the many ways that you love to celebrate. You were the ‘quintessential Leo. ”You loved bravado, good taste and a good party!

One of my favourite parties was when you asked everyone to bring you something that represented something we loved.

I made you the Cat Jam Jazz/Blues Band set on a two-tiered cardboard box that I painted purple. It was equipped with a mirrored dance floor with dancers and musicians – all cats, of course – and made with pipe cleaners and it was the most fun project I had ever worked on! I mean, it did represent things I loved and continue to love – music, dance, and cats!

And how I loved you for as long as our friendship was alive…and still.

So many things I wanted to tell you. I hope you can hear me now.

What was buried so deeply in a protective bolder so that I wouldn’t shatter into rock, then crumble into sand, erupted last night in a shocking blast of dynamite. There is no protective cover now –I come to you raw – my soul fully exposed…and in memory I see you there when you opened your door as you had for two decades of our lives always dressed to the nines –larger than life – all 5 foot ten of you and your flaming red hair wild and our hugs which sometimes felt more like a visits, just as often got cut short by the excitement of what we were about to share…. the latest news coupled with gossip and giggles, disappointments and tears as we cared and we shared and paired as no other in our lives at that time. And even with daily visits when we lived in the same building or the most – weekly visits when we didn’t’, we came to each other brand new every time. And then the day came that I dreaded, the day I had to tell you my news that I was moving to the west coast – to the place my soul longed to be for 30 years – and I watched as your face went pale as you attempted a smile and told me how happy you were for me. And although you may have been, it was just too damn hard for you…not again…not again…too many endings to bear.

You couldn’t stand the pain of another person you loved leaving you. You chose your few friends carefully and with any perceived threat you would leave them before they could leave you. So you withdrew from me…and then withdrew even more and you built walls to protect your heart which left my heart broken so deep in despair that eventually I copied you and built my own walls to cover a loss that no words could comfort.

And then Carla’s call one week ago. 5:30 in the morning. Sorry to wake you. June, but I knew you would want to know. Davida died yesterday morning. And I shrieked NO! And I hung up the phone with tears streaming down my face and grabbed my journal and madly scribbled 22 pages of heartbreak. But it wasn’t enough – there was more. I was driven now, the damn had burst. The rock was now sand and before it was swallowed by the sea, I had to embody it all. You, me, us… So I found the file that carried the remnants of our life – almost too heavy to carry filled with all the cards and letters and poetry and paintings that I could never throw out and even though it split my heart open to be with all these memories that spoke our story of love – a love that was supposed to last forever no matter where our geography took us, I needed to remember every one. I needed to get drunk on your essence. So what I always wanted to tell you Davida, is deep inside I always missed you and I do still.

So here we are meeting again.. a meeting beyond the veil. But it’s a transparent veil and I can see your eyes. I can almost touch you.

You know, I looked at your painting the other night before I went to bed. It has been hanging on my wall since I moved here 3 years ago and has hung in every home I’ve ever lived since you gave it to me for my 40th birthday – 21 years after we met. And I looked at it that night as though I was looking at it for the very first time…and it was curious. I wondered if I should still keep it there. Maybe I should take it down. After all, you weren’t in my life any more. The friendship was long over. But as I stood there taking in the brilliant colours of every flower on the canvas, so vivid you could almost smell their fragrance and the monarch butterfly finding its’ nectar in the calla lily, a sadness washed over me…but also a love so pure that I knew I couldn’t and I wouldn’t take it down.

We haven’t spoken in about 4 years – no it’s probably been 7 or 8 but I want to lie … I want to believe that it never happened at all. That we spoke every day. That you did wish me well, that you withstood the geographical distance between us and you changed your adamant refusal to use email and so we would, and we’d talk on the phone and you’d come to visit me and I’d show you what drew me to this wonderous land and I’d make you my first priority on every return to Toronto. And we’d still be holding hands across the miles…to this very day…or at least ‘til the day you died. And now you left me. You left me. As long as I knew you were alive, there was always a tinge of hope that we’d find our way back to one another. You were not just my friend, you were my mentor. I could never repay you for what you taught me.

I was only 28. You were 30 when we met in Montreal and I have to admit I was intimidated by you. Intimidated by your worldliness, your stately beauty, self-assurance, intellect, sophistication, passion for theatre and painting and Judaism and your poetry…oh yes, your poetry…which is what bound us together in the first place. We began to meet regularly and read each other our poetry. Mine always felt insignificant compared to yours. Yours were filled with stunning imagery, metaphor, never superfluous. You used words I had never heard of but I knew what they meant because my heart understood.

And somehow my poetry moved you…or perhaps it was my ability to be vulnerable and opening my heart on the page, not in a sophisticated way, but in a real way that made you love me. Your poetry became your medicine as you blasted through your world in a flurry of activity, at the hub of the Montreal’s largest cultural events.

You immersed yourself so completely so you wouldn’t feel the unspeakable loss of Leo’s death. It happened only a year before I met you but it took months before you told me the details. Until then you assumed the Jacqueline Kennedy stance of holding your head high, dignified. You put a padlock on the part of your heart that died the day that he did.

There you were, on vacation in Mexico with your best friends, celebrating your 6th anniversary when suddenly he keeled over on the dance floor and was dead by the time he hit the ground. A brain amorism. Six months later your other beloved best friend died, your father. The man you worshipped. The man who taught you the richness of life. The one with whom you shared Torah and philosophy and literature and politics. The one who instilled in you a love and thirst for knowledge where learning became as essential as breathing. And you brought this learning to your students for 30 years.

Davida’s place. The place for kids to come after school to work on the subjects they couldn’t pass. The students that the teachers and parents and psychologists believed would never know academic achievement having failed year after year. But not you. You threw away all the so called professional reports and found the soul of every child and loved them back to life. Little by little they began to stand taller and their grades improved until they aced them and went on to university. That wasn’t a one-time deal. That was the norm. And it wasn’t just the kids. It was me too. Without your encouragement, love, mentorship and tutelage, I would never have gone back to school. You saw my intelligence and ability when I could not. You told me I was an excellent writer when you read my papers and you were not one to compliment when it came to academics unless it was deserved. And you guided me to the halls of York University and your joy was unsurpassed with each of my successes.

Even after you told me that our friendship was over and to please stop calling you, I couldn’t. So I sent you a video of my play, Madness, Masks and Miracles and you wrote me a letter that praised the writing, the performance, the brilliance of it, and your words meant more to me than any other accolades I received.

So Davida, if you were here, and of course you are, with all my heart I thank you. I thank you for the hugs and the love and scrabble games and the picnics and camping trips and the sedar dinners and oh my gosh…I could go on forever, couldn’t I?

And here you are right now beside me. Just as you were the night I stood and looked at your painting. You came to tell me all is forgiven and that you always loved me too.
You came to tell me you are at peace…and there is nothing that I would ever want more for you. I love you, my forever friend.
Shalom.
Baruch ha’shem.

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08 Aug

Lost and Found – A Re-union Worth A Lifetime

Suki-Mr-Vaz-and-me___Summer-2014

Just a little over one year ago, on July 31st, Suki, my very best friend from childhood, met me two days after I arrived in Toronto so we could re-unite and heal the past after 43 years apart.

Before that, on March 31st, Suki’s birthday, I summoned up the courage to request her friendship on Facebook which she accepted within moments of my sending it. Later she told me she had been just thinking of me and was stunned when the Facebook request came in.

Later, when we met in person after all these years apart, the first words out of her mouth after walking and then running into each other’s arms were, “I will never let go of you again.” I melted into those words, and somehow, it just felt ‘home’ again. Like I had just been welcomed home again.

And even though we are 3,000 miles apart, and don’t speak that often and we email even less, the wounds have been healed and the love is eternal. She has given me full permission to tell this story and to post the picture you see above.

No words are adequate to describe how it feels to have this friend back in my life. You will understand more later in an excerpt from my book which I will share here. Going back to last summer, not only was I blessed to see Suki, I was equally blessed to see her father.

Mr. Vaz was like my second dad. I was probably in their house as much as I was in my own. He was kind and gentle and always gave me the feeling that he loved me as much as he did his own children and I adored him.

I knew from my conversations with Suki that he was very, very ill. Her mom had died just months before. Now her dad, who had always been her very best friend, was close to dying and it was indeed a heartbreaking time for her. She told her dad that we were in touch again and that I was coming to Toronto. He wanted to see me and it couldn’t have been more mutual.

Suki took me to see him at his home. He was waiting for us on the sofa and the moment I laid eyes on him, I started to weep. I didn’t realize until that moment how much I had missed him.

I sat down beside him, we hugged and his eyes were also filled with tears. It was a breathtaking moment for us both. We began to talk and even though he was now in his 90’s and in pain, his mind was as sharp as a whip. He insisted on taking us to dinner that night and in spite of ALL odds, he did. He drove us to a Chinese Restaurant where he had already booked reservations and it was truly like old times.

Just two days after I returned to Victoria, Mr. Vaz passed away. It’s hard not to believe, on some level, he waited for me to come. At least that’s the story I want to tell myself.

During my time with Suki in Toronto, we held hands as we walked the streets of our old neighbourhood and reminisced about old times. When we talked about the quarrel that pulled us apart, we both had diametrically opposed memories of it. We didn’t care. We were hardly going to try to win sides at this point. That would have been insanity in my books!

I not only feel I have my best friend back, I have a history of a lifetime restored to me. It was very painful to think of my childhood and teenage years because there were very few memories where Suki was not a part of it.

And now that chapter has been healed.

The following is a passage from my book, Re-Write Your Life which will give you a background to set this story against. It is called, Letting Go.

In it, I called Suki, Lisa to keep her identity hidden. Now it is no longer a secret. Lisa was the name she was going to give to a baby girl, had she had one. Suki could hardly believe I remembered that. We both remembered so much about each other that we ourselves had forgotten.

quill-ink Letting Go – An Excerpt from my book: Re-Write Your Life

 

“…I never used to think myself as a rebel but I suppose in some ways I have been. I did not do what society had expected of me back then. I did not marry out of high school like my sisters did. My best friend and I spoke for years about travelling together long before it was popular for girls to do such things. We were barely 19 and we did it. We flew to New York from Toronto in the early fall of 1970. Then we walked aboard a student ship that sailed 10 days across the Atlantic to Le Havre, France and on to Southampton, England where we docked, got off and stepped into a future that neither of us could have predicted. We intended to be away for a year. It didn’t happen. At least not together.

This was where the biggest letting go of my young life happened…and it took me years and endless tears to finally let go of the pain.

Lisa and I met in grade 2. I don’t remember what it was that initially made me follow her until she finally agreed to be my friend. She did and we became inseparable. We walked to school together every day, did our homework together at night and in those long, hot, Toronto summer’s we hung out with each other in the park behind the apartment buildings where we lived. One summer when I was twelve I was sent to camp and we cried bitter tears in the parting. We wrote to each other every day. We grew into teenagers and double dated.

At 18 Lisa got engaged and so did I. Within a year both of our engagements ended and we decided to make our childhood dream come true. Set out on a travel adventure. It didn’t unfold the way we envisioned it. The following is the way I remembered it, Suki remembered it differently. Once aboard the ship Lisa stopped talking to me. For 10 unbearable days she ignored me. None of my pleading brought her any closer to telling me what was wrong.

In desperation I pretended to have fun with the new friends I was meeting but inside me was an agonizing loneliness. Not until the day we sighted land and were to disembark did Lisa finally let me know what was going on. She was carrying a horrific burden, a dreadful secret that she only felt safe enough to tell me when we got to the other side of the world. (It’s her secret so I’m choosing not to share it.) As she spoke she wept and I held her. We wept together. It was beyond what either of us had any experience with or were prepared for. It was totally outside our comfort zone and neither of us had the tools to know how to handle it.

Within a very short time it brought about the end of our friendship. I returned home from Europe a year later with my first experience of clinical depression. There were many things that preceded and contributed to that crisis, but none that held the weight of despair like losing Lisa’s love.

Letting go of her was among the hardest things I ever had to do. Somewhere in the letting go process I wrote this:

“She enters my thoughts out of nowhere and suddenly I’m consumed by that familiar longing again — a crippling emptiness that has all the scars of a motherless child — vainly searching shadowed street corners for the one who’s never, ever coming back. I suppose I’ll go to my grave with this. Therapy and the years have played their bit in assisting to dull the ache but it comes back anyway. It comes back in torrents and floods and then ebbs away again leaving me like the darkened streets, desolate and bare.

And again someday when I least expect to remember — when I’m doing something menial like ironing a shirt or crossing a street or thinking about buying myself flowers, she’ll return in full life-size form and dimensions, equipped with sounds and tastes and smells and the movie projector is running on automatic and we’re children again, running in the park and giggling over some silly joke or about one of the teachers at school. The secrets. We told each other all our secrets and shared all of our dreams for what we wanted when we grew up. We shared it all. Teenage tears and fears and the excitement over a new boy. And we sang. How we loved to sing! We knew all the words to every song. Nat King Cole’s ‘Smile’ was ours. And we did everything together. Best friends. We were best friends. Blood sisters. Didn’t we cut our index fingers until they bled when we were eight, then rubbed them together and swore an oath to never, ever part. It worked. She lives inside my veins. It’s only in the other world she ceases to exist — the one that shows its face to the others. But the woman-child who lives inside me and peaks out only now and again is the one who remembers and she’s the one who misses you, Lisa. She’s the one who wishes more than anything else in this entire life that you would come back and love her again.”

It has been 2 decades since I wrote that and the pain has long since subsided. I have a flood of loving tenderness when I think of her. Wherever she is, I hope she is happy and fulfilled in her life. As with all experiences, I know they happen to heal and bring us into deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. I understand that if we had had the tools, we would have surpassed the crisis that separated us forever. For many years I blamed her for rejecting me but in truth I did that to myself. I locked myself into a coffin of guilt and hopelessness so it was no wonder I became clinically depressed.

Letting go has been much easier of late. I’ve had the death of both my mother and sister in the past year and a half to help me practice. A spiritual tenet that seems to work for me is to accept what is. To fight against what is only creates suffering and unnecessary drama. I can try to hold on but in this temporal world, nothing stays the same. So it helps to remember I have the conscious choice of how to respond to situations. Do I want peace and contentment or do I want to suffer? If I want to suffer I hold on and fight. If I want peace I can accept what is and see the beauty and perfection in all situations. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel pain or sadness. I do. And then I embrace it and hold compassion for the part of me that is hurting. In the honouring of the pain it dissipates and the letting go process is organic. I don’t make it go away, it just does and I move into a state of well-being.

When I think back of Lisa today, it’s like a very long ago dream but one that had a tremendous impact on my life. I learned early about the bitterness of separation and betrayal. I learned of guilt and anguish and it took years to stop re-enacting the same patterns. Hopefully I have learned enough to pass on what I have learned in a way that can assist in lessoning someone else’s pain.

Wherever you are Lisa, know you are loved. I am grateful for the gift of remembering us all those years ago and acknowledging where I am today. I am at peace. I pray that you are too.”

And I do know she is at peace and we are both at peace with each other.

Thank You hardly describes the gratitude I have in my heart to the Universe for re-uniting us in the senior years of our life.

Addendum

I want to reiterate that the story that I believed all these years was so different than how Suki remembers it. How often do we do that? How many times do we hold onto our stories as ‘The Truth’ when, of course, there could be so many other interpretations. Each of us can occupy the same time and space with the same outer experience yet it will be our inner experience and our personal perceptions that will determine its meaning.

Had I considered this, I would have been able to let go years earlier.

Do you have stories that you haven’t let go of?

Are you still hurting from stories in your past?

Are you finally ready to transform them so that you can be free?

On September 11th, I am launching an 8-Week Re-Write Your Life, A Sacred Path to New Beginnings Workshop Series

See details here https://junieswadron.com/workshops/re-write-your-life/ 

An Invitation to share your inspirational stories:

If you have transformed a painful story from the past that you would like to share, you can send it to me to be included in my blog. We never know when our stories of courage and action can inspire and empower another to move from “I can’t” to, “Yes, I can, and I will!”

 

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junie@junieswadron.com | 250.813.0183