“In life, we each walk our unique path, and yet, our paths intersect; through time, circumstance, tragedy, accomplishment, and spiritual evolution.” – Rev. Joshua Reeves
At church this month Rev. Josh has been focusing on intersecting paths, those places in our journey where some person or event comes along and forever changes us. As I think back through my life I can easily identify all of those intersecting lines. I can see all of the people, situations and events which have crossed paths with my own and left me different in some significant way.
It is easy enough to celebrate the good stuff. Things like the birth of my children, being released from the bondage of addiction, and meeting each of my spiritual mentors are all things that spring to mind as life changers and are immediately met with a great surge of joy and gratitude.
But what about the not-so-great stuff? That stuff leaves you changed too. How do I honor or even feel gratitude for the so-called “bad” stuff? Truthfully there has been so much of that on my journey. These things are just as much a part of who I am today and my experience of this lifetime. So I think it is equally important to pay attention to these intersecting lines as well. They are admittedly more painful to recall and can certainly be harder to appreciate, but I love who I am today and the fact is… these experiences count as a part of that. They count for a lot! In fact, one of the most altering events of my life was a pretty awful one.
When I was 11 years old I went to live with my father and his girlfriend K. Let’s just say that K was not a nice lady. I spent the next year enduring levels of physical, sexual and psychological abuse that no child should ever hear about much less experience first-hand. In the spring of the following year the authorities finally stepped in and forcibly removed me from the home. At that time all the hair had been cut off my head, I was severely malnourished, covered in welts and bruises, my nose was broken and pus was leaking freely from the wounds to my eardrums. I would need three surgeries to repair some of the more grievous damage. The doctors proclaimed that they had no idea how I had survived the roadmap of abuse they saw on my body. But as anybody who has been through something like this could tell you, it is the psychological scars, the ones you can’t readily see that affected me the most.
After I was finally freed from K, the following months were spent in and out of examinations, evaluations, depositions, court hearings and interviews. It was a whirlwind of appointments and activities which led to absolutely nothing. K was never prosecuted. Eventually my mother was able to earn custody again and I was sent home from foster care. By the time I was 13, life had gotten back to “normal.” My hair was already down to my shoulders.
But of course, I was changed. Forever. My path intersected with K’s and I would never be the same. All that was left was a big black hole. Nothingness. A bleak fog of hopeless apathy descended and was followed by 10 good years of drunken, rage-filled self destructive behavior. I often say that during this time drugs and alcohol saved my life. They were the only thing that made life worth living.
Eventually I got sober. I learned to take responsibility for who I am today and to stop blaming the past for the present. I found God. I was able to take my experiences and use them to help others. I crawled out of that pit of hopelessness and despair and found Life. With a capital L!! Healing from my intersection with K has been a long, hard road. There has been a whole lot of trudging with small leaps of progress where a ray of light beams itself straight into my soul and I can actually feel a shift towards forgiveness. But those are kind of rare. Really, it’s just been trudge, trudge, trudge!
A few years ago the ear infections started up again and I once again had to face up to my past. I went to a series of doctors and finally a few months ago I found one that seemed to have a real answer. It looked like I would be facing surgery again. 25 years later and I am still dealing with the consequences of this woman’s path crossing mine. The anger welled up in me in a way that it hadn’t since I was young in sobriety. I knew I had to move through this resentment because it would poison me if I didn’t. But man was I pissed!! I was so SICK of this woman being in my heart, in my head and in my soul. These black patches of emptiness that I kept having to battle through over and over and over. UGH! When would I ever be rid of her?!
I was stuck. Big time. I could not seem to pull myself out of the quicksand the way I usually do and it was eating me alive. Finally, a friend suggested that I write K a good-bye letter. I balked for a good three weeks. If I were being real I would tell you I was kind of enjoying my justifiable rage. It was providing a sense of power over a situation which had once again left me feeling completely powerless. But I knew that this power was a false one. Like fool’s gold it draws me in with the glimmering promise of salvation only to leave me bankrupt and empty.
So I sat down to write the letter. I assumed it would be full of hate and rage and cussing. Lots and lots of cussing! But it wasn’t. Instead I found myself speculating about what motivated her to do such awful things to a little girl. I started thinking about all of the horrible things that this woman must have endured herself in order to become the monster I knew. I started to see her as a human being, once a little girl full of innocence that somewhere was lost. I saw her as a child of God, as a sister. I experienced a sense of Oneness with her. I thought about all the pain she too must battle with every single day and I felt compassion. I realized that she was just like me. That she felt all of the things that I felt. That she had been through everything that I had been through.
Then I started thinking about the people who did these things to her. Suddenly I could see the whole line of pain reaching back through the generations beginning with some long ago forgotten hurt. I saw how that pain was transmitted from person to person. Passed on along from him to her to him to her to me. I knew then that K was simply the unwitting vehicle of dark energy that had been given to her and being spiritually blind as she was, she had no choice but to transmit that darkness to me.
And that is when I saw the tremendous impact of that intersection. You see, everything I really love about myself I discovered as a result of that meeting. I discovered my true strength, my tenacity, my courage, my insistence that I enjoy every bit of my life, my honesty, my compassion and empathy for others, my relationship with God and most importantly my ability to help others just like me. K had given me her darkness and with the help of many friends and God’s power I transformed it into Light. Now that energy is transmitted from person to person as a healing and it multiplies exponentially throughout the world.
I told K in the letter, that she didn’t need to worry anymore. That it stopped with me. That a miracle had been performed within me and all of her darkness is now nothing but Light. What else could such a transformation be if not a miracle? I felt grateful that I had been chosen for this transformation. I set her free and by doing so I set myself free.
Today I live in Love and Light. The darkness is gone. Whenever I think of K these days I only think of the miracle. I meet this intersection with all of the same joy and gratitude that I do the “good” ones. This intersection changed me. Forever. It helped me realize who I truly am: A vehicle for miracles, a transmission line for the Power of Good.