I've been here three days. It is now the morning of the fourth day. As predicted, I have so far managed to avoid any "spiritual work" on the subject of my marriage, from the standpoint of forgiveness. Monday was such a beautiful and spectacular day, I knew the Universe had meant it as a special gift for me. So maybe I wasted the next two days trying to recapture that magic, when I should have been settling in to tackle The Issues confronting me. My bad.
It did not escape my notice, though, that even while the Almighty was providing me with a day of comfort and awe, I was also being prodded toward the issues I need to deal with. Because, in the end, Monday was "All About Pelicans."
Just after we closed the restaurant, as I was exploring relationships with the bird spirit guides the Creator revealed to me, I became acquainted with Pelican.
Pelican is the animal spirit who represents letting go, unburdenment, forgiveness. Pelican has walked beside me again and again when I struggle with the lingering effects of the cafe years on my relationship with my husband. This week was no exception.
I may have not planned an agenda, but an agenda was planned, nonetheless. That I chose this lodging pace for this time; that I headed south on my random drive and chose to cough up seven bucks for admittance into the "Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area;" and that I encountered there, perched on the great rocks at the base of the lighthouse, more pelicans than I have ever seen in one place, closer than I have ever been...all this was arranged. The Creator knew that I was going to be struggling anew with the ugly specter of our damaged marriage, and brought me to where the spirit guide associated with forgiveness would be present in such mighty numbers that it could not be ignored.
In case you're tempted to chalk up that encounter to serendipity, here's the rest: I said goodbye to the pelicans at Yaquina Head, got in the car and pointed it south. After a pleasant afternoon of shopping (!) I headed back north to my log cabin. I decided to make one more attempt to find a beach I hadn't been to and squeeze in a walk on the sand before it got dark. I pulled off at a place called "Devil"s Punchbowl;" decided to forego peering over the edge of the cliff down into the holes in the rocks where the surf roiled and bubbled wildly, and headed off to the almost invisible L-O-N-G stairway down to the beach.
Oh, it was a lovely place! The tide--which, judging by the quantity of wet sand, completely swallowed up this place when it was in--had receded. It left a crescent of secluded beach upon which, miraculously, I was the sole human occupant. Score! And then I looked to my right, to a brownish sandstone rock jutting out from the steep bank. It was crowded with at least fifty pelicans. SO close (and I was without my camera...!) This time, I took it as the message from the Almighty it was obviously meant to be. I spread my arms, closed my eyes and just opened myself to the guidance of Pelican.
Of course, I had to spoil the moment and start up a dialogue in my head. And at the exact moment when I thought, "And I'm having such a hard time. I just can't forgive..." they all rose up at once and flew off the rock and out to the surf. I've been thinking about what that might have meant ever since.
So I have spent the past 36 hours trying, in a hit or miss sort of way, to do the "spiritual work" I had thought I must do in my solitude. I think about it for awhile, and then I take a break. Because I can't seem to come to any conclusions that make sense.
One thought that occurred to me is that I needn't be so hard on myself for my inability to forgive. At least I know I haven't...at least I know I need to, and I have the decency to feel bad about not doing it. I remember having discussions with my husband about my inability to forgive and forget...apparently the "forgetting" is the most important part. When someone hurts you or wrongs you or disappoints you, you are supposed to just say, "Oh, that's okay" and then give them a total pass. Forget that it ever happened. Not let that hurt or wrong or disappointment change your attitude toward that person or life in general in any way.
Of course it's not that simple. Do you run into a brick wall, tip your hat, change direction, forget about brick walls and smack right into another one? And another, and another? It doesn't make any sense. The events of our lives change us. The actions of other people mold our way of looking at them and relating to them. How can it be otherwise? And I've always felt bad that I felt this way. Am I the only person in the world who takes such a clinical viewpoint about this issue? Am I the only person in the world who finds the "forgetting" part impossible? And why have I been chosen to grasp this particular nugget of clarity?
Looking back on how our troubles affected us individually, I don't think the husband has any better mastery of the concept of "forgive and forget" than I ever have. He merely avoids the analysis entirely. His attitude toward me, since the upheaval of the cafe years, has completely changed. But he doesn't acknowledge the change and sees no reason to go back. Where I have fretted and lamented over our damaged relationship, and puzzled over how to either get it back to where it was or deal with what it is now, the husband has simply moved on. Changes assimilated. No regrets. No looking back. With no thought to whether those changes are good or bad, or whether they occurred at all. My problem isn't that I am unable to "forgive and forget," it's that I'm cursed with the knowledge that it is a process that requires intentional action, and not just, "If I don't think about it anymore then I have done it."
No, dear..you have NOT done it. Your actions and attitudes demonstrate that clearly. And I get it, I really do. Because, in the end, I truly believe there is no such thing as "forgive and forget." We cannot be unchanged by the hurts and wrongs and disappointments done to us. So just don't imagine you have mastered the concept when your words and actions demonstrate clearly that you have not. And don't knock ME for not having done it...at least I KNOW I haven't. Which is a light-year or two ahead of where YOU are.
Maybe forgiveness is about saying, "Yeah. We went through some tough times. And we learned some things about each other, about our relationship, that didn't smack of 'happily ever after.' And now we need to go forward with that knowledge. Integrate it into who we are, and what we are to each other." If our relationship can't be positive and loving with what we now know, if it turns out that what we are to each other is the biggest ongoing irritant in the other's life, then I think some action is called for.