And that's when I remembered Hannah from White Banners - the book that had made such an impact on me. Hannah was all about forgiveness. That was - in fact - her power weapon.
Hannah's ambition to live a life of non-resistance which I consider to be an old word for forgiveness was not person driven, it was issue driven. Her's was an ideology, a concept, a virtue, a mindset.
Since I had years ago resolved to be like Hannah - now I had a chance to apply all of that - whatever it was.
Not really having the book anymore or even having the inclination to read it again, I remembered basically that she emphasized "sacrifice" a kind of "letting go" -- and then responding to each situation in her life with a creative love. She believed that if she "let it go", then the Creator of the universe would notice - an "it" who noticed us and our struggles, was actually charmed with the idea of taking over and doing justice for us. This was the fun romantic idea that I had fallen in love with.
So now, when my own life was failing me, I went back to the causes of my depression and stared at them.... How do I forgive?
I don't quite remember what I actually did. It was a crazy, jerky path. that's all I remember.
But I'm going to try to reconstruct what I do remember.
About "disappointment" I had to "let go" of the idea that it was a disappointment controlled by someone in my life. I had thought it was Cliff, but it wasn't really Cliff's problem. And yes I did have to revisit my attempts to forgive him again and again even though I had thought at first it would be easy - because most of my attempts to forgive him were superficial, resulting in a rather passive aggressive relationship. The root of my disappointment was my dream to study again -- well I could do that. It would have to look differently. I enrolled in an evening course in Sociology.
About "lack of self-esteem," I don't think I've ever gotten over this one. Even my well-trained psychologist son once told me that he had never seen anyone live and work with as little self-esteem as I had. Perhaps it is because I don't think one has to feel important - or even that one has to be important, to feel passionate about a cause. Esteem isn't important, what is important - is to follow your passion. I also think that this can be overcome with faith. If a God of the stars has reached out to me, it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about me. I do have an eternal importance. You can't beat that. If I stumble, it is my faith that needs shoring up.
About unfair comparisons, I think this is where I developed my philosophy of living life on my own tombstone. What do I want to do with my life? Where do I want to come out? What am I going to do with my "moment?" Focus!
About "ambivalence- that feeling of being trapped" - was the hard one. My world and the possibilities open to me had shrunk. But here again the "giving up" was to stop looking at the doors that were closed to me - but find the ones that were open to me. So I was stuck at home - what could I do at home? I decided to invite the Young Adults" from our church - and direct a kind of church program for them. Actually this turned out really well. I needed them, they needed me and my best memories of North Battleford were all those amazing young people sitting in my green-rugged living room, playing with our two beautiful little girls - and then after Candace and Odia went to bed, we would sit in a circle on the floor and remain immersed in the most intimate, challenging conversations into the wee hours of the morning. We also produced a movie together - I wrote a drama about them.... We bonded with those young people in the most awesome way.
About "postpartum - that emotional exhaustion of having little ones." I had to "let go" of the ideal of being the perfect mother. When they were born - I was still trying to be domestic. I was preserving fruit, sewing, and frantically washing walls - things I thought were terribly important to being a "good wife and mother." I finally gave that all up. This is where I decided to live and let live. Give up the image and just make sure everyone had what they basically needed, clean clothes, good food, good conversations, kind words. etc. Forget the corners. Actually one can hire others to keep the corners clean. In other words, choose priorities. Oh yes - and one can be dead tired - and still enjoy the moment. The best conversations, most honest conversations, often happened past midnight when we were all too tired to care.
About that "hyper-stifled creative force" I realized here that I needed to give up the big dream of being a best selling romance writer, and do what I was good at. I wasn't a good fiction writer, I didn't have a great personal story - so I went and applied at our local newspaper to write regular feature articles on our "town personalities." Now that was fun!!!!
About "rejection," -- after writing all those silly letters to my parents, I gave up working towards gaining my father's approval. This is really hard! I'm not sure I completely conquered this. Even though he has passed on -- he is still a voice in my head. So I tried to turn this voice that I seem to need into a positive - unconditional ambition to "do the best I can" without working towards anyone's approval. I tried to let go of the stress of it and enjoy the pursuit of excellence. Easier said than done.
About the "inadequate goals," I tried to develop a long-range vision. There is beauty in the phrase, "this too will pass" which leads to a "what then?" question. I decided that I would continue to work on my Russian historical romance manuscript. In secret, I continued to study Menno Simons - etc. And believe it or not - I prayed that we would move to Winnipeg someday so that I would be able to visit the two well-establsihed Mennonite archives in that city!
And then - just as I was settling into North Battleford - we moved to Winnipeg.
“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn't matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.” ― Paulo Coelho,