I’d like to tell you that the two week trip to the Caribbean to see my husband and children was so wonderful that I lost seven pounds, everyone in the office asked me if I got blonde highlights and commented on my tan, I enjoyed two birthday celebrations, met the extended family and loved every one of them, reunited with some I hadn’t seen in a long time, swam with stingrays in the middle of the ocean, climbed the steepest hill I’ve ever seen and was stunned by the beauty of the panoramic ocean views, snuggled with my husband every night he was there, looked closely at quitting smoking after thirty years, laughed more than I have in years, made friends with a black cat, and marveled at the beauty of the property and the life my husband has built there over the past year.
Every single one of those things is true except I’d be leaving out the traumatic news I received on my first night there, that colored every single moment of joy that the place and people offered.
It was an exercise in “being in the present moment” as I have never experienced it before. When you get shockingly bad news, and you’re reeling from the ripple effect, it is hard to take your kids to the pool, smile, and be grateful that you are with them after a month apart. But you do.
I spent a lot of my visit turning around to cry without (hopefully) anyone seeing me do it, and turning back to smile.
A while back, I asked the universe to help me with something. I was very specific in what I asked for. I wanted joy to be restored to a situation.
It’s important to be careful what you wish for, because things seem to be manifesting and moving so darn quickly that even one word can change an outcome in a huge way.
I don’t believe that we have to be careful what we think, and how we phrase it, lest something horrible will happen. Please don’t get me wrong.
What I am saying is, if we say to the universe something like, bring joy to this situation, we are likely to find that everything that does not bring joy falls away. We are left with that loss. We probably were not prepared for what that actually looks like. It can be devastating.
The other part of that equation is that joy comes in, but in a different form than you had expected. You may have been focused on joy in one situation, but instead you get another one, through other people that you weren’t even thinking of when you made that wish.
I guess being specific doesn’t always help because there are so many forms our wish can take that we could never conceive of them all while we make it.
The Power Of Honesty
The other aspect that has knocked me over the head is honesty.
We all think we want honesty, and in some ways we may admire and respect it when it arrives. Honesty brings clarity. It shows up the parts of our lives where we may have been living in dishonesty, betrayal, deceit or deception, but not been consciously aware of it.
Maybe we were on the giving end of the dishonesty, or maybe we were on the receiving end. It’s one thing to have someone lie to us. That is going to happen. But what about when someone shows us how our behavior affected them, unbeknownst to us? When we thought we were telling the truth and being honest, but someone shows us that really, we weren’t? It was all dissonance.
Some of the things that had been niggling at me for years, the puzzle pieces that just did not make sense, now are clear. Honesty brought clarity. The problem is, I had no conscious awareness that my actions from long ago had brought me to a bad place, a place where I never wanted to arrive. I didn’t understand or accept the impact that I had on another person. I didn’t understand the way I made them feel. What they felt was betrayed.
One of the hardest things we can be faced with is standing in front of someone we love with our hearts wide open, being told the truth, and knowing that our sincerest apology and regret cannot heal what we have done.
It doesn’t matter that we didn’t plan it, mean it, intend it, or have any understanding of the force of its impact. It doesn’t matter that if we were faced with the same choices today, we wouldn’t dream of making the same one we did before.
We have done damage. We cannot go back in time and reverse it or do it differently, with what we know now. We make choices and decisions every day, and we cannot begin to know if they are good ones or poor ones, we just do the best we can with what we have right now, don’t we?
Sometimes other people forgive us and sometimes they don’t. We have to live with the consequences.
Wishing In The Ocean
One of the great lessons that can come from this type of clarity is learning that we cannot make excuses. Excuses and explanations are useless.
I used to think that if I could just get the other person to understand what I meant, that would heal the situation.
I meant to say this.
What I meant by that was…
Oh! I didn’t mean to offend you, I just meant…
I didn’t mean it THAT way…
A simple apology never felt right to me then. I didn’t just want to say,”I’m sorry,” and leave it at that. I thought that if the other person just understood what I meant, then the air would be cleared and everything would be fine.
Not so, obviously.
Whatever you may have intended or meant, it was received in a different way. Maybe it was your lack of communication skills, or maybe it was the other person’s ability to receive you at that moment, or both.
The second you realize your mistake, that is the moment that you must take responsibility, no matter what you meant.
So we move forward with what we know now, apologies flying in the breeze, and we accept what happens next.
In the middle of this crisis I had one beautiful day with my family. We went to a place where you get in the water with stingrays, hold them and feed them squid (if you dare – they are pretty slimy!) You are taken eight miles out into the middle of the ocean by boat, to a floating dock. You have to do “the stingray shuffle” so you don’t step on them. They bump into you, glide over your feet, and try to knock you over.
My husband was carrying my younger son on his back. My older son was snorkeling and looking at the coral reef. I was standing there in the middle of the ocean looking at the loves of my life, my husband my two sons, and for that moment everyone looked so genuinely happy.
I saw the joy present in the moment. I knew this was part of what I had asked for, unbeknownst to me when I asked for it. At that time, I could not imagine this day.
What better place to cast your wishes than in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by beautiful creatures, those you love and those who look like stingrays.
So I did.