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Above the Conflict Zone
We do have a choice
To say the teachings in A Course in Miracles has transformed my life is a genuine understatement. I really had no idea we could gain such agency over our thoughts and even our feelings. It is a deliciously empowered feeling to be able to choose peace and choose joy.
I shared a few weeks back that I’ve been dealing with getting my mom’s finances, legal issues, and new living situation sorted out and in the process I kept finding myself exceedingly stressed out; unexpectedly old wounds were being scratched open. I was able to pull from the spiritual toolbox and get a handle on my reactivity and am so happy to note that my mom is now situated near my younger brother and is really happy with her new home. My brother has been fantastic with that part and he and I are closer than we’ve been in many years. Operation Extract Mamma has brought all three of us closer.
Now I’m facing the next piece, which has uniquely challenging circumstances and, once again, A Course in Miracles is proving invaluable. The next step is to get my mom’s place in rural Oklahoma ready to be sold; mom will need those funds to live on if she sticks around a good while longer. For many years, my niece and her two children have lived with my mom, rent-free; they are still living there.
The niece is the daughter of my late sister, who died of an opioid overdose. I took custody of my sister’s son and my mom took custody of the daughter. Those relationships have been complicated and difficult, and the niece has mostly been downright unpleasant to me.
Let me just say being in the position of having to deal with her to get her out of mom’s house is providing a very rich classroom for testing out new approaches to old dynamics. Although I certainly don’t enjoy this young woman’s company or communications, the thought of just tossing her and the two kids out literally made my stomach clench and stole a bit of sleep. As dysfunctional as the living arrangement was, my mom’s willingness to have her there provided a stability that she and the two babes would likely never have known.
I decided to set the past aside and do what I could to help her. She is now on the waiting list for low-income housing near where they live and says she has a friend who she may be able to rent from. I have also given her as much time in my mom’s place as possible. The move-out deadline is the end of this month when I will head out for a long road trip to Oklahoma (hopefully for the last time). I’ve got dumpsters being delivered and I’ll spend however many days it takes to clean up what is basically a hoarder situation.
When I finally set the date and informed the niece, I found myself, once again, extremely stressed. The first night I woke several times, my thoughts spinning around the awful specter of needing to go to eviction procedures. At some point, in the wee hours, I flipped it, and each time my thoughts turned fearful, I shifted to imagining how great it’s going to feel when all of this is done and I am free of the responsibility. That was the beginning of something extraordinary and I’ll try to explain though the concepts are challenging to put into words.
A Course in Miracles teaches all attack is illusion and invulnerability lies in defenselessness. We expect conflict when we are fearful. We perceive what we expect. It offers profound, layered and nuanced insights into forgiveness not just of others but of ourselves and even our beliefs about our version of reality (in nearly every relationship there is more than one version).
The past couple weeks, in the classroom that is my family, many of these teachings have started moving out of intellect into embodiment. Here is my best attempt to explain. I am not responsible for my niece’s actions or choices. I am one-hundred-percent responsible for my actions and reactions toward her and even for my thoughts about her. One form of grace is intentionally seeing the good, seeing strengths in another person as well as envisioning them whole and successful. I am intentionally imagining my niece and her kids smoothly transitioning to a wonderful living situation. My niece is also a spiritual being having a human experience and she has vast capabilities as we all do.
I am also choosing the invulnerability of defenselessness. A big part of the stress I was experiencing was fear that my niece might not move out and that going through an eviction process would be a major pain in the butt for me. Here’s the truth. She has consistently said she plans to make the move-our deadline and even, surprisingly, expressed appreciation for being given extra time. I had already had a bug to do a big road trip with my relatively new RAV hybrid and my pup, Olive. Although dreading the possible interaction and cleaning up the mess, I was already looking forward to the trip itself. And here’s the final piece -- even if this does come down to eviction, who’s to say miracles might not manifest in that process? I know the steps to take if it comes to that but am not putting any energy in that direction. Blessings can come in all sorts of forms.
The Course teaches that a Holy Relationship is what we’re really after. In a Holy Relationship we see each other at the level of spiritual beings rather than bodies, as our higher selves rather than ego. One key to moving a damaged relationship to Holy Relationship status is bringing none of the past with you into the encounter. This is still very much a growing edge for me with my family relationships. I’m certainly not fully there with my niece but I am much further down the path than I would have believed a year ago.
Finally, another of the teachings that I have wrestled with is the concept that our “enemies,” those with whom we find relationships challenging, are our saviors. First off, enmity is itself an illusion; it’s a construct we create. Secondly, and this is the breakthrough I’m in the midst of, I can sense the savior piece of this now. If I can pull off peace and Holy relationship with my DNA family members, the rest of this wild human ride ought to be a cake walk!
One way or another, Oklahoma here I come, and in a couple weeks, when I head out, I am going to do so open to wonders, looking for miracles, and grateful for the opportunities.
May the Course be with us! And all of you.
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