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Non-fiction

Almost Like the Real Thing Plus a Lesson in Sacred Spaces

I blinked rapidly as he spoke in a low voice, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. ‘Not expecting to see me, where you?’

‘Of course not. Because you were dead the last time I checked.’

He winked. ‘Well, I guess you got that wrong too, just like everything else. For somebody so smart, you sure are stupid. Always have been.’ He turned, walked a few paces, turned, and walked back. ‘Here is what is going to happen. You will give me what I am due. You will pay me alimony and whatever else I ask because right now, you are in a terrible position — you moved out of state with my son and are married to some other man. That’s illegal everywhere, I think, but it is certainly illegal here. And I have been watching. I see those cars out front, this nice house. You’re doing all right. You might have to get rid of some things, but you will figure out some way to afford me too. Or should I come in and talk to your new husband? Oh, right. You all have been together, what, about 10 years now? Married for six?’ He looked me up and down. ‘He must not be too smart either to stick with you longer than I did. Unless you learned some skills,’ he drew out the last word and looked me up and down again, ‘since we last saw each other.’

My anger was a bright light in my head as I spoke slowly, evenly. ‘You are dead. You will not get my son. You will not harm my life. I have not done anything out of order. You will leave me be.’ I took one step toward him for each of the last five words I uttered, watching the confidence leave him. When I finished speaking I stood close, looking him in the eye. There was fear in them. Only once before had I seen something similar: that one time when he was about to hit me and I told him to do his worst; that day, he was unsure and left me alone. Today, he knew he no longer had control over me. My fist shot out in a quick left jab as I let out a yell.

I awoke as my fist hit the bed and a loud moan escaped my lips. I blinked in the darkness, saw the form of my second husband who slept peacefully just inches away from the hand that had hit the bed. The dream of an encounter with the first husband had been almost real — his countenance was as I remembered it, despite 10 years having passed since his death. My psyche had been more damaged through that relationship than I had realized whilst living it: the dreams of him, not dead or having come back from the dead, threatening my new life, had occurred maybe five or six times in total over those years. Each time, I felt closer to a confrontation but never had the wherewithal to stand up for myself. Much like it had been in life, I allowed myself to be berated and minimized in those dreams.

This time was different. I fought back. I knew that I would not see him again. It took nearly 10 years for me to be free, but I was.

And it felt good.

I think I wrote about this once before, but needed to do so again today. I crept into a social media conversation started by fellow writer, Hastywords. Check out her blog — great stuff there. She had written about remembering a dream and I commented that there are two good things about dreaming:

  1. Dreaming means you are in deep sleep, the kind that allows the body full rest and rejuvenation. It is this level of sleep, when you hit REM, that your cells can regenerate and your body can heal itself.
  2. Dreaming also is a way to heal the psyche: it allows you to work out issues in a spirit space that sometimes cannot be worked out in ‘natural’ or physical space.

This next bit might get a bit meta for some, so feel free to stop reading. However, I encourage you to wade into the deep with me because this is the ‘universe according to me’ stuff that gives you even more insight into the recesses of my brain. And you know you want to get more of what goes on inside there, don’t you?

Are you still there? Good. Let’s go:

We each have four areas that comprise our sacred space: natural or physical space, head space, heart space, and soul space.

Natural Space

This one is easy: it’s where we are, where we live. However, is it your sanctuary? I try to make my natural space a sanctuary of peace. After surviving an abusive situation, I needed to learn how not to be the human version of a feral animal. I was in so much pain in my other spaces (more on those in a moment) that I came to understand that having a sanctuary, where there were no harsh words and no physical, emotional, and verbal fighting was what I needed to heal. The first time I saw the place where the man who eventually became my second husband lived, I began to understand this notion of sanctuary. The property was on a dead end street and the house sat on a double lot. There was a flowering tree out front. It was quiet. There was peace. I wanted that. I think that’s why we got along, because he was trying to create a peaceful place for himself, his dad, and his daughter.

I carried that idea of working to have peaceful natural space in each of my subsequent residences and am especially grateful to have it now. If you could see the room I am in as I write this latest missive, you would feel the slight breeze from a fan, hear soothing music from the Chillhop station that is streaming, and you would see my two monsters, napping at my feet. They are content and so am I.

Head Space

Our mind is a cavernous expanse of terror and awe. We can think all sorts of things and in some cases it seems our thoughts come to fruition without effort. I was talking with my son’s friend last night and she has special needs. She has no family and she calls me from time to time and I try to offer her some level of sanctuary from a distance. She sometimes scares herself through her own thoughts. It is difficult to talk her out of being afraid at those times. Head space is where the mind expresses the joys, sorrows, and pains of heart and soul spaces. It is in head space where we can fight our demons. Sometimes it takes only a moment and other times, depending on the depth of the harm that has been done to us, it can take years. If those who have done us harm are on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, it is often only in the head space, through dreams, that we can get it all worked out and find healing for the rest of our sacred spaces.

Heart Space

Probably everyone has been ‘heartbroken’ at some point. Much of the damage to our heart space comes from people we have allowed into our sacred spaces such as friends and significant others. Christopher said this to me once and I’ve never forgotten it. I use it often:

Loving someone is like opening your chest and allowing them to hold your heart in their hands while trusting them not to crush it and hurt you.

However, we often end up with bruised and crushed hearts in the midst of relationship. The other person turns out to be selfish and cares not for our feelings. He or she is physically, emotionally, or mentally abusive (or some combination). He or she does not respect us. The list goes on. Once we are free from these toxic people, we must work to heal our heart space.

Soul Space

The core of our being, the part of us that holds the light of life, is the soul space. Whether we recognize it or not, it is the part of ourselves that we guard most carefully and only those who have been able to carefully hold our head and heart space are allowed admission. Even then, we may not let them into all the corners, especially if our soul space has been desecrated. Before we are mature, our guardians (parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, caregivers …) are supposed to protect our soul space. Yet, it is often family who pour the worst vitriol into it, damaging us deeply from early in our lives. Once we become more mature (and I purposely use ‘mature’ here because there are very young people, children, who intuit that their soul spaces have been harmed), we can become hardened. Deepest and most precious of all is the soul space, which takes the longest to heal.

Healing Sacred Spaces

I had a brilliant idea a couple months back and needed to clear some room in my garage. I tried to move my two lateral files and, despite my increased muscle tone from over a year’s work at the gym, I couldn’t do it. I needed to purge some of the junk I had stored in there. The first bunch of things I shredded were old pay stubs — and I mean old — some predated my son, who turned 22 this year. Next came tax and homeowner files; I found some documents from the first husband in there and felt myself getting angry. I kept going and discovered wedding photos and others. I realized that, despite having had that moment (now many years’ past) in which I dreamed I had punched him, I had only been head and heart healed — the soul space was still wounded. I felt light coming in as I tossed each item, the weight was lifting from not only the cabinet but the foul soil that had been sewn in my sacred space was also being purged.

Healing sacred spaces is a solitary journey until such time as the Universe lets us know that it is safe to let others in.

No one knows your sacred spaces like you do. It stands to reason that the path to healing them must be done in large part via a solitary journey. Eventually, you will know when you are strong enough to open your chest to allow another to hold your heart in his or her hands. You may not be fully healed — are we ever, especially from old wounds made to the soul space before we were cognizant of its existence? — but you will know. You will resonate with the healing in that other person who stands before you and you will know that it is possible to share sanctuary with him or her. You may even be in each other’s presence, following parallel paths to healing the deepest wounds in your individual soul spaces, which is a great thing — to know that you might be traveling a solitary path but that another, one who is important to you, is on a journey as well … to know that you are no longer alone in the quest to create the best sanctuary aids or maybe even speeds the healing.

There are some things that may never completely heal, but we can decide what to do about it.

I have gotten hooked on this Hulu series called The Path. It is about a cult and it has been suggested that it’s about Scientology, but I read somewhere that the creators deny that. Anyway, in an episode I watched several days ago, one of the main characters was at a faith conference, right after his mother died. He and his business partner described our time on earth as lasting about five minutes in the bigger scheme of the universe. He explained to the crowd that throughout his life, his mother had never told him that she loved him. Not once. He asked the crowd what that meant in terms of his five minutes and went on to say that he had choices: he could decide to suffer under the weight of that lack of love or he could choose to surround himself with people who loved him and basically let go of the weight of his mother’s stuff (horrid paraphrase there; if you have Hulu, it’s one of the early episodes in Season 2 I think).

That was it! In a crazy fiction program about a cult, there was a nugget of wisdom about healing our sacred spaces.

Fight the fight as you must. Walk the journey alone for such a time as you must. But then, surround yourself with those who love you. Use that energy to help you heal your sacred spaces.

One day you will look back and realize that what seemed like the real thing, the horrors of your thoughts and dreams as you healed, are nothing more now than scar tissue to show that you survived the fight.

That you won.

That you are joined in love as your sacred spaces bloom joy again.

Or maybe will bloom for the first time.

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