“You have no enemies.” my girlfriend said to me from across the cold patio… except at that moment, she was my ex-girlfriend.
And yet… she pierced my life-long outer shell so precisely and entered the stony chamber of my heart.
Ten Hours Earlier…
A week ago, I had just come home from what to all appearances was a fulfilling night of fellowship with my local recovery group.
It was about 10PM.
My phone rang…
Why am I getting a call from a health provider in Oregon at this time of night?
I missed the call…
The voicemail was the pressured message from my youngest child saying in their usual way, I want to talk, but you don’t have to call back… I’ll call you tomorrow.
I know how it feels to want and need to connect and being so afraid to ask for it…
Because I’m not worth it.
I immediately returned the call to discover my child was in a mental health stabilization unit experiencing post-partum psychosis.
My poor child… so happy to hear from their father was literally out of their mind.
And yet, was with it enough to throw out a plea for a life-preserver for connection with a man who loves them no matter what…
It broke my heart into a million pieces to be able to love and grieve for this child’s predicament all at once…
My training and affection for this child kicked in and together, we held space…
Space for the mania, fear, desperation, and relief of it all…
What will happen to them?
What will happen to their baby?
What will happen?
“It’s going to be okay, sweetheart… You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”
“I’m so proud of you and am here for you… no matter what.”
I hung up the phone and as it approached 11PM, I called my dear friend and sponsor.
His phone went to voicemail.
Can I call someone else?
I turned to my ex-girlfriend as a flood of thoughts and feelings overcame me.
“What’s going on with [your daughter]?”
This amazing woman, whom I was still sorting out how we were going to live together as somewhat estranged former-fiancés over the last few days, whom I barely spoke with that last week, reached out in concern for the wellfare of my child.
This woman, whom I had hurt with harsh words and accusations of not being able to hear my feelings, set everything aside to be the shoulder for me to cry on.
“Can I have a cigarette?”
We slept in separate rooms for the fourth night in a row–me on a leaky air mattress.
I came outside onto the patio to feel something…
What am I going to do for my child?
Where am I going to live?
Am I going to lose my cats?
Am I going to lose my motorcycle?
Am I going to lose my job?
Am I going to lose my sobriety?
Am I going to lose my mind?
Am I losing my mind?
I’ve lost my mind…
Am I going to lose (forfeit) my life?
Rapid-fire fears pummeled me from all directions like lightning in an echo chamber searing the very fabric of my sanity.
I remembered a scene from a movie where a man in a rowboat starts to panic as black water and cracks in the hull engulf him…
And his Savior standing there saying gently, yet firmly… “Look at Me.”
Don’t focus on the fear.
I saw another scene where the same man handed over the body of his deceased daughter to his Loving God, crying out from bended knee, “Please take her. I can’t. I just can’t.”
I became aware of the huge knot in my throat choking the will out of me to manage my own life anymore.
I just can’t.
My own way of doing things has led me to a place where I can’t manage my own life–my relationships, my job, my finances, my home… none of it.
“Please take it. I can’t. I just can’t.”
My ex-girlfriend came outside in her white bathrobe and beanie to shield her from the cold.
I think she may have avoided making eye-contact with me.
“May I have a cigarette?”
“Of course. You should probably go buy yourself a pack. I’m almost out.”
From across the patio I whimpered, “I miss you.”
Cautiously perhaps, yet softly she whispered, “I miss you.”
I thanked her for being there for me last night and began to tell her that I was wrong for how I’ve been treating her.
I can see how she is and has been a very loving person, and I was wrong.
Then she said the four words that would break through the barriers of years of trauma and hypervigilance…
“You have no enemies.”
Why did I hear those words so profoundly?
How is it with the precision of a heart surgeon, that this woman, whom I had so harshly judged, could see right through me to the crux of my problems and pierce me… to my core?
Do the why and how really matter?
Her simple statement began a domino effect of loosening layers of fear, anger, and hate I had been carrying for so many years… 47 to be exact.
“May I have a hug?”
“Of course you can.”
And we stood there in the Sun of a new morning, and amidst the cold of a frosty January day, Light enveloped us anew.
All of “my plans” for the day seemed unimportant all of a sudden.
“Would you like to go for a motorcycle ride today?”
“Really?” she queried with that little twinkle in her eye that resembles a child-like innocence and excitement–a lilt to her voice I’ve become especially fond of.
For years I have been living under the delusion that I am unsafe.
As a child, I was frequently unsafe.
However, as an adult, I have been trapped as a small terrorized child running amok in a man’s body.
The delusion and coping strategy of hypervigilance has assured me through a regular feedback loop that everyone close to me or not will hurt me.
I push away those I love.
Out of habit.
Out of fear.
Out of sometimes I don’t even have the slightest fucking clue why…
I push away people who love me.
Although trauma may be the reason, it can no longer be the excuse to abuse those I love, love me, and keep everyone at arm’s distance.
Since my beloved Tricia uttered those four simple words, my life has been set on a vastly different trajectory.
I have no enemies.
And since I have begun really embracing that, my outlook on life and especially how I regard others has changed significantly.
The compassion modelled by Tricia to me and that I gave my child opened my eyes that everyone in the world is hurting in one way or another.
Perhaps, when other people lash out with aggressive driving or harsh words, there’s a lost and scared child buried deep within them that’s crying out to feel loved and safe?
Perhaps, they are not my enemy?
Perhaps, there are no enemies?
And if everyone is not my enemy, I am safe.
And when I am safe, I am free to love.
To love myself.
To love Tricia.
To love my child.
To love the angry drivers on the highway.
To love my life.
I cannot overstate the dramatic impact this shift in my consciousness has had from those four simple words…
You have no enemies.
In the words of Tool’s song Pneuma, “We are all one spark…”
Since the Spirit penetrated my heart through Tricia’s simple sentence, “I have no enemies” has become my mantra.
My entire attitude towards myself and God’s children has been dramatically altered.
This paradigm shift is one I must nurture from moment to moment with repetition because I easily forget I have no enemies.
To the angry drivers, I have been praying, “God be with you.”
I’ve stopped blocking aggressive drivers.
I sheepishly waved and smiled at someone who was honking out of their own possible trauma-rage.
I have had the most productive and inspired week at work since I started there.
I am fascinated and deeply moved by humanity again.
I have been an advocate for my child and grandchild while they discover their own hero’s journey.
Tricia and I have been closer this last week than we ever have.
Our first date was six months ago today.
It brings me indescribable joy to share my life with this beautiful, loving woman.
I have laughed and cried a lot this week.
I am in love with Tricia again.
I am in love with my cats.
I am in love with those about me.
I am in love with myself… possibly for the first time ever.
I am in love with life.
I have no enemies.
Be well, my fellow travelers…
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