Ask the Author: Question & Response
I need to forgive my husband for two years of hell and abuse. I am not sure if I can find a way to love him freely. He is an atheist and I think that by going on a spiritual journey together we could find some peace. We have not slept properly without medication for over two years since the birth of my son and I had postnatal depression. The ins and outs of the story are complex and I am not sure how to deal with the hurt, anger and pain. Please help.
– Sara, Bath, England
My friend, it is a form of self-abuse to not forgive someone. Doesn’t the carrying of judgment with regard to your husband’s behavior weigh you down? Do those judgmental thoughts not try to spoil any moment of peace you try to catch? Do those judgments not add to your daily stresses? Does carrying these thoughts around not hasten your anger? During your day, do you find your patience fading quicker, even with complete strangers? Do these judgments and your lack of forgiveness keep you up at night?
My friend, forgive your husband for his errors, and you shall set yourself free. I understand that you might have some resistance to what I am writing, but whom are you really punishing by holding onto these thoughts, judgments and resentments within your heart and mind? Please understand, I am in no way condoning his behavior, nor am I saying that the way he treats you should go on. I’m sure during the last couple of years, you have both tried to discuss your situation, but not much has resulted from it. Later in my response, I ask you both to seek counseling, a safe place where these issues can be discussed in front of a professional, who, believe it or not, has heard this type of story many times before. My dear friend, believe me when I say that you are far from alone. If your husband is unwilling to go, then I ask you to get individual counseling. This will greatly strengthen your heart and mind. You might be scared to go, and it may be difficult, but isn’t the way you are living now even scarier and more difficult? Through therapy, as your self-confidence rebuilds and your heart and mind receive more clarity, you will see what stands between you and a happy and peaceful life.
My friend, do not allow your spiritual journey to be impeded by who chooses to travel with you or when they choose to join you. Knowingly or not, you are both already on a spiritual journey. Your spiritual journey began long, long ago, and it is only your realization of this that needs to catch up to the truth within you both.
As you become aware of your spiritual journey, your participation in it increases and intensifies, which enhances your life with greater peace of mind and joy. Imagine being on a tour bus and falling asleep. You sleep, yet the tour goes on. You might not be enjoying the tour as much as those who are awake, yet you are still participating in it. Your may be sleeping because you have chosen to, yet once you awaken, you will have a lot more energy than you did before, and this will increase your participation and enjoyment of the tour. As your participation and enjoyment grows, you will be better able to express what you experienced to those who still sleep. Your increased level of peace of mind and joy will serve as a reminder and smooth the path for those who will someday choose to awaken on their own spiritual journeys.
Your husband will someday begin to see a new skip in your step, as well as lightness and aliveness around you. You will become an example to him that what he truly desires is within reach. He will consciously or unconsciously be attracted and pulled toward understanding what you are doing to feel this way. Very likely, this will motivate him on his journey. You will find that the more you spiritually develop, the easier it will be for you to love and forgive him. If he continues to resist growth and won’t stop his abusive behavior, it will be easier for you to move on without his physical presence.
Here in the States, we understand your reliance on sleeping pills. Two major addictions in this country are food and prescription drugs. You probably started taking sleeping pills for one reason, and now continue them for another. Your psychological and chemical dependency needs to be looked at and taken care of by a specialist. That being said, let me now say that you should not judge yourself for having this issue. Most people on this planet medicate their pain and wounds with everything from illegal drugs to prescription pills to food, alcohol, work, the Internet, television, etc. But your pain and wounds will not heal by covering them over with a Band-Aid. As with any deep, life-changing injury, to fully rehabilitate you need proper dedicated and knowledgeable professional advice. You need such support to help you process the pain and anger in a safe environment where it can be discussed, evaluated, understood, worked on, forgiven and released. I hope that your husband chooses to join you. But if he does not, do not, under any circumstances, use it as an excuse not to move forward in your own healing process.
It is rare that I use a phrase such as “do not, under any circumstances,” but I do so here to help save the future life of your son, as well as the women with whom he will one day come into contact. Consciously and unconsciously, your son, even at two to three years old, is learning how to treat women by observing the way your husband treats you. Don’t for a second believe that because you are arguing in a different room, your son can not hear or feel what is going on. My friend, if you can not find the strength to begin counseling for yourself, then look in the mirror and find it for your child. As much as your strength might now be hidden, it is within you now, waiting for you to rediscover it and bring it back to the surface. Your son will one day thank you and acknowledge your strength and courage. So too will the future women who will some day have the pleasure of your son’s company and friendship.
Your psyche will be much stronger after counseling and rehab than it was before. I have run for most of my life. Yet it was only after two knee operations over the course of 10 years that I was able to complete a marathon. Because of the procedures and rehabs, I had to very seriously consider what I was doing to myself. I had to look at everything about my running: from style to form, recovery time, how and what I ate, as well as what I wore. I understood I had to look at everything and start from the beginning again, because what I did in the past, even though at the time I thought it was right, simply was not working for me. Now, even though I run fewer miles per week, I am actually in better running shape than ever before, and can run further on any given day and recover faster than I ever did before the procedures. My friend, you might feel as far from achieving a happy and peaceful life as I once felt I was from completing a marathon from the operation table. It may appear to be a faraway dream, but it is within reach. I know this of you because I know this of myself; and you and I have a lot more in common than your ego may currently allow you to perceive.
When it comes to the subject of relearning how to fall asleep without medication, I can offer a couple of suggestions. Many people have trouble falling asleep because continual thoughts flood their minds while they are lying in bed. Their minds become so focused on these thoughts moving in and out that they just can’t relax and quiet the mind enough to fall asleep.
Like a wrestling tag team, one thought enters your mind, and you deal with it in the best way you can. Then another one gets tagged into the ring of your mind. You deal with that one, then another one or even the previous one gets tagged back in again. This tag team keeps you in their corner so that you are not able to tag your partner, that partner being sleep, and get yourself out of the ring. You keep reaching out to your partner, but you are too far to make the tag, and so your opponents keep smacking you around, with you trapped in their corner, and feeling like there is no end in sight.
A tool you may choose to use to get you out of their corner and tag your partner is meditation. At least at first, meditation usually doesn’t quiet the mind as much as it refocuses it on less fear, stress-filled and judgmental thoughts and feelings. For example, you might be lying in bed trying to fall asleep, and a thought over which bills you have to pay tomorrow pops up.
Try replacing such a thought with a mantra (short phrase or word) such as “God is love.” Simply breathe in “God is,” and breathe out “love.” Do this out loud first, and after a while, let it become a whisper, and finally just think the words. As you breathe in, think “God is,” and as you breathe out, think “love.” Equally so, you may choose to begin this technique with breathing in just the thought “God is,” and breathing out the thought “love.” Continue this process for as long as you can. It is natural for other thoughts to come in. Do not judge yourself for this. Do not question your focus or concentration. Simply let them go and return to the mantra “God is love.” Breathe in the thought “God is.” Breathe out the thought “love.” The more nights you practice this, the better you’ll get at it, and the sooner you’ll reach a peaceful place, the quicker you’ll fall asleep.
Meditation / Body Relaxation Technique:
Another meditation you may choose to try is a body relaxation technique. Start by focusing your mind on the top of your head. Imagine the feeling of a hand caressing your scalp. Feel your scalp getting heavier, and as it does, feel it getting more relaxed. Feel it sinking into the bed. As it sinks in, your scalp gets more and more relaxed. Then move down to your forehead. Do the same thing with your forehead that you did with your scalp. Feel your forehead getting heavier and more and more relaxed. Feel it sinking deeper into the bed. Continue to go down your body, from top to bottom: scalp, forehead, cheeks, chin, throat, neck, shoulders, upper arms, forearms, hands, chest, stomach, upper legs, calves and feet. Spend as much time as you wish on a body part and then move down. Intrusive thoughts that have nothing to do with the meditation will pop up. Again, do not judge yourself for this. Use the time that you might have judged yourself to relax and bring yourself back to the meditation. You do not have to start at the beginning, just from where you left off. If an intrusive thought comes in as you are focusing on your forehead, simply let it go and return your focus to your forehead.
You may want to start these or any meditations with a prayer. Not so much a learned prayer, although that is fine, but more of a heart-centered prayer. Let your heart be your guide; let it lead your prayer and ask for peace of mind and assistance in the upcoming meditation. Ask your angels, guides, God or whomever you trust to assist you in focusing your mind. Feel this support surround you in its soft embrace.
My friend, what your mind focuses on is what you will experience. If judgmental and fear-based thoughts fill your mind, then you will experience restlessness, confusion and stress that will have you tossing and turning all night. If you focus on peaceful, calming thoughts, you will create a peaceful and calming environment where a good night’s sleep is once again possible.
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