Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fear is the path to the dark side.

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." ~ Yoda

There have been several times in my life when this quote has rang true, but none more so than now.

About eight years ago I went through a divorce. It was long, drawn out and rather painful. Painful because we had two children together, painful because of the hurt that we had inflicted on each other and painful because a marriage was ending. The divorce over, the children split between us and several hundred dollars worth of attorney's fees later, we managed to continue on with our lives. Months passed and even though we were no longer married, we were still close friends.

Not a whole year had gone by when I received "the" call. The devasting call that told me he was going to remarry. The one that said, "You have been replaced". I cried. I cried not for a love lost, but out of fear. I was being replaced and that terrified me. The ease with which everyone accepted her, loved her, called her by my name, replaced me with her, struck me with a deep, haunting fear. I couldn't lose something I no longer had, but I felt as if she had taken him. If she could take him, could she take my children away from me too? They were married the day after our wedding anniversary and my fear grew stronger. It seemed that nothing was sacred, nothing that was me remained any more. I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of things getting any worse, but they did. The day I heard my son call her mother my fear took over. It began to grow from deep within until it filled my entire body. It pressed against my insides, suffocating me and breaking my heart into a million little pieces. Not knowing what to do I simply gave in and allowed fear to consume me. 

As time went by I too fell in love and remarried. The fear of being replaced no longer existed. The actuality of it caused another feeling altogether. Anger was now the ruler of my emotions. I was not angry that my son lived with his father, but that he lived with her. That she was the one tucking him in at night, that she was there when he fell and that she was enjoying a life with my son that should have been mine. I was angry that she brushed my daughter's hair when she went to visit, that she hugged my children and that they hugged her back. She had children of her own now, surely she understood what she was doing. Could she allow someone to replace her? Allow her children to call another woman mother? Unfortunely, my anger didn't end with her being the stepmother to my children. It grew. It grew and it grew over time for various reasons.  Too many reasons to list.

I was no longer angry that she shared the same first name as me or that she was an everpresent feature in my children's lives. The fact that she acquired the exact same hobbies that I enjoyed didn't make me mad. No, anger was definitely not what I was feeling. I was livid. So much so that I hated the very air she breathed. She had taken my ex-husband. She had tried her utmost to take over my children. Did she really think she could take my entire identity as well? The things I enjoyed the most; reading, writing and photography no longer felt as though they belong to me.  I felt as if I was required to share this aspect of my life with her as well and I hated her for it. It was apparent that I no longer feared her nor was I angry with her; I loathed her.

The sight of her made my blood boil. The mere mention of her name and I felt a sickness in the pit of my stomach. I was sure she sensed the hatred I had for her, just as I sensed what she was feeling toward me. Over the years our total disdain for each other erupted into hateful, petty words thrown in either direction, accusations against both sides and misery for those around us. My children, whom I love with all my heart and soul, were drug into a pit of mud and muck. They were placed in the midst of a situation that was not created by them but one that they suffered through. Simply put, they were suffering because of me.

Still fuming from our last hoorah, I began surfing the internet. Somewhere between a blog post and news of the healthcare reform issue I ran across a quote. A quote that managed to stop me in my tracks. It was a quote from Yoda in the movie Star Wars. "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." I read the quote several times before I realized what had drawn me in. I had migrated over to the dark side. I had become someone that I didn't like. My children had sat and watched as I chose a path into darkness.

I no longer feared her pushing me out of my children's lives. She had never been capable of diminishing their love for me but I had tarnished it. I was no longer angry with her but I was mad at myself and my own ignorance.  The hatred that I felt melted away and has been replaced by a peace. No more suffering will be doled out by my hands. I will not be responsible for the unhappiness of my family any more.

Well, I'm not too sure if the force will bring me back but I am almost positive that forgiveness will. It is time that fear is  replaced by faith, fires stoked by anger  exstinguished by calming waters and hatred rendered powerless. I am only a prisoner to these things because I refuse to let go of the ties that bind me to them. So here I go. I forgive her for all that she has done, both willfully and accidentally. I forgive myself for allowing my fear to overwhelm me. I choose from this date forward to live and let live. To accept the peace I deserve and enjoy my family and my life free from fear, anger, hatred and suffering.

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