Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Go to the Light


Big ole pot is part of the garden at Dumbarton Oaks. Tut calls it a "grudge pot." Love that!

When I all of a sudden left the community and practice of witchcraft, at first I was in shock. Similar to the experience of many people who leave cult-like groups, my departure was like a cold drink tossed in the face. It was like waking up. After many years I could suddenly see clearly what I'd been involved with. I was ashamed and frankly horrified to think about my behavior, stunned to realize what I had been practicing. Yikes!

My colleagues and teachers called me "Little Missy" when I first became involved with Reclaiming because I was so mild mannered, and wore such lovely rose-colored glasses. In fact one of my initiators challenged me to read the (great) book, Getting in Touch with Your Inner Bitch with cartoons by Nicole Hollander. The book is hilarious, especially if not taken literally.

I took on that challenge with a passion. My inner bitch became empowered and then ran rampant over the Little Missy part of me. Actually my inner bitch ran rampant over every part of me. I was not nice.

After I got out, gradually I came to realize how badly I had behaved. It was then that I started apologizing to pretty much everyone I could think of. I made phone calls, wrote cards, sent emails. Lots of calls, cards and emails, LOTS. The process was healing as well as grounding. Just the fact that I could sincerely and honestly say I was sorry helped bring me back to myself.

Some of the recipients forgave me, others never responded, which was fine. Apologies that arise from sincere regret are liberating, no matter how they are received. Apologies that arise from a sense of guilt or from a sense of "should" or because they are expected, tend to bind the two people involved and are not healing, at least that's my experience.

I'm thinking about this today because I'm about to write another card of apology to someone whose feelings I hurt very deeply. I would have done it sooner, but I didn't have her address. I'm looking forward to sitting down with pen and card. I've had a lot of practice apologizing so maybe that's why I enjoy the process so much.

Good deeds strengthen the soul. I can still be bitchy (like when I snapped at one of THEM a few weeks ago) but mostly these days I aim for kindness, sometimes hitting and sometimes missing. It's a much nicer way to live, it really is. Have a wonderful Tuesday!

27 comments:

madtexter (corey james) said...

I think apologies and forgiveness are definitely healing, especially if I'm holding a grudge against someone else. If I don't forgive and let it go, then I'll remain consumed by it long after the other person has already forgotten about.

ellen abbott said...

I've done that, sent off apologies for my bad behavior. Probably not so many as I should have. I don't mind apologizing though. I'll apologize now if I even think I said something wrong. It is a good thing to do, lifts the burdens off.

Reya Mellicker said...

It is liberating. And yes I agree Corey, holding grudges is so bad. It takes a lot of energy to hold a grudge!

janis said...

Reya~ I find it hard to believe that you could ever be Bitchy... Although people have said that about me... ha ha!
Write your apology, if anything it will sit well with you. I am writing alot of letters lately, mostly thank you's. I am all about trying to be encouraging and letting others know how they have impacted me lately. Like the letter to my teacher of a thousand yrs ago.
Love the new blog title. I will always remain a fan as long as you allow me to stalk your blog (ha Ha.. I don't really mean stalk although I sometimes think i am just that!)

Reya Mellicker said...

I also LOVE writing cards of thanks. Gratitude is unbelievably healing, isn't it?

Jeninacide said...

I have definitely gotten very good at apologizing over the years. Even if they weren't always accepted- it does help to know that at least you put it out there.

That book is hilarious, although, I can't imagine recommending it in ANY seriousness to a friend or colleague! LOL!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

what an inspiring post. thank you.

Maythen said...

Hi Reya, I love your blog (I really do) but could you please clarify a few points for me? I am on the initiation path in Reclaiming-Feri and I would like to know what aspects you thought were "cult-like". I apologise if I've read your post wrong! Also, why were you appalled at what you were practising? Behaving like a bitch is obviously not a good thing, but how do you relate that specifically to Reclaiming Witchcraft practice? (Other than that book recommendation which sounds like a hoot!)
Thanks! And sorry if these questions are too personal...

lakeviewer said...

Whatever happened to the saying, love is never having to say you're sorry? I get it, though. You have changed, grown, evolved. Every one you knew needs to know the new person.

Isn't that just too bad? We can't be stuck in place, or in the same hole. We are evolving, totally growing new cells, completely different in seven years. All of us, each and everyone. And if people can't accept changes, they are in denial of life forces.

Reya, have a peaceful Thanksgiving from me to you.

tut-tut said...

That jar; very mysterious. Though it could be a Grudge Jar.

Very thought provoking . . .

I find when one (me) talks negatively about others, it ALWAYS comes back in a negative way in spades. Best not to give a voice to them and then disappear.

howsyourrevolution said...

I've ended up having to apologize so often for my bad behavior that I bought stationary printed with "I'm Sorry" in bulk from Costco.

Ronda Laveen said...

Oh, I so loved this post! The inner Bitch book reminds me of my sister. She often apologizes to people newly met in advance. She tells them knows that she'll eventually say or do something that offends them because she speaks her mind.

Reya Mellicker said...

I am NOT against speaking one's mind, and - there are so many ways to convey what's in your mind. One of my great ex colleagues says that ideally before speaking, it's a good idea to ask yourself what you want to accomplish by saying it. What kind of response or result do you seek? That kind of mindfulness, if practiced, could change the world, it really could.

Mouse, thank you!!

Maythen I will contact you directly, but the short version is this: I used "cult-like" because it applies in many ways, though that said I do not think of Reclaiming as creepy cult-like. I think Jehovah Witnesses are a cult. I think fan clubs are cults. I have a very broad definition of cult in my own mind. Feri is pretty creepy cult-like. I'll talk about that to you directly unless anyone else is interested.

There's nothing wrong with pursuing your path! I am so grateful for all the things I learned during my time in Reclaiming, all the connections I made with people and places. It was great! But you know how when some people drink, they get mean? When I sipped Reclaiming, but especially once I was Feri initiated, I was one mean-ass, wicked bitch. Whew!!

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments here. Tut, the big ole pot was tucked in a corner of a garden at Dumbarton Oaks, a beautiful place!

Reya Mellicker said...

Maythen I couldn't find a contact on your profile page. How can I reach you? I've posted about Feri many times here ... so don't want to do it again.

John Hayes said...

Interesting point about how the sense of should/guilt keep the two people locked together. My other thought: To every thing there is a season.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank you John. Good reminder. Apt.

Tom said...

i for one am glad i'm not alone in behaving badly at points in my life...in fact i'm not done yet! But i'm trying--thanks for the insights.

Maythen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bee said...

I've always tried to keep my inner bitch DOWN, but sometimes it still sneaks out. I believe, deeply and totally, in sincere apologies.

Your "walk" today really sucked me in.

steven said...

reya, i really appreciated this post because it echoes something i've noticed in myself over the last few years and that is that my old practice of filing things in my head - right into the huge filing cabinet labelled "grudge" - has almost entirely gone. how? why? where? when? i dunno. i know that sorry is an experience i've shared with many through the course of my life for decisions, actions, approaches, words, thoughts, actions that i've undertaken as i alone lived on this planet. i know it takes a depth of bravery and presence and truth to deliver true understanding to another person who you may have wronged. but it releases you and that person to move on from that frozen relational moment. hurray!!! steven

Barbara Martin said...

Forgiveness is the best way. Holding grudges only slows down one's soul growth, often ending with a lesson one could have done without.

Reya Mellicker said...

Nobody's perfect and nobody is perfectly mindful. So we do things, say things, that are hurtful. Most people do anyway.

I try not to, but sometimes, almost always unconsciously, I am hostile or even cruel. The take home wisdom for me these days is to notice when I've been an ass, think about it, learn from it, and when I'm sincerely regretful, (not a moment before) to apologize. And then move on.

Yes it releases both parties when sincere regrets are expressed. It's actually quite powerful.

Natalie said...

I have been thinking about an apology that I owe to some people. I am terrified of saying it, even though I know I should - for my sake as well as theirs.

It is almost as if when I speak of it out loud, I won't be able to deal with the shame all at once. Maybe I should wait a bit longer...................

Steve said...

It's interesting to think about the different kinds of apologies -- the motivation behind them. I'm going to try to think more about WHY I'm apologizing before I instinctively do it.

Pauline said...

the slide show is like an apology in progress - at a distance to begin with and then a happy close up at the end. This is the second post on forgiveness I've read this morning - must be the season...

Reya Mellicker said...

Pauline, that's cool!! I didn't see that but I like it.

Steve I think that's a GREAT idea. Reflexive apologies are another example of non-healing moments. They are like deflections to avoid conflict or even to avoid disagreement, at least that's what they are for me.

Natalie, yes, I would wait until I could offer the apology whole-heartedly. No one is perfect. everyone makes mistakes and acts hurtfully. I bet even the Dalai Lama says the wrong thing sometimes.

Sincere regret without attached shame and guilt, clearly expressed, is so liberating!

Thanks all for these thoughtful beautiful comments.

Barry said...

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Apologies heal the person sincerely offering it and the person receiving, if they can forgive.

And Thanksgiving is the perfect time.