After finding a lovely spot on the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (which might be the best beach in Key West, I’m just saying), I grabbed The Pilgrimage and settled in. The first page I read….”We are going to say a prayer concerning the only thing that can defeat you as a pilgrim after you find your sword: your personal vices. No matter how much you learn from your Master about how to handle the sword, one of your hands will always be your potential enemy. Let us pray that, if you are successful in finding your sword, you will always wield it with the hand that does not bring scandal down upon you.”
I think I must have read that prayer 10 times. It transported me to a time when I was lost and desperate. I was desperate to find my way….to feel love…to escape a situation that left me unable to breathe.
Here I was newly married for the second time and I was looking at a man that seemed to no longer love me. No sooner had we said “I do” than things started to change. I didn’t know it at the time, but he had become addicted to prescription meds. The result was that he completely withdrew from life….our friends…the marriage…me. His absence triggered that long buried insecurity that I was unworthy of love. I felt like I’d been the punchline of a cruel joke. I hadn’t wanted to marry. It wasn’t important to me to have a piece of paper and I admittedly had some hang ups about being married given that I’d already been divorced once. But I agreed because it seemed important to him and to his family. In some awful way, I felt like the Universe was punishing me for not listening to my intuition.
As I neared an unmarked crossroad, my best friend sat me down and asked what was going on. Our friends had noticed the deterioration in the relationship to the point of no longer being able to hold their tongues. She said, “he acts like he hates you”. She said exactly what I felt. With tear-filled eyes I just shook my head and said I didn’t know what had happened, but I didn’t want to be divorced twice so I was going to give him a couple more years to see if we could fix things. If I turned 40 and things were still like this, I’d leave. She looked me dead in the eye and said that was the saddest thing she’d ever heard. I was defeated.
It didn’t matter what I did or what I asked him, the answers were always the same…”Everything is fine.” Everything was not fine. I was sad…lonely…I felt rejected and tricked. He had no interest in me so I went in search of companionship elsewhere. I did the one thing that I knew would result in me having to leave the relationship. I cheated. I’m not the kind of person that cheats, sees the error of their ways, and then asks for forgiveness. I’m the type that finds myself in the situation and knows that it means there’s no return. That I’m so far gone from love that forgiveness isn’t possible. Whether he would forgive me or not didn’t matter – there was no forgiving myself.
“No matter how much you learn from your Master about how to handle the sword, one of your hands will always be your potential enemy.” In my quest for my sword (love), I had yielded power with the hand of deceit leaving a path of lies, destruction, and chaos.
The damage was done. He knew the truth despite my denial. He came clean about the addiction and sought help. I was almost envious at how easy it was for him to make his admission, seek help, and get clean. I was trapped in a downward spiral of self loathing, failure, and confusion that offered no easy treatment for the wounds that cut so deep.
When I decided to get a tattoo of Ganesha, the Hindu deity widely revered as the remover of obstacles, I was very purposeful about where I wanted it to go. I elected to place an outline of Ganesha in his favorite color, red, on the inside of my left wrist. Your left side is your feminine side and the left hand is the hand you give in marriage. With two failed marriages (sigh…) and a desperate need to get in touch with the feminine, I needed to focus all my energy — and any Universal energy I could tap into — to remove the obstacles that I’d been carrying around. My left hand had come to symbolize failure, lost love, self sabotage, and deceit. The hand that should represent love and nurturing energy had betrayed me…or I it. No matter, it was time for a change.
I’m not proud of what I did but I no longer carry quilt or hang my head when recounting my indiscretions. It’s part of who I am — all the good and the bad integrated into one complex, beautifully imperfect human. And it’s what provides the fertile ground for my growth. The tattoo is a reminder not of what I did wrong, but that I’m ever working to remove the obstacles that keep me from reaching my fullest potential. I’m getting closer….and when I get there, the tattoo will protect me and my love. It will remind me that in my success to find my sword, I will not wield it with the hand that brings scandal down upon me. I’m removing obstacles so nothing can defeat this pilgrim.
Day 4 in Key West 🙂