The Cure Comes From An Unexpected Source
After a close friendship of 20 years, Rose (not her real name) decided she wanted nothing more to do with me, only she wouldn’t tell me why. I racked my brain trying to figure out what I might have done. Then I racked my husband’s brain. Finally, I tried her husband, who didn’t want to get involved and said that she and I really needed to talk–except she wouldn’t.
Several months earlier, my husband and I had stayed with them while on a four-day business trip and, as far as we could tell, everything had gone well, with hugs and kisses in parting. After three months of unanswered phone calls and emails, I was with a friend at a public concert in another city when we ran into Rose and her husband. She strode right up to us but ignored me and chatted with my friend. Not knowing what to do, I turned and exchanged banalities with her husband.
Finally, Rose ended her conversation with my buddy and turned to me. “Hi, Carine,” she said with a smile on her face. “Hi, Rose,” I said. “How are you?” “Fine!” I said in a too-loud and overly cheery voice. “Did you enjoy the concert?” “Yeah,” I said. By then I wanted to scream or spit at the absurdity of it all. “Good seeing you,” she said. “Yeah, same here,” I said. She walked away and I’ve never heard from her since.
Later that night, I lay in bed and cried a little over the loss of our friendship. And then I whipped myself for indulging in tears. To hell with her! Then I was insulted. I don’t even warrant an explanation? Am I that inconsequential? In the months that followed, I told myself many things: that it was normal to feel badly after being rejected; that sadness was okay after a loss; that if she didn’t like me anymore, it probably had nothing to do with me. It’s not always about you, Carine! That people change, and maybe she had become someone who no longer resonated with me; that I didn’t need friends who couldn’t or wouldn’t communicate (I wanted answers!!). That I have very special people in my life who love me just the way I am, flaws and all.
I grappled with sorrow, frustration, rejection, anger, and just about tortured myself with examination and analysis of the situation. And finally, I just didn’t want to think about it or her anymore. I decided I would never feel good about it, but I wanted to feel at peace. I needed closure, but didn’t know how to get there without involving her. And then it came to me. Do a ceremony around it!
Ah, yes. I love rituals. I’ve been performing rituals as long as I can remember. I love lighting candles for a specific purpose. I love sitting in formal meditation. Since my early twenties I’ve maintained an altar in my home. Placing a special item on an altar for an explicit reason provides me with a physical focus for prayer. When I say prayer, I don’t mean the Catholic Hail Mary full of graces and Our Father who art in heavens I grew up with. Those never made me feel like I was making any kind of connection with the Big Guy. Prayer, for me, is cutting out the middle man and going directly to the source–that highest and most loving power which keeps me breathing when I don’t remember to–like when I sleep. And, performing a physical act in conjunction with my entreaty or expression of thanks makes it that much more real.
Vodoo- A Hollywood Notion
Perhaps the other reason I so love ritual and ceremony is because I come from Haiti. I guess it’s in my blood. If you’re thinking Voodoo right now, you would be right because, as the saying goes about my native country, “Haiti is 95% Catholic and 100% Vodou. I don’t practice Vodou or any religion—I don’t like all those rules—but I am fascinated by it. Vodou is simply (or complex-ly) a folk religion whereby people worship various spirit deities, all with trademark characteristics, for very specific needs. And I think that’s cool. Because whether you call it God or the Great Mystery or Allah or Buddha or Jesus or, in Haiti’s case, Erzulie, Dambalah, Ogoun, Legba or any number of others, in my book, it’s all good. Just a note on Vodou: no one in Haiti is going around sticking pins in dolls to hurt their enemies. That is a purely Hollywood notion.
Steps for Creating a personal ceremonial recipe
So, back to my epiphany about doing a ceremony to create closure between Rose and me. Let’s see, I thought, what are the issues surrounding this thing? I needed to close the door on this relationship—release it, let it go, say bye bye, baby! Then I needed to accept this new era without Rose in it, and give thanks for the beautiful people in my life. Lastly, I wanted to move forward with peace and joy in my heart. Once I had my intentions in focus, I set about researching how I might cement those intentions not just with my fervent desire to do so, but with physical action, as well. This is what I came up with.
I took a blank sheet of paper and wrote down thoughts I had on our friendship—its good sides and bad sides, what she brought to me and vice versa. I wrote down anything that came to mind, including pleasant anecdotes and memories, as well as sticky ones. Once that felt complete, I covered it with a piece of black construction paper on which I drew two symbols with a gold pen: the symbol of the planet Saturn, which is said to rule over all things having to do with endings and separations; and symbol for the angel Aratron, who is said to rule over Saturn. Both symbols were simple line drawings that I found in a book called The Complete Book of Amulets and Talismans by Migene Gonzalez-Wippler.
I taped the black cover to the paper with my notes, folded it and taped all sides together. I chose a box and designated it receptacle for my friendship with Rose. I placed the folded paper in it, along with other items that represented the beginning and end of our friendship. These items included a picture of us two; a birthday card I’d kept and a token present she’d brought me back from a trip.
I also put in a broken ceramic vase I’d been meaning to glue for years, as a symbol of our friendship’s break-up. I said a silent prayer asking the universe for help in letting go of attachment to this relationship. I sealed the box and set it aside.
I designated a small table as altar for my second ritual and placed on it items that represent the beauty in my current life. These items included pictures of people who I love and who love me (close friends, certain family members, and my husband); my cat and dog. I also placed a bit of dry rice in a small bowl and a glass of water to represent the nourishment my body is fortunate to have; a flower for the beautiful environment I live in; a dollar bill and coins for the prosperity in my life; some of my favourite pieces of jewellery (I am also a jewellery designer and for me the necklaces represented my ability to earn money doing something I love); I made a paper cut-out of a heart and wrote the word “health” on it to represent love and health in my life. I closed my eyes and whispered a prayer of thanks and gratitude for all the blessings in my life.
To represent me moving forward with peace and joy in my heart, I took a blank sheet of white paper and drew a bird and a butterfly in flight. I can’t draw to save my life, so these were crude line drawings but they served the purpose! I also set this sheet of paper on the altar. Then I placed three coloured candles on a plate—silver for peace from inner chaos, pink for harmony and yellow for joy (I found the generally accepted meanings and properties of colours from a book called Everyday Magic by Dorothy Morrison). After lighting each one, I stopped to imagine myself as a happy bird or butterfly, skipping along, enjoying life and having a great time.
I have to say that afterwards I felt really good, and something felt completed. In the days that followed, I still thought about Rose, but I found that it was easier to let those thoughts go. Sometimes, I felt that familiar sadness knocking at my door and I would let it in, relieved to find that it no longer overwhelmed me. Somehow there was recognition that the process was still working its way through my system and that I couldn’t rush it. They say that the amount of time it takes to get over someone (in an intimate relationship) is equal to the amount of love that existed between the two people.
Finally, “I’m not home!”
I think that applies for all relationships, and I guess it would have been strange for my feelings to automatically shut themselves off. I think that’s called denial. Sadness still comes knocking every now and then; but effortlessly, I hear myself saying, “I’m not home right now!”
These days, whenever I think of Rose, I feel oddly neutral. I send her healing, loving thoughts and wish her well. I also think back on my ceremony and know in my heart that it worked its magic once more.
Carine Fabius is the author of Ceremonies for Real Life.
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