Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Moving On

Woke up this morning thinking of an old friend.

Marie Claire was born in Paris shortly after WWII. She and her mother lived in abject poverty. She never knew her father. Marie Claire's mother told her many times that she had not wanted her, had tried unsuccessfully to abort her. In some ways this knowledge haunted Marie Claire and shaped a great deal of her life. 

Marie Claire and I were born on the same day, a decade apart. At the age I am now, she died of cancer. When I went to see her in the hospital she told me, “Here I am having to go through this alone as I have done with everything.”

I didn’t know what to say. In fact, Marie Claire had a loving husband she’d been with for decades- a chef who ran his own restaurant and brought her tasty meals daily during her stay in the hospital- and two grown daughters who came to see her regularly while caring for young children themselves. And I was there.

But the truth was, Marie Claire always felt as if she was scrambling to survive, was unsupported and on her own. That’s the experience she lived. When I’d gently point out that the reality of her life did not match this assumption she would cringe and agree, but I knew it changed nothing.

And it wasn’t only that Marie Claire was unable to receive from those around her. She also could not give to herself. She had a small successful skin-care business and dreamed of creating a healing spa for women, a place where spirit was tended even as the body was pampered. She told me once that she had the money to fulfil her dream, but she couldn’t do it- was afraid to spend the money, sure that it was too late or too early or not the right economic climate or the right place. . . . Honestly, I don’t think she ever really considered acting on her vision. In her own mind, she was still the unwanted daughter, the girl living on the street, barely surviving.

I remember once sitting with Marie Claire and feeling my own frustration at her inability to receive and enjoy the life she now had. I wanted to tell her to “let the past go,” to “move on.” I didn’t- because I knew these words don’t free someone from the past and can stir deep shame- and that never helps.

And, I knew something else: where we want to say, “Move past this!” to another, we are speaking from our inability to be with the other where they are. (And yes, sometimes we may need to take a break so we don’t start saying unhelpful things.)

And. . . . where we are feeling judgemental and frustrated about another’s failure to “move on,” we may well be feeling stuck ourselves, identified with or limited by something that has happened in our past and frustrated by our own inability to “let it go.”

We are wanting someone else to do something that we have not found a way to do.

Maybe we want them to show us it can be done.

So, as I woke up this morning filled with memories about Marie Claire I wondered: Where am I feeling caught in the past? Where am I missing the opportunity to lay down a burden and walk on with more freedom? Where am I refusing healing, afraid to be free, not allowing myself to receive fully what is offered to me now?  

And I offer a prayer for my old friend, grateful for what is stirred by remembering her, wishing her spirit deep peace and freedom.

Oriah House (c) 2014


  1. Thank you so much for another post that hit home.
    It's amazing that our own view on ourselves is so very limited and we think ourselves to be totally unlovable when indeed the total opposite is the truth. It always baffles me completely when someone tells me that I have been their life line so many times, that my black humour has cheered them on when nothing else worked for them. I guess it is hard to hug that 5 year old or older and tell her that she is loved and ENOUGH, good enough and that it's time to let the past be the past. And only because the past sucked sometimes, it does not mean that it will continue to do so. There I have a choice: Do I want to stay miserable for what was? Or do I want to move on and be thrilled what is to come?
    Good for you, for having moved on *hugs* xox Sabine

  2. Oriah,

    Your story of Marie Claire touched me where I live in my feeling world. It is one of your best pieces of writing. It flows so naturally that is just sweeps me along with the current. I touches me deeply because it rings true to the story of my former wife. Her start was much the same and the awful beginning shaped her life.It continues to have a tight hold on her. She is gentle, loving, kind, caring, and giving. And, she often laments, "Why do I keep attracting such controlling and mean spirited men?" She too very much goes it alone. Will she fulfill her dream? I don't know. I have learned to be with her where she is, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see things better for her, because I would. Our words will not free people, but maybe our presence and love will.She has helped me "move on" and for that I am truly grateful.I am living my dream, the one she recognized and pushed me to live. I love her dearly and encourage her and support her dreams.I would like to think that we all can walk with a sense of freedom. Some of my healing is taking place and my wings are growing strong to where I will soar.I wish her spirit the freedom to soar and fly above it all.

    Peace, love and freedom

  3. Thank you so much for reintroducing me to my spiritual journey, again and again. It is the real life situations and reactions that offer us true growth.