The Retreat

A continuation from The Invitation

It’s been a very long time since the post above. There are 10 excuses why I stopped, none of them good really. I feel very emotional as I sit here and begin to pick up where I left off. It’s time to finish my story. I will do my best to make this understandable and useful without starting from the beginning but if you are going through a divorce and an affair and health issues are part of that story, I suggest starting from the beginning.

“The Invitation” was and still is one of the most pivotal moments of my life. By some miracle, I had received a personal invitation from Neale Donald Walsch himself to a week-long retreat. I was in a deep (doesn’t really begin to cover it) 8 year-long affair that was wrecking havoc on my mind, body and soul, and this invite was everything. It was literally life or death for me.

Thankfully, the retreat was not long after the “miracle invite” and I was soon on my way to Ashland, Oregon for the week between Christmas and New Year. What a gorgeous place. I don’t know if it was the incredible gift and my higher-than-high expectations but this snowy, Christmas lit-up town felt magical. What is interesting is that all my symptoms disappeared during this time.

This retreat was powerful and offered concepts that were completely new to me. I could feel the truth in them and my being ate it up. Each day I sat and I listened to one gut-wrenching story after the other. I watched as Neale masterfully took these deeply wounded people through a series of questions that quickly, and with brutal honesty, got them to the root. Instead of making it some dark awful thing in which to discard in distaste, he took this root with gentle loving care and cultivated it. Before my eyes, he grew it into the flower, the gift, that it was meant to be.

Neale had told me on the phone to let him know who I was when I got there but I couldn’t speak up for some reason. I just sat quietly and waited. Was I afraid of what I would discover, of what he would say? I don’t know really but this silly notion left me suffering as each day passed without my moment I was deeply craving. I did try, but everyone raised their hand when asked, “Whose next?.” Everyone was there and desperate for help. Was I worthy enough? I could not even acknowledge to myself how dire my situation was. What was going to make me take this serious?

I believe it was the day before the last day and Neale finally called me out. He asked that I share my story and I did, the whole ugly honest truth. Neale asked me if I could imagine working things out with my husband. This simple and obvious question hit me like a lead brick. No, I replied. Well, then you have your answer, he said.

And there it was, laid to bare and as easy as 2 +2. I know this seems unimaginable but in 8 years, I literally never allowed divorce to cross my mind. I never allowed ANY option to cross my mind. I had chose to stay stuck in the version of “no way out” but now it was like the veil had lifted and new pathways came into sight. I had never felt more clear and sure in my entire life. It was done. I was done.

While I was still riding the high of clarity, one particular women asked to speak. Her pain lashed out at me and what I represented. Her husband had cheated on her and gave her a STD. I unwillingly stood proxy for the “other woman” and her husband so she could unload her burden. Neale let her. I remember being upset that he didn’t stop her. I was angry at them both as I didn’t understand at the time what was happening. The rage kept coming and coming. It became so unbearable that I got up and left the room. I did not know how to process it all.

Later that day, she came up to me and thanked me. I had helped her heal. I begrudgingly accepted this information. I just didn’t know enough at the time to understand it all, to be grateful that I had helped her heal and to know that it wasn’t personal. It was enough to find the courage to speak my truth but I wasn’t yet strong enough to stand in it. That would be another journey saved for another time.

I left this place with the deepest knowing of what I had to do. The strength I had in this knowing would come to be my savior and help propel me forward through all the brutal moments that were ahead of me. There are a handful of moments in my life that I had this knowing and accompanying strength; it is a powerful, powerful combination. It’s as if you and the entire Universe are completely aligned. Actually, I don’t believe there are any “as if’s” about it, I know too much to believe that this is exactly what happens.

The end: James


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