by Susan Vielguth
She was in love. She was a new mother. They had been together for years and they were planning their official wedding.
And then, an unexpected shock.
Months before the big day they were involved in a car accident and for her fiancee, it was fatal.
She was completely devastated.
Years later, she sits here in this small tin-roofed classroom with us and the rest of the participants learning about how to question stressful thoughts with The Work of Byron Katie. She’s sharing her experience of how she found out she was HIV+ and this is how it began.
She went on to share that weeks after his death she went for a check-up with her doctor, the one she shared with her to-be husband, and he told her that her late fiancee was HIV positive. He went on to say that he was unable to share this news due to confidentiality reasons while her partner was alive and encouraged her to get tested. It was news she never expected to hear. She described it as the biggest shock of her life.
As the following days unfolded she found out that, along with the doctor, his family also new of his status. They were surprised that she was never informed by him.
Soon after it was confirmed that she was indeed HIV+ and she was left feeling bitterly betrayed.
That bitter feeling, the massive despair that she spoke of, this is what she poured out on to her Judge-Your-Neighbour-Worksheet. Finally all that raging pain had a right to life- on paper.
“He intentionally infected me with HIV”
A belief is defined as something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held conviction. And the statement above, the first one written on her worksheet, was just that. It had been accepted as true for years.
She initially answered the first two questions very quickly. It was a rapid succession of “yes’s”. And so, we slowed it down. Without experience, this Work may appear to be an intellectual process while to an open mind it is a deep mediation. So, we allowed time to really check it out and contemplate if there was anything that the mind was missing. “Is it true?- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?” These words make up two of the most powerful questions to still the mind and, even if just for a moment, step out of ones painful perception to examine if this individual interpretation of reality is accurate.
She answered “no” to the second question and took time to experience this new and unexpected paradigm. Afterwards she went back to the old, to share how she reacted when she believed that the love of her life infected her intentionally. All the inner turmoil, deep feelings of betrayal, and anger surfaced. She shared that she looked back on those years where they were inseparable and described that she saw him as a liar, saw the love that they shared as mere deception, and was left with hate and resentment towards him. This belief tainted any experience she had ever had with him; it made every laugh, act of kindness, and expression of love a lie. She saw all men, even her father, as dogs.
It took time for her to drop into who she would be without this story, without the thought that he infected her intentionally. And, when she did, she spoke slowly. How she would be able to see how much he loved her, that she could feel the love now while the memories of their time together surfaced, and she witnessed how her anger, the anger that had spread to all the men in her life, dissolved.
In the turnarounds she slowly went through the memories of him from completely new perspectives. She discovered that it was truer for her that he didn’t intentionally infect her. She saw how much fun they had together, how she was a confidante for him, an advisor when he was unsure of himself, and how contentedly inseparable they were. She discovered that it could have been fear, not cruel intent, that led him to keep his status a secret; fear of rejection, the loss of the one he loved, and shame.
As her examples for turnarounds continued to pour out, she reunited with the man she loved once again and said, “I think I’m really getting this meditation thing now, wow.”
Welcome to The Work.