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  • Robin Stebbins

The Ghost of Hope


How balanced is your relationship? Do you feel like you betray a part of yourself to “make it work”? Even if just a small part, you are doing yourself and your partner a great disservice.

This is different from deciding the hill isn’t worth dying on or realizing that you not in a good grounded place to form a cohesive thought worthy of a conversation. This is a slow bleed, allowing yourself to slowly disappear in trying to stay in a relationship that has started to feel like a windowless, airless vacuum. You are speaking, but it feels like yelling into the wind. Nothing lands, nothing changes, the conversations sound the same, just packaged a little differently so you trick yourself into believing progress is being made. Ahhhhh, enter stage right, the ghost of hope.

I was in a relationship that was unbalanced, harmful, poisonous, and downright awful. I didn’t know how to get out, and the harder I tried, the more stuck I became. I was in a tractor beam, like the Millennium Falcon being pulled towards the death star. Nothing Hans did could break the pull, using force was futile. I know the feeling. The solution, the only solution was to see what I was doing to create, or in my case, recreate the patterns that felt so familiar, no matter how dark it became. Study after study shows that we humans will always take the familiar road to the unfamiliar as this was related to our ancestors survival. I have a good friend that would chose to stay with an abusive foster family and lie to the social workers to avoid the unknown. At least she knew how to handle the abuse, she knew what to do.

I had done everything I knew up to break free, spent thousands on counseling, planet medicine retreats, journaling, endless conversations with friends. The advice, summed up “Leave the dirtbag in the dirt”. I wasn’t weak, I had been through so many ordeals and come out the other side warrior status. Why was this so perplexing. Because I made it all about him. He was the problem, and I was addicted. It would trigger so many old wounds and I was in traumatic survival mode that I couldn’t see the forest through the trees. And the forest was me.

Of course I was the problem, but I didn’t see my part accurately. I felt guilt, shame, disappointment in staying, in believing things were changing, that he was telling the truth, despite my soul knowing otherwise. It was as if he had a sign in his yard that said “warning dog will bite”. I walk into the yard the first time, the dog bites me. That time the dog bit me. The next time I walk into his yard, I’m biting myself. Ah ha, this is why it felt so painful, such a deep betrayal. I was betraying myself, lying to myself, biting myself. It is not possible to be with another person that treats you worse than you treat yourself. Eureka! I struck gold. Now I had a plan. Stop making it about him, start facing reality, radical forgiveness and begin loving myself.

When I first stated the work, it was shaky, awkward, strange. I had never pointed my energy to the mirror, to going inward and seeing why I was allowing this, how I was doing the same, and often times worse to myself. I had to first forgive myself for getting into this pattern, knowing I did the best I could in the moment I did it. The next was to love myself, simple words, very difficult concept when I had no idea of what it meant. It started with a sentence I would say over and over, “what is the kindest thing I can do for myself in this moment”? Again, awkward and almost embarrassing at first but it took on its own momentum like a freight train. Every time I would catch myself recounting the various betrayals in the relationship I would turn the light back to me and see where I had betrayed myself, lied to myself, cheated on myself.

I began to question my thoughts about him, the relationship. It first required facing reality, not my rose colored glasses I what was possible if only…blah blah blah or what I believed it should be if only…blah blah blah. The ghost of hope kept me there, kept me small, kept me quiet. With reality on my side, the ghost of hope had no room to stay. The power of owning my responsibility, loving myself and allowing complete forgiveness was what finally released the tractor beam. Just as I can’t have anything external forced into my heart, or for that matter removed from my heart, nothing external can heal my heart or release the pull. It is an inside job. Anyone that tells you differently has a bridge to sell you. Or years of therapy.

I loved my ghost of hope, my rose colored glasses, my ability to project my fantasy life. (see the new movie ‘Isn’t It Romantic” with Rebel Wilson to get a taste of my powers). Actually, life is so much better without them, seeing just how magic it is, just exactly as it is. Beautiful, crazy, wild, sad, joyful, rich vibrant and most of all, unpredictable. Just the way I like it.


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