Up to the age of nineteen, I lived in the same two story, three-bedroom house with my parents and my brother in a middle class, primarily white suburb of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
My mother and father provided a loving and nurturing environment where all our needs and our wants were unselfishly provided to us by them. I remember my mother regularly doing many thoughtful things for us like frosting a cake half with chocolate for my brother and white for me.
She would iron my jeans before a school dance (yes that was a thing back then), pick up a chicken breast from KFC when I was going to a majorette tournament the next day, and would always give away the last piece of pie to us even if she had wanted it herself.
I viewed my father as hard working, but very opinionated and voicing his judgements regularly. Showing signs of affection were very rare and I remember fantasizing about having a father like Michael Langdon on the show Little House in the Prairie.
Later I would come to understand that I had created a special relationship with my father and had created many judgements and unrealistic expectations concerning how he treated me.
In terms of A Course in Miracles, a special relationship is any relationship (with anything though we tend to think of it as between people) that we use as a substitute for Oneness with God.
It might be a special hate relationship, in which we feel justified in projecting hate and anger onto someone, or it might be a special love relationship, in which we believe that only a special person can meet our needs. Though they look quite different in form, both follow from the same error: that our separation from God can be healed (or solved or amended) through an external relationship.
My father was one of my first special relationships where I used the ACIM’s teaching to undo my negative judgments that I had built up over many years during my youth and adulthood.
As I mentioned previously my father was extremely strict in his beliefs and as I grew older, we would often get into arguments where our views clashed. My father was not open to having his thinking challenged and certainly was not interested in modifying his opinions. He was raised in a family who did not shows signs of affection, which I later came to understand molded him and his parenting style. At nineteen when I moved away, I barely tolerated him.
In my thirties, when I began the Course workbook during the meditation in one of the lessons the image of my father appeared. I knew I was being shown to see him in a different light; one where he was a perfect child of God.
I was guided to pull all the pictures I had of him and me from my childhood photo albums and place them all around my house, on the mirror in my bathroom, the fridge, even in my office at work. Every time I looked at those pictures, I created a different childhood for myself; one with a father who regularly hugged me and told me I love you.
During that time, a memory came back to me when I was a young child, and I would pretend to be asleep on the couch when my parents came back from bowling night so my father would pick me up and carry me up to bed. I loved the feeling of his strong arms holding me as he climbed the stairs and gently laid me down in my bed.
The miracle was revealed to me several years later when he became very ill and was in the hospital and when I visited him, I saw him as a beautiful gentle soul. He was still the same opinionated and negative man but whenever I heard him say something judgemental, I could now look beyond his comment and see who he truly was. I am incredibly grateful that I had chosen him as my father to help me learn how to transform a special relationship into a Holy one.
After I healed my relationship with my father, Scott appeared in my life about a year after my divorce. We were business colleagues at work, and I never saw him as anything other than that until one event where he shared a piece of his story growing up and the challenges he faced in his past marriage.
I had always respected Scott for his intelligence and how he performed his work, but that night he showed me a side of him who was loyal and could possess strong and passionate feelings. This man had been severely hurt but had come through it without being angry and bitter.
I could sense a similar attraction after our talk, but I also knew it was complicated. Scott was just coming out of a long-term relationship, and he was not ready to jump back into anything serious. Along with working full time, he was also taking his MBA, which left next to no time for dating.
I clung to the conversations we had over coffee during the day and the irregular sharing we did over emails in the evenings. I remember each night looking at my home computer hoping for that little envelope in the bottom corner of my screen saying, “you have mail”.
There was a show we both enjoyed, Ally McBeal, and I would tape it each week and bring it for Scott to watch so we could share our thoughts on each week’s story line. I also started making an extra dinner portion each night and would bring it to him the next day in a Tupperware container. With his busy work and study schedule he would often thank me for “keeping him alive”.
Every new little item I learned about him made me want him even more in my life. I became very addicted to the moments where he would let his guard down and reveal in his eyes what he felt. These were new emotions for me; I had never felt so consumed by someone like this before. I always thought these kinds of feelings and relationships only existed in romance novels and the chick flick movies.
Working through my Course lessons and then reading Marianne Williamson’s Enchanted Love book I faced the realization that I had created a special relationship, which was interfering with my Course goal of living a life focused on the peace of God. I was elevating my love of him above my primary relationship with God and setting expectations on him like I had done with my father when I was young.
I continued my journey to work on focusing on feeling God’s love for me as the only love that was truly required; I knew I needed to feel full before I could be in a healthy partnership.
Scott was also working on his own fears and one night at dinner he demonstrated where he was by putting the blade of a knife and leaning it in the prongs of a fork. He showed me that if one of the utensils fell, they would both fall. Both of us had to get to the place where we were both standing tall on our own.
Releasing the need for this man and my father to complete me led me to manifesting a beautiful loving relationship with both. That man, Scott, is now my husband of 17 years and whenever I speak with my father, he ends every conversation saying I love you and I can hear the tears in his voice; more emotion than I would ever dreamed possible from him.
Heather has been A Course in Miracles (ACIM) student and teacher for 25 years and facilitates several weekly online ACIM study groups. By applying the ACIM principles, she has seen her life transform in all aspects of her work and personal life. She loves sharing forgiveness stories and holding space for those who are seeking to let go the barriers of fear in order to experience the peace of God in all areas of their life and relationships.