I wrote this journal entry almost exactly five years ago, at time of great fear in my life, when I felt that my husband was going to leave me. Two years later, he did leave. Re-reading my writing I see how I knew in my bones the outcome of our relationship, but I did everything I could to push it down, manage it, and try to spiritualize it away. I did unweave so many old patterns and triggers during this time, but I also pushed away my intuition, my own inner knowing. I wonder now if I had put my energy towards the knowing — he is going to leave and you are going to be okay, stay conscious with the transition, don’t abandon yourself — how those two years might have been different. I’ll never know.
But what I do know is that over the past three years since my marriage ended (next week is the anniversary of that final goodbye) is that I have learned how to not abandon myself. I have lived through the shattering of a dream, understood what it means to have a broken heart, and thrived. I love my life today, and I would not be where I am without the challenges, the heartbreak, the devastation. The most important lesson: to honor where I am at. Triggered, or not triggered. Panicking, or calm. Terrified or in grace. Because it was the judgment and rejection of myself that caused the most suffering.
So I share these words as a prayer to all the struggles we put ourselves through, and as an invitation to myself to keep putting everything into the fire, and trusting in the unfolding. No matter how messy. It is going to be okay. In fact, it is going to be amazing.
For the past month, I have been spending each day either very triggered, moderately triggered, or processing being triggered. I have been an unweaving dervish, peering deeply into the tangle of agreements my mind has clumped together, and dang is it a strong net of lies!
What I am learning through the process: My biggest enemy is the part of my brain which tells me I should not be triggered, I should get over it, I’ve been dealing with this for too long. Without those line of thoughts, there is much less angst.
But damn, is my internal judge strong right now.
It has been a deep process, and sometimes I feel like I am battling a monster that has many arms that grow back in pairs when you chop one off. I get triggered, stalk it back to “what is the false agreement?” and then unweave that agreement. The gamut of agreements run from, “I am broken,” to “I don’t want to be abandoned,” to seeing how moving around every two years as a child left a feeling of not having choice when my father decided it was time to go someplace new, to feeling overwhelmed at the madness of the world right now.
I find myself walking into traps I advise my students to avoid. Yesterday I started reading a great book, “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. Her work is about self-inquiry into false thoughts, based on four simple questions:
Is it true?
Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
How do I react when I think that thought?
Who would I be without the thought?
Today I watched my judge use the teachings I had just read about against me. “See, you should be able to do “The Work” from Katie’s book and be over this. What kind of spiritual teacher are you that you have been triggered for so long? You should be like Katie. She is a true spiritual teacher.” Blah blah blah. As Katie says in her book, it is not even the thoughts that are the problem, it is my relationship to those thoughts. I am still being hooked by the lies. Otherwise, they would be silly. Why should I be just like Katie, I am me! When I did The Work on my thought that I should be done with this, the result is simple: No, I should not be done with this because I am still experiencing it. When I think I should be done, I close. When I accept the not-doneness I feel lighter, free once again.
On my walk this morning I caught a glimpse of an overall healing I am in the midst of, which I have seen before but then quickly seem to lose sight of. The truth is that I am in a long-term healing stimulated by the death of my father which is inviting me to question all the false beliefs I have around my relationship to men, power, enlightenment, abandonment, and how people treat each other. The triggers that have been arising are areas to be cleaned in how I identify myself in relationship to men and the world. Most exciting!
Which brings us to Buddha.
The crux of my suffering has been around the fear that my husband is going to leave me. I know, I teach, and I deeply believe that everything is impermanent, the only true peace resides in releasing attachments and residing in the truth of one’ s timeless connection to all that is. It is true; my husband is going to leave me, or I will leave him, even if that is in death. My mind understands this, my soul knows this innately. For years now in my relationship with him, I have felt no fear of his leaving or not leaving; I knew I would be fine no matter what.
And right now my emotional body and mind are both feasting on lots of old stories that surfaced from the depths; that I will be abandoned and will suffer greatly, that I am not enough, that there is a “right” thing to do that I am not doing. I am brilliantly suffering now about perceived, potential suffering in the future. My brain is so smart to help me by bringing imaginary future suffering into the present so I can experience it right now!.
To add to its power, my brain has been selective evidence gathering to show me the many serious clues of why it is immanent that my husband is going to leave. The first clue: someone in our community is in the middle of a divorce right now. See! Says my brain! He left her, so, therefore, your beloved is going to leave you! Proof! Start panicking now!
The second clue: Each time I pick up the book Buddha by Deepak Chopra I open to the page where Buddha’s wife cries and tells him she knows he is going to leave her in 10 years. Which, of course, says my stunningly scientific mind, is exactly what is going to happen. See! More evidence. He is going to leave you to go get enlightened. There is no doubt now.
I see that these thoughts are ludicrous, and yet they keep slipping under my radar and nipping at my heels with their sharp teeth, silently barking and barking their lies until I start believing them again. My body goes into fear, or I feel mad at my husband and I look within and see those mangy dogs slobbering all over my clarity.
Yesterday I woke up to the truth again. I was sitting with a group of women, meditating on Tara (the Tibetan female embodiment of the Buddha energy) when I saw, “Oh, I am not Buddha’s wife! I am Tara! I am Buddha.” As Buddha’s wife, I suffered as she did. As Tara, my self-worth and happiness bubbles up from within me and is not dependent on other people’s actions or opinions. So simple! Just a shift of perception and I am free again!
And then I am not. Old thoughts arise. Another fear surfaces. And I go back to my toolbox. Meditation, recapitulation, talking things through with friends, releasing emotions, reading spiritual books, self-inquiry.
“No one has ever been able to control his thinking, although people may tell the story of how they have. I don’t let go of my thoughts–I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me.” Byron Katie writes in Loving What Is. What Is for me right now is that a set of interlocking stories are arising from the past to be healed. When I clutch them in fear, they grow bigger. When I meet them with understanding and self-inquiry spaciousness for healing re-arises within me.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]