"Liberty is the possibility of doubting, of making a mistake...
of searching and experimenting...
of saying 'No' to any authority —
literary, artistic, philosophical, religious, social, and even political."
-Ignazio Silone, The God That Failed
Yesterday, I shared with my beau that I think it's fascinating how I'll come across an old magazine or newspaper and read through it to see all the predictions we make about the future, and given the gift of hindsight, reflect upon how things do or don't pan out the way we assumed — or hoped — they would. It's an interesting study on human behavior, on sentiments we share as a culture, and a good reminder that we truly are in control of so little except for our response to the situations that happen around and within us.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been looking inward and outward with many more questions than I have answers to. I wish that I had hindsight now, so that I could make the best choices in this moment to benefit my life in the future, but that's just not how life works. All of this has stemmed from the state of my relationship, and the two of us determining whether or not this is the best situation for either of us to continue. In the time that we've been together, we seem to have gotten a little lost in how to make ourselves and one another truly happy, forgetting a bit of why we fell in love with each other in the first place. Yet, at the same time, whether it's because we are devoted to making it work or because we're both stubborn and don't like to lose or because our higher selves recognize that there's something very worthwhile in the two of us being together, we are aiming to figure it out.
Relationships, as I've been told over and over again, go through a whole gamut of emotions — they're not the storybook tales we watch on the big screen in the darkness of pausing reality or even what we're interpreting based on what are often superficial status updates on Facebook. But, at what point do you realize that you can continue on this path to learn more lessons about yourself based on your interactions with another, or you can choose to take an easier road with someone who's more likeminded and pushes less buttons? Relationships, I've also been told, are super easy when they're right; whatever you think is what becomes your reality; you meet exactly who you're meant to be with to help move you forward in your spiritual journey; and onwards.
When I was in therapy in my mid-20s, my therapist said at one point that I need to stop asking others for advice. I get all of this input, because I'm trying to figure out how to "do it right," afraid to make a mistake, but what everyone is doing is simply sharing what's worked for them. She encouraged me to quiet the outside voices and learn to start trusting my own, because in the end, I would often do what I wanted to do anyway. This technique of asking everyone around me was helpful growing up, because my actual parents were not the role models I needed them to be. In asking other people, I was able to truly get a broad spectrum of life stories and pick and choose what worked, learn how to fit in and be accepted, but in the end, I had a hard time trusting myself, my heart, my thoughts, my body all on my own without external validation.
These past couple of weeks shook up an overpowering awareness that everything coming up was simply the Universe asking me to take a deep look at myself and see if I want to grow my consciousness or stay cooped up in habits, patterns, and fears that have served me until now. My life is ample, rich, and abundant on so many levels, yet there is this niggling hook in my heart that just won't seem to let go, something that holds me back from experiencing true love and genuine joy for myself and for others.
After several calm discussions, my beau and I came to working solutions that will take time to implement and to see if indeed we are one good for one another. In being with him, I have learned how to root my emotions in a rationality that is new to me. And together, we practice patience and a broadening of understanding on levels that serve us both in various ways.
But, something else happened in the midst of our arguments and space. Rather than emitting rainbows and sunshine from my heart for the resolutions we came to, there was grief. Sorrow. Discontent. Frustration. Anger. And something (maybe several things) I can't quite put my finger on. Dispassion? Defeat? Resignation? Perhaps it's a grudge. Ultimately, something broke in me and I don't care anymore — and it's liberating.
My Soul has finally gotten to the point where it's ready to stand still in the core of who I am rather than constantly fighting with my ego to go where Ego says I need to go. And truly, nothing, in the end, is that big of a deal. Life is long and if I believe all the things I have faith in, then everything really is perfect, just as it is, without my having to get into the middle of things.
My beau has told me from the beginning that I need to clearly and explicitly state what it is that I want, so that I can even have a chance of getting it. Sometimes, it's hard to figure out what that is, but when I have, he has indeed made an effort to help me make it happen. Sometimes, it's hard to admit to yourself what it is you really want, because it's a dream so big that even putting it out there is a huge risk to take.
What have I been afraid of all these years? What has been truly motoring me along in my life? Why do I feel compelled to do 1,001 things all at once, convinced that just doing one isn't enough? I've been afraid of people not liking me my entire life. What a cage this tendency has created for my entire consciousness. I'm afraid of calling people for referrals, as my business coach has told me I need to do. I'm afraid of saying what I want. I'm afraid of believing in my power and standing in my worth. I'm afraid of disagreeing with someone else. I'm afraid of making a mistake. I'm afraid of being loud. I'm afraid of being viewed upon frowningly. I'm afraid of indulging. I'm afraid of giving myself permission to be strong, wild and joyful.
And now, I could give a shit about worrying. I don't need anything new to freak out over. There's nothing wrong with me, nothing flawed, nothing I need to fix. I'm human, and it's as simple as that, a fact that I have fought my whole life to not accept. I didn't want to believe that I was just like everyone else, because that means I could hurt someone else like that and the pain I endured as a child was too unbearable. Somehow, if I could stand out from the crowd, then I would be averse to anything that could hurt me like that again. I thought that if I could be superhuman, then I could fly about the stratosphere and not get wounded. Turns out, the air is thinner up here, it's colder, and everyone else down below looks like they're having such a great time.
Given that I'm always teaching that our bodies and our minds are so intimately interconnected, where what we believe is the reality we create, then I'm throwing away — sometimes violently, sometimes gently to the wind — all of the things that have held me back. I get angry. I get scared. I get spiteful. I get unhappy. I get moody. I don't say all of the right things. I can be self-centered or sometimes selfish. I get all of the things that I don't want to see in my partner, and if I can't be perfect, then why would I expect someone else to be?
Being perfect is 1) unattainable, and 2) doesn't mean you won't get smacked in the heart by hurt. This is where Mother Teresa's "Anyway" poem comes in handy.
I have existed for 34 years trying to do the right thing, to make everyone else fit into the mold and the script of what I believe, so that I can feel safe and secure. And frankly, that's not how the world — or relationships — work. I asked myself today, whether I would want to be in a relationship with myself. While there are plenty of redeeming and stellar qualities, there are a few things that I would find are deal breakers. All these things I do to myself already. Things like changing my mind constantly, not being able to commit, telling someone else how or what to do, being almost severely punishing when I experience disappointment, aiming for an ideal state of undisturbed bliss where light beams from every nook and cranny into gold. There's a reason we have fairytales and fables. They give us something to believe in when the every day is filled with gradients of grays and blacks and blues rather than bright yellows and reds and oranges. Because we know how hard things can be, sometimes, escape is the most alluring option. Because we know how low things can go, we yearn for the highs that balance everything out.
These experiences, being honest with myself, are how I am finding my original voice in teaching. On the surface of my life, I am being triggered. On the inside of my being, I am embracing imperfection and making new adult choices and realizing that these nuances are what make me who I am. I feel that the group classes I teach are shifting, because I'm moving away from a template model of falsehoods to a real human being standing at the front of the class, honestly connected, in it like everyone else, and simply being who I am.
All any of us ever want is unconditional acceptance. This is what we have wanted since birth. This is the pain we struggle with in our lives when we feel that it's absent in any way. This is where grace kicks in. What I remember from my recent teacher training is when we watched this video, where Ram Dass shared his experience of meeting his guru. As skeptical as he was being a Harvard professor of neuroscience, he knew the moment of transformation happened when this man revealed he knew everything about Ram Dass and loved him anyway. "Because he knew everything about me, that was like being forgiven. Prior to that, I had a lot of things in my past, I didn't want anybody to know. And I always felt that if they knew, they wouldn't love me. He knew. And he loved me."
This is where I want to be. Where everyone knows. And loves me anyway. Where I know. And I love me... anyway.