Buddhist Reflections: This Is It (and I’ve been here before)

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This is it

I’ve been struggling with my practice lately. The foundation of my spirituality  is to meditate, to sit still in silence and breathe. Usually this brings me peace and clarity but lately I find that its been difficult for me to meditate. I’ve been resisting my emotions. Instead of acceptance I’ve been persistent in making my feelings and thoughts go away. As I sat down to meditate I would set the intention to focus on this affirmation or that mantra but at the end of my sessions I just end up feeling drained, exhausted, and no more “clearer” than before I sat down.

Over the weekend I decided to head down to San Diego and visit  Deer Park Monastery for their Sunday dharma sharing. As usual I showed up a little late for the dharma talk and ended up having to sit towards the front of the meditation hall. As I sat down at on the empty cushion I looked up at a large scroll containing the simple sentence:

This Is It

A sentence both profound and ironic. Coming face to face with those words caused me to submit, to let go of this battle I was having with myself. Such a major release in a simple sentence. Yes, this is it. This is my reality. These are my emotions. This is my experience. Right here, right now.

So what is my experience? I am experiencing anger, disappointment, deep hurt, and difficulty in letting go of all of these negative emotions. I’ve been through plenty of relationship break-ups. I’ve been here before. But when I say that I mean that I’ve been in the same type of situation resulting from familiar patterns of behavior. Simply put; I’ve literally been here before. Four years ago when I divorced my ex husband. When I truly take in the phrase This Is It it means that I must be honest with myself. I must face reality and acknowledge my truth. My truth is that I have repeated the same pattern of overlooking the obvious in order to give others the benefit of the doubt. I tend to be so focused on seeing the light in others that it causes me to ignore certain warning signs and not listen to my intuition. And because I hadn’t learned this lesson from past situations the Universe has been diligent in re-teaching it to me.

I’m dealing with two very difficult situations. The first is the feeling of being betrayed by someone who specifically sought out my friendship. Though hindsight teaches me that I should have questioned the intent. Or, waited for this person to fully reveal themselves to me before engaging. My openness at acknowledging connections and my desire to always help people on their journey gave me an idealistic perception as to this person’s character. We all  carry light and dark and while it’s important to cultivate  and praise the light within, we can’t turn a blind eye to our darkness. Or the darkness of others.  As I developed a friendship with this person I started to notice certain, very questionable,  negative patterns of behaviors. Fully recognizing many of those same  negative behaviors within myself, and seeing the lessons in the friendship,  I decided to maintain a space of compassion, kindness, understanding, and love. That space made me naive. I overlooked moments where I noticed she was attempting to deceive me. I neglected to call out when I was blatantly being lied to. I knew when I was being emotionally manipulated and I went along with it. I didn’t speak on  the moments that made me uncomfortable– jealous behaviors  such as her interjecting herself into my relationship, sharing things with my partner that were told to her in confidence, and imposing on our privacy. I even came across some things she wrote in her journal and chose to overlook them as well. At the end of the day, she wanted my partner and all of her actions carried that intent. Some moments she was honest about it, and other moments she wasn’t. I didn’t fully see it until my partner and I broke up and I noticed how quickly this friend distanced herself from me. That, the way she treated me, and her evasive behavior made it  that much more obvious. Yet I have to take responsibility for my own actions and the fact that I allowed her into my space.  Her energy is destructive and I chose not to sever ties with her when I saw that her presence was adding to some of the chaos within my romantic relationship.  I also have to acknowledge that my relationship must have had a lot of weaknesses in its foundation for it to have fallen apart so easily and quickly with the presence of another woman.

I’ve experienced some pretty shitty friendships before but this is the first time I’ve ever felt betrayed by a friend. This entire situation has taught me the lesson that I need to redefine what friendship means, and not be so quick to call an individual a friend. I believe wholeheartedly in treating others how you want to be treated. Therefore I would never seek to hurt or harm someone I call a friend, interject myself in their relationship, or bring them chaos. I definitely would never become involved with someone they used to date or even carry the intentions of trying to break up their relationship and/or take their significant other away from them. But that’s my truth and I recognize that not everyone walks in that truth. The fact that I welcomed this woman into my space, protected and defended her against others, was generous with her, and made the decision to open myself up to her and trust her despite knowing what she is capable of makes it that much harder for me to understand why she would return my kindness with pain. But it may not be for me to understand. The experience may be the lesson that I can’t be so giving. That I need to be more discriminating when it comes to inviting people into my safe space.

Of course this leads me into my second difficulty. This breakup. I wouldn’t be authentic in my feelings if I didn’t admit to myself that I honestly feel the way I felt with my ex husband. Again, there were signs throughout my entire marriage that I blatantly ignored because I believed so much in his light and wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Not listening to my intuition caused me some serious hurt in the end. Again, I find myself back in that place. Love doesn’t make me blind, it makes me hopeful. I’m realistic in that I meet people where they are and clearly see their flaws but I’m optimistic that anyone has the ability to manifest their highest potential. Just like I’ve never before felt betrayed by a friend, I’ve never felt such deep disappointment in someone who I love.  The one thing I’ve always respected about my ex partner was her groundedness. I never took her for the type of person to be easily controlled,  led, or swayed and my security in that always made me feel safe with her.  Though I recognize that her and my ex husband have a lot of traits in common I’ve never compared the two because of her biggest redeeming quality–her honesty. From day one my ex partner was always very upfront about who she was and where she was at. Yet I observed in her a pattern of self-denial and it became very strong in her involvement with my friend. Because I’ve experienced this scenario before I picked up to what was happening with my ex partner very quickly. Yet also acknowledging that my own wounds can taint my perception I was willing to listen and believe when she would tell me that our breakup wasn’t about this other woman. I ignored the changes in her energy towards me and her behavior towards my friend.  I saw the obvious influence this woman was beginning to have over my ex. I wondered why my ex was so persistent in trying to convince me that she wasn’t setting me aside for someone else, that our breakup wasn’t about this other woman. It left me questioning who she was trying to convince, me or herself. I soon realized that her pushing me away was about her  simply not wanting the guilt or responsibility for hurting me as she made plans to bring this other woman with her in her transition to her “new life”. All of this I had a feeling about but having it confirmed didn’t make the hurt any less devastating.

Yet I must take responsibility in this situation as well. There were obvious signs of unhappiness and my ex not wanting to be in the relationship. There were even more obvious issues within the relationship outside this other woman. My love, loyalty to my ex, and commitment to the relationship caused me to prolong a tie that obviously needed to be severed. What’s even sadder is that my loyalty to the person I considered a friend was such that I aided her in keeping certain secrets from my ex. Truths that I knew would destroy their friendship if shared. But even in my moments of anger I don’t have the energy to create more chaos than what is already present and I didn’t want to compromise  the”friendship”  between my ex and this woman despite the fact that helping them maintain their friendship only served to hurt me in the end.  I take my own lessons from my dealings with this woman and I feel like others should learn their lessons without my manipulations.

This feeling of being “here” before is piercing. Especially because the pain that came out of the conditions of my divorce were the worse I’ve ever felt. I never wanted to feel that kind of hurt ever again and I worked extremely hard to transcend and heal those wounds. Now those wounds bleed again. The difficulty for me lies in the fact that I made the conscious effort not to pursue a relationship with anyone until I was in a space not to repeat those same mistakes. And yet I still found myself in the same exact place. Feeling dismissed, set aside for someone else, inadequate, confused, hurt, sad, depressed, angry, and doubting my choices when it comes to who I get involved with. I’m even having to acknowledge some feelings of hate, which is an extremely rare emotion for me.

The only difference in being in this place again is how I’m handling it. I’ve had my human moments where I’ve projected my anger or allowed myself to get lost in my emotions however I recognize that This Is It. This is my direct experience resulting from my direct actions and the energy I’ve put out. There’s no sense in fighting it. I must ride it out and accept it. I must take it to my meditation cushion, breathe, feel, and let go. Letting go is much easier said than done but I know it can be. I’ve done it before.

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