Do you ever/did you ever look at friends' Facebook posts, or hear good news about their lives, and be filled with a combination of jealousy and rage? Sometimes I feel that way and I am so ashamed that I can't just be happy for other people without feeling like my life in no way measures up. I have good things in my life...but not the marriage, house, and kids that everyone posts a million pictures of. And my instinctual reaction to watching other people be happy is, "Why can't I be like that?" Sometimes I just have to stop looking because otherwise, it makes me so sad.
I let go of a relationship (and by "let go" I mean it laughed me out the door) a few days ago. I’ve been alternating between states of clarity, optimism, raw anger, resentment and humiliation every twenty minutes or so. It is exhausting, the end of a relationship. It is relief. It is deep sorrow. It is, for me, often a lot of anger. It is a practice in compassion for yourself and for the other human being who also just did the best they could. Even if their best was to laugh you in the face, drunk, as you stood in the middle of the street vibrating with rage.
Why do we do things even when we know better?
Why do we want to bury ourselves in others so badly?
Why are we so afraid to be alone?
Why does it hurt so much when we discover we are not loved the way we thought?
Why does it surprise us each time we stick our hand back in the same fire?
How could I not see how this would turn out?
Perhaps it’s all a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Our hard hearts that rail against forgiving that other person are really begging their own forgiveness. Our rage we blast out at another is really directed inward.
I know – in my mind, at least when I’m operating from a more centered place – that this is probably true.
But what about if it’s not? What if the rage I feel toward this man when he is laughing at me in the street is the same rage I felt when I was laughed at as a child for being so sensitive? The same rage that burst hives onto my chest when the boy who got me pregnant in college laughed at me when I asked him why he never looked me in the eye again, took me to the abortion appointment, or gave me money to pay to cut the thing out of my body that was part his?
What if that rage is not about me because I didn’t do those things to me? What if I’m not feeling spiritual about it and I just want to fucking smash things?
I did a yoga retreat with Seane Corn last fall. She talked about the danger of "over-understanding" things because we've read all the self-help books, we seek spirituality, we meditate and do yoga and practice loving kindness. But we can't skip right past processing the experiences we have straight to understanding them – why they’re happening, how we should feel, what the deeper spiritual meaning is, blah blah blah. She called is skipping past the “fuck you” and going straight to the “I forgive you.” It doesn’t work.
Today I am in the “fuck you” stage. I want out of it BADLY. I want some kind of relief. I want to drink. I want to do drugs. I want to sleep for 1,000 hours. I want to scream and run into the frozen ocean and shock this out of me.
But I keep breathing.
I keep writing on this page.
I keep lighting a candle and filling my tight, constricted lungs with air and closing my eyes while I exhale.
I stay open even though I want to close up shop and shut down.
Life is weird.
The night after the scene on the street I was asked to chair my first meeting. It’s a big meeting, about 100 people big, and the format is the person chairing speaks and tells their story for 20-25 minutes before opening it up to the rest of the room. It’s very rare to have someone as new as me chair, but I’ve been going there for some time and am close to the guy who selects the speakers this month. The person who was supposed to speak cancelled that morning. My friend called that afternoon and asked, would I do it? I said yes.
Had I not been laughed off the street the night before I wouldn’t have been available to say yes. I would not have answered the call.
God puts us where we need to be and all that.
It was magical to speak. Before I started talking I was anxious, nervy. But I prayed to just let whatever I said be honest and once the words started to come a wave of calm came over me that I’ve experienced only when teaching yoga. Like something was coming through me and I just had to have the courage to stay open. It was important to hear my own words -- to hear my own story in my voice. It was necessary.
This morning a friend called me who I recently re-connected with after a five year quiet. He’s a special soul friend, a kindred, someone I have missed and thought about often. We lost touch for life reasons and some personal ones and we talked about that. We talked about what’s happening in our lives and in our hearts. How he’s suddenly afraid of dying and I’m suddenly sober and feeling my way around a new life. I sat there on my couch, looking out the window at the blizzard building drifts on the ground and across the water. A sea of white; a whistling blur. While he talked and I listened I fixated on the only splash of color against the white: an American flag, whipping on the pole, flapping into full view with one gust and then shimmering down into an accordion with the next. Up and down; expand, contract; whip and pause before collapsing again and again, sometimes turning around the pole just right so I couldn’t see it at all. I listened and talked and stared this way for over an hour with my friend’s voice humming to me like an old song. I would not have been available had I been wrapped up with the boy. I would not have answered the call.
We can’t understand why things are happening when they do.
So we wait.
We fight to keep our hearts open.
We answer the calls.