“Peace doesn’t require two people; it requires only one. It has to be you. The problem begins and ends there.” – Byron Katie I sat in the dark, shaking with rage after my child fell asleep. He had done this. He made her fearful and sad. A fierceness rose in me like a volcano. I […]
That pit of anxious contraction knotted around my stomach and chest. Nothing I did today went right. The play land I took my daughter to was over packed. None of her friends were available to come. She didn’t like the pizza. And I wanted to go home.
I looked up as the stylist turned my daughter’s chair around and cringed. My child had grown out her bangs to have a bob. This woman had given her bangs – without asking and contrary to the style we asked for. A slow boil of rage began in my stomach.
I watched as the two adult servers at the play land ignored my daughter standing at the counter, cash in hand, ready to order. My anger just about peaked into me walking over to chastise them when one smiled broadly and asked what she would like.
It is so much easier to talk about being in flow and being open when you are -well – in flow, and being open. The thing I watched in all these circumstances was how I pulled my energy into a tight little ball. I shut down. I closed off. I could imagine the release of exploding. Especially when it was easy to justify.
People tell you to just relax in to the situation. That’s not quite right. It is more like opening up. That tight ball would not relax. But if I consciously became open to it and how it felt, I became open to the glow of energy. Period.
I didn’t get happier. I didn’t suddenly move to a pseudo spiritual place of transcendence. I became aware of the part of me having this experience. I didn’t label it when I opened. I didn’t identify with it. I just experienced.
And that is a step towards freedom.
About a year ago, at a workshop on love, consciousness and tantric philosophy, I was introduced to a personally revolutionary idea: That boundaries are about where we meet, not places we need to defend. This was big to me because I had been told I needed to establish better boundaries, hold my boundaries, etc. While that advice was helpful, the context of a place where we meet instead of a place to defend made boundaries a loving thing.
“Love can’t exist without boundaries, even with your children. It’s easy to understand external boundaries as your bottom line. Think of rules and principles you live by when you say what you will or won’t do or allow.” – What are personal boundaries? Often, when I consider boundaries, it feels like something I should have done and didn’t – so I am some how to blame. I have learned that my anger is triggered most often when my boundaries are not respected. So I feel like I need to know what my boundaries are so I can set relationships up for success. But how do you do that? It seems like a vicious circle: I know my boundaries when they are violated.
“Anger often is a signal that action is required. If you feel resentful or victimized and are blaming someone or something, it might mean that you haven’t been setting boundaries. If you feel anxious or guilty about setting boundaries, remember, your relationship suffers when you’re unhappy. Once you get practice setting boundaries, you feel empowered and suffer less anxiety, resentment, and guilt. Generally, you receive more respect from others and your relationships improve.”-What are personal boundaries?
The simple reframe of where am I willing to meet others feels less like I am wrong, and more like I am acting from my space of awareness. I can think of ways in which that is true of me. For example, I know that each individual holds a different world view, and the places in which we share it, we will usually connect. I remember being in the elevator with a woman on pay day at work. For simple chit chat, she noted that pay day Fridays were good days. I agreed, and began thinking of how great having a regular pay check is, and how much gratitude I have to my financial freedom. When I turned towards the woman to make a comment about that, she spoke first and said, “Of course, it is all spent before I get it. There is never enough.” I shut up, and felt a number of things. I felt bad for her. I felt guilty that I make enough money. I felt afraid that maybe I don’t really make enough money and I am too poor a financial manager to know it.
When I look back, I see that this is about boundaries, and it is also about our personal story. I have done enough of Byron Katie’s The Work that I can now unravel all those feelings that arose. They simply don’t arise that way for me now. The way I view the boundary component is that I simply could not meet that woman from where she was at. I could see it. I can respect it as her story. But I cannot relate to her there. I cannot meet her there.
How many times have I let go of where I am at to meet another? How often have I based my relationship on how well I could meet another where he was at? The answer is I very rarely based a romantic relationship on meeting me where I was at. I also then put the condition on the other that since I had bent over so far to meet them in their world, they should therefore be grateful and be committed to me. I want to vomit when I lean in to the energy of that dynamic.
Every time I release a layer of ego, and can see it happening, I have an unparalleled joy arise in me. I see the divine movement, the loving consciousness gently shifting me towards living from love and joy all the time. And I am meeting Me there, too.
It is always a revealing inquiry when I experience contrary emotions at the same time. If you were to ask me, I am happier and more fulfilled than at any other point in my life. I am making a difference. I am in service. I am having fun. I am surrounded by kula mates and friends who reflect my values.
So it surprised me to be deeply angry this week. Just Grrrrrr. Like any good mystic, I checked the star charts – nope, no specific influence there so it must be me. I have been deepening my spiritual practice so it makes sense that stuff is coming to the surface.
My spiritual partner advised I do my F- you exercise which helped. I followed that with tantric channel clearing. I felt lopsided and fresher. The imbalance still needed addressing.
Anger makes me feel powerful. But underneath the anger is sadness. Not a place I like to go, at least not without conscious practice. Over the last week, several life events surfaced my vulnerability and my sadness. Something in that makes me feel like a victim. I have tried to move very far from victim consciousness.
“You are everything. All emotions are within you. You are a victim of none of them. Honor all of it,” said my kula mate.
So instead of drowning in fear of sadness or numbing it away, I can settle into my truth: that I am a beautiful powerful energy body that in its true nature can digest and even love every form of energy that passes through it.
I once defined betrayal as when one person in a relationship is no longer willing to sustain the illusion of what is. Within that definition, I have been the betrayed and the betrayor.
I see betrayal as one of the ways the universe offers an opportunity for awakening. I realized tonight that a lot of my anger from past relationships was about when the other person was no longer trying to be who I wanted them to be. All the times I said I was trying to make the relationship work, what I meant was I kept trying to give the other person a chance to buy in to my illusion. How dare they not keep the illusion going after all I had invested in it?
And then I realized I had done something Adyashanti calls spiritualizing the relationship. I projected a layer of mysticism or spiritual idealism over the relationship. We were soul mates. We were drawn together in some mystical way. We were following a past life influence.
While any of that may be true or false, it creates a layer of separation in experiencing what is. It kept me from seeing the whole of my experience. Once the spiritualuzing fell away, there was nothing left.
Except my sorrow over how I had betrayed myself.
Well, now I am awake enough, conscious enough and whole enough to be a lover of what is. Click. It all just shifted.
There was a time I repressed anger until it exploded from the compression. I was afraid of anger, yet it was real. Repressing or fearing that which is is a cause of suffering.
I learned that my anger is a signal that something I value is not being fulfulled. That freed me from supressing my anger – in fact, it was an asset now, an indicator for inquiry. Sounds like the end of that, doesn’t it?
What I see now is that anger isn’t about Other. I can allow anger to be a source of self righteousness. I’m angry because You didn’t do something or behave in a way that’s important to me. How dare you? It’s a new subtle ego trick. It reinforces ego and suggests that things are not as they should be. And therefore, I’m being damaged.
The real source of anger for me is when I believe another’s truth as my own. I get angry when my hold on Truth is revealed to be fragile because I will let go of it for a while to jump on your version. When you project your fears on me and I believe I’m at fault. When you share your views of reality and I have to grasp on mine to stay in what is Real. When what you want and I want are different and I believe what you want is more true. When I believe that I need to change who I am because my vibration and yours don’t align and I believe it’s my fault.
I get angry because I attach a story to all of that. I attach an agenda or an intention to what you say or do. For a while, I lose Truth and I blame you or me for it. And until I get back to Truth, I tell the story of self blame or you-blame.
So here is a Truth:
“The light of consciousness has no mind to change or alter anything. When you start to see the light that you really are, the light waking up in you, the radiance, you realize it has no intention to change you. It has no intention to harmonize. It has no agenda. It just happens. The Truth is the only thing you’ll ever run into that has no agenda. Everything else will have an agenda.”
Anger is real. And until I assign a story to it, it’s just energy. It just happens.
Even anger can be Truth.
I was asked once what betrayal was. My Truth answered it was when one person is no longer willing to sustain the illusion between you and ends that agreement unilaterally. I have come to believe that betrayal is the most loving gift there is, at least if your deepest desire is Liberation, Awakening and Consciousness.
“People think that relationships will make them happy, but you can’t get happiness from the other person or from anywhere outside you. A relationship is two belief systems that come together to validate that there is something outside you that can bring you happiness. And when you think that’s true, growing beyond your common belief system means losing the other person, because that’s what you had together. So if you move forward, you leave this old belief system behind in what you call the other person, and then you feel it as separation and pain.” – Byron Katie
The biggest lesson of the endings of relationships I have experienced is how deeply I held on to story, and how much I denied I was doing it. I held on to the belief that love is enough for a relationship to work, and it is not. A relationship is a set of agreements, but it is not love. Love requires nothing – it just is. But a relationship, and the space you co-create, is a set of agreements that need to be revisited and revised regularly for both people to grow together. Otherwise, you grow apart, and that is ok. Mostly though, people grow apart unconsciously, and the separation and pain is felt as part of the story. I believed in “love is enough” so deeply that I blamed myself for things that were not right in the relationship and I accepted things that were not loving towards me. There was no room to revise agreements because I accepted things that hurt me as something valuable. That is the ultimate betrayal of love.
My teachers continue to reflect to me that one of my obstacles in my process of awakening is the belief I hold that I am not as I should be. I have turned that evaluation inwards, and blamed myself for things that made me unhappy. An example is supression of anger. I have blamed myself for times I have become angry. What I know now is that anger is my natural response to when something I value is being ignored by another. The anger itself is not a problem – it is a sign post telling me something needs my attention, that something needs to be surfaced. The only time I move to rage – which I fear very much – is when I have accepted the denial of something important to me by myself and allowed another to do so as well. I fear it as a karmic debt I will have to pay; now I understand it for what it is, and will not attach judgement or fear to it anymore.
I know now that I value love more than I value relationship form. My evidence, as always, is demonstrated by what is. This weekend, my cat died and it was a sad and sorrowful time. I was prepared for this to be lonely and painful. Instead, the universe conspired to make it something loving, and a process in which I was fully supported (thank you to my friends who snail mailed me gifts of support). My daughter was with me when he died and we supported each other in this. After the death, an order of food was mistakenly sent to my house, which was something we needed very much. A close spiritual partner showed up on my door step, and stayed with us to process our feelings. A very new friend went out of his way to support me, including a two hour phone call at 2 am. One of my closest friends, who is very busy right now, spent 10 hours with me on Saturday, just being with me – just being present and doing silly every day things. By coincidence, he spent the next day with me as well, getting me to play video games. I am grieving, and have sort of checked out for now, but he has managed to pull me back to knowing that I am on my path, and that it is a good and right path. Every day he allows me to share new insights and he pushes me to my own Truth. And he says he isn’t a student of consciousness!
I do not care about finding a relationship of two similar belief systems. I grow too fast for that! And I have learned the lesson of loving betrayal. I value deepening, and I value co-creating. Maybe someday I will value a lover as a reflection of that. But for right now, today, I am amazed and in joy over how life is reflecting what I value, what I learn, and how I am liberating myself from old paths.