Oooh, it sure does sting.
When someone we’ve allowed into our inner sanctuary turns their back on us, it can seem unbearable.
This is the risk we run when we are authentic and open human beings who live in a state of vulnerability with those we care about.
People disappoint us. They get pulled off track by outside influences and their own darkness. We can’t blame them for this, because perhaps it is part of their own path to have this experience. If we are injured by the choices of others, it is no one’s fault but our own for holding them to a higher expectation of behavior than they are capable of displaying.
That’s where disappointment arises from—when we don’t allow ourselves to honestly see where another is in their life, instead projecting where we think they are or should be. This is the prime setup for disappointment and hurt.
The people in our lives are going to be less than perfect all the time, just like we are. It doesn’t have to be a crisis or a drama. Yes it may hurt, but we can choose a new way of interacting with these feelings.
I used to want to run far away, to close myself off; now I pause, and take that moment to breathe.
Recently, I was hurt by someone close to me who I respected very much. I felt angry at first. I wanted to fight and tell them all the things that they do wrong in their life. But I didn’t. Instead I took a breath. I observed.
I saw something in that moment of breath. I saw space between me—my soul—and the pain of my feelings and thoughts. I realized that they were not my identity, and they would eventually ebb and flow like the tide back to sea.
Being in pain can make me feel like I’m drowning. But this time I let the pain wash over me—I tumbled like I was caught in a riptide, I went into the darkness. It stung. Part of me was whispering, “See what happens when you care for people?” The old narratives were kicking up, the ones that kept me walled off from feeling anything for 34 years.
Then it happened. My head broke the water, and I was able to take a breath. A deep one. And I embraced the pain.
And then I realized all I needed to do was put my feet down and stand up; the ground was still there beneath me. The drowning was just an illusion.
That breath set me free. Now I lie here on the beach of my soul, letting emotions and thoughts flow around and over me, just like the ocean on the sand, coming and going. In and out. High and low.
And I see. I see that I cannot grasp the water in my hands. I have realized the futility in trying to cling on to my thoughts and emotions as my identity. I let them all just go. And I observe. I do nothing but watch.
I don’t react. I don’t even respond.
I just keep breathing.
What a freedom I have found here. A freedom of choice each day. One truth remains constant when we stop attaching to our thoughts and emotions: the truth of pure divine love. It is the one constant that we have. Just like the blue sky is always there just beyond the storm clouds, so is our divine love—just underneath whatever chaos of thoughts and emotions we have swirling around inside us.
Once upon a time, I refused to be vulnerable out of fear. Now I value my vulnerability so much because it is what makes me human. It’s where I find the deepest connections with others. It’s where I connect with bodhichitta—the inner softness that is out true nature. I embrace the pain when it comes because it is indeed a fact of life.
And more than anything, I forgive. I forgive the less-than-perfect humans around me because we all make mistakes and errors in judgement. Yes, an event may hurt my feelings, but I now know that someone else’s behaviors have nothing to do with me; their behaviors are merely a reflection of where they are. And in mastering my ego, I can now understand that where they are is perfectly okay, because it is where they are meant to be.
In embracing the humanness of others as well as my own, and in practicing opening up to the world to remain raw and vulnerable, I have found that I am not alone. That others relate. And they appreciate knowing they are not alone either.
All the stories that I used to tell myself—about how I couldn’t deal with anyone hurting me—were all lies created by my mind. They have never happened.
I’ve walked through it all and I’m just fine. Had I not chosen to open up I would’ve been robbed of the beautiful marriage and sisterhood I’ve been blessed with these past few years. The odds are pretty good that I’ll take the occasional betrayal and pain in order to have the love I do in my relationships with people in my life.
I have also learned that the worst thing I imagined happening wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be in my head when it actually happened. Yes, someone dear to me hurt me deeply, cutting me with thoughtless irrational words of fear. It hurt—it hurt tremendously, almost suffocatingly, but you know what? I got through it. And I quickly opened my heart enough to forgive.
I was given the chance to truly stand in the moment and observe what was actually happening—not what my head was telling me was happening. I was able to see, not through the dirty filter of years of resentments and wounds that haven’t healed, but through the clear eyes of one who has cleansed and healed her soul, forgiven others and herself, and lives in the moment.
I got the chance to truly practice divine love and compassion, understanding and tolerance, forgiveness. And we came out on the other side brighter, shinier, and stronger.
I didn’t have to be my thoughts and my ego any longer, because at the end of the day none of it matters. Our “self” is an illusion. Our fear is an illusion. Our security is an illusion.
Nothing matters but this moment. This is all we have.
So I stayed. Took a breath. And I forgave.
Our breath creates a powerful space inside, where magic can happen if we let it.
I have found a source of divine love within my soul that is bigger than any thought, belief, or ego that I can create.
That love is my choice today.
In the breath, may you find yours too.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Image: 500 Days of Summer (2009)/IMDb
Editor: Emily Bartran