Months ago my therapist, B, and I were grappling over the subject of what else, love. The theme of the year. Well, I was grappling and furrowing my brows. He was most likely closing his eyes in a zen state, focusing on his breath, meditating, and generally being the calm Buddha that he is. B is for Brave Buddhist.
I was a MESS. Starting over in every way, in more ways than one, square one, blank slate. New beginning. I was anxious, my heart would race, I'd launch into pessimism and trash-talking of self. B urged me to beware the present tense. That didn't compute. Beware? Present tense? Yes, he urged, beware what you say in the present tense. When I put myself and my actions down, he'd remind me to force that into the past. "I don't know how to have healthy relationships" became "I haven't known how to have a healthy relationship in the past" which evolved into "I haven't learned how to have a healthy relationship." This is all paraphrased. I want to write down everything B says, but it's rude to pull out a notebook and besides, we're focusing on our breath and being in the moment. In the time it would take me to rifle through my canvas maps of Paris bag, find my notebook and a pen that works, and open to a fresh page where I left off, the moment would have passed. And with my memory, I'd have forgotten the reason why I went searching for the notebook in the first place.
It was B who saved me from my depression and self-torturing, but he'd be humble and say it was the universe unfolding in love. And I am open to the universe and I am recognizing my relationship with the divine. He'd close his eyes and then look at his hand and then smile the smile that only B seems to have, one radiant with joy and peace and assurance. A smile that reaches his eyes.
Disclaimer: I am not a Buddhist. I was raised a Christian, but lately I've been grappling even with that. Everything Buddhist makes perfect sense. I'm all about inclusiveness and shunning exclusivity. Buddhist quotes and teachings have started resonating with me and I thought it was through B's presence in my life for about a year now, starting serendipitously with the week of the split, but the more I read past writings and journals, the more I realize it was in me all along. There was a liberal living inside of that troubled teen. She came out during college, thankfully, and my soul felt free to soar. Could I be a closet Buddhist? No. I accepted Christ at 14, and I'm sure of it. Granted, I went through a lot of the motions. I got saved. I know I did. I was baptized. I felt changed. I went to the summer camps. Hard as it was to be an introvert at Christian camp (that's an essay idea!), I bunked with 10 other strangers, 4 counselors, went down the crazy water slides in the middle of central Floridian summer, praised and worshipped, prayed and practiced penitence. I still wear the cross (as well as the peace sign). I grapple over wearing the cross and being a pro-choice, gay rights advocate liberal but do anyways. Went to Christian college. Was an RA at said Christian college. Used to attend church religiously. But somewhere along the line the message became watered down to me. It didn't register with my authentic heart. Shun exclusivity? The Christian faith is entirely exclusive. One God. His one son.
I took a good hard look in the mirror the other day and asked my 30 year old people-pleasing face, "Are you doing this because you really want to, or because you're scared to live truth?" My truth would certainly not line up with my parents and their church (that I just joined). And when I come to realize and accept that that's ok, I'll be ready to embrace my authentic self. Luckily she will be waiting patiently as I catch up to her on this journey.