So I know I kept talking about this certain, profound thing that happened to me on my trip to Hawaii this past January. I have been going over in my head what led up to it and I will explain it going back to November 2015. I have been taking a long hard look at my past, not living there but just trying to figure some things out. The thing that keeps popping for me is that I hold on to shit way too long. I hate as intensely as I love and perhaps the extremes need to meet somewhere in the middle as both are exhausting.
So, November all that shit happens to my girl. Mothers get involved and it becomes a cluster fuck of a situation for me and mine. No one denies that my girl was bullied but rather the “cool” moms create a smoke screen and, as I have to explain to my girl that sometimes the bad guys win. I remember this lesson being taught to me as a child and my mother saying, “Full circle, everything comes to full circle.” I still find this a shit pill. I think Mary Sally said this to me to shut me the fuck up. Needless to say, I have been very angry and every day I have get my girl from school and see these women smirking like they got away with something, because they did, sends me into blind fits of anger. I hold it together but sometimes, in the last few months, I have to practice breathing and jaw exercise as I have been grinding my teeth. I almost didn’t go to Hawaii as I was as worried as to what would come next. I am sent into a state of anxiety and mistrust, the likes of which I haven’t been to in years.
The whole time this is going on I have gone back to my roots as a Catholic for the sake of my girl. I know it sounds crazy. I waited for her to be a little older so she could question things. What I have found since going back to church is that it really is different. They don’t ask my marital status and didn’t refuse me communion. The building didn’t fall down or burst into flames as I walked in so I am off to a good restart. I even went to confession (they call it Reconciliation but it is still confession to me) the night my girl received the sacrament. I was very nervous so I tried to scope out the kindest looking priest. I choose a priest that most reminded me of a hippie and sat down. After the father said a prayer he took my hand and said to me this:
Father Hippie: You know that you are already forgiven. This is just a formality. I don’t need to know the details.
Me: (now in tears) you know Father, I had a really bad time with you people the first time around.
Father Hippie: Everybody did. It really is different now. Thank you for giving us a second chance.
It was amazing to me. I was really happy. Then this theme kept coming up all during Advent. It was yet another shit pill. The theme was “Pray for those who have done harm to you.” Fuck that, I thought. Oh no, I am not going to be suckered into letting people off the hook. I am accountable. I own my own shit. Fuck that. Keep in mind I am already in my least favorite season of the year (Christmas) and going through this shit show. Then, every day, at the same time I go get my girl and have to relive the fact that someone harmed my child and (not only) got away with it but were gloating about it. So I looked at it this way, I will pray for them and perhaps I won’t be as angry.
I tried. I failed.
So I live through yet another set of holidays and prepare for my trip. I have everyone’s assurance that everything will be fine and she will be protected. As I have told you, I needed this trip not only for the ceu’s but for my sanity.
Fast forward to January.
So the day after I saw a whale, giant sea turtles, the most beautiful beach I have ever seen consisting of green sand, I come back to the reality that everything I own is damp. So at the retreat there is a washer and dryer and the donation for doing your laundry is five dollars and that comes with detergent and dryer sheets. I would have paid anything to have a dry towel and especially dry underwear. At around 8 am I go up to the main house and begin to do my laundry. I brought my phone because there were shrines all over that I haven’t been able to take a good look at to take photos and wanted some quiet. I look around and hear the monk chanting. I have not gone into the temple because I didn’t want to intrude on the monk’s land or privacy. I stand to the side behind a shrub and just listen to him. He then stopped; he opened one eye, somehow saw me through a giant plant and motioned for me to come up. Oh shit. I was afraid he was going to be mad at me for disturbing him. I apologized and he ignores my apology and tells me to sit down on the floor. I did but I was facing the wrong way. He shows me how to sit and where to face and then tells me, in a heavy Indian/Tibetan accent to be silent. “I will pray. You listen.”
He begins his chants and as I sit I begin to rock back and forth. I never rock. I was raised to sit still hands folded on your lap and no fidgeting. I can do it for hours on end. I find that this rocking is out of my control. I begin to cry. I start crying from a really deep part of me. It was a part of me that I didn’t know existed. I can’t stop. Then, I notice, my tears are not hot, they are not salty either. I seem to be crying clear water. A half an hour goes by and the monk stands up and puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “You will come back at 6.” That is all he said to me as I am having a nervous breakdown for no real reason. I manage to get myself up, flip my laundry and try to get to class. I may have mentioned that the class I was taking was extremely physical and required a long warm up.
Now at this point I am shaking. I don’t want anyone to know what is going on because I am the least likely one that this kind of thing happens to and I need to make sense of it. Let me mention that I never shake. I can drink a gallon of espresso while threading a needle. I also can’t catch my breath and I feel like I want to vomit even though my stomach is not upset. I sit out the warm up and want to peel off my skin to make this stop. Yenta sends everyone upstairs and comes over to me. I apologize for being a pain in the ass but I don’t know what is happening to me. I explain to her what has happened and tell her I am not faking or trying to get attention. I am near hyperventilation but have no real physical issues. I am not nauseous. I am not in pain and the only thing I feel is that there is something caught on the left side of my throat. Like a scream that won’t come out. Yenta was amazing. She told me that she knows I am not faking and told that whatever is happening to me is absolutely real. She said if I had to skip class today that is was fine. I told her that I just needed a few minutes and some water. I went into to get some water and perhaps calm down pill when I see my beloved Kitchen Lady. She asks me what is wrong and I explain everything to her. She gave me a hug and explained what happened to me.
KL: Okay, so the monk prays two hours a day every day and has done so for 40 years or so. Two hours a day, forty years. He meditates before prayer and after prayer. He had done this for forty years. He operates at a higher level. He knew you were there because he could feel your presence. He called you in because he knew you needed him. He left you alone because he knows you can figure out why. He called you back tonight because clearly you are not done.
I want you all to know I know you are rolling your eyes and going yeah sure. If it didn’t happen to me I would be doing the same thing. It did happen to me. I am not the kind of person that thinks I am some kind of shaman or holy person or touched with some sort of magic snowflake unicorn power. I can’t see into the future or read your aura. The only thing I am good at is being a great bullshit detector. I detected no bullshit.
As the evening prayer bell sounded I did what I was told and went up. I even had dry underwear. I had calmed down and thought long and hard about why this was happening to someone like me. The monk had my book and rug and pillow all set up for me. “I read; you follow.” Seems simple enough, I think. Oh no. The prayers are in what I am guessing Tibetan, then below that the words are spelled out phonetically and then in English. I am immediately lost. I am looking down trying to figure out where he is and he stops to tell me to turn the page. I am convinced, at this point, he is wishing he just kept his eyes closed and kept praying. I look like a giant idiot. I feel clumsy and stupid. I finally figure out, after three start over’s to listen to the last sound at the end of each sentence. I do better until I get to prayer five. I am trying to follow along but I keep getting lost as the prayers are said fast and then slow and different parts of the prayer are whispered. I am completely confused and every time I got lost the monk would say, “Start again.” So I would and after five times (I kid you not) he says to me, “Read the prayer.” I quietly read the prayer. At this point in my experience, you are thinking that none of this happened and it was all a vodka Mary stupor. The prayer was about forgiving your enemies. It was a prayer for their happiness and peace. I had literally traveled around the world, to a holy space to be told by the same deity (only in different houses of prayer) that I am fucking it up. I looked at him and he was meditating and praying. I said to him, “I think I can do this now.” We began again. I followed along and finished the prayer book. The last half of evening prayer he chanted, he prayed and he worked a prayer bowl in one hand and this other drum like thing in the other. He literally had both sides of his brain working at the same time. The motions were circular in one hand and back and forth in the other. I knew he definitely was at a higher frequency than me. I never really doubted that.
After he had finished prayers, he asked me to please put everything back in its place. I did. I thanked him for his patience and he smiled and said good night. That was it. There was no grand explanation, no passing the gauntlet, no opening of the skies. There was just me sitting in a temple half way around the world realizing that I am failing at what I was trying to do. I was trying to win and there was no winning. No winning from bitch moms, poets, old bosses, former friends, the guy that passed me on Madison Ave only to get to the red light faster, the guy that hit and ran my car last year, ex boyfriends, my father, my mother. Winning is not the option. What is done is done. It is, for me, the ultimate shit pill.
I went to bed that night listening to paradise outside my window. I thought long and hard about the day. I was pissed and confused and wondering why. Then I got tired and fell asleep. I woke up in a better mood. I said a prayer for those that have wronged me. I prayed for all of them going back to the beginning. May they find happiness and peace and then may I be at peace.
It hasn’t happened yet, but when it does, I will let you know.