Learning to Communicate

For as long as I remember, I have been this person judged and admonished for being rude and arrogant. I have been direct in my communication to the point of aggressiveness. I suppose I lived all of my childhood with such deceit and farce of a “happy family and childhood” while hiding behind it being such a complete two-faced lie that my life was, I became extremely direct and truthful in my communication. There was no filter between how I felt and what I said, I didn’t care how my words affected the person in front of me. In my view if they couldn’t swallow the bitter pill of truth I shoved at them, it was their problem. After all, my life was about swallowing the bitter pill of life everyday.

Further, the lack of emotionally healthy people who had time or capacity to teach me emotional self-regulation and communication made it worse. I was little and picked on by many, the only defence were my sharp words and there was no way I was going to let go of them. I had a habit of launching physical assault in a fashion befitting my little-ness – I would just quickly hit the bigger family member of my generation with both my hands before they could grab both my wrists with one hand and immobilise me and render me completely helpless. This stopped one day when my aunt complained vehemently about this behaviour to my mother. From what I recall, she shamed my mother and scolded her for being incapable of “controlling” my bad behaviour.

My mother in her fiery temper tied my hands with a rope while scolding me and slapping me, asking me if I would ever do it again. After that day I was rendered completely defenceless and helpless. I developed an even more fiery anger and deep resentment and powerlessness over my ability to look out for myself.

Anyhow, I digress. This was why words came in handy until I ended up in a job I really liked and found out that everyone disliked my guts and arrogance. That people could not deal with my aggressive attitude and arrogance.

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Making peace, building friendship

Last week I was traveling for work, quite wiped out and had diminished functioning. I met one of my SGI friends for dinner. It was a wonderful catch-up, always wonderful to see her. First met her in a training course in 2014 and the friendship keeps going.

Afterwards back at my hotel room, after finishing my chanting, I had an overwhelming urge to call my ex Mike from a relatively short but very emotional relationship, at least for me. Earlier this year I’d told him to never contact me again and he understood I needed the space.

As I was about to call him I prayed that only if this is right for me should he answer the phone, putting all my trust in the Gohonzon. I called him and it rang as though he was overseas, I was about to hang up and then reminded myself to persevere. Soon he answered and it was breaking up and his American accent seemed heavier than usual, I had trouble understanding what he said. I just got that he’s away and in a conference and will talk later. Surprisingly he followed up with a text that he couldn’t hear me but he will try calling me over the weekend when he has a break.

Knowing him, I figured I probably won’t hear back. It crossed my mind a couple of times as I went about my weekend, reminding myself that I’m not sitting around waiting or obsessing about it. He texted me late on Sunday night and I was already in bed and replied to him the next morning saying as much.

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Day of Friendship

I spent today with a friend for 6-7 hours. I’m so lucky that he cleared his calendar for me when I said I was struggling, depressed and home sick.

I came home and talked to another friend who’s been going through a rough patch too. He said to me how he thinks he’s talking to a guy, doesn’t feel self-conscious sharing his personal problems. What a great compliment, ahem with regards to his comfort.

Then I spoke to my friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a year and we had a mini crash course on each other’s lives for the last year. I saw how he seemed so “together” even with his struggles. On reflecting, I could see my daimoku reflected in his life. Maybe one day he will have the courage to chant again. Until then I’ll continue to chant for him.

So much love and joy. Now it’s past 2 am, I’m so sleepy but also happy.

đź’¤

Rescuing vs Supporting

As I was reading this post on the difference between rescuing and supporting this morning, I began to reflect on my journey to learning this valuable distinction.

When I first I got exposed to this concept, I took it to an extreme interpretation. I took it to mean that I must look after myself before I do anything for others. Or by helping them in a way they haven’t asked for, I’m rescuing them and taking away their opportunity to grow while spreading myself too thin.

Through my Buddhist practice embedded with life challenges over the last few years, I’ve learnt that this learning is a lifelong journey of the eternal truth of life. It is about how I always learn to find the “Middle Way”.

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Rise and Fall

Yesterday was an exhilarating day filled with connection, joy and accomplishment of seeing others triumph, all through my connection with others. Today feels like a dark abyss.

Yesterday I felt like I can show growth in my life and support others. Today I feel like I am worthless and weak and why anyone would want my support.

This is not my true self. It is my self-loathing, self-sabotaging self rearing its ugly head again.

When this starts to happen, I tend to go in overdrive analysis and diagnosis mode, asking myself what I did to trigger it – did I not eat write, sleep enough, gave myself too to others and did not look after myself etc etc. Then I pull myself back and isolate myself because in a sense I feel that I violated my own boundary and that is why I must be on my own to reconnect again. My isolating myself then leads me to feel further disconnected and depressed and I loathe myself because I am not able to connect with myself and others – which is my true self and what I really strive for and enjoy.

In the past I have put the Western mindset to it, saying that there is a distinction between self and others and if I don’t look after myself first, I can’t connect to others. This has NOT worked for me. And I have this realisation for the first time now as I write this post.

The Western philosophy talks about how I first think about me, look after me and focus on me so I can connect with others in a healthy way.

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Creating Hope and Light for Myself

Reading my friend’s post today got me to study and reflect on my conviction and what it means to be the light and create hope in my life and in the life of those around me.

President Ikeda says,

“There may be times when, confronted by cruel reality, we verge on losing all hope. If we cannot feel hope, it is time to create some. We can do this by digging deeper within, searching for even a small glimmer of light, for the possibility of a way to begin to break through the impasse before us.”

and

“I believe the ultimate tragedy in life is not physical death. Rather it is the spiritual death of losing hope, giving up our own possibilities for growth.”

– Hope is a Decision, Pages 5-6

Intellectually, I can understand this. In some of my darkest times, I know this is what I need to do. Before I started chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I had never known this light of hope inside of me. But even now, it doesn’t come about by default. It is far more natural for me to fall into despair than rise into hope.

I question then, how much I create hope for myself? What is the method that continuously works and that I can repeatedly trust and rely on? Is there a winning formula for me to create hope that works by default when I am deadlocked and paralysed with fear and anxiety?

The last few months have helped me unpack some of the variables that go into a winning formula for my life.

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