Several years ago when I was going through my yoga teacher training, there was a mantra we often chanted that made me cry like a baby every single time. It kind of became my early morning catharsis. The chant was “Guru guru wahe guru, Guru Ram Das Guru”. It was sung in a beautiful, soulful, soft chant that got me every time. When I asked my teacher, “What the hell? Why am I such a crybaby?” He said it was a healing mantra, and that the Guru Ram Das was quite similar to Jesus in a way. Then he asked me what Jesus was all about and I sat there and looked at him blankly. I am quite the biblical scholar. “Forgiveness”, he said. “No matter who they were, what they did, he forgave.” He suggested maybe this resonated with me for some reason. Ok, I actually suspect he knew exactly what was happening, but I’m sure he felt like it was my job to figure it out. So I finished out my training and felt truly changed from the process. “Damn! I’ve really worked through all my shit! I am wise.” I told myself.
Fast forward six years. Once again I am crippled by anxiety, depression. Scared, and more than a little pissed off to find that, even with all my tools, I’m still susceptible to this monster. I find myself yet again in the therapist’s chair, checking boxes. Anxiety Disorder – check. Depression – check. Changes in socialization – check. Mood volatility – check, and double check. I’m as blatantly honestly with the therapist as I can possibly be. I answer all his questions with as little editorializing and as much truthfulness as I can possibly manage. I want to help him help me. He suggests writing might be helpful for me. I agree, and in the interest of maintaining my truthfulness tell him that I do write, often, to help myself process things. He gives me actual writing assignments, ones that I will not be posting to share with the world.
One of these assignments terrifies the shit out of me. I almost decide to tell him I can’t do it. I’m not ready yet. But again, I really want this guy to help me. I want to help myself. And besides, it’s been twenty fucking years. If I’m not ready yet, when will I ever be ready? So with shaking hands and pounding heart (notice a theme here?), I sit down to write. In a big old notebook reminiscent of the ones I used to use in high school to take the occasional school-related note, but probably mostly to send notes to school, with a plain old pen – I sat down and wrote a letter. Writing this letter brought up so much stuff. Fear, shame (oh, how I hate that emotion), regret…anger. The last two words I wrote in that letter? “Fuck you”
What might it do to a person to harbor all that emotion for twenty years? To sort through three pages of stuff (front and back), and sum it all up with those two words? For your final conclusion to be a big, stiff middle finger?
Perhaps I’m still holding on to a little bit of stuff. Maybe it’s time to look at the possibility of forgiveness. I’m still not ready to forgive the subject of my letter. I might never be. But I wonder if it might be time to look at myself. I wonder if it’s time to consider that I might be worthy of forgiveness.
I’m really good at telling people stuff. How everybody makes mistakes. How we’re all just learning. How we’re all brand new at life, and how we’re all just figuring things out as we go. How we are all worthy of forgiveness, and kindness to ourselves. And grace. We are all worthy of Grace. I can talk about this stuff until I’m completely blue in the face. And I believe it! I believe all this stuff is absolutely true! For everyone but me.
I’m working on it.