You know when a friendship is coming to an end. You just can’t find the motivation to spend any time with that person anymore. Usually because the memories of the last times together still leave a bad taste in your mouth. It’s about a person giving up a feeling of caring for you and not admitting to it. Or it’s an anger that they haven’t expressed about some perceived wrong.
I was in love with a man back in 1998. It was a short relationship that took me a really long time to get over. It took me a long time because of the fantasy. Almost immediately I felt that this was the man I was going to marry. I’ve never felt like this about any one before. It was a feeling, a knowing, that this was the man I was going to marry. I won’t get into depth, I don’t think I can go into depth about it but needless to say it didn’t work out. He told me he loved me but he couldn’t be with me. And it was over.
The interesting thing about it all was this was the first time that I reached out to my friends and said, “I’m heartbroken and I’m having a hard time dealing with this pain.”
I cried on a couple peoples voice mails. I needed support. I needed to be around people who cared about me and I asked for it.
One girlfriend came through once. She’d invited me over to her house. We chatted, I cried, we watched a movie and then her new boyfriend came over to pick her up to go to his performance. I didn’t hear from her again for months. The entire summer went by and we were approaching winter before she’d finally started calling me. I didn’t return her calls.
As I look back on the relationship with this girlfriend, I remember that I’d already been feeling like our friendship needed a break, at the least, or was coming to an end. You know how it is, you just don’t enjoy yourself as much when you spend time with some people. They make decisions about how they want to behave going forward and it could put a substantial strain on your patience.
For instance, I can remember this same girlfriend had decided one year, “this year is going to be All About Me.” And throughout the year she’d announce constantly, “It’s all about me! It’s all about me” It was truly trying especially for the friends who had been with her all along. What does that mean, it’s all about you? What about us, the people who’ve always been here for you and supported you? A couple of us considered dropping out of her life.
So when she didn’t call me for months it was the perfect opportunity to call it a day. So I did. We are in peoples lives for a reason and when the reason is gone...
A couple of points come up as I think about this. I needed to move away from that relationship as a part of my healing. When I’m in anger mode and that is all that I can focus on... When all I can think of about a friendship are the negatives, I think, for me, it’s time to move on. It may be for a short time. It may be that it takes a decade to see things from a different perspective. It may be that the friendship will never ever happen again. It happens as it happens.
We have recently, within the last year, resumed contact with each other. It’s not the same kind of friendship, obviously. But we are friendly. I can remember all the things I’ve always liked about her again.
The ideas that are popping up for me now, as I look back on this lesson of friendship is that I had certain expectations. I set expectations on how I thought I should be treated during my time of need. I was upset, I made the meaning of her caring or lack of caring about, “you didn’t call me for 6 months when you knew I was depressed and heartbroken.” And the big part of all of that is I never said anything to her about it. I didn’t give her a chance to say her peace. Granted, as I said earlier, after the ‘all about me’ year I needed a break.
I think that we can be cowards. We’re all guilty of this. At some point something happens in our lives and we have the expectation that certain people should show up for us. We have a health issue and we think our best friend should show up. We’re going through a hard time and we think our friends should care in a certain way. They should care in the way that we say. But if someone is being exactly who they are we have to then understand that they may only be able to give so much. And the bigger point, there may be a bigger reason why they simply cannot show up. They just don’t want to anymore, can be one of those reasons.
I have to accept that I play a part in all that happens around me. All that I create. I also have to hope that the more I delve into what I see, the more I will learn. As we know better, we do better...
I’ve discussed this before - accepting people exactly the way they are and accepting myself exactly the way I am. I think it’s a huge theme for the future, for everyone. We hear it, we’ve said it, if we’re going to stop wars, if we’re going to ever see world peace we have to stop trying to insist that all people be just like us. We have to learn to accept everyone’s differences. I’m no philosopher nor an academic so I won’t get into the atrocities that we humans commit against one another and entire countries.
I have another girlfriend. Her achilles heel is that people abandon her. She has told me on several occasions, “it seems like out of the blue someone freaks out on me and they basically tell me to go fuck myself and then they’re gone from my life. They don’t want to be my friend anymore. It has happened so many times and I don’t know why.”
I’ve been a coward. I suspect why some people have left her life, burning that bridge beyond repair. I’ve told her in one instance but not in all of them. She has the answer to everyones life, all the time. She has the answer with a touch of venom using poison tipped words. And she blames the person for any bad in his or her life. She’s simply not nice anymore. And she’s always had that insensitive edge to her. One of those, “I’m just telling you this for your own good” which is supposed to absolve her of any wrong when she says something without tact. You can tell somebody something for their own good without being an asshole.
She’s going through what so many of us go through once we hit a certain age. It’s having to face the reality that all of our childhood dreams have not been met. Let’s look at my realities - I never became a dancer. I’m still an unpublished writer. I’ve never been married or had children. Heck, I don’t even live in a fancy anything. I’ve accepted that. The only thing that hurts is being unpublished.
This girlfriend hasn’t accepted her reality and worse, she’s mad at those of us who are living our lives the best way we can and we are all starting to realize that about her. She cannot find a way to be happy when one of us has a nice bit of happiness enter our lives.
So slowly as I realize that this is exactly who she is. This is what she is going through. I spend less time with her. I would guess that so does everyone else. Hey, my life sucks too sometimes, I don’t need to make it suck more by spending the little free time I have with someone who is filled with venom.
Needless to say, she went through a breakup similar to mine and when she called asking for help she threatened, “If someone doesn’t call me back I’m going to do something really bad to myself.”
And that loaded word obligation came up. I didn’t want to call but I didn’t want to be left with the guilt that if I didn’t call and she did do something to herself that somehow I would have been at fault. So I called. She wasn’t a crying mess like I had been. She was angry and filled with all the answers as to how she is filled with a power that had intimidated her boyfriend and that’s why he left. Okay. When I changed the subject and asked about mutual friends, she proceeded to blame one for being sick, said another one was in an arranged situation (‘there’s really no love there) and asked me when I was going to get off my ass and get my writing done. Did I mention she doesn’t work and I work a full-time job and a part-time job? Yes it’s easy to have all the answers for the world at large when you haven’t worked a day in your life. But that’s just a little of my venom.
After that call I didn’t bother to call her for 6 months. I just couldn’t be bothered. I felt like her cry for help was emotional blackmail, a manipulation and I just couldn’t be a part of it. Emotional blackmail is one of my achilles heels. Emotional blackmail gets you to say yes when you don’t want to say yes for fear that should you say no something really bad could happen and by extension it would be your fault. I do not respect anyone who gives me no choice other than doing what they want me to do. IT MAKES ME HATE!
Anyway. We recently got together for dinner. I didn’t really want to go but I figured since it had been at least 6 months maybe it was the time to approach the subject. The moment I saw her I realized that nope, it wasn’t going to be discussed. The first thing out of her mouth was a careless remark that was basically like a laugh at how hard I work. Basically I’m a loser in her eyes.
I sat across from her and for the first time ever all I saw was an ugly person. Her skin looked ugly, her eye contact was angry and ugly. She was ugly to me. I knew that her poison tipped words were probably about her anger towards me. She is angry that I haven’t called her in six months. She is angry that I didn’t support her in her time of need. She didn’t ask me why I haven’t been available and I didn’t volunteer the information. Another girlfriend said to me last night, “that dinner was the funeral for your relationship.” Truth!
As I look back at the girlfriend who didn’t call me for six months, I wonder had she felt she’d done enough of what she could possibly give me at that time? Was I putting on her expectations of what I wanted not considering what she could do? Does my heartbreak mean that everyone else should stop what they are doing to sit vigil by my side? Does your heartbreak mean that I have to sit vigil? And it brings me back to accepting people exactly the way they are and accepting myself exactly the way I am.
Byron Katie shared a story a few years ago about her husband who wasn’t interested in joining on family outings. The outing were with her grown up kids and he didn’t have kids. And overall he just wasn’t interested. She made it into a thing briefly and then finally set him free from having to attend. She made family plans without him and found she enjoyed those outings more because she wasn’t worrying about him having a good time. And he went off and did his own thing. It wasn’t too long before once he had the freedom he started joining the family outings and started having a good time himself. She said something along the lines that when she realized she wasn’t responsible for him and accepted that the family thing wasn’t his thing it made everything easier. And for him, he needed the freedom to choose and when he did have the freedom he actually chose them.
I’m really trying to find that place of true full out acceptance. Removing false expectations and obligations from others and hopefully they will do the same for me.
The best analogy has always been about giving money to charity. It would be ridiculous to donate your entire pay cheque to a charity leaving you with no money to pay rent, get groceries etc. No, you give a portion of your pay. You give what you can afford to give.
I want to accept that people, my friends, my loved ones are giving me what they can afford to give emotionally, spiritually, keeping their own well being in consideration. I want to remove the focus on what I think they ought to give me, how they ought to support me. How many phone calls are enough phone calls if I’m heartbroken. Because if I lift my head and look around, other people did support me through that heart break. I wasn’t alone.
That work as yoga practice has really been helping me to look at my life from a different perspective, with a different attitude. And zero in on where I cause my own problems and zero in on what meanings I give to events that don’t have to mean the most negative.
And that said, sometimes a friendship is just over.
This was a long piece. If you’ve made it through the whole piece SERIOUSLY Thank you for reading!
18 September 2013
02 September 2013
I love when I see the themes and connections in my life.
The day that I was re-writing Sally Kempton’s article about the Work/Yoga mindset, Scott Sonnon posted about the “What the Hell Effect”. At the end of his post he wrote, “No cheat days. In Anything. Ever. “
My initial reaction is that scares me. That means no laziness. No procrastination, that if the truth be told, I have created an art form in procrastination. ART FORM! If you want to learn more about the Practice of Procrastination for a mere $9.99, please send your dollars to... Shelley-Lynne Domingue
But as I thought about it more, “No cheat days. In Anything. Ever.” I brought it down into more manageable bites. First off is the Work/Yoga mindset. For it to work, for it to change my life, there can be no cheat days. When I looked at that, I connected into where I wasn’t taking a cheat day, when I normally would.
After my week off in August, I promised myself that I would get back to doing yoga every morning before I go to work. We know all the benefits of working out so I won’t get into all that. But it took me a bit of a conversation with myself to find the DVD that I would use. My main purpose is that I want to feel ready with energy for the work day when I leave my house. And I want to have the proper mindset.
I’ve noticed that a lot of yoga DVD’s irritate me when I do them in the morning. And it’s the chatter. If I were ever asked how the design the best yoga DVD, I would say have two work outs. One with the instructions and chatter and the other one that is exactly the same but only says the positions you are getting into and then silence. Silence!
I could get into a good rant about this, but I’ll cut myself short. I don’t think they are conscious of the fact that you will hear them say the same thing every single day because if they were more mindful of it... I remember Pink saying on Oprah that she has to turn the sound down on P90X because that guy’s voice gets on her nerves. lol
Anyway, I lucked out and picked the right DVD on the first try. Fat Free Yoga by Ravi Singh & Ana Brett. If you try it, it’s not the traditional downward dog yoga. It is Kundalini Yoga. Immediately Monday I felt great, really great. I didn’t feel like I could crash in the afternoon and since I was working both jobs on Monday, I felt just as great when I got to my part time job.
Okay, I was off for a week so how tired would I be? Tuesday morning I rolled myself out of bed and onto my yoga mat promising myself that if I could just do the work out everything would be okay. And it was. Same high energy level at work on Tuesday.
I’ve done that work out every single day this week without negotiating with myself, without coming up with any excuses to press the snooze button for just 15 more minutes. Just open eyes, roll out of bed, doing drunken sleepy walk to put on my yoga gear and start yoga.
No cheat days. In Anything. Ever.
What I love about Kundalini Yoga, why I chose this practice above any other yoga practices, is that I like the work out, the breath work and the mantras. To MY inner knowing, that is what yoga is. No criticism of anyone else’s choice. This is my choice.
What I’ve been looking for within this practice over the years, is my chosen mantra. When I got my tattoo last week, I silently chanted Sat Nam and in the painful parts of the tattoo process, I silently chanted Sa Ta Na Ma. It was helpful. But I still want a personal mantra that resonates with me. I have yet to find it, I know I will.
On Friday, after work I was walking through the Ryerson University grounds. Frosh week has begun. A man asked me if I worked a Ryerson. No. That’s okay, I can still offer you this. And he gave me a business card of a new yoga centre that focuses on yoga mantras, chanting and singing. Seriously, dude!
He (Sam) says, “although I don’t know why I stopped you because you look so relaxed, what’s your practice?”
Me: “Ha ha! I am relaxed. This is the, “I get to leave work early on a long weekend” practice of relaxation.” And I cracked myself up.
Sam was holding the Bhagavad Gita in his hand. I extended the conversation with, “it’s funny that you should be holding that book because...” and I pulled out my paper that I did on the Work/Yoga mindset and said that Sally Kempton took quotes out of the Bhagavad Gita. Sam showed me the same quote from my paper in the book and then found me a mantra to try out. I love those little magical moments when everything connects.
This morning I woke up from my dream. I dreamt that not only did I see Prince in concert but after his concert, he came over to my place to hang out. We discussed how when the music is really flowing for him, he could play his concert all night long if they let him. I talked about the times that I’ve been in that writing flow, when I’ve tried to go to sleep and keep jumping up to write down the words and sentences that are dancing in my head. They just won’t let me sleep and that’s the best feeling.
A couple of funny notes in my dream -
1- friends kept dropping in to my place and I never outed Prince. But in one conversation with my friend Sarah who looked like Britney Spears (bahaha) she said something about feeling like she could go and perform somewhere nonstop until she couldn’t move. I pointed at Prince and said, “Yes we were just talking about that.” Sarah/Britney looked over at Prince, did a double take and then looked at me. I smiled and nodded Yes, as if to say yes, that’s really who you think it is.
2- at one point Prince sits down on my kitchen floor, leaning against the wall. I sit beside him and say, “the floor is a little dirty. I was going to clean up before I went to your concert but I figured, why worry about it, it’s not like I’m going to pick up a guy and bring him home. Especially not PRINCE!” I cracked myself up in my dream.
The next night in my dream, Prince and I were saying our good byes in a park, with an art exhibit.
I ran to catch up to him and said, “Scott Sonnon had a post on facebook recently and it really resonates with me and me spending this time with you. It was ‘no cheat days, in anything, ever.’”
Prince nodded his head in agreement, we hugged and parted ways.
So I’m thinking, that’s my mantra.
No Cheat Days. In Anything. Ever!
Scott Sonnon's "What the Hell Effect!"
Fat Free Yoga by Ravi Singh and Ana Brett
I deleted today the following post to my Timeline:
"Being from Prague, I'm very curious why you post pictures of your self? Do you do it only to take money from people who think you're pretty, because you lack self-esteem and need other people to coddle you with praise, or is it both because all Americans are so vain and capitalistic? Same question for your incessant repetition of your childhood stories; is it because people are stupid enough to buy a book of yours because you had a difficult childhood, or is it because your ego compulsively needs people to tell you how beautiful and wise you have deceived them into thinking you look and sound now? Like you, I'm a member of MENSA so I can see the manipulation you're hypnotizing people with. I'm smart and fit now too, but I don't whine about being made fun of in school for when I was stupid and fat. ~ Fredrick"
After deleting the above from my page, I decided a reply would be helpful, so I offer this story.
Let me share with you a story from when I was "a child." From forced company of socially estranged misfits, I fell into role playing games, and rapidly became a D&D fanatic. I'd spend hours (if not days) absorbed in the library, doing background research on the history, geography, mythology and ethos of the campaigns, becoming intellectually ravenous for any morsel which would add visual depth to the game.
But I observed a strange phenomenon: regardless of whether my character type had been chosen as a warrior, thief, cleric, assassin, paladin, ranger, or barbarian, the character would inevitably develop the same annoying character traits, fall into the same frustrating predicaments, and be surrounded by the same array of impossible obstacles and obstinate people.
Hopefully, being such a smart person, you have already figured out my discovery. But as a 13 year old boy, imagine my surprise when I had realized that the common denominator among all of these asinine characters was... me. I had been objectively observing a cross-verified sample of my own personality traits. Regardless of skills, environment, background, opportunities and challenges, my most undesirable character traits manifested in the role playing. They were glaring, grating reflections.
At that point, I had a single brilliant thought. Each of us has a few in our lifetime; and this had been one of my most important: if I changed the undesirable traits in myself, then all of my characters would improve in any campaign they underwent. So, I began work on myself:
--> to start being accountable for my own actions rather than blaming others,
--> to stop complaining about what I ought to be entitled to and started to focus on earning my keep,
--> to stop feeling self-righteous about my opinion and started seeking to understand others perspectives,
--> to stop fleeing dire circumstances for my own safety and started standing my ground for a worthy cause even at personal loss.
Astoundingly to me, as I worked on myself, my gaming improved; all of my characters became more successful, admired and fulfilling to play. That's when I stopped gaming. I had extracted its most secret value: the game, for me, was just an opportunity to gaze in my mental mirror. When I saw what my reflection actually looked like, I had learned the solution to my childhood problems: ME! I was the problem AND the solution. If I changed the behaviors and habits which kept me in my abusive, terrifying, destitute circumstances, then my environment would change as well.
And it did, as I did. Now, I still continue to this very day to consider the hologram I'm currently projecting out into the world. What is it that I see in others and of my situations? Do I see ugliness or beauty, apathy or love, hate or compassion, anxiety or impatience, fear or faith, scarcity or abundance; what do I REALLY see, rather than what do I wish I'd see? What I see is not the world, but my perception of it. If my perception is undesirable, it is not the hologram which ought to (or even, can) alter, but the projection camera.
You say you're an intelligent guy being a member of the High IQ Society. Use that big brain of yours to look at that which you are perceiving in others. You may not like the reflection you see, but you will regain power to change your perception. Your world will improve as you do.
Facebook does have it’s benefits. One of the things I like the most is that you can see what your friends press ‘like’ on. I noticed my friend Tanya was always liking this guy’s post and when she commented on his posts, she’d call him Coach.
Who is this Scott ‘coach’ guy? Is he a life coach? So I started clicking into his posts.
Writing wise, he does everything I would like to eventually do. He gives personal anecdotes that provide an experiential teaching. He wasn’t the cool kid, or the good looking kid. He was the over weight kid. He was the kid who wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. He was the kid who was told, by the well-meaning, that he should have realistic goals. Don’t dream too big, you’ll be disappointed.
If I were to describe who Scott is, well, it would fall short of all he encompasses on his page. And don’t we get too focused on trying to describe who people are rather than focusing on the gifts that they give? Needless to say I’ve been following him for a year or so now.
One thing I could never understand about Scott was why he always responds to the negativity. We’ve all read those comment sections in articles or on facebook pages where there are the ‘anonymous’ posters who take a crap on what’s just been said. They take a crap on the views expressed. They take a crap on the people who want to move up in their thinking instead of staying in the dirty gutter of negativity.
I’d read some of Scott’s posts responding to those types and I’d think, “Scott, why do you bother? You can’t change them!”
And then it clicked in, it’s not them he’s trying to change. He’s showing on a daily basis that he has a particular focus and no matter what the gutter dwellers say, he isn’t losing that focus. ‘So thank you for your comment, you have a right to it, and this is what I believe and have a right to believe.”
It connects so well with what I mentioned in a previous blog entry about accepting others exactly the way they are providing the opening to then accept ourselves exactly the way we are.
Scott’s posts teach me everyday to stay focused in doing what I want to do, no matter the criticisms. And There Will Be CRITICISMS! Right? Always criticisms. I wrote him a quick note to tell him that I finally got what he was doing. And Thank you because it is so important for us to learn - At Any Age!
This is my Personal One Year of a new Nine year cycle, as I mention a lot ;) And I’ve learned some profound things this year. I’ve been learning the deeper meanings of what I thought I already knew. The most recent reason why I sent Scott a message was about his response to “Being From Prague”. I will post his response as a blog entry.
I had an AHA moment about being centred. I told Scott that what I’ve really learned is that he is role-modeling how to be centred - physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’ve always understood being centred as being grounded, feet firmly planted, the physical aspect of being grounded. But I’d never brought the discipline of thinking into it. I’m seeing more and more that thinking/ thought is a discipline.
The discipline of thought is running a race and not getting distracted by the people in the stands screaming your name or your opponent’s name. It’s performing as your character in a play and not noticing your family in the audience. It’s the practice of Work as Yoga and not being attached to a specific outcome. Fully in your centre.
It reminds me of a question that Wayne Dyer asks in one of his PBS specials, “ What comes out of you when you’re squeezed?”
He says if you squeeze an orange you always get orange juice. But if someone squeezes you do they get anger, venom, what do they get?
We can choose what it is that comes out of us regardless of what is going on. We can remain in our centre even when we are squeezed. We need the discipline of our thoughts to bring us forward. Who am I kidding, all those sentences should say “I, not we!” ha-ha!
Sometimes my mind is like Houdini struggling to get out of a restraint, except he was gifted and quick. lol What do I choose to come out of me when I am squeezed?
Scott Sonnon on Facebook
My friend Sarah posted a link to an an article by Sally Kempton about bringing a yogic attitude to your work. (The link to the article will be at the end of this blog entry. ) And it affected me profoundly. It’s so funny how sometimes I can remember how much smarter I was when I was younger in some things. I think it was because I kept things simple. But that was more of my work attitude in my early working days.
Anyway, I read the article, highlighted what resonated with me then brought it down to a page of focus for me to look at each morning before I go to work.
Here are the tidbits that I find helpful, I’ve changed some of the wording to suit my needs:
What matters most is not what you do, but how you do it.
1- Throw yourself completely into a task. Do whatever you do impeccably, with full attention. Approach your work with your full presence and with your highest quality of attention.
EY note - I’ve always been this way but I’d been doing it angrily, lately.
At the beginning of a task, say to myself, “Looking back on this, How would I have wanted to perform this task?”
2- Surrender your attachment to results. You never know how things will turn out. You simply can’t know if anyone will buy your novel or whether someone at another company will notice the work you do and offer you a great job. Consider what it would look like to do your work for the sake of the work alone. Discover how you can, moment by moment, release your attachment to outcomes. Consider how you can live your passion and yet detach yourself from how things turn out.
EY Note - There are no promises in anything we do but there can be gifts that we never expected.
3- Do your work as Service. (I wrote to think of the idea of my day job as me doing a service for my writing)
Do something for the sake of being helpful.
Shift that inner attitude from “What am I not getting?” to “What can I give?”
Shift from “Something’s wrong with this situation” to “How can I help make it better?”
Begin taking action at work, ask yourself, “Who or what does this serve?”
EY Note - I like this because it removes the bitterness of feeling like I’m doing all this work while others are screwing the pooch. It doesn’t matter what they are doing. What matters is that I am keeping my focus.
I also added the note, which is so important, “Being of service is not the same thing as martyring yourself for a cause or letting yourself be exploited. Consider yourself in the equation. Think about what you need in order to serve at your best. And Stand up for yourself!”
4- Make Your Work an offering
Whatever you do, make it an offering, bringing an attitude of devotion to your actions.
“I offer this day asking that my actions be beneficial for all beings.”
Whatever you are doing, whether it is “important” or “unimportant”, you can offer it. And by offering your work, your practice, and even your small everyday actions, you align yourself with the universe, and your work becomes yoga - the natural path to union with the whole.
Sally Kempton wrote a great article which goes more in depth, obviously. I hope it gives you the gifts it has given me. And Thanks Again Sarah!
Bring a yogic attitude to your work and find satisfaction in your job, no matter what it is. By Sally Kempton