So Pema also says......LOl, I’m quoting her left, right and centre at the moment!!
But she is very helpful!!
As my readers may or may not know, birthdays are my second most challenging day of the year, and another one has passed by. But as Pema says, challenging, uncomfortable moments are the ones that open you up to the darker recesses of your mind. This year was not a big day and having a quiet one meant I was able to reflect on my issues and where they lay. I noticed how I struggle with the whole concept of enjoying myself, expectations, good and bad.
In particular I had a bizarre experience which was eye opening. A couple, old friends of my husband popped round for a coffee and to bring me a plant. All well and good and a pleasant thing to happen. Except that it wasn’t! The husband laid into me from the minute they arrived. He did it in a subtle and powerful way, cutting through whatever I said. As I have mentioned before, I am hypersensitive! A more thick skinned person might have been able to brush it off but I would imagine that anyone who had been the object of his bullying would have felt humiliated and put down by the time they left. But as Pema says, difficult, upsetting people are ideal to help one examine oneself, so I decided to view him as a valuable birthday gift!
What did I learn? Firstly, thinking about him. I think he must have experienced that sort of put down from his own father. We have heard other people comment on his father before and we know he has a difficult relationship with one of his daughters. I think I was experiencing being his daughter that day. So although I was left feeling very upset and miserable after he went, at the same time I recognised that my unhappiness was 80% from him, nothing to do with me at all. The remaining 20% were my own issues which he had tapped into. Pema says to disassociate yourself from the story and just hold onto the feelings. It was easier to do that with someone I wasn’t close to. I examined my longings to be liked / loved / respected / appreciated.
I wasn’t able to come up with any clever, intellectual stuff to help with it but just felt all those sad, shitty feelings that I had whilst at the same time recognising that they had arrived unwarranted and there was no need to beat myself up with stupid thoughts like “did I deserve this? what did I do wrong?”. Eventually they passed.
I went to bed and slept.
And the next day I really felt ok, kind of good. A bit more AWARE, if anything.
Reflecting on the event, could I have handled it differently? I am never an expert at repartee, I maybe need to be a bit less quick to try and defend myself, he was an expert at cutting the ground away and I am no intellectual jouster. One good thing was that I randomly found myself trying to talk about Buddhist philosophy, so even if I was no match for him in that space, my unconcious mind was trying to flag stuff up. Stuff like “this is weird! Unpleasant and out of the blue! What the hell is going on? Can I learn from this?” I was not able to process those thoughts at the time, couldn’t wait for them to leave, but half an hour after they had gone I was able to do some unpicking.
(Obviously I'm going to try and avoid him in future! But I guess if we do come across each other I will be forewarned and ready for another learning process!)