Spring has sprung and I have been consumed by many thoughts and emotions as the Northern hemisphere transitions into warmer, sunnier days. On the contrary, I haven’t been feeling much warmth or sunshine internally over the last several weeks. I’ve been feeling very cold and detached.
After losing a cherished friendship last month, it has been challenging to let go of what felt like something that would never end…and yet it did. Additionally, I received news that a former close friend of mine from my previous employer had passed away. Two days later, I received news that a close friend of mine from my initial full-time employer lost her oldest daughter to gun violence earlier this month. Some would say that she (my friend) was MY mother. We worked closely together. I spent a great deal of time with her and her family, her oldest daughter included. It hurt me to know that she was in pain, however I did not attend the viewing or the funeral. Feelings of guilt began to rise.
I felt an initial sting of guilt after finding out about my former friend. He was one of my immediate friends when I began working for my previous employer. We became so close that I began to see him as a brother to me. He motivated me and always encouraged me to make a difference in the world.
The guilt I felt was from letting go of our friendship without any closure as to why I ghosted. I had stopped speaking to him sometime in April of 2017 after a very awkward moment. He had made a sexually explicit comment about my butt while slapping my butt in a playful manner. While I'd like to think that he was only joking, I felt extremely uncomfortable. The moment triggered traumatic memories, thoughts, and feelings from being sexually assaulted. I was so uncomfortable that I avoided speaking to him. Despite my avoidance, he continued to reach out to me. The last message that I received from him was a Bitmoji wishing me Happy Valentine’s Day in 2018. I did not respond.
After learning about the death of my former friend, my guilt for not confronting him about my feelings of discomfort began to stir up the guilt I had also felt for doing the complete opposite in another situation, having it cost me the very friendship that I had lost the previous month. Some hurtful things were mentioned about me on social media and I began to think about what I could have possibly done to cause her to feel the way she was implying. These were not things she had brought to my attention and I felt completely blind-sighted. Initially, I was infuriated. How could she say such things, even if they weren’t about me?! Regardless, a seed was planted. I began to reflect upon myself, my words, and my actions along the timeline of our friendship. Furthermore, I began to reflect upon my interactions within all of my relationships in general.
All of this was occurring during a period of Mercury Retrograde, which happened to be one of the most intense retrogrades that I have ever experienced. During this period, I began to allow myself to feel the range of emotions that were hitting me like waves. I intentionally allowed myself time and space to be alone. I spent a lot of time sitting in silence while experiencing anger, sadness, frustration, and guilt to name a few. In doing so I became aware of how far I’ve come along my journey to allow myself to be uncomfortable with experiencing emotions.
I remembered how, in the past, whenever I was angry, I became aggressive. Whenever I was sad, I masked my sadness with anger because sadness to me was a weak emotion. When angry, sad, or frustrated, I’d intoxicate myself with drugs and/or alcohol to numb the feeling and guilt was an emotion that just didn’t exist for me. Nothing was ever my fault. Everything was always someone else’s fault and I was always the victim.
Within my self-observation and reflections, I began to learn how to allow myself to feel without causing harm to myself - aparigraha. I was being honest with myself - satya. I was not stealing time or space from myself or others to reflect and heal - asteya. Although very overwhelming, I did not allow these emotions to overcome me - bramacharya. As a result, I found it easier for myself to transition into letting go - aparigraha.
There is a beautiful sutra shared within a beautiful story called How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach, “Things that cannot last seem to us as if they will. – II.5A” – I find that so much is said within these brief words. Within the three unfortunate events of March, I end this month with my three takeaways as they relate to the first Niyama, suacha or purity:
1. Life is short.
2. Change is constant.
3. Live within the purity of each moment.