Because….

I had a moment to think about a lot of things tonight. About my current behavior, about previous behavior, and the bottom falling out of situations. I also thought about my ability to divulge on the internet. Anyone who snoops enough may find out a lot about me–some good, some bad, and some that certain folks just would not approve of. Still, I continue to leave a footprint on the Internet. I choose to write things to get them out, sometimes being right in the line of fire of people they’re about. That part hasn’t happened in a long time, because I’ve altered the way I address people and my frustrations with them. Do I still get mad? Yes. Do I rant online? Yes. Have I done it recently? No.

One of the first guidelines that most Nichiren Buddhists will see in the World Tribune comes from a list called SGI President Ikeda’s Three Keys (It usually says something like “To Advancing Dynamically in 20XX”). The first key is “First change yourself”. The second– “Never Give Up”. The third–“Advance With Joy”. It just came to me in my head. The first one stuck out to me, because it made me re-think the energy of some of my writing–past and present. There are some moments that are so temporary, that they become meaningless. They are ugly scabs of a person who needs to change. Others are like doves being released into the world. I become weightless emotionally.

Today, I thought about the last post I wrote about my cousin and aunt. It’s nobody’s business but the family’s own, yet I chose to write about it to sort my ideas out. But I’d never get on here and open up negatively about my cousin’s life. I’m very upset with her at the moment, because she’s treating my aunt like crap. Still, I know some things about her. But instead of cryptic messages and long paragraphs of anger, I’m (again) supporting my aunt.

I suppose that I thought about what it would be like if either one found my blog, and I’d have to explain myself. For what, having an opinion? This all arose because my cousin allegedly said some things in a post that someone else saw. It was SO negative that this person called her father–my uncle. So then, my aunt and I had a long conversation about social media, posts that do not belong on the Internet, and why people become petty by possibly tagging others who’re part of the drama. Also, why people write messages of a negative manner, and tend to allow only certain people to see them.

It was all a web of negativity that’s actually a part of a bigger problem. It made me evaluate the way I discuss people and my life online. A lot of older people wonder why folks in general do this. Why don’t we keep personal diaries and journals? I had them in my youth, full of crushes and budding erotic desires. I had all the angst, loneliness, and desire the pages could hold. I had thoughts of my mother, as I went through a long-overdue mourning at the tender age of 11. She died when I was 2 and a half, but it just seemed like that moment hit me, and did not let go until I was 24.

Anyway, the cousin’s alleged message made me think of every single rant I’d ever posted about any of my exes, issues with my dad, issues with friends, and problems with this world. Were any of them as justified as I felt they were? Did any of them really have a right to be online, for people to see? Especially if they made me look like a monster. I won’t say that I’m a meek mouse, but I’m not a raving demon running around knocking over vases, breaking bones, and scaring small children. Those posts were the outbursts of an introvert who really didn’t know what to say at the time of the drama.

With these family issues, it’s not posts to put tea on parade. Nor is it some kind of cryptic entry full of prose to be deciphered. It’s a way to express how I’m feeling in these moments, and how I hate to see my family–my aunt especially–having to contend with someone else who is supposed to be family too. I’m just making sure that it doesn’t turn into a rant-fest putting anyone down. These facts are just as they are.

I think that today’s talk with my aunt just made me feel a little sad. She’s going through things, this other person is creating layer after layer, and not really thinking about certain things. Why does the bottom have to fall out before she realizes the reality of things? She has burnt bridges and has salted the earth. Decayed parts of relationships, and pulled wool over the eyes of many people. I am support for my aunt, but it’s strange to see this person on social media skipping around like all is well.

I realized that things would be this way for a long time, and continuing to discuss it while “staying out of it” would send me into an endless loop until change came. I don’t wish her any ill–she has a beautiful daughter and a son with a bright future ahead of him–but she has let go of reality so far that it’s going to hurt THEM before it hurts my aunt or anyone else. There are far too many enablers in her life–but she is a grown woman well over 40. I don’t want to stand around and not be helpful, you know? When someone is in need, you toss them a line if you can. The only problem is this–she has taken a knife to every single line both verbally and physically. My involvement wouldn’t do a think but get MY feelings hurt.

This is such a challenging time. Maybe it sounds silly, but I truly am believing in these principles I study. I see the proof bit by bit. I am going to change myself. There will be no more posts about this family issue here. There will be no sassy messages about it on any part of social media. There will be no cryptic messages, either. The one thing I learned after “getting into it” with two grouchy exes and one testy friend–words have power. Words have ammunition. (Okay that’s TWO THINGS.) We can either encourage or discourage. (THREE THINGS. LEAVE ME ALONE LOL)

I am done discouraging with this family information. As a write, this will eat me alive internally.

As a Buddhist, this will take me right to the Gohonzon.

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Dark Clouds

It’s hard not to say something to the other party involved, when you know exactly what’s going on. It’s hard not to get angry when you have a majority of the details. It’s hard to feel like you’re standing idly by, while you’re technically giving one party support. You want to give all parties support, but you know one of those parties is doing the very worst he or she possibly can to make life and situations miserable for everyone else. Sprinkle in enablers and other folk who just don’t know, and you’ve got yourself a pot full of some pretty spicy, juicy stew that’s about to boil over.

Why write about it? Why put it into the world? I have to get it out. I have to express it. I’m not worried about other people right now. I’ve been writing and re-writing it for days. I have a draft in waiting that was full of my anger, my hurt, and my feelings about a situation happening in my family. I kept going over it, not feeling like that was displaying my Buddha nature. I don’t want that kind of energy out into this world, and I’m constantly working on it. It’s nowhere near perfect. There are a lot of things that…well…completely piss me off. Believe me when I say that this situation has a pot boiling on my emotional stove. I’m keeping calm because adding more negativity won’t help–it will hurt relationships. At the same time, I just feel odd acting like I don’t know anything, and things are “okay”.

The party who started all the trouble probably either thinks I know nothing, or that I’m so low-level and off her radar that I’m not going to say anything. So far, I haven’t. I want her to think I know nothing. I don’t even know where I’d begin addressing her. I was shocked to think she’d treat her own family in this way. I was shocked to see her acting one way on social media, then hearing other things about her through other people–both blood fam and non blood. The stories are all the same. With all the layers, there wasn’t much to say. It turned from everyone thinking she was a battered woman into the actual truth–she had a lot of problems, she was acting way out of line, and she made it so her father had to choose between his daughter and his wife.

My old self would have been posting cryptic messages and statuses to make her feel guilty. Maybe I would have gotten in her inbox and told her a thing or two. This growing self doesn’t really know what to do. I’m here for my side of the family, not her. But at the same time, I feel like this is partially my business, because she’s giving someone I love hell. After a talk with the family member, a lot of things were clarified. Why all her friends didn’t know the truth, and what’s possibly being done in the darkness–that will soon come to the light. I already anticipate that she will use this against my aunt, and make her look very bad in the process. To save her own skin, she’d rather ruin my aunt’s reputation.

It was suggested that I become a mediator. “Talk some common sense into her,” says my dad. Who, me? the 29 year old against a 40-something who has her head in the clouds and her attitude in the gutter? The same lady who preaches on Sunday, but gives ’em hell Monday-Saturday? My eyes widen as I type that. I’m going to be nice, but I’m going to be critical. I don’t think it’s my place to talk sense into someone with a harder head than my own. I’m stubborn, but even in my darkest hours–I LISTEN. I’m ironing kinks out of my own life. I don’t know about her. I feel like maybe the bottom really needs to fall out for her to get it. I don’t wish her the worst, because she’s family–but she’s done and said a lot of things that are unforgivable at the point in time. This is one of those moments that requires a lot of daimoku, letters, and hard thought.

I keep re-arranging the situation, but from a distance that’s not ready to be published yet. I have sworn support to my aunt, because she needs it the most. She has extended her hand and her home to someone who has been rotten to her off and on for YEARS. I mean since my step-uncle has been dating her. That was in the 80’s to early 90’s and beyond. They married in 1992. At WHAT point is she going to drop the grudge and be cool?

It isn’t my job to go around setting people straight. I wish I could give her some kind wisdom without seeming like I’m imposing. But the blood of my aunt flows through me, it flows through her. She has extended her house, her heart, and her wisdom to me. She helped raise me when my mother died. She has shared her story of sorrows, and also has been a shining example of making do and doing the work to live a new life. She has spent 20+ years in that town, slaving to the bone to own the house she currently owns. To see it all be jeopardized because of one person is the WORST. Especially with people who have known her for years. They think she’s a monster. They don’t realize her buttons are being pushed by someone who’s smiling in their faces, crying wolf like my aunt is intentionally being mean on purpose.

This aches my heart because my aunt is not a bad person. She is not an evil person. She is a woman of God who has served all her life. She is not a hard person to live with. She can be honest in a way that wakes you up, but she does her best to love with all her heart. ¬†As my dad says, “we all go through shit”, but I don’t want her to suffer. I don’t want her to feel like she has to be angry or stony just to survive in her own house. That she has to tap into her fiery nature just to defend her own. I don’t like that. It brings tears to my eyes as I write, because again–seeing this person say one thing and do another behind a closed home door is maddening. What do I do?

My heart says to continue supporting my aunt. Not to let my lesser self join in, but to send daimoku to her. To not engage with the fire-starter of this whole situation, and to not let the inactivity and enabling of others get to me. Just as I prayed as a Christian, I will pray as a Buddhist. Some prayer is better than none. What happens next?

Resolution, I hope.

Consequence? Probably Not.

I want to recall the story of a visit to TN and a HUGE cell phone bill. This was back in the days of my teen years, when Nokia phones were acceptable, and I had to carry like 20 CDs when I went on vacation, because iPods weren’t that hot, and I never asked my dad for an MP3 player until about three years later. (What kind of teenager was I? Never asked for much, stayed at home all the time. smh.)

Anyway, back then, there were roaming charges. UGLY ones. Long story short, not asking questions about why the little phone icon turned into a car symbol once we hit Paris, TN ended up costing my dad about a thousand dollars on his family plan. It was rather unpleasant for a working man who barely hit 60 to end up with thousands on his hand, just because his goofy child just HAD to talk to her puppy love MSN Messenger RP “boyfriend”. (Don’t you judge me, judge! lol! Helped me write some good stories.)

The consequence? Well, first of all he told me right off the bat not to run up the bill, period. No wasting daytime minutes, no endless texts (I had a text limit, and texts were like ten cents per), and for the love of Christmas, limit the long-distance calls. Side note–this MSN “boyfriend” lived in Georgia. Yeah. Long distance+Long phone convos+texts and texts of sickening adoration=big ol’ phone bill.

My Dad, being the reasonable old bear he is actually LET me continue to use my phone. HOWEVER, like a parent and sourpuss Capricorn, he let me know every waking moment that “I have never had a bill be so much before. I just don’t understand it.” He quizzed me everyday, and eventually just gave me one of those phone cards from Sam’s Club. 600 minutes. When I got it, he always had this poopy-face McSourpants look on his face. Still, he let me get them.

Believe me, it was bad enough to be in the conversations, to get the looks, and to eventually end up with T-Mobile, which wasn’t BAD, but way more restrictive until about 2004/2005 when we got some perks for being good customers. But alas, this long story about making big bills and their consequences isn’t even the main story. I was thinking (over-thinking) about a comment one of my aunts made on my Facebook page. I posted a picture of myself the other day while waiting for an event at the SGI Center downtown.

Most people who pay enough attention know I am a Nichiren Buddhist. I stopped being a Christian about 4 years ago, but finally came to terms with the fact about the same time my neighbor approached me about going to a meeting with her. Okay, maybe not at that EXACT moment. But as I began to practice, I was able to conclude that Buddhism was a better fit. Obviously, I sort of worried about how my family would take it. They’re all Christians, except for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. THEY make it a point not to associate with anyone who isn’t. So, it was more my immediate family on both sides.

My mother’s side, to be exact.

When I say they are wrapped up in the church, they are wrapped up in the church. Take my word for it. As my father puts it, “everything your aunts do is in the church”. When he said this, it was months before my practice. HE was trying to convince me to seek their guidance, help, and connections by going to the church and helping out. Maybe I could get a job or something. I kinda blocked every single part of that because…er….I don’t really like churches that much. Telling him that fact would have led to a million questions, so I just nodded and let it ride.

Anyway, there’s already an “in and out circle” within my family for a lot of screwed up reasons. Being a non-Christian sets up an entirely new set of bowling pins. You are opening up a new can of interesting, fer frack’s sake. So, I know the “questions” are coming, but it’s not like I can’t show up to a church or attend an event. I’ve gone to funerals and stuff. I’ve behaved. I didn’t go running up and down the aisles like some kind of heathen, just because my faith has changed. It’s just that with my aunts, things can get really weird fast.

Bless their hearts, they can be abrasive and insulting. They can capitalize the “a” in awkward like nobody’s business. Again, my dad is like “don’t let the next time you see them be at a funeral.” He’s also given me lots of advice about getting over explaining myself, my faith, and why I chose this religion. However, that doesn’t mean it’s just going to be a smooth ride. Even the most confident people have their moments, so you KNOW my shaky ol’ introverted butt is feeling some kind of way.

I take great pride in this Buddhism. So I’m not hiding it at all. There is no shame whatsoever. But it’s different with family. The air of my mother’s side has always been different. She’s not here, and I’m…it. I’m already jobless, bouncing around with natural hair, and I’m a big ol’ sugar-loving bear woman. I’m all the things she wasn’t, and I know they talk. They don’t gossip, but they discuss. If you don’t measure up to their standards, they talk. They’re loving, they’re smart, and they show concern…but they are judgmental. o_o

When I see “nice pic….questions later….” in my comments section, I just….feel it. One aunt relays to all, and all aunts in the “in crowd” discuss how you fell from grace, or how “interesting” it is, or something. It isn’t exactly new, because at least three of my aunts know I am a Buddhist. So if they REALLY wanted to bombard me, they’d probably come over. They’d call. So, what is this defense I’m feeling? I am intelligent enough, strong enough, and tactical enough to ward off their insults, and answer their queries. Besides, this is ONE aunt.

ONE.

And it’s actually one of the aunts I LIKED a LOT as a kid, because she was funny and wacky. Besides, blood is blood, right? No family is exempt from their quirks and problems. To over-think only makes the problem worse. Is this really a problem, or is it all in my head? And SO WHAT if they ask me questions? A lot of people have asked me. I tell them and they either say “oh” and move on and away, “cool” and keep it moving, or just nod their heads. (Even though someone who shall not be named said he’d pay to see me sitting down and chanting.)

Maybe I should send out flyers. Yes, I am a Buddhist. Yes, I am happy practicing. Yes, I stopped being a Christian because it wasn’t working for me, and no I do not want to convert back. Why Buddhism? Why not? Why not chant for my happiness and the happiness of others? Why not chant for courage and depend on myself to do the work and make it so? Why not read amazing philosophies, histories, and musings? Why not get a chance to polish the mirror of myself? I like it because I worship no one. I devote myself to being the best person I can be. My object of devotion IS the Gohonzon, but again-a mirror of myself.

If any of my aunts cannot ask me things without being insulting, then yes I might sprinkle some statistic, yet respectful snark in the mix. Otherwise, I’ll take it all one day at a time.

There is no punishment for becoming a Buddhist.