Never Give Up, Be Brave, Be a Lion(ess)

I write this, sipping coffee and feeling the super gross Sara Lee brownie rolling around in my body. I write this, fully ready to talk about the change in my person since nestling and settling in TN. I write this, telling the world that Nichiren Buddhism burns in my soul, but is afraid to pass my lips. It cannot be in this home in any form. Not because I don’t want it to, but because I’m trying to respect the home I live in and not cause drama between my uncle–the pastor, and my aunt–the first lady.

I write about this a lot on Tumblr.

I guess it’s been itching at me and hurting me so much that I have to keep writing and writing about it. I’m pretty upset about it, and it’s really starting to dismantle things a bit. I don’t have the stress of Chicago, but the stress of joblessness, a dead lovelife, and a writing career that might as well be face-down in the nearest river really isn’t doing wonders either. I can’t chant about it in front of my Gohonzon. And, while I can simply chant with beads in hand and my other items in tow, it’s better to have the Butsudan and the Gohonzon.

This is the problem–I can’t.

I want to chant, but I feel like even that’s going to be offensive. I can’t have an Omamori, either. I can’t have an altar in this house from another faith. That’s just…it. When my aunt said “talk to your uncle about it”, I KNEW where it was going to go. I might not have been the best Christian in my past life, but I remember a lot of the basics about altars, idolatry, and what can and cannot be in a Christian home. I just didn’t want to start any drama.

My Butsudan is mine. So I didn’t leave it in Chicago. I snuck it in the house, here. I wrapped it up securely. It is in storage under the stairs. I hate to write that. I hate to think it. I don’t want to give it back, because I don’t want to stop practicing. But I haven’t practiced in a long time. I haven’t renewed my subscription to the World Tribune or Living Buddhism. I semi connected with the members who ARE down here.

That got messy.

Wires all crossed at the same time. I know my uncle and aunt are fine with whatever religion I choose. So it’s not like they’re going to throw me out. They love me and want me to take this time to straighten myself out. However, this is their house. So while they were fine with that, again, the altar. At the time, I asked when I was going back to Chicago to get my things and go to wedding. At the same time, I’m getting howdy do’s from the members here in Paris, not realizing what I would not be able to do.

 

I can still connect, I can still “be with my people”–but I’m stuck in this weird sadness. I’m embarrassed to tell them anything, so they probably feel like this lack of communication means I’m an antisocial jerk, or that I’m done practicing.

That’s the thing.

The principles.

What we read over and over about this Buddhism.

Never give up. Practice the Sutra with your heart and soul, fiercely and courageously. Be a lion/lioness.

And I keep putting it off and promising the next day to do something about it, forgetting that Nichiren Buddhism is all about the change that starts with me. We chant for clarity and wisdom, we walk in faith, but WE have to make changes as well.

 

And I just want a job so I can get an apartment and put my Butsudan wherever I want it to go. I want to stop being sad and depressed. That stops everything, and I need to keep going. There have been days when I’ve gotten up to take on the world, and others where I just stay in bed and munch my problems away. And all the signs of depression–lethargy, carelessness, hopelessness…I don’t know what these people are seeing, but I’ve been a wreck for about two months. I’m 30, I don’t want to be a wreck.

How do I balance respecting this household, and practicing the religion of my choice? How do I maintain a good relationship with my family without stepping on their toes?

 

I don’t have an answer for anything, but doing nothing simply will not do.

That’s Just How You Are

Do you know how long ago it’s been since I got that message? But I remember where I was, I remember why I got it, and I remember every single tear that ran down my face. I remember the erratic call I sent to the person who sent it, and the date I cancelled because of it. I ended up calling my father from the Border’s in my area, talking about getting drunk and becoming a depressed lush at the local watering hole.

I also remember my father lecturing me. Telling me to listen to myself, get myself together, and to find a better way to wade through that. He told me not to give other people the power to tear me apart like that. I sat at a table in the store, waiting for him to pick me up. I felt locked in place. I had on this tacky pair of pinstripe pants, a white blouse, and my hair was in curly microbraids. I owned a crappy chocolate brand Motorola phone that had all kinds of bells and whistles with unlimited texting. But alas–I was young, dumb, and heartbroken. That steamy summer day felt like the end of the world.

Don’t ask why it came to me in my head. These are all things I wish I could forget, especially that stupid message. The person who sent the message had an idea of who I was, but never got to know the real me. As short as the message was, it cut like a knife because this was a new side to them. From tenderness in the dark, to silence in July, to a literal “piss off” in 140 letters or less, as I pretended I was some hard chick tellin’ some dude to come get his crap. He didn’t want it, and he did not want me. Once I woke up in that moment, I thought I was so cool throwing all that stuff out in the garbage 3 weeks later.

Still, that response boiled my potato!

Who was I to them?

An oversexed, perverted, short-attention span-having annoyance? A whackjob with a flaky job and school record? An emotional weirdo who didn’t have a cap on herself? A filthy, filthy woman with no morals? But….didn’t they decide to sleep with me? Okay, okay, stop. It was just an interesting choice of words. Who was I after 2 little limp years? Why did that response bother me so much? How did it burn itself into my brain, if their opinion was not fact?

I think some years later, I dug deep myself with a line about a trapped, 2 bit life. Not my greatest moment, but proof that I could clap back just as rough with just as much spice. It all meant nothing, because neither person really ever knew the other one, and everyone was judging everyone else.

So, all the smoke has cleared, and the conversation has been long gone. The train station is still there, I still own the pants. I broke the phone years ago by dropping it in water on accident. The braids are long gone, but I live in the same room. The past has become some kind of writing exercise for my brain, and for this Buddhism to help me understand what I could not in the past. What he said may have hurt, but it was not the truth. It was not half the person I was back then, and it’s not a fraction of who I am right now. In a snap decision because feelings were rough and words were spiky, that was the first thing that came into their head. And because I was still very raw over what happened so fast, I had a lot of emotions stewing in one big cast iron pot. The fire was white-hot, and I ended up cancelling my own frickin’ date.

I never did see that guy again. Probably for the best, but um….still. Cancelled. Date.

This also reminded me never to drop anything for my past ever again. Especially one that ripped me apart. I keep reminding myself of this, because I KNOW MYSELF. This is a part of who I am–a very compassionate, sentimental, mothering person. You will see my softness quickly, even in my anger (sometimes). For anyone who has made my heart–or any other parts–quiver, it’s like bopping a stuffed animal on the head–easy, quick. This is a flaw that is easily accessed and used, but recently has been walled up by a cynical shell. There is no comment bold enough to take it down. Not this round, kiddo.

Of course I didn’t see it back then. Seeing it now, and going on this mental journey of tossing out baggage is so interesting, but refreshing. this was only what…eight years ago? I can barely remember. That’s exactly where it should be.

Who am I? The most imperfect person. Who am I? Someone very in touch with her erotic nature. Who am I? Believe it or not, a human being to be respected. Not someone to be tossed around, or to have her house number haphazardly sent out to “open people” without consulting me first. Who am I? Someone with feelings and a heart. Someone worth a trip to the moon and back, but I’m not so high on the danged horse that humility ain’t my name-o. Who am I? Somebody few try to get to know. There are a chosen few who’ve invested the time, no matter what. There are a chosen few who’ve seen the darkness, and held up a lantern. A chosen few who’ve basked in the sun and smelled every single flower in the field. For them, I am most thankful. This is why remembering doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s all just writing.

Meanwhile, my Poli Sci study guide calls.

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.