Is she happy in her life?

Last week we were sitting in a cafe having lunch. The table next to us looked like a family of four. The two kids seemed to be around 5 or 6 years old. The mom and dad were sitting on one side of the table and the kids on the other .

The mom seemed a bit tired to me. The dad was on his phone mostly. They would occasionally talk to each other but mostly they seemed entertained by the kids. 

The kids were seriously adorable. A boy and a girl who looked like a combination of the mom and dad and they were playing with each other, teasing each other and really fun to watch. 

I caught myself thinking for a second, I wonder if this woman is happy. Is she happy in her life? She seemed entertained by the kids and would smile at times and at one point was kissing her boy really affectionately, and other times looked tired and not as happy, when she was looking at the father or when the kids were doing their own thing.  

Then it hit me, at the core of this question “I wonder if she is happy or unhappy with her life” lies a huge error, a false belief that causes suffering.  

There is no ultimate happy or unhappy. Even though we all, on the surface, know that the “happily ever after” that movies sell you doesn’t exist, however, a part of us might look at people in one instant and take whatever their circumstances seem as “happy” or “unhappy” or “lonely”, or “regretful”. 

And so we fear ending up like that. Ending up unhappy, lonely or regretful of our decisions, as if that will be a permanent state of feeling. 

And it is the same fear that also makes us not want to share. If I call my friend and cry and say I feel super depressed one day, will she think that I am depressed in my life or my relationship is not good? 

If I am single and say I feel lonely, will everyone imagine me sitting in my house lonely, walking around lonely and sad and that that is my existence? Will they pity me? 

This is one of the things that used to bother me about being single. I always wanted to be honest but I felt that if I ever admitted to feeling lonely or sad or god-forbid jealous, that people would think that’s how I am constantly feeling. That as long as I am single, I am feeling lonely and sad. And in reality, most of my moments, I wasn’t feeling that way. I experienced so much fun and joy in my other relationships, with friends, with family,  while dating and flirting, while dressing up and going out, while shopping, while sitting in a cafe, while eating yummy food, while at work feeling like I helped a patient, and so many other moments. And a whole range of positive emotions. 

In reality, as long as we erroneously believe in permanent states of happiness or unhappiness, we will fear ending up miserable (and others thinking we have ended up miserable), and also we will envy those who look like they’ve done it right and are happy. 

I wonder if next time you and I see someone and we think they are miserable and lonely, or that look how life turned out for them, they seem super happy, can we remember at that moment that there is no one total state of feeling? How would this change things? 

After much searching on google for a painting that would go with this blog post, I came across this one. I kind of like it. The woman has this really interesting gaze. It makes me want to guess what she is thinking about. and I love her style. which is kind of how I felt sitting next to that family…..It is by an English painter Bernard Fleetwood-Walker (1893 – 1965)

Notes on jealousy

When I was in my early 30s, one of my best friends of many years whom I used to spend a lot of time with got married in the peak of our friendship when we were traveling together and having fun being single (of course all the while both of us, longing for a relationship and venting about the unsuccessful dates). I remember when she started dating her husband and spending more and more time with him, how I felt betrayed. I wanted to be happy for her. And I was, but I also felt that our lives went from equal to hers being happier and mine being less happy (she gained a boyfriend who was doting on her and not only had I not, but I had also had lost her as my comrade).

I remember me those days. How much I didn’t want to be around my friend, to see her walking next to her tall man, who was kissing and loving on her, her giddy eyes and smile and me wishing I had the same, feeling those unwanted feelings of jealousy, followed immediately by shame and guilt.

So really in avoiding her, I wanted to avoid me, the jealous me, the guilt-ridden me. I wanted to run away from the me that couldn’t be overjoyed for my friend’s romance and her giddiness.

And all these many years later, and watching many more friends giddiness or hearing their stories of adventures with their boyfriends and feeling the same feelings at times, I see that the only choice is to accept me. Because isn’t it true that if I was given a choice, a genie in a bottle that said; you get to pick, you can feel jealous or you can feel happy for her and not feel jealous, pick one! wouldn’t I pick not jealous? yes of course I would. I would in an instant. And yet, the jealousy is here at the moment that I feel it. I can’t get rid of it no matter how much I’d wish it. If I can’t get rid of something no matter how much I hate it and don’t want it, then is it my fault? should I feel guilty for it?

It is interesting that all these years of therapy, learning about different paths of spirituality, mindfulness, and now the work of Byron Katie, just takes me to one truth, more and more, the undeniable truth…. judging me for feeling jealous doesn’t make the jealousy go away. Feeling guilty about it doesn’t make it go away. Feeling ashamed of it, doesn’t make it go away.

On the other hand, what if I loved myself? how would that even look like? What if I imagined opening my arms to the jealous part of me. When I do this visualization, I see that the jealous girl in me, just wants to be loved. That actually the reason she is jealous to begin with is because she thinks she is not loved, that she thinks that her friend walking next to that tall man who is kissing her is eternally loved and lovable and is having a blast and she is not. as opposed to hate, shame and judgment?

I have heard this saying before, you can’t fight darkness, you can only shine a light on it and it is no longer there. Today I was reading the book “A thousand names for joy” and this came up “The darkness, the space that the mind is terrified to enter, is the beginning of all life. it’s the womb of being. Fall in love with it and when you do, it will immediately be taken from you, as you witness the birth of light”

For me, when I imagine opening my arms to the jealous girl in me, the one who wants to feel loved, the one who feels lonely, etc, when I accept her as human and scared and love her, then jealousy is not even there anymore. When I don’t try to make the jealousy go away, but say to it “it’s ok that you are here, you belong, you are loved” then it is not there at that instant, only love is there.

As Rumi says “the wound is where the light enters” When I remember to open my arms to the one I reject, all I find is love. and then I forget again. and then the pain moves me to remember again.

Writing about some happy moments

I came across some girl’s blog post and found it fun reading her musings. It wasn’t deep. and I can’t even say what it was about. 

It got me thinking. A thought I’ve had before as well. Why do I only write about my moments of suffering and epiphanies that come out of suffering? I certainly love what I write about. It gives me clarity when I write it. But why is it that I usually don’t feel the pull to write about a regular day, or a happy day, or times where I am not in suffering. 

Like how would it be to write about yesterday. About going to this festival we went to. We drove there in our little car. It was fun. M was driving and I was enjoying his usual funny comments. He looked so handsome in that outfit. 

It was a medieval festival and we were supposed to be dressed as medieval peasants. We arrived there and met these friends of our friend who had invited us there. They were so nice. I was surprised how interested they were in us and our lives. I really liked this one girl and wished I could be friends with her. So it felt good that her and her husband kept inviting us over to their city and seemed to have the same interest.

M was so attentive to me. If I needed a bathroom, he looked for one. If I wanted to get food, he went and stood in line with me. We stood watching the stage (the medieval wedding) and my legs started hurting. He was in front of me. And he brought both of his arms behind him and held me from the back. And it felt so good to be held like that. 

It felt good to be next to my handsome, fun boyfriend. To be part of this group, to be experiencing such a local, non-touristic festival. To have the thought “Cool, we have friends here in Spain” and they were so warm, so interested in us, in our lives. 

After the main part of the festivities were over, people were dancing freely and getting food. 

I found myself a chair and sat there while M went to get a drink. Suddenly saw this girl on high stilts with another girl on the ground acting as her marionette doll. It was so funny and she made the marionette doll girl come and sit on my leg. I felt surprised, unsure what to do and just laughed and then found myself laughing for real. 

I felt so part of this little village’s festivities. For a moment wished I was Galician as they were all speaking Galego and felt to me they were all proud of their heritage. 

We then said goodbye to everyone and started heading towards the car. As we didn’t have any cash to buy food from the booths. But also my leg was hurting too much. 

I would have liked to stay longer. It was so cozy and fun to be there. Like I was getting a hug. And I felt good in my peasant outfit. 

And as we were going towards the car, I turned around and looked at the scenery. Gosh, it was gorgeous. The green hills and forrests in the background. The little village, the smoke coming out of the Churrasco/BBQ area. The music. I felt so grateful at that moment. So happy. 

M went and got the car and picked me up and we were both so happy and relaxed. He would crack his usual jokes of everything which make me laugh so much. We thought of stopping several times for dinner but then decided better to just drive to Santiago and ended up going to the same vegan place we had eaten in the night before. 

The waiter who is this cute girl with lots of tattoos and I like her vibe came to get our order and said: “wow, you look so nice tonight” I felt a little embarrassed of still wearing the peasant outfit with the flower crown in my head (M had changed to regular clothes in the car). So I tried to explain where we were coming from and she said again, you look so Guapa. This also made me happy. That this girl whose vibes I like is being so friendly and warm to us. 

We got home super tired but good tired. 

As I write this today, having started with no strong desire to write about the night which in my head was just a good night, nothing to note. I realize re-living it brought all these happy feelings in me. 

My mind says, this is so silly. You can’t post something this simple, with no articulate prose, no good descriptions, and just saying I felt good because of this or that. 

My mind also says “your happiness is from the same things that when absent, make you suffer. So you are still in the same mindset”

Well, I am gonna let these thoughts be and still post about this day in my not-so-sexy words.  And let myself bask in the remembering of the simple, happy moments which in reality, my life is full of. 

When you feel anything but love for someone you are supposed to love

Rumi says every feeling is a guest. To welcome it smiling. 

I sometimes remember this when I feel hate or envy or resentment.

I find it it easier to welcome these feelings when the person who theses feelings are directed towards is either myself or if someone else, they are not around me. 

But what do you do if you have negative thoughts and feelings towards someone who you are living with, or traveling with, and when you think about it, they have done nothing wrong, they are being loving. 

I find it much harder to welcome these feelings. My first instinct seems to be to hate on myself. So now I am dealing with the negative feeling towards the person next to me, layered with hate towards myself. 

And this only makes me want to go away, to shut down. To at least not have them see it in my face, all this negativity. 

For the past 2 years or so, I am living with my boyfriend and it has been so nice cause majority of my thoughts towards him are positive. I find myself most of the times adoring him, thinking he is great and as a result feeling only good feelings towards hims. If I feel negative towards someone else, they are not around and I take my time dealing with those feelings, allowing them, journaling them, questioning them. I don’t have to be in a rush to get rid of them cause I don’t have to interact with these people on a daily basis 

But this past week, I found myself at times thinking not so positive thoughts about my boyfriend  “he should be this way, why is he not that way. Look, I am kissing him and he don’ts come up and spontaneously kiss me on the lips. Why doesn’t he initiate more? Will I never have what I see in the movies? Why doesn’t he look at me with googly eyes like I see this guy look at his wife in some photo she uploaded?”

And the feelings of sadness, doubt, distance in my heart that I then find myself in. 

But I have nowhere to go hide to process these feelings before I can see him. He is right next to me. And so I blurt out something when I am in the trenches of it that ends up feeling hurtful to him. 

I find this the hardest, what do you do with yourself when you feeling negatively towards those who you are right next to? How do you not let it show in your face? How do you not say something critical? 

But most importantly of all, how do you forgive yourself when you find yourself in anything but love and having already said something critical? 

And when you see that your thoughts, feelings and words can cause the other person to feel not-good-enough and withdraw….. when you then fear that if I have these kinds of thoughts and feelings and words, I may make them go away…. What do you do then? With all that fear? 

How do you forgive yourself? When you think you may make your relationship rupture, how do you still love yourself and trust yourself? 

But as I write this, I think maybe it isn’t in my control anyways. Maybe I am just living this life as it comes to me and I can’t fight with what happens. Maybe I can just love this girl whom thoughts happen to her, feelings happen upon her, and words and behaviors at times slip out of her. Can I still love her? I think that’s at the heart of my journey on this earth. Maybe if I had a purpose in life, it would be this. Can I still really love her if she is “bad”? Besides how do I really know if some outcome is bad? I don’t want to hurt anyone, but how do I know if me, inadvertently hurting someone is a bad outcome?

credit: photographsrenderedinplaydoh

To post or not?

Why do I want to write and post publicly? I often have this ongoing struggle in my head. 

There are two competing voices in my head. One says: write and post it. Share your heart and your journey and it doesn’t matter who reads it. Like that’s none of my business. My business is just to write and share. 

And the other voice says: Why are you doing this? You are being stupid. This is stupid. You are not cut out for this. what you write is not cool. It is not making you look good. It makes you look stupid and pathetic. 

You don’t just put everything out there. You should be selective and meticulous. To write something and edit it and edit it until it is perfect and then share it. And you know it is good if lots of people like it, share it and read it. Otherwise, stop doing it. 

The first voice is soft, gentle and kind. When I wonder if I should post, it says you love to write, and it is kind to share and when I feel hesitation to share, it says, if you don’t write or post, that is perfectly ok too. There is no “should” with this voice. It is like a kind energy flowing.

The second voice is that of the many people in my head who I have heard being critical of others, saying “who made her an expert on this” or “she is a quack”. It has a harsh and judgmental tone. It is oppressive. It is like a parent that is never happy and keeps pushing the kid to be better, closer to perfect. Like perfection is this moving target and you have to just keep being anxious and move frantically to reach it. 

What is interesting is that the judgmental, pushing-me-cause-I-am-not-enough voice is very unclear and in a way changes position. It says to write because I should be relevant, maybe become an author and give book tours and I should edit everything I write until it is perfect.

But when I do write and post what flows just naturally out of me, it also says not to write it, not to post it, that is it stupid and irrelevant and will make me look bad.  

The kind, gentle voice also in a way has no hard position. It says “you are pure goodness and love whether you write or you don’t”, it says “it is beautiful what you write because it comes from the heart and it will touch whoever it is supposed to touch” and also when I feel trepidation to post or write and end up not posting, it says “you don’t need to do a single thing to be better or relevant. Relevant doesn’t exist. You live for you and you are love.”   

As I write this, I realize the harsh voice does have a fixed position and that is “look perfect” and the kind voice’s position if there was one is “do what feels good”. You’d think the choice is obvious, and yet the story continues…..

60 seconds of Success!

I often wonder why I write here. And why I write the things I write and not other things. 

Today for example, I feel like writing about this moment. A moment of about a minute or so. 

I turned on my phone this morning to send some photos of the cats to their mom. 

But I should back up for a second. We are cat sitting right now while traveling using a website that lets you house/pet sit in exchange of housing. 

The mom of these two adorable cats is a worrier and has asked me to send several photos and videos of them every day. Also she had some rules about her place, like only vegan food in the house and that we meet before she leaves, etc. 

When we first got here, one of the cats who is very attached to her, went in to hiding and was taking a while to warm up. Mom felt anxious and since her departure I have noted how worried she has been. The mom is an energy healer and believes in energy and vibes and kept saying this cat never acts like this, which I took to mean that she thinks the cat doesn’t like our energy and as a result mom doesn’t trust us. 

Her anxiety has certainly spilled over to me. I want her to be happy on her trip and not worry about her cats. I wanted everything to go smoothly. And I want her to like us.

This morning as I was making sure to record videos of the cats being playful and send it to her, she sent me a message offering me some energy healing (as I was feeling sick yesterday)

After I replied back to her first saying I’d love that, but then I realized if I am honest with myself I actually don’t really feel like it at this time. So I tried to politely say actually I feel better so no need to burden her (not my exact words but something to that effect), my mind went in to a whirlwind. 

All of a sudden I noticed I am super anxious. And when I focused, I realized the thoughts are something like; what if she gets offended….. what is she doesn’t like you…. that was not a good reply……

I stopped for a second. Instead of going over to check with my boyfriend if what I said was ok, or to eat my anxiety, I put the phone away. And sat at the edge of the bed and let all the thoughts come “you are stupid, you are bad, you are stupid, that wasn’t good” …. and on and on. And I just let myself feel all that anxiety that comes up when I think that someone is not happy with me….

And then I closed my eyes and asked myself; focusing on somewhere deep in my head and center, “Was what I said kind and expressing gratitude? Was it just me being totally me? YES! And then the other part said, yes, but what if she doesn’t like what you said. 

And I asked myself again, was it me what I said? Was it me being me as best as I could? Did it have every intention of being kind and honest and expressing gratitude? Yes! 

And that was it! I felt at peace with myself. and felt tears of gratitude for this moment of wisdom and freedom. 

This may seem like such a petty and insignificant moment. or the anxiety I had may seem unreasonable to someone reading this. In essence, it is unreasonable, it doesn’t come from reason. and yet, it comes. It comes at times, not all the time. I have many interactions with people and I have no anxiety. 

But I am in a stranger’s house, I want them to be happy with me, to leave me a good review, for our interactions to go smoothly so that the rest of the 10 days we are here it don’ts become tense, etc….. my mind has many reasons why this is important and why it should make me feel anxious. 

For me this moment of hearing something different within myself, these words of wisdom, this, I consider more of a success than becoming a doctor and passing many board exams. 

A moment where I go from feeling anxious, to hearing what the thoughts behind the anxiety are, to holding myself through it, and then to being able to turn to the truth, that what you did at the moment was you and was kind and that’s all that matters and have this actually feel so true, that the voice of the mind surrenders to it, that’s worth all the money I’ve spend on therapy, self-help books and retreats. This moment of 60 seconds or so. 

And next time if this doesn’t happen, if I can’t find solace, if I run off to ask my boyfriend if what I said is ok cause I am in self-doubt or if I distract myself to not feel the anxiety, that’s ok too. I choose to lover her too. I open my arms to her and love her just as much as the one who successfully hears the wisdom. 

ps. I googled “a moment of success” to find a photo that would go with this blog post and a photo of a man on top of a mountain came up…. well, I chose my photo with the cat instead, cause having a cat come and lay on your lap counts as a huge moment of success in my book!

What hurts when I see that girl getting married?

I came across this Hemingway quote that says “write hard and clear about what hurts”

I write almost everyday for myself. Here in this blog though, I write intermittently, I don’t post most of what I write. I try to make it pretty or put a nice photo when I do post. I try to process my hurt first, then write about it.

But today I felt like just writing it raw. not sure why. but here it is.

I don’t know what hurts right now. Anxiety is here in my heart. The daily low-grade anxiety, and some more on top of it.

Maybe it is more than about my worry about my fucked up knee or what happens next. 

Maybe it is about wether I am making good choices. Am I making good choices with my knee, with my life, with my writing online or not. 

I remember the post I saw yesterday of this girl who is an author and she looks radiant and beautiful. It was a video clip that her new fiancé had posted, with her showing her engagement ring and he had written “my wife”

I have the thought that she is living her best life. She got married to her boyfriend of many years before, then fell in love with this guy, and is now marrying this guy. She is writing about of all of this. I think the thought “She is being courageous. Doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She is saying yes to herself” and am I doing that?

I compare my fears to the post of her and her new man in the car, and she is showing her ring and it is making me feel like somehow I am making a mistake, I don’t know what is the mistake, is it being with a man who doesn’t believe in marriage? Is it that I have somehow come to not really believe in marriage myself, to think why get married? is it that I think I am gonna regret it?

That maybe I am fooling myself. Maybe I want that. I want to be proposed to, by a an attractive man who is independent, has his own life but says I want you to be my wife. 

My boyfriend whom I find attractive, is independent, has his own life, and in essence is saying; I want you to be my partner, to live with me, I accepts you as you are, I let you be you, I don’t judge you, I support you, I cook for you, what I have is yours, I accompany you where you need me, I let you see the real me, I tell you about my life, I plan the next trip and the next year with you and the year after, I want to buy a house with you, one we will renovate together and live in…. but no promise of forever.

And I think, well, it makes sense. How can I promise forever to anyone? I may even feel trapped if I were to actually get married. I haven’t felt consistent love for anyone in my entire life, not my family, not even myself. How can I say I will love you forever? Even this girl who is engaged and looks so happy, 2 years ago she told the other guy “I will be with you until my last breath” and is now marrying this other guy. 

A part of me doesn’t give a shit about getting married, doesn’t believe in it. This part of me has no doubt about my boyfriend’s love for me. I know he wants what we have now, forever but is also open to life and what comes. This makes total sense to me and I believe the same.

But what is it about that photo, this guy who looks like such a free spirit, such a non-marrying type, saying “this woman is gonna be my wife” that makes me feel like I am not loved enough, not worthy enough, not doing the right thing in my life, not making good decisions.

It takes me to that part of me that feels unloved. The teenage girl who was not attractive enough, too olive-skinned, too clumsy, not feminine enough, not savvy enough, not cool enough, not popular enough. 

The one who found out one day that she doesn’t look like the pretty girls. Was told another day that she walks like a duck, was told another day that she is too loud and that this is not lady-like. And remembers so many memories of feeling stupid and uncool.

Then I come to the now, and realize I went from a photo of a woman, a man, looking happy, she showing her engagement ring, him calling her “my wife” to some very distant memory where I heard and somehow believed I am not as lovable, that I am lesser. 

Here is the hurt. The wound in my heart that opens whenever I feel unlovable. The teenage girl. No matter how much better looking I have made myself to be, a nose job, weight loss, better hair style, plucked eyebrows, how many people calling me attractive. 

None of that matters. 

The girl that feels ugly, stupid, uncool, dumb, clumsy, not-feminine, not-desirable lives in me and is ready to feel hurt when “he doesn’t say or do what would mean he loves you and means you are lovable”

Anxiety on Decision Making, what is here now?

Here I am writing, my salvation always. what is here now?

Is there any point in putting out what I write? 

Is there a good choice and bad choice? 

I am anxious about tomorrow. Me going alone to Madrid to see the second opinion orthopedist. Will I be able to get on the plane with my crutch easily?

Will I be able to maneuver getting out of the plane, walking to the cab or metro?

It is too much money to take a cab everywhere?

Will I feel anxious?

Will the surgeon be nice? will he explain things?

Will he say I need surgery right away?

Am I making a mistake with this 11 days trip to Dublin?

Will I get worse?

Will I regret my decisions about my leg?

I saw the surgeon yesterday and he said, we should have immobilized your knee in a brace and you should give yourself blood-thinner injections to prevent blood clot while on the brace. Me and my boyfriend, both doctors, came out of the consult, looked at each other surprised. Never heard of this. I was doing physical therapy and he says it should have been immobilized.

I feel more pain in my knee since the surgeon said it should be immobilized. Am I fucking up my knee more or is this pain psychological? Am I fucking up my knee by walking on it, by all the PT I’ve done?

I don’t have answers. This is a post of questions swimming in my head. 

I am just trying to hold myself through the anxiety. And say to her, it is ok, we’ll get through this together. I am here with you. 

And maybe later, I will ask myself, like Tom, my therapist of sorts, often asks me, something like, “Could it be, could it be possible that you have nothing to worry about it?” Could it be?

But I am not ready for that question yet. I am too anxious to ask that question and just want to let my tears come down. 

And focusing on the tenderness in my heart, the tears that come down, there is a sweetness in this pain. It feels good to let myself feel this. It feels good when tears come. I am so grateful for tears…… The little tears of the little anxiety of the little decisions….and…. The big tears of the big anxiety of the little decisions.

Mesmerized by Louie

I write about my unruly mind a lot but I thought why not also share other moments when my mind is either quieter or able to be spell-bound by beauty around me.

Rumi says every day you are visited by a guest, the guest of different feelings. So I want to tell you about my guest today.

Today, we took our newly-bought camping chairs to the park near our place and set up with books and laptops to work in nature.

In front of me, are so many trees. So many colors, shades of green. Reminds me of the coloring pencil pallets I had as a kid with all the different greens.

Even one with burgundy, purple leaves.

A gentle breeze making the leaves dance. And the sun shining on the field of grass and twinkling through the leaves of trees when I lay back and look up the tree right next to me. It looks like this magical play of light and shade through the leaves.

All these little wild flowers poking their necks up through the grass.

And there is a little river that while sitting is not visible but I can hear it. 

And then I notice there is a guy sitting by the river with his dog. The dog is in the river and the guy keeps calling him to come out. 

Louie!! Venga! Louie Anda! Salte!…. Louie, come out of the river!

Louie comes out of the river, running and leaping and shakes all the water out and runs on the grass. Springing with all his power. All his movements are full of energy.

I am looking at Louie and feel so relaxed, so without worry at this instant. So intoxicated by the smell of the grass, sound of the wind in the leave and the birds chirping and mostly by Louie, how his front paws leap forward, followed by his hind paws, so care-free, rebelling against the pleas of his owner. I imagine Louie saying “yoohooo, I am free, no leash, I am free”

Thank you Louie and nature and my mind for this moment of utter bliss, my guest today.

My mind was so captivated by Louie that I didn’t think to take a photo of him. But in my very amateur attempt, I tried to draw him, although it really doesn’t capture the moment and the energy exuding out of him.