But there is a problem with this strength. The problem with this strength is knowing when to let go, to not fight. This has been the hardest and longest lesson I have had to learn. One that is coming to a point of making or breaking me. With my physical fight I have learned to quiet my spiritual strength, something that is stronger than any physical strength could ever hope to be. I know how to fight, there is no doubt of that, and when I feel threatened the first thing I do is pull in and put up my guard. I block out any one and any thing that I feel threatened by. Whatever it is I fear. When that happens I lash out when I feel threatened. No, I don't physically but my words are stinging and I cling to a sense of independence that is isolating.
I have perfected the art of isolation by independence. I know how to do this so well you could call me an expert. I tend to flex my independence when I feel most threatened. And all of it is driven by fear. Fear is the opposite of Love. I feel like there are two things that drive this world, LOVE & FEAR. Love is an energy that feeds, brings clarity,that allows things to evolve and stay open. Fear is the opposite of that. When you feel anger, hurt, resentment, jealousy, anxiety it is rooted in fear. When I feel threatened because I feel abandoned (a fear that someone doesn't love me or that I am not good enough) or that I am being dominated (a fear that things will stay as they are now and it is happening because I am unloveable) I react. It is a reaction that burns, like hot volcanic lava.
In my past, I have hurt so many that were close to me because of fear. I used something I knew best, something I knew would carry me through, my strength, and I allowed it to protect me. The fault came from when I allowed it to be the ONLY thing that carried me through. When I hurt, I hurt others, which in turn undid exactly what I was trying to protect. Me. In trying to protect me from pain, I actually ended up hurting myself.
In the past few years, however, I have been learning how debilating my defense mechanism is. I thought maybe I was better with it. Maybe a smidge, but not enough. In the Autumn of last year I underwent surgery to remove my appendix and I felt at a loss without my phsyical strength. It's why I reacted so fiercely when I found I had Multiple Sclerosis. Without my phsyical strength who was I? Even currently, my job is as a personal trainer/coach. What would I do if I couldn't do that? What would my place in this world be?
When I was in the hospital last Autumn I wrote to one of my best friends who had been through his own physical and spiritual journey. He described to me a warrior in a way I had never thought of before. A warrior that didn't need to waste their energy on battles but was wise in discerning which ones they did fight. To rest when it was needed. To put on the war paint only when it was absolutely necessary. My dear friend told me, "When a warrior clearly defines himself and is honest and virutuous, then he can only begin to see what is there." I was wasting my energies in so many different places and allowing fear to be the driving factor.
I wish I could say from there I learned and all was merry but instead I did exactly as I always do. I allowed my physical endurance to drive me on. I even went so far as to begin to practice MMA training to help me deal with my fear of men, seeing as I had been experiencing the ghost of my past of dominating men to creep in. In the beginning it was a good thing. I was working through it both physically and with my mind but as the months went by I became a fighter. I found myself in "fight mode" with everything. My soft creative, peaceful feminine was beginning to be squashed, which just isn't me.
I am a yogi warrior. Peaceful and so full of love, yet creative enough to know when I need to battle. And I LOVE my feminine side. It is graceful and strong and beautiful. What I was practicing and evolving into was not me. Yet I continued because I had started it. I mean a warrior can't quit can they? Yes, indeed, they can. A wise warrior knows when it is no longer their battle to fight.
Thus came about my Bliss in Depletion. The vegan triathlete, Rich Roll, defines bliss in depletetion as "...that beautiful place of ascetic purity that is permitted to bloom only when the mind is stopped dead in its tracks and everything else is stripped away, leaving your soul- or who you really are- to forge a connection with the truth." The catalyst for myBliss in Depeletion came about this last week with my boyfriend. Yes, I am dating someone. It's about three months old. All I can say is that when I met him I knew he was pretty damn special but I honestly didn't think he would be this wonderful. He surprised me. I didn't see him coming. But here he is and I am open to it. The base of me was happy before him but he feeds that happiness and he challenges me to be my best me. He challenges my belief system all together. With him, yes, there is love, but he also makes me face my fears. My fear of men and their domination, my fear of abandonment, my fear of just not being enough, my fear of actually trusting someone to love again. But he was too good to pass up. I would miss out on something pretty wonderful if I had allowed that fear to stop me from living life and just trying something with him, even with no clue as to what will happen along the way.
Last week saw my MMA training picking up and me being injured because of it and at the same time my yoga and mediation practice suffering. In fact all my training was suffering from my MMA practice. I'm not even that good but I had put my all into it and had trained with strong males. Even though I am a physically strong female it took all of me to take them on. I was proud of myself but really felt off. It was a familiar feeling. I knew I was strong and proud of that but at the same time I had this gnawing feeling I couldn't shake. The feeling was, "This isn't me."
My boyfriend came home from a week away on his own adventures and I was still in fight mode. But it was the strongest fight mode I had been in since I started to date him. Probably the strongest it has been in a very long time. I had been a week without him, super independent and fighting all the while. I had taken all that energy and allowed it to snowball into "Super Woman". When he came home I had a hard time transitioning. He is a gentleman like I have never met, well, I have only known one other, my Dad. It's like they have this innate need to be a gentleman. It's part of their genetic make-up. And it's in no way meant to infringe on my strength as a woman but it's a need they need to fill. To have a role. My dad always complained to me that I would never let him help even if I needed it more than ever. And my dad is someone I love and trust. It hurt him to not let him help me. To work with me. I didn't need to display constant independence. I could trust him to help and it his help be shown and received by me in love and trust. I didn't need to be as strong as him to be enough. I could ask for help and still be enough. Being enough is something I struggle with. It's that fear of that if someone sees me as not enough they can't possibly love me.
It was the same with my partner. I was pushing him away and boasting about my fighting and independence more than I would stop to listen and connect with him. I could see it caused pain and left him confused but I didn't know what to do. I called my mom the next morning and poured my heart out to her. The wise chrone that she is reminded me that this was a habit I needed to choose to either break or continue be miserable hurting myself and others in the process. She even asked me when was the last time I had done yoga. I knew after talking with her if I didn't stop and figure out what I wanted I would lose my partner because I pushed him away in fear.
Pema Chodron says, "We start by working with the monsters in our mind. Then we develop the wisdom and compassion to communicate sanely with the threats and fears of our daily life." And that's what I chose. I chose to listen to me. I quit MMA, even when my teacher and partners were angry at me for doing so. I don't need to fight to be strong. I don't need to be so fiercely independent to know I am capable of doing it. I don't need to be so physical all the time to be me. Me is so much more than that. The me I know doesn't like fighting. My best friend, the one I mentioned earlier who wrote to me in the hospital, wrote me via text last week when I told him I quit MMA and my reasons why and said, " So then it seems that the fear is an inward fear, you fear not necessarily what it does externally but rather internally. I'd say you faced it twice, because leaving after going is also facing fear."
And I did face my fear. I fear the softer side of me because I am afraid it will not be received well or it will be seen as weak. And for me being seen as weak is a horrible thing because in my mind it equates to not enough. It means I'm not enough. Abandonment and weakness are two of my biggest fears. Both rooted in the fear of not being enough or loveable. But I also know that fighting is not me. It makes me hard and confused and unable to be grounded. It's why I find such love with my yoga practice. I build and display strength with grace and softness. I am open and connected and just in general it feeds my happiness. It's part of who I truly am.
This is all so new to me. I feel like a child. Yet, I am in need of this. I strongly desire to put away the gloves and face my fear in a different way, with peace and love, something that has always sounded good in theory but has been difficult for me to practice. "The path is the goal. This path is not prefabricated. It doesn't already exist. The path that we're talking about is the moment-by-moment evolution of our experience, the moment-by-moment evolution of the world of phenomena, the moment-by-moment evolution of our thoughts and our emotions. The source of wisdom is whatever happens to us today. " (Pema Chodron)