Rising from the Ashes

In some sense I live the life of the mythical Phoenix. In my severe menstrual issues, I’m one person for a couple of weeks of the cycle and someone else for the rest. Then there’s the exhaustion and pain in the first half so you could say I get about ten good days in every cycle. Plus the length of each cycle could vary because the hormonal issues make it unpredictable too.

From ovulation until my period, I feel like I’m slowly sinking and then drowning. I’ve always had this. I can’t remember a time since I started having a period that this didn’t happen. Oh wait, right there was the time I was on the pill and while I suffered from wild side effects, I realised for the first time that I’m not an angry person. For that, I am grateful. At least I got to see a glimpse of an alternate me that was still me. Unfortunately, that didn’t last, the pill contributed to too many problems. It’s so strange they don’t tell you how badly it can alter your gut and actually make things so much worse when you go off it.

On Saturday I did everything right, I got enough sleep the night before, I went for a walk, I socialised, ate well. I struggled. I had trouble processing questions, stringing words together. I met with a friend – that’s brave of me- I have many a broken friendships attributed to my severe premenstrual symptoms. PMDD as it’s called.

Turns out one of the big causes is low serotonin, that’s made in the gut and regulates the gut too. The other cause is weak oxytocin receptors. Literally these mean, I’m trapped in not feeling love and joy. The thread tying these together is traumatic childhood experiences that lead to dysfunctional development of the neurobiology causing lifelong problems.

I can’t change my childhood or anything in the past. I can only make a determination in the present moment and keep renewing in each moment. And then from the phenomena of 3000 realms of a single moment of life, this starts to transform my life and reality.

This determination and redetermination is a constant struggle. Battle against how things are inside of me and developing a deep conviction for my life and the purpose of my existence.

In the Gosho study lecture I went to today, the leader said (and I paraphrase)

Karma is misunderstood. It is usually described as the description of your current reality. However, in our practice, Karma is our tendency.

When we have changed our tendency, we have changed our karma. And this manifests in a change in our reality in our life.

So simple and so profound. It is so hard to change my tendencies. It is so hard to know what’s to keep, what’s to change. It’s so hard to solve this problem using my brain, impossible when I’m underwater in the dark ocean struggling to breathe.

When I realised the difficulty, complexity and impossibility of this challenge today, I went into despair. Realising yesterday’s depression caused despair today. Realising the struggle of the last 3 weeks, caused fear of the future, of my next cycle. Sometimes I want to undergo a hysterectomy but then I worry what if I come out stuck in my depressed state not my happy state. Who knows which one is the real me.

I was deadlocked.

Then I messaged my best friend in the practice, who I know has more than an inkling of what it feels like. Her care, while traveling overseas with a small baby to see her in-laws started to shift my life. Her simple words of, yes, this is so unbelievably hard, remind me to acknowledge the depth of my struggle. Reminding myself of the depth, I realise that this is not a struggle that is forever sinking. The fact that I deadlocked and hit rock bottom today means I’ve reached the turning point.

That turning point is my determination. For me to appreciate and contribute no matter what. For me to respect my life no matter what. For now, I will do my citizenship test next week and then if I need to take time off, I will. My friend reminded me to not strategize. I have the Gohonzon, the wish granting jewel. I don’t need to give up one thing in life to get the other. That’s the bit President Ikeda said about having a lofty prayer.

This led me to chanting which further led to this determination.

The fight continues.

Rise and Fall

Yesterday was an exhilarating day filled with connection, joy and accomplishment of seeing others triumph, all through my connection with others. Today feels like a dark abyss.

Yesterday I felt like I can show growth in my life and support others. Today I feel like I am worthless and weak and why anyone would want my support.

This is not my true self. It is my self-loathing, self-sabotaging self rearing its ugly head again.

When this starts to happen, I tend to go in overdrive analysis and diagnosis mode, asking myself what I did to trigger it – did I not eat write, sleep enough, gave myself too to others and did not look after myself etc etc. Then I pull myself back and isolate myself because in a sense I feel that I violated my own boundary and that is why I must be on my own to reconnect again. My isolating myself then leads me to feel further disconnected and depressed and I loathe myself because I am not able to connect with myself and others – which is my true self and what I really strive for and enjoy.

In the past I have put the Western mindset to it, saying that there is a distinction between self and others and if I don’t look after myself first, I can’t connect to others. This has NOT worked for me. And I have this realisation for the first time now as I write this post.

The Western philosophy talks about how I first think about me, look after me and focus on me so I can connect with others in a healthy way.

Continue reading “Rise and Fall”

Creating Hope and Light for Myself

Reading my friend’s post today got me to study and reflect on my conviction and what it means to be the light and create hope in my life and in the life of those around me.

President Ikeda says,

“There may be times when, confronted by cruel reality, we verge on losing all hope. If we cannot feel hope, it is time to create some. We can do this by digging deeper within, searching for even a small glimmer of light, for the possibility of a way to begin to break through the impasse before us.”

and

“I believe the ultimate tragedy in life is not physical death. Rather it is the spiritual death of losing hope, giving up our own possibilities for growth.”

– Hope is a Decision, Pages 5-6

Intellectually, I can understand this. In some of my darkest times, I know this is what I need to do. Before I started chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I had never known this light of hope inside of me. But even now, it doesn’t come about by default. It is far more natural for me to fall into despair than rise into hope.

I question then, how much I create hope for myself? What is the method that continuously works and that I can repeatedly trust and rely on? Is there a winning formula for me to create hope that works by default when I am deadlocked and paralysed with fear and anxiety?

The last few months have helped me unpack some of the variables that go into a winning formula for my life.

Continue reading “Creating Hope and Light for Myself”