Learning to Communicate

For as long as I remember, I have been this person judged and admonished for being rude and arrogant. I have been direct in my communication to the point of aggressiveness. I suppose I lived all of my childhood with such deceit and farce of a “happy family and childhood” while hiding behind it being such a complete two-faced lie that my life was, I became extremely direct and truthful in my communication. There was no filter between how I felt and what I said, I didn’t care how my words affected the person in front of me. In my view if they couldn’t swallow the bitter pill of truth I shoved at them, it was their problem. After all, my life was about swallowing the bitter pill of life everyday.

Further, the lack of emotionally healthy people who had time or capacity to teach me emotional self-regulation and communication made it worse. I was little and picked on by many, the only defence were my sharp words and there was no way I was going to let go of them. I had a habit of launching physical assault in a fashion befitting my little-ness – I would just quickly hit the bigger family member of my generation with both my hands before they could grab both my wrists with one hand and immobilise me and render me completely helpless. This stopped one day when my aunt complained vehemently about this behaviour to my mother. From what I recall, she shamed my mother and scolded her for being incapable of “controlling” my bad behaviour.

My mother in her fiery temper tied my hands with a rope while scolding me and slapping me, asking me if I would ever do it again. After that day I was rendered completely defenceless and helpless. I developed an even more fiery anger and deep resentment and powerlessness over my ability to look out for myself.

Anyhow, I digress. This was why words came in handy until I ended up in a job I really liked and found out that everyone disliked my guts and arrogance. That people could not deal with my aggressive attitude and arrogance.

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Making peace, building friendship

Last week I was traveling for work, quite wiped out and had diminished functioning. I met one of my SGI friends for dinner. It was a wonderful catch-up, always wonderful to see her. First met her in a training course in 2014 and the friendship keeps going.

Afterwards back at my hotel room, after finishing my chanting, I had an overwhelming urge to call my ex Mike from a relatively short but very emotional relationship, at least for me. Earlier this year I’d told him to never contact me again and he understood I needed the space.

As I was about to call him I prayed that only if this is right for me should he answer the phone, putting all my trust in the Gohonzon. I called him and it rang as though he was overseas, I was about to hang up and then reminded myself to persevere. Soon he answered and it was breaking up and his American accent seemed heavier than usual, I had trouble understanding what he said. I just got that he’s away and in a conference and will talk later. Surprisingly he followed up with a text that he couldn’t hear me but he will try calling me over the weekend when he has a break.

Knowing him, I figured I probably won’t hear back. It crossed my mind a couple of times as I went about my weekend, reminding myself that I’m not sitting around waiting or obsessing about it. He texted me late on Sunday night and I was already in bed and replied to him the next morning saying as much.

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Day of Friendship

I spent today with a friend for 6-7 hours. I’m so lucky that he cleared his calendar for me when I said I was struggling, depressed and home sick.

I came home and talked to another friend who’s been going through a rough patch too. He said to me how he thinks he’s talking to a guy, doesn’t feel self-conscious sharing his personal problems. What a great compliment, ahem with regards to his comfort.

Then I spoke to my friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a year and we had a mini crash course on each other’s lives for the last year. I saw how he seemed so “together” even with his struggles. On reflecting, I could see my daimoku reflected in his life. Maybe one day he will have the courage to chant again. Until then I’ll continue to chant for him.

So much love and joy. Now it’s past 2 am, I’m so sleepy but also happy.

💤

Weak vs Delicate

On Sunday afternoon, I met with a woman from a pole fitness class for coffee. I’d struck up a conversation with her after the first class and after the second class we exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet for coffee. I expressed how it was lonely and isolated and I was looking to make friends in the area. She told me that I can message her anytime.

She texted me later to organise to meet on Sunday.

It was my most profound dialogue in a long long time. It was so enriching and interesting to meet someone else trying to live true to their convictions and live life based on strong faith.

We talked about our faith-based practices and daily challenges in how our respective trauma can be so hard to get past. It is almost like, when you’ve undergone trauma, your mind and body doesn’t know that you are drowning and how taking a breath of air would feel and to try to swim towards it. It is only our faith that continues to give us the push and courage to seek it.

My friend Saiyad is coming out of a domestic violence situation. Her mother tries to control her and her husband controlled her so much that he wouldn’t even let her pray. Yet, she had the courage to leave all of that to find herself. She said that her psychologist asked her if she was suicidal and she said, “No way, that it is prohibited in my religion. I am a woman of strong faith. This life belongs to Allah and I have no right to take it away.”

I spoke to her about how a broken relationship, a relationship before which I didn’t know I was lovable, left me broken. It snapped my connection with myself and then my health suffered and I am still learning how to connect with myself and Daimoku is the only way I have found to do that.

She nodded and said, there are words in Quran that say, a woman is delicate.

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Mystic Conversation

This afternoon after working from home for half a day, I walked to the station to go to the office so I can be there in person for a couple of meetings. I arrived at the station with the next train still ten minutes away. I sat at a bench with my Buddhist study “Hope for a Brilliant Future” editions for Jan & Feb 2019 and a pencil, hoping to make good use of this time.

An old-ish white man was conducting surveys on behalf of Sydney Trains to gather feedback on the station experience and opportunities for improvement. As he finished asking the lady sitting next to me, he asked me for input. I agreed to participate in the survey, half hesitant and cynical but wanting to get my opinion in. I provided feedback on how the signage could be made better outside the station and how the station needs to have disabled access to the platforms, not just stairs.

At the end of the survey he apologized for interrupting my study. I acknowledged and said I didn’t mind, it was Buddhist study, I mean I wasn’t studying for a uni exam or something. He was intrigued. He said there was a Buddhist temple near his house. I remarked that the type of Buddhism I practice was lay people like him and I and we didn’t go to a temple.

I definitely wasn’t prepared for his next question that was very left field. He asked me whether Buddhists believed in Jesus.

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