“How do you forgive a person who betrays you?”
This was a question that I posted recently. And I received a lot of answers back.
One of the answers I received was,
“I am love
I feel loved
love is all there is.”
And all I wanted to say to people like this is “Fuck You!!!!” I was not hearing it.
In my heart, all I wanted to do was to let this go. And as much as I prayed, I could not let go.
My story was nothing new.
Boy meets boy. Boys fall in love. The moment it got real, boy left.
One of the most important teachings of Yoga is Vairagya, which loosely translates to non-attachment.
The practice of Vairagya (non-attachment) is learning to let go of anything that prevents us from identifying with our true self. In this practice, we learn to let go of our aversions, false identities, anger, hatred, jealousy and fears.
My teacher, Swami Rama, says that real non-attachment is love. Love is what is left when you let go of all the things you think you love.
In truth, non-attachment goes beyond letting go and becomes the practice of not getting attached in the first place.
So the question I have been contemplating is how do you practice non-attachment when someone, who you share a deep love with, abandons you, without reason or cause.
I know so many of us deal with the deep hurt and pain of abandonment.
But how do we forgive to move forward?
Is it possible to let go?
How do we forgive? And forgive so deeply that we never look back on it again? How do we forgive our past so that we are never affected by the perceived pain of the past again? How can we walk away without ever turning back in longing, regret, or even the with the smallest feelings of revenge?
These have been the questions I have been asking.
It started off simple and light.
“Will you be mine?”
He asked. And then said,
“Please talk to me. Please don’t leave me without talking first. Talking is so important. I am here. Please always communicate with me.”
I agreed. Before I knew it, I was in all the way.
I wear a lot of armor and don’t let too many people in. I have learned to be self-sufficient and to rely on myself. I have found that if it was going to be, it was going to be up to me.
So when he said, “You can lean on me.” I did, and he held me.
No one has ever given me permission to lean on them.
For me, there is almost nothing sweeter than the feeling of someone who can hold you – someone who can hold you both emotionally and spiritually. I have met very few people who have had this ability.
But I let him in.
He said, “Lean on me.” And I did.
During our time together, he managed to disarm all of my armor. Little by little, I let him in all the way.
I believed in him. I trusted him. He never gave me a reason not to.
Then one day, I was going through something painful in my life and I shared it with him.
I told him, “I am really triggered right now. My general manager, who has been with me for eight years, who was like a brother to me, has just quit. He just left me. He is leaving without warning and without discussion. And my worst fear is that you will leave me without warning. We have this amazing thing. I have felt safe with you. I have felt vulnerable with you. But I have been here before. And it always ends the same way. They leave without warning. They leave without communicating.”
The irony of what followed was not lost on me. This was also his fear. His fear was that I would leave or abandon him. Months before, he told me that he too had the same fear. His partner of 6 years did exactly the same thing. He came home one day, and his partner said, “I don’t want to do this anymore. You need to leave.”
So when we first met, he said things to me like,
“Please don’t leave without some discussion.”
“If there is anything that bothers you about me, please talk to me. We can always talk. I am not afraid to talk.”
And now, here I was, with my heart exposed, sharing my deepest fear.
He responded by saying, “I am here. I am not going anywhere. We will always talk. We can always talk.”
He was so comforting and sincere. I felt safe. I felt held. I felt like things were going to be okay.
And then two days later, with no explanation or warning, with no discussion or opportunity to talk, I received a text message.
“I can’t do this anymore. I am leaving you.”
I believed him when said he wanted to have a relationship based on trust and communication.
I believed him when he said I could lean on him.
I believed him when he said he would be there for me.
I believed him.
Learn How To Forgive and How To Get Over Your Grief
The pain of separation is intense. In all humans, there is such a deep longing for union and for connection.
Yoga reminds us that freedom from pain comes from the liberation with the divine already present within us.
A relationship, a healthy relationship, in some ways, is the ultimate union. And when separation happens, there is a deep pain that follows.
For a long time after, ‘I forgive you’ had been a steady mantra.
“I forgive you.
I forgive myself.
May we all forgive each other.
May you find your good elsewhere.
The hardest part about forgiving someone is accepting the past was imperfect, and knowing I won’t have a resolution.
The resolution I seek has to come from within me.
So many times, when we don’t forgive, we are like Mary, who doesn’t drop the rock.
The story of Mary is of a person who dives into a lake towards a boat with her friends and almost drowns.
“As she gets close to the boat, she slows and struggles to stay afloat.
Everyone on board can see why: a heavy rock is hanging from a snarl of strings around Mary’s neck. ”
Drop the rock!” they all shout. “Let go! Drop the rock!”
Treading water, Mary looks down at the rock. She realizes it contains her fear, resentments, self-pity, anger, and intolerance. She also realizes that if she doesn’t let go of them, she will drown.
She tears off the strings, holds the rock away from her body, and lets it go. Freed of the heavy and useless weight, Mary easily swims the rest of the way to the boat.”
My past was imperfect.
If I am honest, I am still confused as I look back and can not comprehend what happened.
But I don’t need to.
Through forgiveness, in truly wanting to “drop the rock”, I know that the resolution I seek is within myself. The resolution I seek has nothing to do with him.
The practice of forgiveness has led me on a path of questioning who I am. Who am I without him? Who am I when I am alone? Who am I period?
I was so angry for months after it happened. The betrayal, the lies, the deception… I don’t remember a time in my life when I have been so angry for such a long period of time.
The inability to let go, the hatred armed with anger is so debilitating. I don’t remember a time that my mind has been so clouded with anger.
My (Jungian) therapist once told me that the source of all anger is pain. In yoga psychology, we learn that the source of all pain rises out of fear. That fear “drains the brilliance of our mind and sucks the vitality from our body.”
Learn More About Facing Fear in Yogi Aaron’s Autobiography
The anger itself becomes addictive until, for some, they are never able to truly let go of it.
But I craved to be free from the anger.
I have seen what constant raw anger and hatred can do to people. It is not a path I want to follow.
Until one morning I woke up and during my meditation practice, I saw the source of my pain and anger. The source of my anger stemmed from fear – the fear of being alone.
I had never had that fear before. I have always found solace in my alone time. But for some reason, the end of this relationship triggered a deep fear of being alone.
In that awareness, I was able to finally let go because I knew that I could fulfill this deep desire within me.
I feel so much gratitude for the grace that descends on my life.
Divine grace coupled with the grace of sweet friends who listen, guide and remind me to come back to love – love for myself and forgiveness toward myself.
In order to let go of my rocks, I needed to let go of the anger and allow compassion with myself.
It is in those compassionate moments that the mind is able to become still returning to its self-luminous state.
In was in that luminous awakened state, that I was able to finally return home.
Afternote: If you find that you are struggling to return home, listening to this beautiful song by Snatam Kaur will help.
Learn More About Facing Fear in Yogi Aaron’s Autobiography