“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
― Albert Einstein

“Are we going towards a darker era devoid of love?”, I put forward this question to a group of individuals gathered around a table to discuss thought-provoking questions about life and the world we live in.

I love philosophical discussions. It’s something that has constantly inspired me to think beyond our experiences, challenge my own beliefs and learn from those around me who share similar or opposite beliefs. For me, philosophical discussions have led to some closest connections that have helped me grow and be a better human. It’s an opportunity to inspire, expand and observe our own biases. I fall in love with people’s minds, perhaps why I am a sapiosexual.

I recently participated in this discussion with a group because I wanted to get the experience of engaging in dialogue about the world we live where my thoughts were honored and where I could witness the limitations of my own beliefs. My takeaways from the conversation –

  1. It is possible to have a conversation around the most sensitive topics without humiliating the opposition
  2. Diversity of thoughts only helps expand each individual on the table
  3. No idea is insane or dumb
  4. Humans are more similar than what they’ll want to believe
  5. Our life experiences shape our psychology and our psychology plays a huge role in everything that we choose to believe in and stand for

When asked to suggest a topic for that day’s discussion, I suggested discussing, “Are we going towards a darker era devoid of love?” -> This question was inspired by a podcast that I was listening to before I went to the meeting. The podcast, hosted by Oprah, talks about the “The Healing Power of Love” (my favorite topic) and the journey of Elizabeth Lesser toward realizing the power of love. Just earlier that day, I had also seen yet another news article about human rights being taken away in the name of religion (Rights in Uganda and Kenya).

The remaining blog will try to bring the highlights from that conversation to life amongst 5 individuals, all from different parts of the world, with varied backgrounds and from different age groups (names changed).

“When you say devoid of love, what does that mean?”, Julius asked me.

“I woke up to a news article today of a basic human right to live a happy life that was taken away. This is one of many news articles that have been floating around the globe for years. I thought it was limited to a particular part of the world. But the more I read, the more I see that we are going toward an era where we are more interested in taking away the rights of others than uplifting the ones who are suffering. We are more interested in proving ourselves right than loving life.

When I talk about love in this context, it is the love for each other, for those who are different from us, and above all, for self-love. It appears to me that we were acting from a place of hurt than a place of love.”, I responded.

“I know what you mean. I am a climate activist and it astonishes me to see how we don’t care about nature. We continue to harm our environment but don’t put enough effort to right our wrongs. The climate crisis is real and not enough people seem to care. We care more about making the rich richer and the strong stronger than taking initiatives to reduce the harm that we’re causing to this planet.”, Juan provided his inputs and how he related to the topic. (Read Climate Crisis)

“And I am from a country that contributes to the highest carbon emissions in the world. We left our home because the political extremism became overwhelming. Rights are taken away as if it means nothing to the individuals impacted by those rights. It’s a hard time that we live in.”, shared Julia

“I made a similar decision for myself. I left my home country because I didn’t see any way for me to have a life there and moved somewhere where I could be myself. It helped me, there are multiple resources and many individuals there who are constantly trying to make society more inclusive and aware. However, it wasn’t all roses and there was this constant need to control others. Taking away LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, and even refusing to believe the impact of climate change. One of the reasons for me to leave was that it was becoming harder for me to see a future there. I wanted to find a break from everything.”, I responded.

“Oh, you’re in for a surprise. We are not any better. We used to be but now there are groups being very vocal about those issues. I think what happened in that part of the world is influencing the values of people here too. I’ll ask you not to check the local news for your own peace of mind.”, Juan responded.

“I am running out of countries to run to”, I joked.

“My own country is very hierarchical. We don’t even have dialogues about any injustices. Everyone just accepts how things are and don’t bother raising a voice. Instead, those who don’t agree with it, just leave. I worked there for years and I was constantly struggling with the bureaucracy. And felt demotivated because nothing changed”, Julius shared his own experience.

“I wonder, sometimes, if we don’t realize the power of our words. We modify the words, ignore the evidence, and give in to the words of hatred. Here is the thing, it’s difficult for people to accept change. The ideologies are so imbibed in us that we can’t believe there might be a different way to live.”, shared Michael, Julia’s husband.

“I wonder if it is also about money at the end of the day. Who gives money and who has the most power wins. Then they use their words to justify everything that they believe in. E.g., most of these policies around climate change are passed because there is an element of bringing more money in. We’re talking about a potential nuclear war and no one cares! No one is talking about the impact that would have on the entire world.”, added Juan.

“You know there were these articles leaked a couple of years back that showed how many times we have prevented another nuclear war. Sometimes, just due to luck. There was a war happening between the two strongest powers in the world. Submarines from one country holding nuclear weapons were out in the ocean. When the other side spotted these submarines, they started to fire to fear them into going away. One submarine couldn’t escape in time. They had orders to release nuclear weapons under such circumstances. The two commanders on the submarine gave the orders to release the weapon.

Due to sheer luck, that day there was a third commander on that submarine. He was not supposed to be there but now had a choice to make. He vetoed and went against his orders. If he wasn’t there, there would have been a big nuclear war!”, Julia shared an example that visibly scared her.

“Wow! So what, is it just that destroying the other is more important than anything else? Do people not realize that there will be no winners when the entire planet is annihilated? Who will survive the destruction? Those who made it to Mars?”, I asked

“Probably. The economic gap is baffling. We have billionaires living in the same cities as the homeless. I just couldn’t see that anymore. I had to get out.”, Julia provided her experience living in one of the richest cities in the world

“Money, control and, if nothing works, use religion to justify your behavior.”, Juan responded.

“I think it’s also about proving that we have some value in society. We can’t do anything else so at least I upheld my religion by taking away a woman’s right to her own body.”, Julia responded

“The topic of LGBTQ and abortion rights especially bother me. I have tried to understand the perspective of people who call it wrong and promote banning but, I must admit, it all seems to be rooted in this need to control. It seems like we’re so insecure in our worlds that we try to control others to justify our beliefs. We believe that if we control and show our dominance, we will find meaning in our lives and probably a way to validate ourselves. Believing that others are morally beneath us for being themselves and making life choices based on their experiences seems to be rooted in our insecurities.

It surprises me that we don’t realize that having a right to choose allows us to make decisions and consider our varied experiences as humans. One person’s decision to do something or live a certain way does not prohibit another from making different decisions or living a different way. However, taking away that right from a person prohibits them from living a happier life. There is a clear result of that impact on someone’s mental health and quality of life.

Neither of the two has a context of each other’s circumstances. How can then one person ever know what is the right thing for the other to do in a situation? When one person dictates what they think is right without recognizing the impact of that on another’s life, then, that shows a lack of humanity and empathy. Which is why I believe that it’s the lack of love that blinds us to each other’s sufferings.”, I reflected

“You also lived in a city that is known for its homeless population, right? How was that for you and how do you relate this to lack of love?”, Julius asked me out of curiosity. After our discussion, I learned that he is a published author who writes about societal issues and that these conversations help influence his work.

“It looks more about being controlling.”, Michael added before I could respond.

“Living there was as you can imagine. I used to get overwhelmed every time I stepped outside my home and I moved out of the city after a year. There was pain everywhere and I was not ready to live in that dystopia.

The way I see it, it comes down to human psychology, the hurt we carry, and like Julia said, our need to justify our value. We are not born hating others and we are not born to control what others can and can’t do. We are clean sheets of paper and who we act as in the world is influenced by what we learn from experience. As per science, most of our psyche is developed at the age of 3 – 9 years. If our parents and our society hold certain beliefs, we will continue to believe them and act the same way until we start to question them. If I can work on my issues and what hurts me, I can learn to empathize and not hurt another person or plant, or animal. Maybe we all need therapy.”, I responded

“I don’t know if I understand how will that change anything. I am in my 70s. I am pretty rigid in what I believe in. I had a very rough childhood but I am not going around controlling others.”, Mark asked.

“Let me give you an example. Imagine I am a powerful human being and have an arsenal of nuclear weapons in my bag. If Juan insults me today with something that triggers a childhood wound in me, I have a couple of ways to react. I might feel threatened, hurt, and angry because subconsciously it reminds me of something that happened to me as a kid. The moment I feel any of those feelings, my defense mechanism kicks in. Maybe that’s how my dad insulted me and I was helpless to defend myself. So, to protect myself at that young age, I developed a mechanism to react that helped me. Over time, I learned to react a certain way whenever those feelings showed up. So now whenever someone insults me, I either fight, flee, or freeze.

When I am not aware of my own triggers, I react the way I would have reacted to that emotion as a kid. I might choose to fight and insult him as retaliation. He will insult me back and the insults might keep escalating until we both get tired or start to physically harm each other. I can also have a problem managing my anger, and throw a nuclear weapon at him to destroy him (I apologized to Juan for annihilating him in my example). Another way to react is by not reacting at all and choosing to sit there and do nothing which is the freeze response. Finally, I can also choose to run away and never speak with him again which would be me running from the situation.

Or, if I have worked on myself and I am aware of my triggers, I can look at his insult, recognize why it triggered me, and choose to respond in a way that helps the situation. I can also see that his insulting me has nothing to do with me. Just like my triggers dictate the way I react, I can see that Juan also has a history that I am not aware of. His choice to attack, which is the fight response, is probably rooted in the experiences that he had as a kid. Something triggered him to fight and his reaction to that pain is to find someone else to hurt.

So, when I am aware of my trigger, I have a choice. I can respond by ignoring him and, thereby, not give energy to those insults because it is not about me, it’s about his internal struggles. I can choose to have a conversation with him, create a boundary with him to keep personal insults away from the topic of discussion, and, hopefully, come to a solution that serves us both. Or, I can choose to let him know how his behavior is not acceptable, walk away, and protect myself while knowing that I stood up for myself. In any case, I prevented a war and no one is annihilated.”, I responded while noticing that being questioned about my stance initially caused me to freeze – an awareness for me. Upon reflection, I realized that I had learned to keep mute about my opinions because they were often overlooked or attacked while I was growing up. Which is why I stopped voicing my opinion a long time back. Prolonged muteness often resulted in a burst of anger.

“I see what you mean. I didn’t go to therapy but I have spent years reflecting on what happened to me. Does just being aware help? I don’t think I have changed anything about myself.”, Michael asked

“You tell me. Do you treat others the way you were treated as a kid or does recognizing the impact of those actions on you, inspire you to treat others differently?”, I asked

“It inspired me to treat others with much more compassion. I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. Is that what therapy does? Makes us aware?”, he asked

“It does. No one is asking you to change your values. Your story is unique and your values, experiences, and feelings are all valid. All that you have experienced has shaped you into the individual that you are today. How can anyone else invalidate your story? No one is also asking Juan to change his truth because his experiences have shaped him. What awareness accomplishes is providing an opportunity to have empathy with the person sitting across the table who might look different, feel different, hold different values, and lives differently. It helps us see ourselves in others despite all the differences and once we see ourselves in others, it becomes hard to hate. At that time, we can only hate if we don’t love ourselves. So, self-love becomes a basic necessity to have any love or compassion for others.

I must commend you for doing something that we’re all just learning to do. You did that without even knowing that’s what you were doing and without help. You’re an inspiration to many and we can all learn from you.”, I responded with a smile.

“Huh”, a common sound came out of everyone at the table. Maybe I made sense?

After a few minutes of silence when everyone seemed to reflect on the entire conversation, Julia, the host, remarked. “This was lovely. I loved the past 2 hours. Thank you all for coming. I hope to see all of you again soon”.

“Me too.”, we all responded and headed our way.

Once home, I was greeted by a youtube suggestion of a video where Trevor Noah, in a discussion with Jay Shetty, talks about who we think we are vs what others perceive us to be and the impact of perspectives. A must-listen for anyone struggling with similar questions about where the world is headed and what role we play in it – Trevor Noah.

To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” – Socrates

Dreaming What’s Hidden

“I only share when I have no unmet needs that I’m trying to fill. I firmly believe that being vulnerable with a larger audience is only a good idea if the healing is tied to the sharing, not to the expectations I might have for the response I get.”
― Brené Brown

A friend and I were performing an activity with some people. But, while performing the activity, my friend and I decided to not get close to anyone in that group because we did not trust anyone. After a while, a man showed up and asked us to wear a cap that showed that we were supposed to join one of the many groups who were performing that activity. He asked us to go and join this group. My friend got angry and told me that if I wore that cap and chose to be a part of that group, I will betray us. She told me that we didn’t belong with those people because no one cared about us. We could not trust anyone but ourselves. However, I didn’t move and just stood there observing those people. I held my friend’s hand and asked the man to explain what the group was about. He told me that it was a bunch of individuals who were forced to be together because no one else wanted them in their group. Those people felt like they didn’t belong anywhere, identified as a part of the LGBTQ+ community but felt comfortable being vulnerable with each other. When I saw the love shared between this group of people, I got emotional. I turned to my friend and asked her to see the group for herself. After she saw the group, her anger faded away and we both decided to stay with the group. We wore our caps. We both got emotional and cried because we finally found somewhere we belonged. And then, I woke up.

Research by Malinowski (2017) showed the importance of ‘dream rebound.’ When we suppress our emotions, they show up in our dreams. Participants who suppressed negative thoughts had more negative emotions manifesting in their dreams in sadness, fear, anger, and anxiety. Participants who suppressed their negative emotions also had sleep problems and experienced poor sleep quality, difficulty falling asleep, sleep medication, restless sleep, and tiredness during the day. They also recorded higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.

In essence, researchers discovered a greater tendency for negative emotions experienced during waking hours to manifest within dreams — especially sadness, fear, anger, and anxiety. Conversely, positive emotions did not significantly manifest in dreams. Also, suppression of feelings is associated with poorer sleep quality and correlates with anxiety, depression, and stress. [Source: The Surprising Connection Between Our Emotions and Dreams]

I have mastered the art of suppressing my emotions. Good, bad, worse, all it takes me to suppress my emotions to turn the “switch” off, and boom. I won’t feel anything at all. This blog is about my journey to learning to switch off my emotions and my strive to learn to switch them back on.

The story always starts with the girl I met when I was 12. She was my first crush. I didn’t have a word for what I felt because, in my culture, the word “crush” was reserved for girls and boys. So, not knowing the right vocabulary for what I felt, I came up with my own term to describe it – “secret best friend”. A secret best friend was a friend who you wanted to spend time with, cared about more than some of the other friends, loved as a friend but who you wouldn’t mind hugging from time to time. A secret best friend could not just be a friend because you felt more love for them than you would for a friend. They also could not be a best friend because you both had given that label to someone else.

When I started to tell my friends about my “secret best friend”, they found it fascinating. One by one, many of my classmates opened up about their “secret best friends”. I was the “secret best friend” of 3-4 of my classmates. Even for some people whom I hardly knew. One girl wrote a short sweet essay about how much she admired me as her “secret best friend”. It makes me laugh every time I realize what we were all doing. We were these innocent and clueless kids who had no idea what all this meant. But we also did not have any vocabulary to describe what we were feeling.

One day, someone told that girl, let’s call her Sara, what I felt. One day she asked me. Well, she didn’t really ask me. She cornered me against a wall and demanded that I be honest with her. You can say that she kind of threatened the truth out of me. So I confessed and told her that she was my secret best friend. She just looked at me and said something like, “Fine, that’s all I wanted to know”. And the conversation ended.

After that day, our conversations became more frequent. We talked about our likes, dislikes, passions, and dreams and shared our secrets. She was very smart, articulate, and more mature emotionally than I was at the time. She had this fire within her to do bigger and greater things and I loved that passion in her. She also introduced me to the world of music, movies, and hoodies, and most importantly showed me how to dream of a better life for myself.

I was a very unempathetic pre-teen. I would be extremely direct with people and not care about their feelings. If I didn’t like anything or anyone, I would call it out on people’s faces without any remorse. This unawareness of empathy also played out in my connection with Sara. One day, Sara and I were debating about our favorite actors. I didn’t like the one she liked and I made sure that she knew how bad of an actor he was. In response, I remember her telling me, “I just accepted who your favorite actor is. I don’t make you feel bad about who you like. But you’re making me feel bad about my taste.” Her reaction forced me to learn something about myself – I didn’t know how to care about other people’s feelings. I didn’t know how to give people space to be themselves. I apologized to her and, then, started to observe if that’s how I used to treat everyone around me. Turns out, I did. This awareness allowed me slowly start to be more compassionate with my friends. Over time, I realized that people liked it if I was compassionate, and, in return, I felt good. I tried to make it a practice to be more empathetic but it still took me years to get comfortable practicing it in real life.

This is just one example of what my connection with her taught me. There were several such lessons that she continued to help me learn during our time together. She wasn’t perfect by any means. Sometimes she would also say mean things about me and others. She would make judgments that hurt me but unlike her, I didn’t know how to communicate that hurt to her. I could see both sides of her personality and her imperfection resulted in me admiring her even more.

There was one thing strange about that friendship. We never showed our classmates how close we were. At school, we would hardly talk to each other. We would give each other these stolen glances that showed the other that we were aware of each other’s existence. My classmates knew that she was very important to me but they didn’t know that some of that was shared. After treating each other as strangers at school, we would call each other the moment we reached home and talk for hours every day. It annoyed my parents how much I was on the phone all the time. One time, a friend even commented – “I don’t know what it is with you two. Whenever you’re around, she hardly talks. It’s almost as if she is shy. And then when you’re not around, she talks so much. I didn’t even know that she could talk so much.” I just smiled. I am still not sure why we did that but there was this shared understanding of not letting others know for fear of being judged. Of what, I wasn’t sure.

As I continued to learn more about her, changes started to happen in my connections with other friends. As more people got to know about my feelings and the fact that I gave her more attention than anyone else, I started to lose friends. The change in the attitude of friends I had known for years, hit me hard. I was the popular kid before her. And, then, I was no one. My grades started to drop and, then, one day the girl who would write that essay on me after a year told me that I am the last person she would go to for help with her studies. I mean I get it, my grades had started to drop but it still felt condescending. It was as if the change in the attitude of everyone around me had broken my bubble. As if when I was trying to get to know Sara and myself more, I had overlooked that others had stopped seeing me.

My instinct reaction was to prove to them that I was not useless. So, I studied hard. Before the class year ended, I managed to improve my grades and topped the finals. My final year at that school saw me topping all the subjects. I consistently scored a 98 or a 100 on 100. It still baffles me to imagine how I managed to do that. But my need to be accepted by my peers and the anger I had felt after getting alienated was so strong, that my “smartness” started to shine in every area. I surprised myself with my capability. However, by the time I topped the class again, I had lost the need to be accepted and wanted to leave the city as soon as I could.

It all started when I was at my grandparents for a summer vacation. One evening, I was sitting with my mother and my aunts on our terrace. While physically I was sitting with them, mentally I was reflecting on the year that I had. I still didn’t know what it meant to be attracted to a girl. I knew that she meant more to me than my other friends but I didn’t know what to call it. All I remembered was that my being vocal about my feelings had resulted in people alienating me. As fates would have it, the same summer my cousin made another comment – “Admiring a girl is fine if you want to be like them but don’t ever say that you like a girl. It’s weird to say that. We make fun of such people at school. We don’t talk to them. They’re weird.” Her comment came while we were discussing how we admired some of our seniors at school as role models. Earlier that year, another friend had made a comment – “I don’t like sharing my secrets with you. You smile too much. You laugh too much. It doesn’t feel like you can understand what some serious emotions feel like.”.

I was getting the same message from everyone around me. Liking a girl is bad. Girls who like other girls are weird. They should be isolated. They didn’t deserve friends. The belief also played out in my life with the change in behavior from my classmates. My classmates didn’t even know what it meant to like another girl but they knew that I was weird. That I was not normal. And they made sure that I knew I wasn’t normal. Showing emotions, in general, was bad. Turned out, I wasn’t the only one who lacked empathy.

That evening, I told myself that for me to survive and make friends, I had to learn to turn the switch off. I had to learn to hide my emotions and I had to learn to hide that side of me from the world. I remember telling myself that I can’t and will not open up to anyone about what I felt for her or for any other girl in the future. I think one of my aunts noticed something change in me at that moment. She asked me if I was okay. I told her yes. Nothing was okay.

Turning the switch off started as an intentional exercise – If you feel any love or liking for a girl don’t show it to anyone. Hold it in. If you feel hurt, don’t show that either. Even better, don’t show any emotion at all for people to take you seriously. Maintain a stoic stance, no matter what. Any emotion I felt – happiness, sadness, grief, etc. went through the same filter. If it was an emotion, hold it in. Don’t show it. Over time, all I could feel was anger or numbness. That was my new normal. Later when my sister pointed out that I had too much anger in me and that I would end up losing people because of my anger, I learned to suppress my anger too. After that, all that was left was numbness. Anger somehow still found a way to show itself.

Sara and I were not in touch during the summer so we couldn’t keep each other updated about our lives. This meant that she didn’t know what I was experiencing and I didn’t know that her family was planning to move away. It was only after I came back from the vacation that I saw an email from her that told me that she had left a week or two before I came back. So we never met before she left. I remember feeling sad but I also remember not letting that emotion show. I didn’t respond to any of her emails even the ones that told me how much she cared about me. I didn’t ask her about her move or told her how much I missed her. By then, I had learned to turn the switch off.

I went from a happy-go-lucky girl to an individual who didn’t remember how to laugh in a year. I never told anyone, including Sara, how sad I was. My days were spent studying and mastering the art of not showing any emotion. Video games became my best friends. My classmates continued to show their judgment of me by mocking me and sometimes ridiculing me in front of the entire classroom. Nothing was spared – my looks, the way I walked, the way I talked. I was a laughing stock. I never shared any of that with my parents for fear of them judging me too.

Those were tough months. At that age, not having friends to hang out with is difficult. My days and evenings were spent playing video games. I used to hate going to school because almost every day someone or another would either make a comment or worse – ignore my existence. I would sometimes find solace in books. That year my self-confidence took a considerable dip. I remember being quite vocal about my thoughts and that year, it felt like I lost my voice. I would sleep every night after praying to God for a miracle that would move me to a new place. When that wouldn’t happen, I would fight with God for not loving me or caring for me. Surrounded by family felt even lonelier because I could not express what it was that I was feeling. I started hating spending time with my parents without having my sister around. My sister didn’t know either but having her presence helped me distract my mind.

I started getting angrier at home and more and more silent at school. I would still miss Sara at times. One time, she visited our school again. Seeing her again brought a smile to my face but she was surrounded by our classmates and her best friend. I looked at her from a distance wondering if I should approach her. I am not sure if I did. Either I approached her and didn’t get the reaction I expected or didn’t approach her at all. The memory is a bit fizzy. Ultimately, I told myself that I was too much of a loser and that she didn’t like me either like anyone else. Every day was a constant struggle.

As my grades improved, those “friends” slowly started to come back. Everyone gave me different reasons for distancing themselves in the first place but they all had one thing in common – you were weird for giving her so much importance. They gave me multiple reasons for why they didn’t like me but no one asked me how I managed the months of isolation. I never mentioned it either.

During my final year, I surpassed every expectation one could have from a student – I excelled at academics, participated in extracurricular, and, in fact, wrote and directed a school play. After the play, a friend who I had known for years whose behavior toward me had changed for the worse, came and apologized for the way she had treated me. She told me that she hadn’t realized how much she had missed me. To give an example of how her behavior had changed from being one of my closest friends to what can only be described as a bully – I once went to the classroom for a PT meeting with my parents. She and a couple of other classmates were laughing at something. My teacher told me that they were mocking the way I walk. My teacher and parents found it funny, and I told myself that I couldn’t even walk right. For my teachers and parents, I was killing it at school. Internally, I was dying. Once that play was over, I told myself that it was time to leave.

That was when that girl, let’s call her Jess, wrote an essay on a person she admired the most – me. I didn’t know what to say to her. So, I just thanked her. In the coming months, she went above and beyond to let me know what she felt. I was even invited to a special birthday party so that we could spend more time together. It was special because she didn’t invite anyone who I wasn’t getting along with. It was her birthday party but for me. I went but took another friend with me because I didn’t want to be alone with her. She had an entire evening planned but I left as soon as I could. Maybe she hoped that one day, I will reciprocate something. But by then, I had stopped feeling anything. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to pull me out of the shadows. The truth was her care for me scared me because I didn’t believe that I deserved it anymore.

In the absence of a human to talk to, I used to turn to God for help most days. I used to pray. I used to pray for Sara to come back or for me to leave that city. I even started to wonder if things would be different if I was a boy. Maybe my sex was wrong too. I prayed every single day that year and finally, the day came when my dad told me that we were leaving. And I left without saying a single goodbye.

My sudden departure without a goodbye resulted in all those people reaching out to me again. Several of them apologized. The friend who had made it her favorite habit to mock me called me too. When she apologized again, I asked her why. She had the same answer – It was weird. I told her there was nothing to feel weird about. Sara was a friend and nothing more. I told her that I didn’t even like Sara as a person after I got to know her. It was nothing. Sara was nothing. In order to prove myself, I even bitched about her. Turns out that a couple of sentences of bitchiness were enough to make people believe that I didn’t care about her. I, then, shared stories of how I was attracted to guys and all the guys I was friends with. Over time, I went from being weird to being straight but without a character. Being straight without a character was easier than being weird. That’s how I learned the art and benefits of lying for survival. This person and I are still connected on social media. The last time we spoke, I realized that we had stopped being friends a long time back.

Jess reached out too. I think I informed her about my move before leaving but I am not sure. She maintained a practice of wishing me on my birthday every year even when I hardly called her. She would constantly tell me that she missed me and wanted to know more about how my life was unfolding. I felt bad for not putting in the same effort but, no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t open up. She asked me if I hated that school and others. I told her no but that I didn’t belong there either. She told me that she could empathize. Looking back, she might have helped me get through that time. Over time, our interactions reduced but we continued to be friends. That was the one friendship that I didn’t regret.

I reached out to Sara again after a couple of years. She got excited and wanted us to catch up and meet. She wanted to hang out. I liked that she still remembered me and still wanted to hang out. But in the mix of feeling guilty for bitching about her behind her back and fighting what I felt for her, I felt conflicted. So I broke contact with her the second time and ran away from my feelings again. She is now happily married to a guy in a country that she always wanted to leave for while doing a job that she was always meant for. It made me a little sad when I saw a post about her wedding because I never got to know if it was one-sided. But, it also made me happy to see that she had found her path.

I was 16 when I realized that people like me existed. But I also knew that people like me were not accepted in society. While driving to a friend’s place one afternoon, I told myself – “I’ll try my best to not feel that way for a girl again. And, if it happens, then, I’ll leave this country. Until then, no one will know because I won’t fall for any girl.”

Unfortunately, you can’t help who you like. Over the years, several such connections came into my life. Friends who I would start to feel for and, then, would fight my feelings for. It would always be so easy when I would fall for a guy. I would have people to talk to and share my feelings with. I could openly talk to that guy without repulsing anyone including myself. When it would be a girl, I would prepare myself for a journey of heartbreak. Sometimes I would distance myself from the girl and sometimes we would just get closer. This roller coaster continued for a long time and I didn’t know if there was a way for me to stop it. I spent all my teenage and early adulthood years believing that I didn’t deserve love because I was not normal. I told myself that I could not have a normal future. Ever.

My parents would frequently ask me to talk to them. They had noticed the change too. I had first told my mom that I suspected that I had depression during my undergraduate years. She got worried and was empathic enough to give me support. I am grateful to her for not taking it lightly. She spent more time with me after I told her. My nightmares had skyrocketed that time. So some nights, my mom would stay up to make sure that she was there when I woke up from another nightmare. She would ask me constantly to talk to her about my feelings. She would ask me if I knew what was causing it and I would deny knowing. I would try to talk but no words would come out. The only outlet for me was a diary I kept that held all my unwanted feelings and emotions. I developed a practice of tearing out the pages of this diary and would not read it again. One day, my mother read that diary before I could tear the pages but never asked me anything about it. After that day, I stopped writing.

So, when I fell head over heels in love with a guy, I told myself that I was cured. I loved him and I had no doubt about it. Even thinking about a girl felt alien. Slowly, I started to like myself again. I made new friends, I was in a new city and I was working for the company of my dreams. I even started to laugh and enjoy my life. My boyfriend also provided me a safe space to open up about some of my emotions including another suppressed memory, the impact of which I would have to face later in my life. I told myself that I could finally lead a normal life. That era of weirdness was over. I started to see a future for myself in a straight relationship. But, life had other plans.

In this new city, I made a friend and, unknowingly, fell for her. She and I had gotten emotionally very close during our time together. I was in a long-distance relationship at the time. My boyfriend, while being an amazing individual, was busy building a career for himself and had little time for us. This meant that I didn’t have anyone to get vulnerable with or share my failures, accomplishments, or thoughts with. We had frequent fights because I felt like I was alone in that relationship. We hardly spoke and I turned to my friends for comfort. This friend, in particular, offered me that space to be myself and before I knew it, I had developed feelings for her. I denied my feelings for a long time (after all I was a master at it) but when one day she told me that she was leaving, I broke down.

Breaking down did not show up in tears. It showed up as me becoming the epitome of numbness and anger. Neither she nor I could understand my reaction to her moving. I felt like I had lost something valuable but didn’t want to accept what that was. Or maybe I could accept but didn’t know how to express it. When I asked her why she waited till the last moment to tell me about her move, she said, “That was always the plan. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I made this decision for myself a year back after I went through my breakup. I had friends but no one that was close to me. I thought it would be easy to just leave without telling anyone. And, then, you showed up. I don’t know why but we got close. I didn’t want that because I knew that I was still leaving. So what was the point of making close connections? But you were here and I got confused. It kept getting harder and harder. I am not even sure what I am doing anymore.” I didn’t ask her to explain any further. I didn’t say anything either and just left the room. A week later, the topic came up again. I asked her, “What do you think would have happened had you told me earlier? I would have been happy for you. I still am but I would have been happier.” She looked at me and said, “I know. I don’t know why I didn’t say anything. I guess I didn’t want to make you sad. I always believed that friends were not meant to be for life. They change and leave, especially girls. They get into relationships or get married, and then they don’t have time for their friends. Girls always leave. That’s what happened with all my friendships. I don’t know why you and I are this close. I mean we’re abnormally close. It is not normal how close we are. I don’t know why.” I didn’t respond but I knew the answer to that why. Unfortunately, neither of us was ready to acknowledge the why.

In my mind, I was still in a relationship with my boyfriend so I also couldn’t comprehend why my friend’s leaving was causing me so much distress. I would learn years later that she and I were, in what’s called, an emotional affair that none of us were aware of. Accepting the possibility of cheating on my ex even emotionally was a hard pill to swallow. I have always been proud of myself for being loyal in my relationships. The idea of me falling for someone else went against everything that I stood for. When I finally accepted it for what it was years later, it brought me clarity about my reaction.

After she left, we slowly drifted apart. I met her again recently after 6 years. We instantly connected again like no time had passed. Meeting her confirmed to me that it was an emotional affair that she still wasn’t aware of but that clearly had an impact on both of us. I didn’t bring it up either but I did come out to her. She was surprised and curious. Neither of us mentioned anything about what had happened between us. I wondered to myself if I should ask her if she knows now. But ultimately I chose not to because what it meant for her is for her to determine. A lot has changed in both of our lives. We’ve both moved on and have had our fair share of heartbreaks since then. If she is meant to figure it out, I trust that she will. For now, I was happy to reconnect with an old friend.

Anyway, her leaving all those years back triggered a longing in me to figure out who I was. There was this intense need to find my freedom. Over the next few months, I prepared to leave the country I was born in and moved to the place that showed me what life could have been like if I was born in another part of the world. I moved to the country that was both Sara’s and my dream country.

Before leaving my home, I came out to my best friend and my mom. My best friend had the most normal reaction that I could have hoped for. My mom reacted the way I had feared she would – “You’re mistaken. You want to be like these girls. You’re not attracted to them. Bisexuality is nothing. You have a boyfriend, marry him”. Later that year, I came out to my boyfriend and over time to other friends.

But the journey to come out came with its own challenges. Moving to a new country resulted in me experiencing a cultural shock and isolation. This isolation has followed me since I was 12 years old. I was again the kid who didn’t have anyone to turn or talk to. The result of feeling isolated again in a new country resulted in another episode of acute depression. Fortunately, this time I was in a place where I could seek help. So, I started taking therapy hoping that it would help me deal with that depression. As fate would have it, the first therapeutic session revealed another organism that had held me, hostage, since I was 3 – years of childhood abuse.

Over the years, I have learned the complexity of my own psyche. The traumas that I uncovered in my sessions didn’t seem to end. The isolation, the abuse, the impact of homophobia, and sexism in my extended family, and finally the result of it all – depression, anxiety, and PTSD resulting from years of oppression. The day a therapist informed me that I showed high signs of PTSD, it brought me a sense of relief. I finally knew the cause of my nightmares. Years of holding in everything that I had experienced had taken such a huge toll on my body, mind, and spirit that I felt nothing but despair. If anything my decision to numb my emotions had helped me survive for all those years. To an outsider, I was a very serious individual who rarely smiled but was otherwise fine. Internally, I was a hollow shell of a human who had lost hope to survive.

A year after starting therapy, I broke up with my boyfriend. Among other reasons for breaking up, one was his inability to understand the need for me to go to therapy or why it was important to wrap my head around my sexuality when I was bisexual. After all, I could still fall for guys and I was in love with him. Over the next few years, I would have a roller coaster era of my life where all the emotions that had stayed unprocessed would come out and demand to be released. I would yet again be forced to experience an event where I would be forced into another isolation.

I always assumed and so did my therapists that PTSD stemmed from that childhood abuse. After all, that experience in itself would have had a huge impact on anyone’s psychological development. However, after uncovering layers of my psyche, I could finally see how that initial experience was just one of many that I ended up experiencing throughout my life. The isolation and oppression at the hands of many had turned that trauma into a complex trauma a long time back. The fear of having someone know about my sexuality had turned into a phobia that followed me around everywhere. The amount of fear stored in my body from being judged and potentially hurt used to show up whenever I would go into public areas with my girlfriend and run into a person from my home country. I would panic, my hands would shiver and I would refuse my girlfriend to get close to me. The fear would still be present around people who “looked different” but it would be a little less intense. It would, however, intensify if it was someone I knew. So, when someone from my home country got to know about my sexuality and displayed his homophobia, the phobia stored in my body met in my face. The psychological barriers I had put up to deal with that fear broke down and I was forced to witness the fear in its entirety. The result was a mental breakdown and an awakening that would turn into an emergency which started in December 2020 and has only now started to calm down.

Throughout it all, I was blessed by the decisions that had brought me to the new country and by the connections I made along the way. I kept finding ways to free myself from the clutches of homophobia and sexism. I kept finding ways to support myself. I kept going to therapy and I kept showing up for myself. I kept asking for help and kept trying to find connections that could help me feel grounded. Connections that could help me feel like I was enough and embraced my weirdness. I had not had a proper good night’s sleep in years. My physical body has shown many signs of distress including anxiety and panic attacks. I kept falling down and somehow found a way to continue. I must have worked with 8-10 different therapeutic/spiritual modalities so far with the hopes of finding ways to manage all that I was experiencing. And they’ve all helped me in their own ways in finding myself.

Finally, after 4 years of what felt like a journey for intense cleansing, I yearned for calmer waters. What I had come to that country for – finding myself, I had found. What I needed now, was to learn to know myself better in a safe place. So last year, I made the decision to leave and find another place where I could learn to love myself. There were several reasons to find a way to stay and one reason to leave – myself. The first night I slept for 8 hours straight without waking up with anxiety was the most beautiful thing that has happened to me in years.

As I continue on the journey to find what I have lost and learn new ways to honor and love myself, I meet people who have had their own journey with trauma. Some, like me, found recluse with therapy, some chose to find a new place for themselves where they can learn to live again while some are still trying to understand themselves. They all have one thing in common – a fight to survive.

That’s what my dream showed me – the part of me that had felt lonely for the longest time. In my therapy sessions, I kept telling my therapists that every day I wake up, I have this sinking feeling of loneliness. But I don’t know where that comes from. I feel like I am missing someone but I don’t know who am I missing. Sometimes even if I am with people, I feel lonely. The dream finally helped me realize where that feeling was coming from. The hurt of that trauma is still there but being aware of it is my first step toward healing myself. The friend in the dream was that version of me who has suffered more isolation than what a human should experience in a single lifetime. She didn’t trust anyone and rightfully so. But she’s a survivor and a fighter. She’s found ways to support herself, continues to find communities of individuals who can empathize with her journey and she’ll continue down the journey of learning to trust herself. She’s loved and, one day, she’ll learn to love and feel safe to be loved again. After all, it took me years to realize who I was missing, and I plan to let her breathe.

Emergence & Jungian Psychology

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”
― Carl Gustav Jung

I have known about Carl Jung since I was a kid. I don’t remember how or why I got introduced to him but I knew that he was someone who knew what he was talking about. It was probably because as a kid, I maintained a diary. This diary had a bunch of quotes from people whose words resonated with me. Whenever I came across a quote I liked, I would pull out this diary and note it down. There were no intentions except that their words made me feel seen. Over time, I forgot about that diary but still loved finding quotes through books or Google searches and continued to include them in my literary work. However, this meant that I forgot who Carl Jung was or what were his contributions to the world.

For those who don’t know much about Carl Jung, he was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. His work has been influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, psychology, and religious studies. Among the central concepts of analytical psychology is individuation—the lifelong psychological process of differentiation of the self out of each individual’s conscious and unconscious elements. Jung considered it to be the main task of human development. He created some of the best-known psychological concepts, including synchronicity, archetypal phenomena, the collective unconscious, the psychological complex and extraversion, and introversion.

The MBTI, used by major universities and institutions around the world, is based on the influential theory of psychological types proposed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in 1921. Several therapeutic methodologies have since been influenced by his work that helps people deal with anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Despite his contributions to the world of psychology, Carl Jung faced a lot of criticism from his circle, including his long-time friend, Freud. Why? Because his theories were based on an experience he had when he experienced something that no one had a word for. His experience was too “mystical” for the gatekeepers of psychology to comprehend. In his time, no one knew what to call his experiences except for a mental disorder. Today, it’s called “Spiritual Emergence”. A summary of what he experienced can be found in (The Holy Grail of the Unconscious).

I can’t read the Red or the Black books that he wrote because, for me, they will only remind me of my experiences. But, I also don’t need to because just a couple of his quotes from that book were enough to tell me what he experienced. The man devoted his life to the field of psychology and his work continues to help those who struggle with their own psyche.

I have tried multiple therapies but after a while, none seemed to work for me. Until someone introduced me to a therapy type that resonated so much that I started to finally see the difference in me. Internal Family Systems therapy which helps so many people deal with their unconscious was inspired by Carl Jung’s research on archetypes that he experienced during his experiences.

I felt so much validation and happiness today when I realized why that therapy had worked for me. It was because this therapy type was influenced by the works of someone who went through the experience that I did. I want to dance from the top of the mountains today because I finally can say that I did not lose it. I was just getting in touch with my unconscious without realizing what it held.

Dear Reader, if you or your loved one is going through an experience that you can’t explain, hold on. You’re totally normal and you’re completely fine. You’re just getting in touch with your inner world that had been hiding from you for the longest time. It just asks you to witness it and live your life with your truth.

The awakening turns into an emergency when our outer world is not in alignment with our inner world. The more you heal yourself and the more you live your truth, the more balanced and happy you will feel. Stop hiding from yourself and stop hiding your truth. You will be able to guide yourself to the other side.

Find an Internal Family Systems therapist and allow that person to guide you. Seek help from a cranial sacral/somatic experience therapist to release the stuck emotions from your body. If you feel that you can trust them, give them and yourself a chance. Write down or draw or find any other creative outlet to let out whatever it is that you’re experiencing or feeling to make the unconscious conscious. Your inner world wants you to acknowledge it. It’s asking you to stop ignoring it. Embrace it and let the healing begin.

“Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”
― Carl Gustav Jung

From the Fallen Ashes, Phoenix Will Rise – Part 3

“By observing objects with my eyes and trying to comprehend them with each of my other senses I might blind my soul altogether… like when people watch and study an eclipse of the sun; they really do sometimes injure their eyes, unless they study its reflection in water or some other medium.” – Socrates

“I want to help you but I don’t know how. I keep pondering on what can I do to help you with the tools that I have but I can’t come up with an answer. So I did something without asking you and I hope that you can forgive me. I reached out to my spiritual teacher and asked him for advice. He has a message for you if you’re open.”, one of the therapists had told me this after working with me for a few weeks but not seeing much progress.

“What did he say?”, I had asked.

“Your soul has craved light since you were a kid. Your soul knows there is something that it’s seeking to find. When we have that trauma stored in our bodies, we try to escape. In your case, your soul wanted you to find the light. This was always your path. However, the trauma stored in your body ends up showing you versions that do not serve you well.

He explained it this way – if you did not have that trauma stored in your body, all you would see is light. But you keep going into darkness unintentionally because of those energies stuck in your body. When we meditate, everything is experienced based on our brain’s frequencies. When we love, we see love. When we are calm, we experience calmness. In your case, even when you’re calm, that energetic blockage sometimes re-routes you in a direction that scares you. Does that make sense to you?”, she asked.

“Yes, it does.”, I said

“He asked for you to work with your body to release that trauma. Ask your awakening to be physical and work with it through your body. It won’t be easy but it would be more manageable than a mental awakening. He also mentioned that you can ask for it to stop if it gets overwhelming. It will slow down. He asked me to share this with you – he went through the same experience. He did not know what was happening to him either. But limiting it to his body helped him carry on with life and made it less extreme.”, she then proceeded to share the examples of her teacher’s experiences.

“I asked for it to stop multiple times. But it didn’t. How do I make it physical?”, I asked.

“There are ways. Start by asking. When you get overwhelmed by the energy that’s not yours, ask for the energy to go back to the source, and say that you can’t help whoever’s energy they are. There is also a type of alternative therapy – it’s called Somatic Experiencing Therapy. Find a therapist who practices it. If you don’t want to tell them what you’re seeking help for, don’t tell them. That they don’t need to know. But that type of therapy will work the best for you. If I knew it, I would have done that with you.”, she responded.

“Thank you for sharing all of that with me. Don’t worry about asking your teacher for help. If anything, that shows me how much you care. I don’t think anyone would care enough to do that.”, I replied.

“Thank you for understanding. I know it’s been a tough journey for you. I couldn’t see you going through all of this without support. I hope this helps you with the next steps. I haven’t been sleeping properly because I keep wondering why you were sent to me. You’ve done CBT therapy before and it’s not helping you anymore. So I ultimately asked him for advice.

He asked me to remind you of something and I believe it without a doubt so I have to say it and I want you to remember this every time things get overwhelming – Always remember that going towards the light is what you were meant to do. You were seeking to see the reality, the Gods, and the connections. You always wanted that for yourself. Your soul always knew it. Some experiences might have brought more pain and fear but they are not the destination. Your soul knows the destination. There is something in you that’s extremely powerful and keeps you going. Trust that part.”, she explained.

“That’s why I’ve had these experiences since I was a kid. It was always meant to happen.”, I realized.

“Yes, the other experiences have just turned it into an emergency. I know it’s not easy but you can do it.

What do you want to do now? We can continue working and see with the tools I have or you can try something different. It’s up to you. I’ll be here no matter what.”, she asked while reassuring me of her support.

“The moment you asked me to work with my body, it resonated with me. That is the next step. I know what I need to do. Thank you again.”, I replied.

After that call, I researched a few therapists and booked an appointment with one who seemed to resonate with me. Meanwhile, I asked for the awakening to be physical. The dreams gradually reduced. Before I got to the appointment, I had a fracture.

It took me another three months to find another somatic experiencing therapist and another week to find my IFS therapist. The dreams continued but the intensity, as well as frequency, continued to reduce. Physically, I have gotten more in touch with my body and continue to allow it to guide me. I am still new to this but I am trying the best I can.

An incident that stuck out was when I had a bad headache one Saturday morning. I had plans to meet a friend that afternoon but couldn’t bring myself to leave my apartment. Even taking medicine didn’t help. I ended up calling him and canceling the plan. Within minutes after canceling the plan, the headache went away. The next day, my friend called me to let me know that he had tested positive for Covid.

I try not to ignore the signals of my body anymore or my dreams. For a few weeks, I kept having a dream about a potential shift in my working conditions. In all my dreams, I would be taken by surprise but will stay unnaturally calm. While the details of the dream differed every time, there was always a consistent theme – A change is requested, a leader I respect and value will fight for us and we will be safe. A couple weeks later, my manager pulled me into a meeting to inform me – A change was requested but our leader fought for her team and managed to keep us safe. We were not impacted. I got goosebumps.

One day while in a session with my IFS therapist, I mentioned to her, “How can it be that so many people go through this experience but hardly anyone talks about it? I have met individuals who do but the majority don’t believe it. Just because we can’t understand it does not mean it’s unreal. If that was the case, then, why do people even believe the spiritual leaders or even Buddha?”

“I know what you mean. It reminds me of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Have you heard about it?”, she asked.

“No, what is that?”, I asked

“He imagined a group of people chained together inside an underground cave as prisoners. Behind the prisoners, there is a fire, and between the prisoners and the fire are moving puppets and real objects on a raised walkway with a low wall. However, the prisoners are unable to see anything behind them, as they have been chained and stuck looking in one direction—at the cave wall—their whole lives and don’t see the real objects casting those shadows.

He, then, imagined some scenarios. He imagined a person who managed to escape, turned around, and saw the fire. Since this person had never seen a fire, he felt blinded by all the light. It scared him. He immediately came back and promised to never turn again. He went back to the shadows. Now, he won’t turn again until he works on his fears.

Next, he imagined another person who is forcibly pulled away from the cave. This person was forced to see the real objects and the fire. It took this person a long time to get accustomed to this side of reality because it was new, scary, and overwhelming. However, unlike the first person, he could not return to the cave. He was forced to sit there and experience it all. Over time, he got used to it and the new sight did not scare him anymore.

I wonder if most people fall under the category of people who never manage to escape from the chains. A few turn their heads but get scared and turn back. Even fewer are dragged outside of the cave and forced to see it all.

I think this analogy fits your experiences quite well. If you had to guess, which of the three categories would you fit in?”, she asked.

“Third. The one who was dragged.”, I responded.

“I thought so too. Some of us experience it too but get too scared to continue down the path or choose to ignore it when it happens.

He continues to say that the third person should not remain outside of the cave after seeing the reality. This person should come back to the cave and help others see the fire. Otherwise, they will always keep facing the wall.

However, he also says that it won’t be easy because those people will not believe him and might even hate him. They will think that he has lost his mind and does not belong with them.

You’ve managed to come back. What do you choose to do now?”, she asked with a smile on her face.

“I came back to this reality while I am aware of what’s out there. I can work with myself to release the trauma and bring myself to a point where my experiences and insights help someone else.

Wow! Are you aware of something called Karma Yogi?”, I asked.

“No, what’s that?”

“One of my friends, Libra, had introduced me to that concept when the experiences had started. She had a similar analogy. She had asked me to imagine a wall dividing two pieces of land. People on one side of the wall were living in pain and in constant conflict. They were so blinded by their pain that they never paid attention to that wall. However, some people choose to see that wall. Few climb it. And very few come back to show the path to others. They are called Karma Yogi. She said that’s who I am.”, I explained.

“Interesting. That sounds very similar to what Plato said. Do you feel what your friend said was true?”, she asked.

“I know that I’ve somehow managed to come back (more or less). There are things that I still have to work through. I believe where I go from here will depend on my efforts to heal myself.

I had a dream a while back. It was one of those esoteric dreams. In the dream, I was with a friend and ran into my ex. I asked her if she knew why I feel more than others. She told me it’s because I am seeing what others can’t normally see. I asked her what that meant and she asked me to look outside the window. There were dark clouds collecting outside the window followed by lightning. The clouds kept increasing. She asked me what I saw. I told her I could see the clouds and the lightning. She asked me to keep looking. The clouds turned into something that looked a little scary and my friend who was still standing next to me asked me to leave. She started chanting a mantra. Before leaving the dream, I asked my ex again what she wanted me to see. She told me that she could only see the lightning and clouds but not what caused it. My friend couldn’t see that either, only I could. Then I woke up.

Interestingly, the chant my friend was chanting is aimed to bring our mind, body, and spirit into alignment. I only got to know about it after I researched the chant online the next day. Another interesting takeaway from that dream for me was that even if I can see that cause, it can’t harm me. I can trust my inner guidance to always keep me safe. Just like that chant. It knows what will help.”, I told my therapist.

“I am astonished by how metaphorical your dreams are. There is so much wisdom there. Do you know how it relates to your daily life?”, she asked.

“The “cause” of that lightning and clouds depicted an energy that aims to flush out or destroy what doesn’t serve us anymore. I saw it as Goddess Kali. It’s not bad but that’s what that Goddess does as per Hindu mythology. She destroys. When the triggers happen, we as humans only see the reaction to that energy and it’s up to us how we respond to it – with fear and resistance or see that as an opportunity to heal ourselves and let go of what doesn’t serve us anymore. Think of it as it’s time to heal the wounded parts. This is the first time that I saw her. She can be a little scary.

If I relate it to my psyche and use the IFS framework, my parts don’t know what triggers them. Only I can see the reason behind the triggers. My parts just respond to the triggers. Since I (the observer) am the only one who can determine what’s causing those triggers, I am the only one who can work on it.

When it comes to the world around me, I’ve observed one change in me – I see the conflict around me all across the world. There are wars, human rights being taken away, and gaslighting. But, I have started to feel like we’re in conflict because we’re acting out of the pain stored in our bodies. I’ve started to wonder if that’s all there is. We’re all just fighting that pain. When we feel we’re not heard or seen, we end up hurting others. We project our pain and insecurities onto others around us. The cycle continues until someone chooses to heal and stops reacting to those triggers.

We are all connected in more ways than one. If you feel pain, I feel pain, whether or not I am aware. I just hurt myself every time I hurt others. We can choose to blame others for our suffering but if we don’t heal from those triggers, then, we inadvertently will keep hurting others.

I feel that pain from others more easily now. I thought it only happened with her. But, that changed over time. Sometimes if I have a friend over and they are going through something, I would feel those feelings within me. When I don’t realize whose energies they are, I feel anxiety. I once woke up crying but couldn’t understand why. Later my friend who was staying with me told me that she was crying at the time because of something that she was going through in her personal life.

Just yesterday, I was talking to a colleague over a video call. Before the video call, he asked me if I had some time to speak with him. Without knowing the context, I agreed but I felt this resistance in my body. I realized that I wanted to keep that call short. I wasn’t fully aware of why. But that’s what I did. When we got into the call, I could feel his energy. He was anxious because of something that was happening around him. Instead of focusing on his anxiety, I asked him to find the positives in the situations. I talked to his rational mind to see the whole picture and see how he could use that situation to his advantage while not ignoring what he was feeling. He was afraid of the change so I reminded him that he is not alone and that he has done this before successfully. Toward the end of that 9-minute call, I didn’t feel that anxiety anymore.”, I recalled my experience.

“You’re starting to manage this gift already. You listened to your body, channeled your wisdom, and provided him the guidance that he needed without overwhelming yourself. I can’t wait to see how your future unfolds.”, she responded with a smile.

“I think I need to be patient with myself and continue to build upon my self-confidence. I feel exhausted easily if someone else is down. It’s like when they’re in pain, I feel drained. So I end up avoiding a lot of those conversations even though I don’t want to. I wouldn’t have done that in the past. It makes me feel a little selfish.”, I told her.

“You’re creating boundaries for yourself because you’ve finally started to see your limitations. The part of you that feels selfish, can you ask it why it feels that way?”, she asked.

“If I am not there for them when they need me, then, what’s the difference between me and others who left when I needed them?

There is another part that wants to answer that question.”, I said.

“What does this part want to tell you?”, she asked

“It says that it depends on intention. If we can help and we don’t, then, that might be considered selfish. If we can help but already feel drained or overwhelmed, then, that’s self-love. We can only give if we are full. We can’t drain from an empty vase.”, I replied, realizing something that I had heard multiple times in my life but didn’t fully grasp the meaning of.

“How does that land with the part of you who was feeling selfish?”, she asked.

“It’s a scared part of me who felt like I always had to do something for others to feel loved. Unless others saw my value, they won’t love me. It’s the part of me which had felt lonely since I was a kid.

When I realized that I was different, I thought people won’t love me for who I am. So I had to prove my worth.

When I had my first crush on a girl, I didn’t know that’s what it was. But, I was smitten by her. All my friends knew this. They slowly started to drift away because they thought I was not normal. To be fair to them, I was completely enamored by her. To date, I don’t think I’ve felt as smitten by anyone. Probably because it was the first? I think that impacted my other relationships. I focused on my connection with her more than on my connection with others. There was a year when people hardly spoke to me. I was outcasted. I had a big friend group and after that incident, it felt like I had no one. My grades had started to get impacted. When I asked them what had changed, they said they found me weird.

So, I did a couple of things. I topped my class to show everyone how smart I was. That brought a couple of people back and increased my “value”. And, then, I helped others and found them all coming back one by one. I even wrote my first story and directed a play. A friend I had known for years whose attitude towards me had impacted me the most, apologized later. But by that time, I felt empty and was disappointed by how I didn’t matter enough but what I could do mattered more. I realized that I didn’t want them in my life anymore. Every day I prayed to leave that city. After another year, my dad got transferred to a new place and I left without saying goodbye.

Do you know what the sad part was? I also stopped speaking to that girl. She and I were good friends. When she left the city, I went into my cave and didn’t reach out to her for years. We had this practice of communicating our “inner thoughts” over emails. When we spoke in person, we never discussed those emails. It was just our way of communicating some vulnerable thoughts to each other. After she left, I didn’t check my inbox for months. When I did, I found several emails from her. There was an email that she had sent me a few days before she left where she thanked me for not outing her in front of our teacher when had made a mistake. I refused to say her name which made my teacher quite angry. But I never responded to any of those emails. We spoke again after a couple of years. She was excited. She wanted to talk and meet. But, I ran away again. I was convinced that I was not good enough for her and wanted her to feel like I didn’t care about her anymore. In fact, I told myself that it was her who ran away and not me. That wasn’t true. I was the one who ran away and I cared a lot about her.”, I realized.

“Do you know why you did that?”, my therapist asked.

“I was unsure of how to act and was feeling extremely vulnerable. I knew I had feelings for her but I wasn’t sure what that meant. And what I could understand it meant seemed wrong. I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t care about her or had any feelings for her. It used to feel scary to have those feelings for a girl and what that would mean. So I was in a constant conflict where I knew that I had feelings for her but I showed everyone around me, including her, that I didn’t care. With all that was happening with other friends, I told myself that it was better to stay away from her if I wanted to keep them in my life. That was the only way they would accept me. At one point, I also said some mean things about her to those friends to make them believe that I had no feelings for her. I don’t know if I was trying to convince them or myself.

It was a constant dance of having all those feelings but also being in denial and trying to morph the truth into a version that I could live with. I was scared to admit that I could have those feelings for a girl. Later, I felt ashamed of saying all that about her behind her back. It was not anything insulting but it was still me entertaining conversations that disrespected her, taking active participation, and making public some of our conversations. I think when we spoke again I also felt guilty about doing that and told myself that I wasn’t a good friend. Probably why I kept a distance from her after that – guilt and denial.

I went to extremes to prove to myself and others that I was straight. But, my denial didn’t help me. I couldn’t get her out of my mind no matter how much I tried. I think for me, that connection showed me what love could feel like. Like it was possible for me to feel all those feelings for someone and that it was possible to have that kind of connection with someone, even if it wasn’t “right” per society. We’re still connected on social media so I was always up to speed about her life events. Sometimes I went out of my way to check if she was doing fine. I kept hoping to meet her again someday but never put in the effort to do it. It was a secret that I kept to myself and kept convincing myself that my checking on her, didn’t mean anything more than me just missing her. But, yes, I was in love for the first time and it scared me to know what it meant.”, I shared as I remembered my journey with my childhood crush/love/friend.

“Coming to terms with our sexualities is not an easy journey. Specifically when it doesn’t feel safe. All of us who came to terms with it has one of those stories. We keep denying it until we meet someone we can’t deny it for anymore. Our freedom to love feels more important than living a lie. I am glad you can see that for yourself now.”, my therapist shared her coming out experience.

“Yes. I also felt like I didn’t know that there was an option to like both men and women? I’ve told you before that I could develop feelings for both men and women and whenever it was a man, I told myself that I was normal. I could live with that and I would curse myself every time it was a woman. For me, liking a girl meant that I was gay, and liking a man meant I was straight. I didn’t know there were people who liked both. It was years later that I became familiar with the term bisexual and I knew that’s who I was. If our society was a little more aware, I wouldn’t have struggled during my teenage years.”, I responded.

“Tell me, what happened with the other friends?”, she asked

“I wondered if it was wrong to leave them without a goodbye. Now, I can see that’s what I needed to do to protect myself. They didn’t know any better and I didn’t belong there anymore. I spent 7 years in that school and loved it and my life there. After that experience, it started to feel like I didn’t know that place. I started to feel like a stranger. I didn’t realize that I was carrying that pain for so long.”, I realized.

“Did you speak with that friend again whose attitude had changed towards you?”, she asked.

“Yes. She called after she realized that I had left without a goodbye. We talked. She apologized again for her behavior. But she didn’t understand why I was smitten by that girl. I could not tell her either because I had internalized that homophobia by then. I never told her about my sexuality. I think that’s when I learned to not trust my friends with that part of me. But we continued to stay in touch over the years. Other friends reached out too. I’ve been in contact with a lot of them over the years. Some people from my school who I didn’t even consider as close also called. I met them a couple of months after leaving but I had gone into my shell by then and it felt like I couldn’t recognize any of them.

Wow, I was 13 or 14 when that happened. And I still get scared whenever I tell a friend about my sexuality. However, I am not comfortable hiding it anymore. If I feel an iota of homophobia from someone, I either confront them or remove myself from that situation. I recently told one of my oldest friends. He was the only one left from my close circle who didn’t know. It felt good to be able to talk to him about it. I hadn’t realized how I had pushed him away because of everything else that I was experiencing. He told me how angry he had been with me for the past years for not putting in an effort. I didn’t tell him everything that happened but I told him parts that I could. At one point, he almost cried. And I again realized that I have been blessed with some beautiful connections. I felt like I got my friend back.”, I explained.

“That’s wonderful. It sounds like your friend really loves you. How much do you think your denial has played a role in your struggles?”, she asked.

“A lot. A lot more than I realized. I can’t believe how much of a role it has played in my struggles, mental health, relationships, connections, anxiety, etc. I genuinely kept denying that part of me for the longest time. Even though I knew I tried to convince myself otherwise. Not accepting myself resulted in me not enjoying life. I lost my happiness the day I decide to hide it from the world.”, I realized.

“What does this part need from you now?”, she asked.

“A hug and validation. She needs to know that she’s loved for who she is. She wants me to continue to accept myself.”, I said with a smile.

“Can you give her that and ask her to let go of some of the burdens that she’s carrying?”, she asked.

“Yes. Thank you! I thought today’s session will be geared toward esoteric experiences. I couldn’t have imagined that it would end up healing a part of myself.”

“You are leading your healing. Thank you for not giving up on yourself!”

Finding “Hope”

TW – Sexual Assault

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them because, in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
― Anne Frank

“I had another dream last night. It shook me.”, I told my therapist.

“Let’s start with what you did before you went to sleep. How did yesterday look like for you?”, she asked.

“I went to a ping pong game. It was okay. I met a couple of people but I really just liked playing. After the fracture, I wasn’t sure when I could play any of these games again. My foot was sore throughout the day, so I know I must take it slow. Later at night, I went to this social event. That was surprisingly good. I met some nice people and might have made a friend or two. I even flirted, it was good.”, I recalled my experiences from yesterday.

“Then what happened?”, she asked.

“Then it got late or at least late for me. I decided to come back and went to sleep. I had experienced this anxiety the entire day. I remember feeling quite helpless at one time when I got lost and wasn’t able to find my way to the ping pong place. Anyway, by the time I got home, I felt okay.”, I told my therapist.

“What was the dream about?”, she asked.

“Another one of those disturbing dreams. At least, they were all humans. So, I guess that was a good part. It started as a normal dream. I was with a couple of friends and I was helping them with some financial stuff. But, then, in the dream, I started to wonder if I could trust them with some of the information that I was sharing with them. To ensure that no one could take advantage of that information, a friend from my teenage years helped me take certain steps that would prevent those details from leaking out. There was this guy in the dream who was trying to exploit that information but my friend and I managed to secure it.

But I noticed that despite knowing the intentions of this guy, my friend continued to connect with him. I felt disappointed because she was continuing to connect with someone who she knew hurt us. And then the dream took a weird turn.”, I was now getting anxious again. My heart felt so heavy as if it was about to explode.

“Breath in slowly and let it out. Talk when you’re ready.”, my therapist guided me to calm my raising anxiety.

After grounding myself I continued, “I was talking to my friend when this girl came running towards her, shouting my friend’s name. We both turned towards her and saw that she was hurt and was crying. I don’t know who that girl was but I could see that she was scared. At this point, my friend changed into one of my guides. We asked the girl what happened. She was hysterical, breathing heavily. She said, “He raped me. He killed my mother and beat my brother”. As she was saying these words, I could also see who she was talking about. It was a guy who this girl knew and was probably close to her.

My dad walked up to us hearing all the screaming. When he looked at the girl, he just turned away because he didn’t want to get involved in that matter for fear of it tarnishing his image. I remember looking at him and feeling disappointed. I remember this anger flaring up in me but I also remember feeling helpless. I turned back to the girl who was still crying but had stopped talking. I asked her to lie down and started stroking her head. I could feel her hurt and also see it with my eyes. I remember thinking that stroking her head wasn’t enough but that’s what she needed at the moment from me. And that’s what I could do for her to help her deal with the situation. Then I woke up.”, I told my therapist my dream, feeling the anger build up inside me again.

“That’s a disturbing dream and I am not surprised that it brought up so many emotions in you. How often do you have these dreams now?”, she asked

“This is the fifth this year. Two others were equally gruesome but on a different topic and the other two were, well esoteric. When will they stop?”, I asked her

“I wish I could tell you when but I am sorry, I don’t know either. What I can tell you is that the frequency will keep decreasing, and so will the intensity. Have you noticed any difference in these dreams from the last two years?”, my therapist asked with genuine concern on her face.

“Yes, when they were at their peak, it was a nightmare every day for months. I’ve observed that the intensity has reduced and they feel more grounded in this reality.”, I told her.

“Good. I know it might not seem like a lot of progress but these things take time. You just keep doing what’s working for you and you will keep seeing progress.

What does this dream mean for you?”, she asked.

“I told you last time that my body, mind, and soul don’t let me ignore them anymore. A couple of topics have been coming up for a while now for my blog too – vulnerability, feeling helpless, losing hope in mankind, and feeling disappointed in humanity. I think all the changes are just triggering those feelings. By the way, I’ve disassociated now”, I told my therapist, noticing how my mind felt blocked.

“The protector is trying to protect you from feeling all the emotions. It’s okay. If that’s what you need right now, it’s fine. Can we ask him if he can take a step back so that we can see what’s going on underneath? It’s okay if he doesn’t want to.” My IFS therapist asked me.

“Yes, he is willing to take a step back.”, I waited for my therapist’s guidance.

“Is anything coming up for you?”, she asked.

“I used to be a fighter. I used to fight for justice. I used to get angry when I witnessed any injustice, especially against women and girls. Then, I stopped.

I think my father represented that part of me. The part of me that has stopped trying and didn’t want to get involved anymore. When she said, he killed my mother, I think that represents the motherly aspect of me which I found hard to connect with. My teacher told me once that to him, mother energy was very evident in me. For me, it never was. However, that has always been the guiding energy in my life. And I think the brother represented the protected side of me which continued the fight for me. I think the girl herself represented the wounded part that has finally escaped captivity. She’s finally willing to come out of the shadows.

I sometimes just feel that I’ve lost hope in humanity.”, I told my therapist.

“Is this the female part of you talking again? Can you ask her to take a step back and allow you to be the witness? Or are you identifying as her right now?”, my therapist asked me.

“Almost identifying with her. There is not enough distance. She’s wounded. She says she’s beyond repair. She says she’s been hurt too much and she doesn’t trust anyone. Not even God. Not her family nor her friends.”, I started crying.

“Talk to me.”, my therapist asked me to continue.

“People are so unapologetic for their behaviors. There is so much hatred and hunger for power in this world that we’ve lost our humanity. We have no shame, no empathy, and no love. We don’t care enough. That guy is still out there and there is no justice. Who knows who else he would have done similar things to. Whereas I am continuing to struggle every fucking day of my life.

I have witnessed the men in my family being so unconcerned about these disturbing acts. They continue to blame women. Not just them, but so many other people. It’s disgusting how our society continues to ignore the wrongdoings and allow the perpetrators to roam around freely. While those who have suffered, continue to struggle.

I’ve met too many people in my life who see no wrong in how we continue to discriminate and see no injustice in the way we force our beliefs on others. They have issues with people asking for equal rights but don’t take a stance when they witness discrimination or harassment. They don’t take a stance and instead find excuses for the behaviors of those who they love irrespective of how their loved ones hurt others.

It’s so disgusting how someone can just decide to control and violate another human being without any remorse. This part has lost hope because it has witnessed so many instances of these crimes and has seen people show little to no concern. It has seen how there is no justice. This part doesn’t trust humans, especially men, because it has witnessed too much trauma at the hands of men. This part doesn’t trust in God’s intentions or power either because they’ve made her go through too much. If there was a God, she says, then it won’t allow these things to keep happening. She says either that God is not as powerful as we have made them be or they don’t exist. It’s too much.”, I continued crying.

“It’s okay, let it out.”, my therapist nudged me to continue and not get lost in the pain.

“What was my mistake? I hardly knew how to walk. I was a kid. I was helpless. My biggest mistake at that age was to trust the humans around me. Do you know how hard it is for me to connect with another person? How hard it is to feel vulnerable with someone else? I am constantly scared. When I try to connect with men, a part of me just wants to run away because it scares me. It scares me to think about getting into a relationship with a guy because I know I’ll just want to run away. Not because I won’t love him but because I can’t stand him touching me. Because I won’t be able to trust him. Before I knew that I was carrying all this pain, I used to just go numb. It was easier that way. Now, I can’t do that. And it has just made it harder.

When I got together with my ex, I thought it would be different. I thought being with a girl would make me feel safe. It did, emotionally. But my body remembered. And I froze again. I wanted to run away from her too. That’s how broken I felt. It doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman. I am still scared. But it was a little different with her. Not because she was a woman but because of who she was.”, I continued telling my innermost fears.

“How was it different with her?”, my therapist asked.

“She has a Master’s in Trauma. I told her about my past and about my struggles. She went above and beyond to make me feel safe. She let me know it was okay for me to say no and asked for my consent. That it was okay to take it slow. There were still instances where my body would go numb and I would witness the disassociation take over my body. I wouldn’t allow her near me in those instances and would retrieve myself into a cacoon. In those times, her education and training helped me bring myself back to my body. She wouldn’t pressure me but just let me be. She wouldn’t get near me but would not leave either, letting me know that I wasn’t alone. And then when I was ready, she would ask me to let it out. She made it safe for me to feel and didn’t treat me like I was broken.

She had a Master’s in Trauma – who has that? It’s as if she came into my life to show me that I can feel safe too with the right person. But not everyone has a Master’s in trauma, do they?”, I told my therapist.

“Sounds like she had a lot of empathy too. And she respected your boundaries. Is that something that you can offer this part of you? Empathy and allowing her to grieve like she wants to?”, my therapist asked me.

“For how long? How long will I keep going down this road?”, I asked.

“If you had a friend who was going through these struggles or if someone you loved had that history, how long will you give them?”, she asked.

“As long as it takes them to feel safe.”, I answered honestly.

“And how will you do that for her?”, she asked.

“By loving her and caring for her. By allowing her to grieve, to feel, and to let out when she feels like she could. By not forcing her to move past that trauma. By playing the role of a healer in her life and by listening to her when she feels like her boundaries are not respected. By continuing to work with her instead of against her. By letting her know with my actions and words that she is safe. By stopping telling her that she’s broken. She has suffered enough to have another trauma added to her pain.”, I responded.

“Is that what she needs? Patience?”, my therapist asked.

“Yes. She keeps asking me to be patient. There is a part of me which is so ready to move on and there is this part that doesn’t trust anyone or anything. Not this society and has no trust in the Universe either.”, I told my therapist.

“It makes sense why she has trouble with trust. Can you see why?”, she asked.

“Yes. She was left to deal with a lot of stuff by herself. This, the teenage years, the accident, the nightmares, the emergence, and her struggle with her identity. She doesn’t believe in a God and doesn’t feel like there is anyone out there to guide us.

It’s so weird to be in this situation because I struggle with something that I have experienced myself.”, I voiced my struggles with faith.

“I can’t imagine how confusing it must be for you. To me, it sounds like a part of you wanted to remember to have faith despite everything that you’ve been through.”, my therapist tried to help me find my strength.

“Yes, there is a part. A part that hopes. That was a big part of my identity growing up. Hope – hope in a better world. That’s why I used to fight for justice. Fight for the vulnerable. You know, my ex had that – hope and a fight for a better future. It’s something I admired in her. But also constantly felt like I had lost somewhere along the way, especially during and after the awakening.

She asked me once, why did I stop? I told her there is no point to fight. I don’t believe that we can be any better. We’ll just continue to hurt each other, to cause pain. That’s what we do. We hurt the vulnerable and we celebrate the predators, the conquerors. We love those who cause us and others pain and we don’t take a stand for those who are hurt. And somehow all these people who cause pain, continue to get what they want. Because no one ever takes a stand against them. We just continue to ignore the impact of their actions and instead make the ones who were hurt, suffer more by isolating them. We make those people heroes who have no empathy but don’t bat an eye before hurting someone who is just trying to survive.”, I laid my heart bare.

“I can see the disappointment that this part of you is carrying. It reminds me of the book that you mentioned last time. Can you tell me again what you read.”, my therapist asked.

“It’s called “Man’s Search for Meaning”. It’s about a man, a psychiatrist actually, who was captured during Holocaust. It talks about his experiences where he witnessed the worst and the best of mankind. It was a miracle he survived but he made it alive. After he was released, he continued the research that he had started before his capture and came up with a type of therapy where he helped people find meaning in their suffering.

He says, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how'”. That’s what his therapy aimed to do. Help people find their “why”. That’s what I feel I have lost – the why.

When I was looking for answers to what is the purpose of it all, I kept re-reading the parts where he says, “Ultimately, we should not ask what the meaning of life is, but rather must recognize that it is us who are askedIt did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from usIt can be said that they (prisoners) were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom—which cannot be taken away—that makes life meaningful and purposeful.“. It’s an inspiring book. I might read it again”.

“What do these words mean to you?”, my therapist asked.

“In the book, he talked about how the prisoners had turned apathetic after witnessing such horrendous acts. I wonder if that’s what most of us have turned into because of all the crimes and injustice we witness every single day. The problem is, I am not that person. I can’t stand injustice and I can’t pretend to be that person, not anymore. I have tried to be silent but it feels like I am going against who I am at my core. And that’s what this part needs from me – to be myself and stop turning into someone I am not – a human being who doesn’t care.

In the dream, when I saw that girl, I was filled with anger. I remember thinking that I wanted to hurt that guy. But my guide, in the dream, asked me to be there with her instead. To stroke her head and help her deal with it because that’s what she needed the most. She needed to be with someone who she could trust and I could be that to her. She needed me to be with her. I think that’s my innermost desire. To find someone who I can trust completely. And also to be by myself and feel safe.

I wonder if, earlier in the dream, the version of my teenage years friend and her continued connection with that guy who had conspired to hurt us represented just that – disappointment in those who choose to ignore the wrongs in the world. Those who don’t take a stand against what’s wrong and choose to, thus, be complacent. Those who don’t act when their action can mean the world to someone in need. They are as responsible for all these sufferings as are the ones who commit such acts. I read a stance in Gita once, “It is a sin to commit injustice, but it is a greater sin to tolerate injustice“. I think I know what that means now. I think I know now why I found it hard to ignore the wrongs.

There was another aspect of that dream. About me feeling vulnerable and not trusting others with the information that I shared with them. I know now what it feels like to have your secrets spilled out without your consent. Your inner desires and feelings are shared with someone you didn’t consent to have that access. You feel vulnerable because a part of you that you had been hiding is out in the open. You fear judgment and criticism. You feel betrayed. You’re hurt. And in cases like mine, you are re-traumatized. I think I can see the importance of trust and privacy more clearly now. I struggled with that lesson when I invaded someone’s privacy and didn’t understand it then but I do now.”, I confessed.

“Sounds like you’re trying to focus on the learnings. That’s a beautiful thing to focus on. How will you summarize your learning?”, my therapist asked. She was finally smiling too.

“I have no idea why I went through any of it. And I have no control over that past either. What I do have control over is where I go from here. And how I can help another person who is going through something similar. That’s the only “why” I can bring myself to care about right now. I don’t know about expecting humans to be any better but I can help myself and those who’ve suffered. Maybe that’s how I find my hope back.”, I wondered. I had finally stopped crying and could feel the heaviness slowly lifting from my heart.

“Helping others can be a form of therapy itself. You’ve experienced so much in your life and you have much wisdom to share from your learnings. A lot of people can benefit from that. I sincerely wish you consider it someday.”, the therapist expressed.

“I tried to join a domestic abuse support group to help those who are victims of domestic abuse back when I was in University. I applied but then backed out because I felt that it would be too much for me to handle. Over time, I have taken a step back from any kind of activities concerning women’s empowerment.

But, I’ve realized, that was always what ignited the fire in me to continue. I stopped because there were so many individuals who refused to change. People who were close to me or people who sometimes I admired continued to lead their lives with limited beliefs. People who had the power to speak up chose to remain silent. I witnessed that in my own family and among my friends and I lost hope. So, I stopped trying.

I’ve also worked with orphanages and seeing that glimmer of hope in those kids whenever they experienced an act of kindness, was what used to drive me to do something more.

I lost that passion. Especially after the experiences with emergence, I felt too hurt, lost, and alone in my struggles. Too disappointed.

And then, I would see people around me make life decisions and succeed in their lives without much struggle and here I would struggle to find a way to have a good night’s sleep. People do horrible things to each other and move on with life with no care in the world. And here I was, either getting injured or suffering from PTSD. It felt so unfair. That’s why I have been angry with the Universe. That’s why I don’t trust it.”, I expressed the source of my disappointment.

“What does this part of you need from you right now?”, my therapist asked.

“Patience and space to be.

There is another part that’s showing up. It asks me to remember how I’ve struggled but have also continued to find my way. As a kid, I was struggling with my identity so I told myself early on to create a life for myself where I could be free to be me. I never liked the way people around me underestimated the role of women in society so I told myself that I will find my freedom. That kid would be really proud of me right now. I am now in one of the most inclusive countries in the world. When I was struggling with the accident, I found a way to heal my body and found a career path for myself that I wanted instead of settling for what I was given. When I was struggling with the esoteric experiences, I kept fighting to find my ground. I brought myself therapists and healers who could help me and found a way to support myself throughout the way. When the fracture happened, I found a community of friends who supported me throughout my healing. When I was unsure of my future, I found a way to make myself feel safer. I keep showing up for myself. I keep finding my way. In your words, I keep manifesting the relationships that I need at that point in my journey.

The female part in me just wonders sometimes if I am just fighting with the Universe since I was a kid because it feels like the pieces have always been set up against me. So it feels like it’s always me vs the Universe. It feels tired of fighting.”, I expressed.

“What do you think?”, she asked.

“My ex used to say that my highest self wanted an intense course for spiritual awakening. She said it wanted me to experience everything in this life because it’s a high achiever.

I think I believe her, as crazy as that sounds. For some reason, I chose to experience this, to heal, and to keep moving on. And for some reason, this was the path. I sincerely hope it makes some sense someday.

I’ve started to ask myself if I am doing something because it will bring struggle or because it will bring me happiness. If it’s the former, I reconsider my situation and the next step. I’ve also started to pray to let me breathe.”, I expressed my opinion on my life.

“Maybe that’s just what it is. Do you think you look for struggles?”, my therapist asked.

“I recently realized that I do, yes. As a kid, I wanted to live a life where I was not as “privileged” as I was while living with my family. I didn’t allow my family to help me whenever I could and took it upon myself to find my way. I moved to a new city and, then, to a new country when I didn’t need to. I chose to live away from everyone I loved and who loved me to find myself. I chose to live by myself even after a year of struggles with the awakening. And now, I am in a completely new place. Although when I made the decision to move here, it was to find a break from all those struggles and find some peace. We’ll see how this turns out.”, I confessed.

“Do you know why you do that? Find the harder path?”, my therapist asked. I felt like she was onto something.

“I wanted to find myself. I used to believe that if I didn’t go down the harder path, I won’t understand what it is like to make it through. I won’t be free. I told myself that I need to struggle because that’s what I am meant to do.”, I realized.

“Why do think that’s the case?”, she asked.

“I think I believed that I don’t deserve to be happy. I don’t deserve to be loved for who I am. I am too broken to be loved by anyone. I wonder if a part of that comes from my identity and another part because I always felt like I was not normal.

I believed that the more I struggled, the more I could prove to myself that I deserve any of that.”, I uncovered a belief that I have held onto for years.

“Do you think that’s true now?”, she asked.

“Logically, no. But I don’t know. I have to still learn to love myself unconditionally. I have to continue to heal myself and find myself with love.”, I told her.

“Have you? Found yourself?”, she asked.

“I think I’ve found parts of myself that were either hidden or lost. Now, I have to remind myself that I don’t always need to struggle to find myself. There are other ways to do it.

Sometimes I feel like I am going back to who I was when I was a kid. That makes me feel good because it tells me that I am getting over some of the past hurts and bringing myself closer to who I really am. I just need to continue to bring myself some healing.”, I told her.

“I hope you can see how you’re doing that. Every time you blog, every time you cry, every time you uncover a belief that’s holding you back, and every time you have a therapy session, you’re healing parts of yourself. It takes time but you’ll get where you want to be. I believe in you.”, my therapist said with a smile.

“I hope so. Look at that, I found some hope already.”

Changing Realities

“I need to work on something but I need your help with it. It’s been troubling me for a long time and I can’t understand what to do with it.”, I asked my therapist.

“Yes, tell me.”, she replied.

I feel like I am a terrible person. I betrayed her trust and I can’t seem to get to a point where I can let it go. I feel stuck.”, I told her.

What happened?”, she asked

I went through her personal messages. I think she hates me for it and, honestly, she should. I was not convinced by what she was telling me, about any of it. And I felt very guilty of doing that without realizing.”, I told her.

What were you looking for?”, she asked

Truth. I felt like she had been lying to me about something. I just knew and I had no way to prove it. I had no reason to doubt her except for this feeling. And I went behind her back and read her messages.

I can’t forgive myself for it. I genuinely didn’t know how guilty I felt about that until recently. I am quite slow in processing emotions.”, I confessed.

“What did you realize?”, she asked

That there were a lot of feelings at that moment – hurt from knowing that she had told him, guilt from how she was stressed out because of me, and more guilt from knowing that I betrayed her trust. I ignored the last part as much as I could.”, I told her

“What do you think was the reason for snooping?”, she asked

“I was sure she wasn’t telling the truth. I don’t know how I knew it but I knew that she had been lying. Not just about telling him about me but about a couple of other things.

I confronted her about some of those things but she denied it every time. And I knew that she was lying again. And it sucked. I didn’t try to find the truth for any of the other stuff because none of that was about me. But for this topic, I couldn’t stop myself because it was directly related to me. I had this fear that if my doubts were right, then, she would leave after I left the city and I wouldn’t even know why. It had happened before and it would happen again. It’s as if I already knew that I was saying bye to her for longer than I would have liked. When I finally read the messages, I knew that I was right.

I texted her confessing that I had read her messages. A part of me wished I hadn’t and another part of me was glad that I did. I was being foolish to think that I could trust her to keep that to herself and I couldn’t be made a fool of anymore. But it didn’t feel good.

Moreover, now when I look back, I can see that if I hadn’t read those messages, none of this would have happened. I wouldn’t have had those panic attacks, I wouldn’t have had a mental breakdown, and I wouldn’t have had that experience of awakening. It was all my fault.“, I confessed.

What did you read that caused you to have panic attacks?”, she asked

Insults – a lot of them. Him telling her not to talk to me and not to care about me. She told me that she felt guilty asking me for help during her interview. He was apparently angry with her for telling me about the interview. His messages sounded angry. Like he was upset with her for asking me for help or telling me anything about what was going on with her life. It sounded like he really hated me. She even told him that once I leave, our communications will stop.

I felt unsafe. I felt like my secrets were not safe and even psychologically I couldn’t rely on that connection because it itself was not safe. I wanted to run away. I hid when I saw them the next day and had a panic attack but I didn’t know why I was feeling that way. After that day, I started having these nightmares where I would run into her and try to talk to her. And then he would show up. And I would feel scared of him knowing everything about me. Of her knowing everything about me and sharing it with him. My hidden secrets. Parts of me that I didn’t want anyone to know – my feelings, my sexuality, and my snooping. I would look to her to say something, to take a stand for me, to protect me, or to tell me that she doesn’t hate me. She never did. She just stood by him and looked at me in all those dreams and I felt disappointed with myself. Not worthy of anything. Every time, I would wait for her to say something. Every time, she just stood there and sometimes turned her back and walked away. And then I would wake up with another panic attack.

It was only months later when I woke up after another dream that I realized what was going on. By that time, she had already left. I used to think that I got those nightmares because I was heartbroken. I was in love with her and she loved him. I thought my brain was still processing those feelings. But no, it was that trapped fear and guilt that kept showing up.“, I told her.

What did you feel at the moment?”, she asked

I forgave her because I could see that most of those messages started with him telling her to stop being friends with me. She was trying to handle it even if it wasn’t the best way to handle the situation. If she wanted to leave, she would have done that a long time back. For me, it was tougher to see that she did not tell him to stop and portrayed a picture of him to me that wasn’t exactly true. I didn’t have any judgments of him at the time but he did. And knowing what he felt about me, she was intentionally asking me to put myself in a situation where I would have been disrespected. Truth is, I wouldn’t have wanted to stay in that situation but I would have for her. That’s what I ultimately did after finding out. I meant it when I told her that I wanted her in my life. I can only assume that she was worried that I won’t want to stick around and that it wasn’t a big deal. I don’t know if she was lying to him or to me or to herself but I know that I was lying to myself by telling myself that I could make it work.

The guilt of my actions, however, just got buried deep somewhere. I felt as if I had done something that couldn’t be forgiven. She respected me even if some of her actions were ill-advised. And I lost that respect. She didn’t bring it up until she wrote that email but that was the one thing in that email that was truer than anything else she wrote or said to me. It’s sad how we went from trying to keep each other in our lives to receiving a goodbye email within a few weeks.

In that video call, there was an instance when I told her something like, “I know your love is different and I should respect it”. She looked at me with contempt. By the sentence, I meant that I didn’t have to care about what she felt about me and it didn’t have to matter if she did not have romantic feelings for me. She loved me as a friend and that was enough. But I saw the contempt on her face. And that sucked. I genuinely felt like she had started to look down upon me and that’s why I tried my best to avoid her while I was in that city. I couldn’t bring myself to face that hatred. And I felt that I deserved it. I lost her respect and that sucked.”, I recalled.

You were feeling vulnerable in those moments. You had a friend who you were in love with who did not reciprocate those feelings. You had shared a part of you with her that you had kept hidden since you were a kid. That kid in you was scared of opening up. You told her about your sexuality which you were still trying to slowly open up about. You were not out of the closet yet you trusted her with your secret. Then, you also trusted her with your feelings for her. It was a very vulnerable moment for you. It’s natural to feel scared. On top of that, something was telling you that something was off. The scared part of you felt unsafe. I am not asking you to justify your snooping around but I am asking you if you can have compassion for this part of you who was trying to protect you from getting hurt. Something in you was telling you that you were not safe”, she guided me to slowly acknowledge my guilt and see the whole circumstances.

I can try to have compassion for this part. I wasn’t safe psychologically in that situation. It was hurting me to be in that situation. It reminds me of all those times I have felt scared of someone knowing about my sexuality.”, I told her

“Is there a part of you that wants to talk about your respect for yourself?”, she asked

I am not the best human being. I am not. I was broken in a lot of ways. But, I tried to be as good as I could be. It’s not easy for me to make close connections. I keep people at a distance for as long as I can. If someone comes across as not having a good heart, I distance myself from them right away. Meeting her was different. She kind of grew up on me with time and I could see how much she respected me despite all my shortcomings. Breaking her trust, was not something that I could let go of.

Feeling like she hates me, has been tough. And that’s what I had been feeling for so long. I am used to people not liking me – that’s nothing new. But her hating me, was difficult to witness. I told myself that I wanted to avoid running into her because it would hurt me knowing she left. I only recently realized that it was because I didn’t want to see that hatred or contempt for me in her eyes. I wouldn’t have been able to take it. It was never about what I felt for her. It was about what she meant to me and the respect that we had for each other that was lost along the way.

Apart from those recurring dreams, there was another recurring dream with just her. In those dreams, she would be helping me with something. Like making sense of what was happening to me. And the moment I would realize that it was a dream, I would try to talk to her. She would walk away. I would apologize but she would keep walking or just look at me and I would be filled with guilt. I tried so many times to figure out what that look meant and what was I feeling but I couldn’t. Now, I know. In all those dreams, I felt guilty about what I had done, her knowing about it and her feeling filled with contempt towards me.” I confessed.

I have to tell you something regarding whether or not she hates you. Tanu, I want you to see that your being vulnerable with her was a show of strength. It scared you yet you did that. Despite everything that happened, you found a way to be compassionate with her and found a way to forgive her. That again shows your strength – compassion towards those who made a mistake. You made a mistake too. Whether or not she finds her strength to forgive you, it’s not an indication of who you are. Her forgiveness is for her to find, not yours. Just like yours was yours to find.”, she said

Thank you. I didn’t realize that I needed to hear that. My guilt was mine to address, not hers. Her anger is hers to address, not mine.”, I told her

“Tell me something, why do you feel guilty about invading her privacy?”, she asked

“Because it was wrong. And this wasn’t the only time I did that.

I have a pattern. When I doubt that someone close to me is lying, I can sense it. Most of the time, I don’t have a reason to doubt them. I just know that they’re lying. I confront them and sometimes they tell me the truth. When they don’t and I keep feeling the same way, I resort to snooping. It has been a pattern since I was a kid.

None of those relationships go anywhere from there. My first boyfriend, I snooped on him because I had a feeling that he was cheating on me. I asked him and he denied it. I found the messages and learned that he was. In my longest relationship, I had the same doubt. I kept asking him for years. He denied. I snooped and found that he was. He was cheating which he denied again. When we broke up, I found an email. This time I wasn’t snooping. He forgot to remove an email from our shared email account. He denied it again. I never had any proof so I let it be and continued until I couldn’t anymore. And it hasn’t just happened with people I had romantic feelings for. It has happened with family members too and I found out something that has stayed with me for years. That’s how it started in the first place. Unfortunately, I have always been right about my suspicions.”, I confessed

“Why do you say it’s unfortunate?”, she asked.

Because I was always right. So, whenever a suspicion like that comes up, it’s rare that I won’t find anything. And that just confirms to me that there is a lie. I snoop again and get hurt again. The cycle does not stop. This was the first time when someone told me that my actions hurt them. And I realized that I had broken her trust too. I already knew that when I told her but I was just denying it. Truth is I never felt guilty about snooping in the past because it always gave me the answers. But, in her case, I felt like I betrayed her. And I couldn’t bring myself to admit it.

I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to snoop around anymore. But I don’t know what to do.”, I responded.

Tell me this, what makes you feel suspicious?”, she asked

I can’t figure it out. It’s something about the way they talk. The white lies and denials. Maybe it’s also about the fact that I know that they’ve lied in the past. In her case, the first time she lied, I just saw it in her eyes? I know that sounds cliche but that’s what happened. She denied something. And it wasn’t anything related to my sexuality. It was a completely different topic. I told her that I knew that she was lying but she kept denying it. That stayed with me., I recalled.

How did it make you feel when you sensed that she was lying that first time?”, she asked

Betrayed. It wasn’t what she lied about but that she was lying to me that hit me hard. I remember my reaction – I was taken aback quite literally. Anyway, at the time, I was also aware of what I was feeling for her. So I just dropped the topic because I had to take care of those feelings first.”

When you told her about your feelings, what were you expecting?”, she asked

I was struggling. Some of our conversations were confusing to me. I wanted us to maintain a boundary because those conversations were giving me hope. So I told her. In the past, I had always kept those feelings to myself. But this time, I didn’t want to make the same mistake. It was also exceptionally difficult to keep those feelings to myself given that we were together all the time. I wanted to let it out. That way if she felt something, she could let me know. If she didn’t, I could bring myself out of that confusion.”, I responded.

What other instances have you sensed that the other person was lying?”, she asked

Both my exes were liars. They constantly lied to everyone around them. I could feel it when they were lying to me. I knew that yet I told myself that it wasn’t a big deal. My friend from high school was the biggest liar of all time. She manipulated everyone to whom she came close. I am not sure if I snooped on her but I think I am always scared of feeling used and manipulated since that experience. So whenever I sense something is off, I get scared of feeling manipulated like that again.

But I had snooped on my family members before then so I can’t figure out what’s driving this behavior in me.”, I continued to tell my therapist what I had found out as a kid.

Sounds like you’re carrying a lot of relationship wounds. Your family, your friends, and your relationships. In some way or the other, they had betrayed your trust and lied to you. What happened with your high school friend?”, she asked

Every word from her mouth was a lie or a manipulation technique. We met when I was in grade 8 and we instantly became friends. I liked her because she was different from the other students. She was very helpful and kind.

After 2 years, I realized that I had developed a crush on her. Well, as much as I could realize because I couldn’t admit it to myself completely or understand what it meant to feel that way for a girl. So, I would just be nice to her and support her. At the same time, she started to date around. When I would ask her if she was dating anyone, she would lie and someone else would come and tell me the truth. I ignored it because I knew that the students in our class were judgmental and so I thought that was her way of protecting herself.

But when her ex from high school, who would eventually become my first boyfriend, reached out to me after their breakup, he told me so many things that she had just lied to me about for all the time that I had known her. Some lies were just ridiculous and didn’t even make any sense. But I also got to know something about her experience with her family that I realized could have been the reason behind all her lies. I thought it was her protective mechanism and she didn’t know what a healthy friendship/relationship looked like. So, I empathized with her and told her what her ex had told me. She was surprised but didn’t seem to care as much. However, I told him to stop telling me personal things about her because it wasn’t right. If she wanted me to know something, she would.

Over the years, several situations came up when she continued to lie. One time, she lied about her family situation and how her parents were treating her. I felt so bad about it that I missed my exam and went to her home to give her emotional support. Years later, my cousin who was also her family friend told me that it wasn’t true. Things were not great at her place but they were never as bad as she kept portraying all those years. Most of what she had told us about her family was not accurate. They loved her and have always supported her if anything.

Then, there was the manipulation. Once she blamed me for not telling her how to prepare for her exams. She would continuously miss classes to be with whoever she was dating at the time. Then, she would call me and ask me to spend hours with her to help her prepare. One time, I didn’t go over something with her because she was not available. I didn’t reach out either because I thought it wasn’t my responsibility. The next day, she blamed me for not being a good friend or a friend whom she could trust. And she would keep doing it in different scenarios and I would doubt myself. I would believe all her lies and even if I knew that she was lying, I would tell myself that it was somehow related to her relationship with her parents. That she didn’t mean to hurt me but was just misunderstanding the situation. I kept empathizing with her and kept lying to myself that things were not as bad as they appeared.

After high school, she started dating a guy who was a controlling narcissist. He would tell her to break contact with her friends and treat her like crap, abusing her and saying all these horrible things to her. I told her that I didn’t like him for her and that she deserved better. She told her boyfriend what I said and he asked her to choose. She made the choice but forgot to tell me. Instead, she blamed me for being controlling. Soon everything I did or said resulted in a fight. She would yell at me and tell me that I was a horrible friend. Until one day, I stopped trying.

I would always try to prove that I was a good friend. The number of times I tried to mend that friendship is insane and I was treated like dirt. I broke down a lot of times during that year. Almost a year later, she came back and apologized. Told me what had happened with her and her, then, ex. He had broken up with her after a couple of months over something petty. I was dating her ex at the time and things just kept getting worse. The day I called her to tell her that he was cheating on both of us, she told me to go to hell. That I was the one lying.

This time, it took her 9 months to come back and apologize. But, fortunately, I had told my sister what happened and she talked some sense into me. I also had some good friends by then whom I could trust and learn what real friendship was like. So, I didn’t continue any contact with her and asked her to leave. Even then she yelled at me for not giving her a chance. Since then, she has tried to reach out multiple times but I never responded. Until a few years ago when we spoke again. That single call helped me realize how she was still the same. She was still manipulative. This time, she tried to pin everything on our common ex. I mean he was an asshole, don’t get me wrong. But, she was not less. I had made mistakes too and so had she. But she didn’t take accountability for anything. For the first time, I felt bad for my ex. After they broke up, he had also come back and told me that he felt like she confused him. Like she had some kind of spell on him. I didn’t believe him but that day on the call with her, I could see it. She had been using the same manipulating tactics on him for years. Love bombing, gaslighting, playing the victim card, confusing you about your truth, etc. And he couldn’t bring himself out of it. He was no saint but he was also stuck. I at least got out of it but sounded like he was still stuck. She was married to someone else at the time. Yet, she continued to manipulate him. I never spoke to her again after that call.

The worst thing was who I had become and the way I reacted to all that. At one point, I pretended to be someone I was not to get her to see me in a light that I wanted her to. I couldn’t even confess that to anyone until today. It was sad to see who I had become just to get her to approve of me. I felt disappointed with myself. I ended up manipulating her too. Before I knew it, I was too far gone.

The amount of time, money, and resources that I spent on that connection is insane. I was a teenager, and I didn’t have much money, to begin with. I ignored all other relationships and even my career to keep her in my life. And kept trying to make that connection work. I made myself a supporting character in my own story and spent years trying to convince her that I was a good friend. That realization of being the supportive character in my own story was what finally brought me out of that situation. I didn’t want that for myself anymore.”, I recalled

“I am so sorry that happened to you. That sounds like a perfect example of a narcissistic connection. Can you see why you were trying to prove yourself to her?”, she asked.

I did not love myself. I was also not self-confident. I didn’t even trust myself to walk away when I could have. I believed that if she could see my worth, then, I could prove to myself that I deserved something. If she, my best friend, couldn’t, then who would. I wanted to prove that I was normal and I gave her the power to make me feel normal/abnormal.“, I confessed.

“Do you know how this and your experience with your family has played a role in your subsequent experiences?”, she asked, knowing that I was close to cracking the key to my instincts for snooping.

One of my very close friends had pointed that out to me a long time back – that I was carrying that pain even when she and our common ex were not in my life. That experience made me feel scared of getting hurt. If someone close to me lies to me, it triggers that wound.

But I ignored the triggers too. Ignoring my instincts, not trusting myself, and believing that small lies don’t mean anything to me is me in denial of what I am experiencing at the moment. There are always signs that I pick up.

Once I would find out the lie, I would lose trust in the person but not acknowledge it. Then, things would slowly deteriorate from that point.

Perhaps that’s what happened with her too. I was sure that she was hiding something and lying to me about it. But, instead of recognizing that as a sign for me to take a step back, I kept focusing on the fear of losing her and didn’t pay enough attention to anything else that was going on. I hated it every time I tried to make it work while knowing that she had stopped putting in the effort. I had promised myself not to act that way again. But I did and it sucked to see myself going down that path again.”, I responded

How does it make you feel now realizing everything that happened?”, she asked.

I might not completely understand why I do this but I know that there is a behavior that’s not serving me well anymore. Reading about trauma helped me realize that this is a tendency of people who have suffered childhood trauma – they stay in situations far longer than they need to. They keep giving chances and hope that they’re treated better by the same person who hurt them.

What happened with the high school friend was in some ways just re-enacted with her. I had feelings for someone who didn’t feel the same way and had a boyfriend who did not want me in her life. I was scared that his stance will ultimately result in driving her away. And I didn’t want that to happen. We both lied to each other and things just went downhill from there.

Unlike any of my past experiences, I know she didn’t mean to intentionally hurt or manipulate me. She cared about me as much as I cared about her. But, alas, the circumstances resulted in triggering me the same way as they had all those years back. And I acted the same way as I did back then. She couldn’t have known and neither could I have. So I can’t blame her or him for anything that happened. I can just try to not carry that trauma into my future connections.”,

“What do you want to do next time you’re in a similar situation?”, she asked

“That’s what confuses me. I never have a proof. It’s just a feeling. A very strong feeling, probably based on my past interactions with that person. But that’s all that it is – a feeling. I have confronted all of them. They all denied it. But the feeling doesn’t go away and I feel stuck.

So without a proof, how do I go on from there?”, I asked.

You let them know that being honest is a core value for you. You’ve had experiences in the past where people have lied and it has deeply hurt you.

To me, it sounds like forgiveness comes naturally to you. You’re quite good at empathizing and letting go. But it’s the lies that get to you. You’re also very good at picking up people’s behaviors. So when something feels off, a part of you connects the dots. It also sounds like there are small incidents that happen here and there that this part of you picks up because it considers those incidents important enough for you to remember. So when things feel off, this part of you raises the alarm. It sounds like a protector. Protecting you from getting hurt again.”, my therapist analyzed.

Yes. It’s the small change in behavior or tone or something else. When they lie again, I feel gaslighted and invalidated. Then, I start to doubt myself until I can’t anymore. I give in and cross the boundaries. By then, the trust is already broken and when I get the evidence about the lie, the behavior is reinforced. I feel like I am in a battle with myself where a part of me tells me that there is a lie and another part tells me that I should trust them because there is no evidence.

I have been struggling with this for months and I don’t know how to manage such situations. I feel it and I ask them if my suspicion is true. They deny but the feeling stays.

She denied it too. I confronted her multiple times and she denied it. Before letting her know that I had read her messages, I asked her again, hoping that she would tell me the truth. She snapped at me and told me that she didn’t know what was wrong with me. That she had told me multiple times that it wasn’t true and that she couldn’t keep having the same conversation with me. She actually snapped and I ignored that too.

My ex told me that if I ask him again then our relationship will be doomed. Those reactions scare me because I don’t want to lose anyone just because of suspicion, especially when those people mean a lot to me.

I feel like I am stuck in an ethical dilemma – I don’t snoop and they continue to lie. I fear getting hurt and eventually will be hurt. On the other hand, I snoop and I cross a boundary and we’re all hurt.

With her, I don’t know what she would have done had I not read her texts. She had told him that she would back out so maybe she would have just done that without telling me. And I would have always assumed that it was because I crossed my boundaries in multiple ways. After all, that’s what her email said – I was not a friend anymore. I believe she had a reason for doing that which I can’t understand today. So, I empathize with her nonetheless. I genuinely don’t believe that she had any ill intentions. If anything, I think she was trying to make something work that was doomed to fail – her relationship along with her friendship. And by the end, she too was hurt too much. One of those connections had to go. It happened to be me.

Irrespective of how it would have turned out, I don’t want to betray someone else again like that. But, I also don’t want to continue in a situation where I could be hurt. How do I continue?”, I asked

“You answered that yourself. You trust yourself. You give them a chance and tell them how important it is for you that they don’t lie. They most probably are insecure about how you would perceive them if you found out the truth. Maybe when you question them, they’re forced to see something about themselves that they are not ready to witness. It might also scare them to lose you.

So next time, you give them a chance and tell them that they won’t lose you if they’re honest. You give them time to open up. You let them know that you’ll stand by them irrespective of whatever it is that they’re hiding. But you also let them know that if they continue to lie and you find it out, then, there will be no going back. If they still lie and you don’t feel convinced, you have a conversation with them. Depending on how that conversation goes, you decide if you want to stay or move on or change the nature of that relationship.

In any of these cases, did you ever decide to walk away after finding the lie?”, she asked

No, I continued to stay but things only got worse with me staying if they continued to lie. I couldn’t trust them anymore. After the incident, anything they said or did appeared to be a lie to me. I couldn’t trust them anymore.”, I realized

Then you let them know that. You trust yourself and for them to stay, they will need to provide you the psychological safety of knowing that they’re honest. You deserve that.

If next time a situation comes up when you feel like you have to snoop through their personal messages, ask yourself if it’s worth it. You’ve been down that road before. A part of you already knows that they’re not telling the truth. So you trust that part that’s protecting you and choose yourself.”, she guided me

This will be new to me but I can see how that might be more helpful. By putting myself through that experience, I keep repeating the cycle. Trust is still lost and I just stay in that connection to convince myself that the connection is still alive, when it is not. Then, I do something which is not ideal – invading their privacy.

You know it was different with my past two relationships. I never doubted the guy. I knew he was honest. And with the girl, she was extremely honest, probably more than what we needed. Neither of them backed out of tough conversations irrespective of with whom. I never doubted any of them”, I realized

Sounds like they showed you in your interactions and in their connections with those around them that you could trust them. Trust is important for you. Freedom, trust, and safety seem to be your most important values. Next time, if you meet someone who doesn’t align with those values, maybe ask yourself if you want to develop a deeper connection with them.

Not everyone needs to be a close friend or a partner. They can just be acquaintances or friends at a distance. Maybe don’t open up to them completely. That way you’ll also recognize your boundaries and will continue to keep them intact.”, she guided me.

I can do that. Sometimes it’s not about how big of a lie it is, what matters is what it represents. For me, it represents an unsafe atmosphere. We all make mistakes and we all try to hide those mistakes. But that’s all they are – mistakes and our guilt for doing something we should not do. Most of the time, our punishment for ourselves is bigger than the mistake itself. But gaslighting and invaliding others is an intentional action that makes others doubt themselves. In my case, it also plays with the fear of losing someone I don’t want to. That’s not something that I want to approve of anymore.

Thank you. I really needed this.”, I replied, feeling a little freer than before.


“I know it wasn’t easy for you. People often underestimate the impact of their words and actions. When we’re in love, we sometimes fail to see parts of our loved ones that need some healing. What else has helped you in dealing with the situation?”, she asked.

“Writing it all down helped. The last time I tried, I ended up pulling down the blog and later the website before anyone could read it. I couldn’t sleep and my mind and entire body started to hurt. So, I decided to take a break because it was getting overwhelming.

Finally, relating to her helped. With everything else that was happening, I had refused to acknowledge that I wasn’t the only one who was hurting. There were two people in that friendship. We were at least honest with each other about not wanting to lose it. I wasn’t the only one in that connection. We were just stupid to not see that even something as pure as a friendship can be tarnished by fragile egos and circumstances.

Something shifted in me the moment I acknowledged her pain, her struggles, and the fact that she also lost a friend. I actually cried when I finally allowed myself to connect with her and all I could feel was that I wasn’t the only one for whom it was tough to go through any of it. I at least found people to talk to but, knowing her, I am not sure if she would have sought out anything for herself, let alone acknowledge it. I hope that she did. It would have been tougher when you don’t even know why you’re feeling the way you are or why you’re acting the way you are. That anger turned into compassion once I considered how I would have felt extremely confused if I were in her place. So I imagined her just sitting there going through something, whatever it is or was, without understanding any of it. Or feeling confused after what I told her. In a way though, it doesn’t even matter whether she was confused or not. She still lost a friend and that sucks.

I laugh at myself now when I recall the way I reacted to that part of her. You know I actually snapped at that part and asked her to go back. I told her that instead of helping me, she should talk to herself. And that part of her, always just responded with this smile and love that made me even angrier. It was as if she knew I wasn’t angry, just hurt. As if she knew that I just wanted my friend back. It made me angry to know that she could see through my ego.”

“It’s beautiful to hear that you found a way to be compassionate. We don’t always have the strength to do that”, my therapist replied in kind.

“It helped to finally be able to cry. It’s been happening more these days so I guess I am crying for both of us? I don’t even know anymore.”, I replied laughing.

“What makes you laugh?”

“I remember I was sitting in her house one day and I got this feeling that I was with my daughter. It took me aback. After a few days, I felt like I was with a long-lost sister. Then, the feelings evolved into something else just to go back to – oh but she is the best friend I had been missing.

I am laughing at the absurdity of it all because how could we have responded any differently? How could we have managed it any better? Do I ignore what I experienced or does she just believe what I say? It’s almost as if we were doomed to hurt each other from the very beginning.

The problem for me is – how to feel all these feelings and not get overwhelmed. To relate to her, I also imagined if someone was coming at me with all those strong feelings and was feeling as disoriented as I was, won’t I be scared? Won’t I try to hide? And the answer was – probably yes especially when I had no idea what the hell was going on.”

“I can tell you that the answer is not to ignore how you’re feeling. You feel that love – all those forms of love and you also feel that pain. In our sessions, I’ve seen you come around and ultimately have compassion and love for anyone who has ever hurt you. You’re an empath so you also feel other people’s emotions. I can imagine that you deal with a lot of feelings and energy in a day. Sometimes yours, sometimes others. In the past, what has helped you and what hasn’t?”

“Ignoring never helps like you said. Acknowledging helps. Asking myself whose emotions those are, helps. Connecting with my body and listening to what it needs, helps. In her case, not lying to her and myself helps. And having compassion for both of us helps. I don’t want to lead with my ego anymore. I am done running or chasing something that’s out of my control.”

“Then you continue to do that. What you’ve experienced not a lot of people do. You’re the way you were meant to be. Always remember that.”

“My best friend said the same thing to me before I moved here. Her daughter wrote it down for me so that I can remind myself that every single day.

I’ve noticed another shift in me. I used to be so completely numb to emotional movies or tragedies. And now, you show me something and I’ll just end up feeling all of it. It’s good to know that I have emotions and feelings. Just need to figure out a way to not get overwhelmed.”

“Looks like the protector we spoke to the other day who protects you from getting overwhelmed, has been working very hard throughout your life. He is now also willing to give you some space to acknowledge some of those emotions. Your parts have started to trust you.”, my therapist pointed out the protector we had identified in one of our earlier IFS sessions.

“Yes, he is always here – protecting me from getting hurt and from hurting myself. And you’re right, my parts have slowly started to trust me. They know that I’ll find a way to connect. I won’t ignore myself, my feelings, and my body anymore. Well, they make sure that I don’t. Just yesterday, I made a decision solely based on how my body was reacting. And it turned out to be the right one for me”, I reflected.

“How are some of those parts doing especially the kid and the female?”, my therapist asked getting back to IFS.

“Kid is simply curious all the time. It helps to connect with that part especially when I interact with new people or seek out new experiences. It just wants to have fun.

The female is starting to trust me more with her emotions. She carries some heaviness and still feels the need to protect herself. But she showed me how we can’t ignore the pain within us and around us. She showed how by hiding our true desires, our feelings, and our hurt, we simply halt our progress. We can’t grow unless we learn to sit with our emotions. For spiritual growth, it’s not just the masculine or the mind that needs to expand, but also the feminine, the emotional, nurturing, and creative side of us that needs to evolve. I think that’s what most of us get wrong. It’s not just the mind, it’s all parts of us. I went after my mind with all the meditation I did and ignored the pain that my body was carrying.

She also showed me why it’s difficult for her to trust. She showed me how my entire life has been about surviving and not really surrendering. And how in order to survive, I had forgotten how to just be. She taught me that if we all continue to ignore who we are and what we feel, we won’t be able to heal ourselves or others. Instead, we can empathize and surrender. We can love, be compassionate, and continue healing. She just needs to know that it’s safe to feel and that she won’t be hurt again. That I won’t hurt her again with my ignorance and resistance. That I’ll continue to love no matter what.

I’ve been questioning the point of life, the purpose of it all. It sometimes feels like we’re all just finding something to get busy with so that we can assign meaning to it. So we choose what will keep us entertained – a struggle, a dream, a career, a partner, or a family. There doesn’t seem like more to it.

I’ve been asking for guidance. It just so happened that after our last session, I came across a book – that’s something that happens when I need some guidance and when it’s time for me to find the answer that I am seeking.

Anyway, this book felt like it was talking to me. It answered the questions I was asking myself and actually provided me the guidance I need right now”, I continued to tell my therapist about the book and the lessons it taught me.

“Do you see how you keep manifesting your reality? You brought me into your life. I didn’t manifest this relationship, you did. You brought this book into your life. And you can manifest the future you want.”, My therapist expressed

“I am starting to see it.

A few months back, a friend gave me a book – “The Forest of Enchantments”. I didn’t even know how much I needed that book until I read it. To read a book remotely related to spirituality was a big deal for me after all those experiences. But I gave it a shot and it was totally worth it. Can you imagine that this random book talked about the spiritual experiences that I had and talked about them in a way that I could relate to? Like how it would happen to a person living in this reality but who is also slightly aware of what’s happening in the other reality(s)? And to top it all, it talked about female empowerment. I couldn’t put the book down once I started.

But I am trying to accept all this more. Or at least be more open about it all. It’s just a little difficult to believe it when I look at the past and think about certain experiences. But, yes, I am starting to believe.”

“One step at a time. Going back to her, where are you going to go from here?”

“Well, I think that part of her answered that question for me a long time back. I just failed to see it. When I was trying to find my way, she continued to have compassion and looked through my hurt and ego, without really expecting anything in return. I’ll do the same.”

“Will you continue to blog?”

“Yes. I’ll know when to. It’s like sometimes there is an intense feeling to write. And it won’t go away until I do. There is already another topic in my mind that I need to write about. I ran into a blockage last year which made it difficult to write. I still wrote but most of the time, I chose not to. But something changed a few months back and I could write again. So I’ll continue to let my intuition guide me. It’ll keep coming out when the time is right.”

“It has been a good tool to help you process. Someday, I would want you to share your learnings with others under your name.”

“Haha. Someday!”


Part 1

“How do you feel about your upcoming move?”

“There are a lot of mixed feelings. There are so many things that I will miss about this place but I am also curious to see how this turns out.”, I responded.

“What are you most excited about?”, she asked.

“The place itself and the opportunity to explore a new land. I had this dream as a kid that I want to travel and live in as many places as I could to learn about different cultures. I had this belief that we’re not meant to stay in one place and that for our growth, moving to different places and making new connections helps with the growth. I’ve been proven right till now so curious to see what this next move will bring.”, I explained.

“What will you miss the most about here?”, she asked.

“Everything – people, apartment, activities, food, weather, and location. It’s a beautiful place and has a lot to offer depending on what you’re looking for. There are so many memories and a lot of conflicting feelings around those memories.

I’ll definitely miss it and the people I met here.”, I said lost in thoughts.

“Would you like to talk more about those conflicting feelings?”, she asked.

“On the one hand, I feel like I have experienced more expansion here than I could have anticipated, and, on the other hand, it has also been emotionally challenging. One reason I decided to come here was to give myself a chance to open up about who I am and provide myself an opportunity to expand. After a lot of twists and turns, I feel like I am in a better position now than when I started. It just came with a lot of struggles. I feel tired. My body is exhausted yet I feel fulfilled if that makes sense.”

“It does. It wasn’t an easy journey that you embarked upon and yet you made it this far.”, she responded with a smile on her face.

“I did. Trust me, there were times when I wondered if I should give up. But I am glad I didn’t. And I appreciate all the support I got along the way.”

“Would you like to talk to that part of you that feels tired? What does it say was the hardest part?”, she asked

“Sitting alone in my room and wondering if I’ll ever feel like myself again. And if I would ever smile a real smile again. Now, when I look at myself in the mirror, I can see myself smiling again and that feels so good. What had been stopping me from being myself came to the surface and released in a way that was scary when it happened but also so freeing once it was over. With therapy, I could witness all those experiences that had scared me but in a safe place and they don’t seem as scary as they had all those months back. They still don’t make much sense to me but at least I know that I was never in danger. That knowing helps.”, I exhaled.

“I am glad that therapy helped you get that sense of peace that you had lost during those experiences. What’s your take on that entire experience now?”

“Well, I can see the positives that it brought into my life without negating the impact it had on me because of the way it transpired. I don’t know why it happened the way it did but I at least know what triggered it, and that helps. It also helps to know that I can finally let go of some of the pain and anger that I had been carrying. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if it was just time for it to happen.”

“Would you like to explain that last part?”, she asked.

“I can’t forget that night when all those years back I was looking at the sky and wondering why I was surrounded by so much darkness – within and outside. That was the first time I had acknowledged the darkness I had been living with and all I wanted was to get out of it. Nothing I did brought me happiness. Some things helped me divert my mind but anytime I was by myself, it was hard to breathe. I also can’t forget how before I moved here there was this intense craving to do it the year I did. I didn’t care about the repercussions or how it would impact my life or my relationships. I just remember feeling that it was time and that I couldn’t stay back any longer for even a few months.

The day I knew I had to leave my country to pursue my dreams, I cried wondering what it would mean for my relationship. I knew it would be difficult but I also knew that I had to leave. If I hadn’t moved when I did, things would have looked a lot different.

I get the same feeling now. It’s time to leave, at least for now.”

“I will trust your intuition. You mentioned last time that you went to a hypnotist. How did that go?”

“It was mind-blowing and equal parts enlightening and intense. I witnessed a life that showed me the pain of separation that I have been carrying for God knows how long. It explained where that pain and fear of separation come from. It felt like I just touched that pain for a fraction of a second and yet it was too painful to experience – soul-wrenching. I felt that pain in my body and it was almost unbearable.

Some people I met who had witnessed that experience for themselves had told me that the pain of separation is nothing like any pain they had ever witnessed. And when I experienced it myself, I realized how right they were.

Separately, I got answers to a few questions that I had been wondering about. Probably one of the most important takeaways for me was that my theory about DNA is right. It was all in my DNA. All those memories, feelings, and emotions were hiding in my DNA.

When we talk about enlightenment, we think of it as an outward experience. As if something external comes to light. But that’s not it. We just awaken to ourselves. It is nothing but us activating strands of our DNA that have been dormant for a long time. That’s the purpose of it all. All these tools help you do that. I believe it’s the pain and trauma stored in our bodies and DNA that creates a blockage and prevents these strands from getting activated. When my awakening started, these blockages started to fade away and were ready to be released. My body and soul knew that it was time to release. My mind just took some time to settle down.

The initial pain I felt when I had that first panic attack was the trigger. And if that trigger hadn’t happened, none of this would have been possible. I wouldn’t have had those sleepless nights or those recurring dreams and I wouldn’t have turned to meditation as a tool to help relieve that pain. I wouldn’t even have stayed back or moved to this state when I did if the events hadn’t happened in the series that they did. It was all meant to happen.

I still didn’t get an answer to some questions that I have been impatiently waiting to get an answer to but I realized that I will get that answer too when it’s time. Or my resistance to accepting what I already know will fade away.”

“That’s powerful and fascinating. What question are you looking to get an answer to?”

“Why did it have to be that intense and was I disillusioned in my understanding of what happened because of how I was feeling at the time? The other parts of my experience have all proved themselves in one way or another. Premonitions are an everyday reality, seeking guidance is my everyday truth and I have little doubts about past/parallel lives. Soul connections have left me with no doubt about their truth. However, I still am not sure if I made a mistake in interpreting some of it or why..?”

“Yet you can’t understand why it happened?”

“Yes, and if I interpreted it right, what do I do with it? What was the point of remembering? I witnessed the memories and energies stored in my DNA. My body illuminated with strands of those DNA. The hypnotist asked me to remove those pieces from my DNA and to remove the memories stating that they didn’t need to be there. She said it doesn’t matter whether it stays in my DNA or not, it won’t change the truth. But I was just so mesmerized by it that I couldn’t do it. It felt so surreal. I was also scared of what happens if I remove it? What happens when I forget? I am the only one who remembers. At the same time, can I trust what I see? I want to accept it but…”

“But? What do you fear will happen if you accept it for what it was?”

“I won’t know what to do with it. I’ll end up relieving that pain and I will not know why it is the way it is. It changes nothing. I’ll go down a rabbit hole from where there is no turning back. I had dreams for two years of an event that was about to happen in the future. Two years of dreams telling me what was meant to happen with an idea of when. Two years of me witnessing an experience in a loop as if to prepare me for when it happens. Two years of subconscious talks with someone to help me deal with the situation. The last dream was somewhere around August/September of last year and, in the dream, I could finally talk without trying to hide. I still ran away initially but came back to complete the conversation. When I woke up, I told myself that I was finally ready to let go of resistance. I said my thanks and felt a little ready to let it be. To let things happen the way they were meant to.

I called up my friend after that dream and told her that it was about to happen and had given her a timeframe. So when it did, I knew it was time. I think that’s why I also got this feeling last year that I had to leave now.”

“I hope you realize that that’s not easy to experience. Two years seem like a long time. It almost sounds like torture.”, she expressed her concern.

“That’s the term I had used all those years back to express how I was feeling without realizing how true it was – Torture. Now as I reflect on it, my body and soul were remembering and opening up to one of the most painful experiences they remembered. The circumstances might have been different but the feeling of separation and abandonment were still the same. They were reliving something that had happened a long time ago but all I could see at the time was what I was experiencing at that moment. And to me, what was happening was not big enough for me to experience something so profound.

Now when I am able to see beyond what my mind could perceive at the time, I don’t know what to make of it.”

“And what kept you stuck in the past?”, she asked

“The misplaced expectation from myself to act a certain way and wait. This expectation came from the confusion around the disparity between this reality and the other, and not being sure of which of the two realities to believe in. She was my guide throughout my awakening and still is. She was who I held onto on the darkest nights. People pray to God when they’re scared but in my case, I was scared whenever I saw God. So the only one I could trust was her appearing in my visions or dreams when they got overbearing. There were dreams/visions where I used to freeze out of fear and not have an idea of how to return to myself, and, then, I would see her and focus all my attention on what she asked me to do to get out of that experience. I don’t know if my brain just found that as the way to keep me sane but that’s my truth. I couldn’t trust anyone or anything but her.

So when my visions, dreams, and awakening didn’t align with this reality, I felt lost. That day when I got into that call, I told myself that I could trust her. That I was in a safe space with my friend. Even then I knew what was going to happen in the future and I had made my peace with that. I was looking for the friend I knew with whom I could share my experiences and with whom I could feel a tad bit of safety that I had lost completely. So when that didn’t happen, I felt more lost than before. I started feeling scared of her too and I lost the one thing that was keeping me sane during those experiences. She continued to appear in my dreams and visions but unlike earlier where I found solace in her presence, I started to run away from her too. Over time, other guides started to show up with whom I could feel safe. But she never stopped coming to help either and I never stopped running away from her.

I refused to interact and every time I saw her, I only got sadder and angrier because reality was much different. In this reality, she had removed herself and had left. In that reality, she continued to show up any time I needed guidance, even without asking. I was beyond confused and angry but didn’t know who to be angry with. It took me talking to therapists like you to understand the source of that pain, hypnosis to witness the source of that suffering, and time to finally come to a point where that anger started to fade. I am not angry anymore. It’s just the feeling of being let down – not by her, not by myself, just by what happened and by how things are. It’s also feeling apologetic for not respecting that part of her that continued to show up.

I have come to a point where any new visions/dreams about her don’t result in a lot of emotions but I am just blank/stoic most of the time. It’s not happiness/sadness, it’s just acceptance of reality. Not approving it but not resisting it either. Sometimes I’ll have a dream which will help me become aware of the remaining emotions. Those are the hardest ones because it’s like I am purging a drop of all that pain one dream at a time. But I have to witness those stuck emotions every time I have a dream. And she’s always there in those dreams, sometimes guiding me, sometimes supporting me, sometimes letting me know what I am doing wrong, and sometimes just there to let me know I am not alone. I apologized to that part of her for the way I acted because while I don’t know how this works, I know she never left. I apologized to her for turning into a runner myself.

So what made me sad at other times was witnessing everything and not knowing where to go from there. I wasn’t wrong when before this experience, I was so confused about the love I felt for her as a friend, guide, mother, daughter, sister, and more. She was all of that and is all of that. Why even though I was angry, it was hard not to still love her. How do you hold anger for someone who represents all those forms of love? So what made me sad was witnessing everything and not being able to do anything about it. What made me sad was never being able to talk to her about what I witnessed and what this is or who she is. What made me feel stuck was waiting for the day she remembered or believed.

I had put this expectation on myself that I had to act a certain way and feel a certain way because that’s the whole point of remembering, right? But, then, I started to question if that was really it.

That’s where the question of what’s the point of remembering comes up because if others don’t believe you, then, what is the point? As I continue to let go, I wonder if it was just to help me get through those darkest of nights because even in that anger, I knew I could trust her. Maybe it was for me to know that I am never truly alone. Maybe it was the lesson of not holding onto something too tight, no matter what or whom. Maybe it was to witness a pain stored in my body, allowing it to surface and heal with time so that I could move past that experience. Maybe it was for me to realize that I did not need her to rescue me because only I could have rescued myself. Maybe it was also to realize that she didn’t need me to protect her either because she can manage it herself. Or maybe it was just a way to bring awareness to an experience, allow me to witness a memory that my soul remembered, and have empathy for both of us. She was there, just not how I wanted her to be but how I needed her to be.”

“Can you see this part of you who felt stuck and confused? Can you see why it felt that way?”, she encouraged me to have compassion for myself

“I can. It felt like I was so stuck. Uhhh, there were times when I would get so confused because the visions/dreams used to accelerate especially when I was in a relationship or had decided to move on. I was fortunate that my ex could understand and sympathize. She hadn’t had the same experience herself but just from her connection with me, she could relate to what was happening. I could talk to her about the confusion around the whole situation and having no clue what role I was supposed to play in all of it. There is no playbook of how to go about this.”

“There isn’t. What would you say to her and yourself now?”

“It’s time to be free. My ego wanted her to believe and her ego wouldn’t allow her to see or acknowledge it. A soul family member I met last year told me that she had decided not to play that game for herself. She has dedicated her life to her healing and healing of others. For myself, I have decided to let it be. To just be an observer, see the connection for what it is, and continue on my journey. That’s my way of setting myself free.”

“What do you wish would have happened differently?”

“For starters, not being the only one who could see. But I understand that I was meant to see it for myself at the time and that others weren’t. It was time for me to witness it and for me to awaken.

That realization helped me in giving up resistance to reality.”

“You gave up resistance?”


“How do you feel about that?”

“I genuinely don’t know. A part of me just feels sad. But I know that letting go of resistance was the only path forward.”

“Why?”, she asked.

“I realized that was never in my control. I was trying to control something that was beyond me. That entire experience was beyond me. Someone once told me that the more I resist, the more I was delaying spiritual growth for everyone. I asked him how did it matter what I felt or thought when I wasn’t taking any action on it. But that wasn’t true. Just feeling the way I felt was enough. I didn’t understand him at that time but now I know what he meant. I was delaying the inevitable with my resistance and it wasn’t helping anyone. In a way, the more I resisted, the more delayed the process was going forward. And ever since that dream last year, things progressed fast.

Now, I won’t say that I am still not curious (curiosity is in my nature) but that need to resist or understand the why has started to fade. I don’t care anymore about what will happen in the future. I can just let it happen.

Once I reached that state, I started to witness a shift in myself and in my reality. I started laughing again after a long time. I felt happy again after a long time. That resistance to the inevitable was hampering my peace of mind too. Now I can leave in peace knowing that it had to happen and that there was nothing I could have done to change it. Maybe that was the whole point of it. For me to experience an awakening, heal parts of me that were ready to be healed and surrender.”

“If you’ve made peace with that truth, then, what are you scared of?”

“Spending an entire life not knowing if we took a wrong turn somewhere.

I wrote blog after blog in desperation because I didn’t know what else to do. I was purging but didn’t know whose emotions I was purging. The truth is I don’t know what was happening on the other side. Maybe nothing, maybe something. But at the time of writing those blogs, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was lying to myself. So I kept deleting those after feeling a shift in energy.”

“Is that what you feel that you were lying to yourself?”

“My faith tells me no and my brain & heart ask me to let it go. Then there is a small voice in my head that says maybe. And finally, another voice that tells me – It was what it was and it is what it is.”

“Is there anything that you wish you could have done differently?”

“Till a while back, I would have said there were plenty of things that I could have done differently. Like maybe writing these blogs was a mistake or confessing was a mistake or the way I reacted was a mistake. But, now, I wonder if it just had to happen the way it did. That doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from my mistakes but it just means that those mistakes also happened because they were meant to otherwise nothing else would have happened.”

“Do you have any regrets?”

“No regrets just a wish that things were different. It wasn’t an easy experience to live with. I was fighting my awakening by resisting but even surrendering to the truth felt like failing. It felt like if I surrendered then I was giving in and if I could keep fighting then I would have more control over the situation, over myself.

My awakening had started a long time back but that experience escalated with one incident and broke down all my barriers. It awakened parts of me that had been dormant for so many years and were just waiting to be seen. I honestly don’t know what I could have done differently except maybe listen to my teacher when he warned me. He had asked me not to express my truth but I think even that was meant to happen because otherwise, I would have dragged others with me. My intuition guided me to speak my truth and so I did.”

“Do you still hold anger for anyone?”

“No. There was only sadness underlying that anger but that anger itself has started to fade away. I thought holding onto that anger will make it easier for me to let it go. And in some ways, it helped. It made it a little easier for me to move on and witness my role in my suffering. But I am not angry anymore. Maybe just let down.

There was a lesson in that anger too. To take a stand for me. What’s meant to be will find a way to be. If I don’t value myself then no one will. I don’t need to appease others just so that they see my value and continue to love me. I can be assertive, take a stance for myself and still be compassionate toward both of us.

And that first panic attack was the start of what was to come. It was because of those circumstances that my awakening escalated in the first place and it brought me healing. And look at the kind of connections I made since then. I met Her, soulmates, some sort of a soul family member that got us both confused, and a stepmother from another lifetime who had entered my life a long time back but who I took a while to recognize. Do I wish it was a little more gentle? My God, yes. But there must be a reason there too. Like I couldn’t have appreciated all these connections as much as I did in such a small span had I not gone through that experience. Two years of crash course must be bringing me somewhere. I at least am aware of a part of my purpose now.”, I laughed.

“I am proud of how far you’ve come. How are the dreams now?”

“Better or at least I know how to deal with them in a better way. This week has been about purging repressed anger, resentment, and pain. Whose I don’t know.”

“Is there any other thing from that experience that you’re happy about?”

“I found God in my own way. I realized that they have been with me forever and I know now why I felt close to all Gods and places of worship. I also found clarity in my confusion around religions and feel freer. That topic of religion had once severely destroyed my faith and now I feel more grounded in my beliefs.

But most importantly, I feel like I finally stepped into my feminine energy, something that I had rejected while growing up so that I could protect myself. I let go of everything that I thought was associated with femininity because I thought those traits or characteristics made me weak. Then, I would oscillate between what I was taught was the right way to act as a woman and my inner fire which would show up as masculine to protect me from harming myself.

I can now see that I don’t have to choose. I can be a strong assertive woman. I can lead with compassion and be assertive about my truth. I don’t have to be one or the other. I can be both. That was the biggest gift that connection brought to me. Awakening me to my feminine.”

“You know when I first met you, I wondered to myself if you were non-binary or even trans. And over time, I have seen you step into your feminine energy more and more. It brings me so much peace and happiness for you. Can you see how you had to do it to protect yourself?”, she asked with a sense of pride in her voice.

“Yes, I had to suppress it so that I could survive and bring myself to a place where I could be free to be myself. That’s the freedom that I had been striving for all my life – the freedom to be my whole self. I was always this woman. I had just forgotten who I was because I constantly had to be in a survival mode where being myself was not safe.”, I spoke, realizing the gravity of the lesson with every word.

“If there is one thing that you could tell the version of you who was going through the spiritual awakening, what will it be?”

“Believe in yourself. When I asked my CST therapist if she thought I was disillusioned, she looked at me and told me that she trusts my intuition. It need not make sense but it was true. If she can trust me, then, I can learn to trust myself too.

When people initially told me I was gifted, I resisted and hated it. It felt like I was going to be too alone if I was so different from others. Now, I have started to accept those changes too. The answer was not to reject me but to choose people around me who were not afraid to love me for who I am. I just have to let them in.”

“Our sessions end today. Is there anything else that you’d like to let out?”

“Just a final learning – Surrender does not mean not taking an action. It just means not trying to control the situation. Keep doing your job and keep following your heart while loving every aspect of yourself. Be true to yourself. The kinder and loving you are to yourself, the freer you’ll be. Listen to your body and your heart. The more you are aligned with your truth, the faster things will fall in alignment or the harder it will be for you to be in situations that do not serve you anymore. Your body, heart, and soul will start to reject what’s not in your highest good. You just have to listen. If it’s meant to be, it will find a way to be. The more you surrender to yourself, the more awakened you’ll be.

I told my teacher that I was my own guide. Today, I realized how true it was. I am ready to let go of that final piece of resistance.”

“Finally, what did you decide about sending that letter?”, she asked.

“There’s nothing left to say. She now knows everything.”


A Conversation with a Friend

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Oh, and I want to recommend this book to you – ‘Come As You Are’ by Emily Nagoski. I am recommending this book to all my women friends”, I told her while handing her the book.

“What’s it about?”, she asked browsing through the pages.

“It addresses women’s challenges regarding sexuality and sexual desires. You know how in our society we don’t openly talk to girls and women about their sexuality? It’s more or less a concept talked about in hush-hush tones among friends or most of us only open up about it with our partners. On the other hand, men have plenty of content and platform for themselves to address their concerns and questions. On top of that, our culture puts women down for having any sort of sexual desires whereas celebrating men for the same.”, I responded waiting to see her reaction.

“Ooh, that’s interesting. It’s like having sex only for men to have an orgasm while it’s okay for women not to have one? You know my friend says we have two different vocabularies for women’s sexuality and men’s sexuality. Men having high sexual desire is expected while women are sluts?”, she sighed.

“Exactly. So the book addresses the impact of being raised in such a culture and environment. It starts by explaining our physical bodies. I must say I never thought of a human body that way.”

“Really? Like we read in biology?”, she asked, now really interested in the topic.

“Kind of but it does it in a way that’s easy to comprehend and not just textbook knowledge. After just reading the first chapter, I found myself thinking about the human body in a different way. The following chapters talk about how our central nervous system, brain, emotions, environments, culture, etc. play a role in our sexual development. I wish I had access to this book when I was a teenager. It’s that good.”, I told my friend.

“I’ll get a copy for myself. What has been your takeaway so far?”, she asked.

“Well, I am still only a few chapters in. But, I already realized that I had some misconceptions about myself. You know a few years back I wondered if I was asexual. Turns out, it’s quite the opposite. I am just very good at putting a stop to myself. Safety and trust are really important to me. If something is not right, I just won’t be in it.”

“So you’re a demisexual?”, she asked out of curiosity.

“Well I am demi, sapio, and also I am bi”. And just like that, I came out to a new friend.

“Okay, and?”

“That’s it? Is that your reaction?”, I asked, surprised by her lack of reaction.

“How else would I react? You’re attracted to both men and women, right?”, she asked.

“Yes. It’s just that I am always nervous before coming out. I never know how someone will take it.”

“Oh. Who else have you told?”, she asked, surprising me with her genuine curiosity.

“My mom, my sister, and my close friends. My last relationship was with a woman.” My friend didn’t know that I had spent weeks wondering if I should come out. And I hadn’t realized that I had been holding my breath until her reaction (or lack of one as it turns out).

“How did they react?” she asked.

“Well, my best friend(s) and sister pretty much had the same reaction as you did. Most of my friends did. One cried because I hadn’t come out earlier. My mom went into denial. Told me that I just wanted to be like the girls to whom I was attracted. It was only recently when I had a fracture and my girlfriend was taking care of me that I got some kind of acceptance from her. You know because she was the only one here.

Oh, and when I told my ex-boyfriend, he thought that I had been lying to him. We actually went on a break for a week. After we got back, things were just not the same. Can you imagine that he was worried that now he would have to worry about me cheating on him with both men and women?”, I laughed.

“That just means that he was already insecure. I am assuming he had a problem with your guy friends and after you came out, with your girl friends?”, she asked rolling her eyes.

“He did. To be fair, we were already in a long-distance relationship and had slowly been growing apart. I think that just made it more difficult to continue”.

“So how long have you known?”, my friend asked.

“Since I was born. You know it was the society that taught me that feeling anything for a woman was inappropriate? For me, it came naturally to love everyone and anyone. But I was told to hide it. I remember the exact moment that thought was shared with me. I was 10. My aunt asked me who I would like to spend my life with when I grow up. I answered it could be a man or a woman, and that I didn’t care as long as I loved that person. My cousins took me away and told me that people who said things like that are not normal. They told me never to say it again. So I just told myself that I wasn’t normal. That’s when I internalized homophobia for the first time. But I couldn’t help who I loved. So I told myself that if someday I met someone who I would like to take that leap with, I will come out.”

“The lies we’re told as kids! That’s why I don’t want to go back to my country.”, she sighed.

“And it’s only getting worse. I miss my mom and I really want to just go back home and live with her. But every day I am reminded of a thousand reasons why not to.

Isn’t it ridiculous to see how we as humans are expected to only feel love for someone that society thinks is right? Some people don’t allow you to feel that way for a person of another religion, some prohibit castes and until recently, it was race. They say homosexuality is not natural but choose to ignore how it’s present in almost all animals. “Selective takeaway from knowledge” is what I call it. Distort the facts as it fits your narration. Use the fear of religion to tame other humans. They say God is love but that God will hate you if you don’t meet their standards. I sometimes wonder what it would be like in a world that didn’t want to control our lives so much in the fear of losing control.

You know I have this belief that if we remove this archaic thought process and controlling behavior from our cultures and societies, we’ll grow up being truthful about who we are and who we love. We’ll just accept ourselves and be happy instead of pretending to be someone we’re not. Love is beautiful and that’s all it is. It doesn’t need a seal of approval from someone who doesn’t even understand their own God. “, I voiced my disappointment with the world we live in.

“Anyway, I just wanted to let you know because I really want to be myself with you and not pretend to be someone I am not. Else I’ll need to hide so many parts of me from you and I just don’t want to do that anymore.”, I continued, smiling.

“Thank you for sharing. I am glad you told me and I can understand that not everyone might make you feel safe enough to open up. What was it about me that made you feel comfortable?”, she asked.

“It was just a feeling. Honestly, I thought I could open up to you after I met you the second time. I just wasn’t sure when to.”

“Well, I am happy that my aura makes people feel safe.”, she joked. “Can I ask you something? Who do you see yourself with in the long run? I know for some people it can be one sex over the other.”

“Honestly, my answer hasn’t changed since I was a kid. I can see myself with either. I don’t fall for people easily. There has to be an emotional depth in the connection. So by the time I am there, I know that I can see myself with them.”

“Was anything different when you dated a girl vs when you were with a guy?”, she asked.

“No, not really. There was definitely more communication and emotions involved with the girl but I think that might have been because we had a lot going on against us. I think because I could be more open about my hidden parts with my girlfriend, I felt more like myself. But overall, both relationships were equally good and I loved them both.”, I told her while going over all my interactions with my exes in my head.

“When was the first time you ever fell for a girl? Did it freak you out?”

“Oh, I didn’t even realize that that’s what was happening until way later. I must have been eleven or something. She and I did an act together in a play at school. We were playing the lead as husband and wife. And I hated her. I hated everything about her without any reason. She was new to the school and was pretty bright. Maybe I was jealous? I don’t know.

However, after the play concluded, I found myself missing her. One day, while walking down the stairs with my friends, her topic came up. I don’t remember the topic but I remember making a joke about her. And just then I turned back and saw her standing on top of the stairs, staring at me. I don’t know if she heard me or not. But I still remember the way her eyes were looking at mine.

That day I realized that I didn’t hate her. I felt guilty for making fun of her and, if anything, wanted to be her friend. I spent the remaining year just getting to know her more. We used to speak for hours on the phone. I used to feel so shy around her and would love to spend time with her. She also influenced me a lot. She got me into sweatshirts, Hollywood and Enrique. It’s been 18 years, and I still love all three. Something about her also inspired me to dream bigger. To step out of my shell. And I started to yearn for freedom.

After some time, she left. We tried to keep in touch but lost contact. I went into a shock or a depression. I don’t know what it was but everything changed after she left. I changed. From someone who was known to always smile, I changed into a person who rarely smiled. It took another few years to realize that that was my first love. And recently discovered how that entire experience had a huge role to play in my psyche. She is now married to a guy and lives here in this country.”, I narrated my childhood love story.

“Did she ever say anything to you?”, my friend asked.

“No. I never got to know if it was just me who felt that way. She grew up dating guys so I assumed it either meant nothing to her or she doesn’t know? All I know is I loved her.”, I said.

“I am sorry. That must suck. Has it happened a lot of times? Falling for someone but not knowing what they felt?”, my friend asked. Turns out, she is quite a curious personality.

“Far more than I would like. Growing up, I would fall for a girl and pretend to continue to be her “close friend”. That’s all I thought I could get and that’s all I thought I deserved. So every time when they would go about dating guys, I would feel broken. It would be so hard to pretend to smile while I was hurting. I would tell myself that I was not normal and cry alone. For whatever reason, they all had a habit of choosing the most broken guys too. When things would not work with that guy or when that guy could not provide them with emotional security, I would be their emotional dumping ground and I would tell myself to be content with being that person. And after some time, they would all move on and I would be left with nothing but pain from that entire experience.

I didn’t have anyone to share that pain with. No one knew why I was getting more serious and sad as the years passed. Everyone pointed out how I laughed and smiled less but I never felt safe enough to open up. And whenever I would fall for a guy, I would tell myself that I was normal. I would have a sort of dance in my head. Heartbreaks with a guy were acceptable in society but not if it was a girl. It wasn’t real love if it was not with a man.”

“I am sorry. That must have been very lonely.” my friend empathized.

“It was. I kept telling myself that no one really knew me or cared to know me.”. My friend’s curiosity and her show of empathy touched my heart. I knew I had made the right decision to come out.

“Is it okay if I ask you what changed?”, my friend asked.

I exhaled, “I think it was me just wanting to be free to feel. To feel accepted and validated for my feelings. I fell for someone again. This time I confessed, hoping that if not my feelings at least my pain would be validated. But I didn’t get that validation that I was seeking. I was instead expected to just move on as if nothing had happened. Like falling in love meant nothing. However, when this time my pain was invalidated by her and another friend who had witnessed everything, it broke something in me. The more they ignored my feelings, the more invalidated and hurt I felt. I waited for them to validate it with their actions or their words. But neither of them stopped to check and see how I was doing.

This other friend had known for a while how much I was hurting. He had seen me struggle. But he chose to continue and ignore it. Either he wanted me to pretend that I was not hurt or he didn’t know what to do with it or my pain made him uncomfortable. But, whatever might have been the case, I felt invalidated. I was hurting, bad. And it’s not like I wanted him to talk to me about it but I also didn’t want him to pretend like nothing happened. He would continue having these conversations with me about her and later about her and her boyfriend as if he didn’t know what happened. I asked him multiple times to stop. To stop bringing her topic up because damn I missed her and it pained me to know that she didn’t even want me in her life. But he didn’t. Or he would forget. Or he didn’t care. I don’t know. Initially, I tried to pretend too because that’s the only way I knew to feel accepted.

But one day when he came over and again pretended like nothing happened, I decided that was it. I was done pretending and I was done feeling invalidated. The next day, I stopped contact with him. I thought that would also be a good way for them to continue being friends without the awkwardness. A couple of weeks back he tried to start the communication again. I tried too but soon realized that I was done pretending like nothing happened. I was in love, I was hurt, they weren’t there and it sucked. He couldn’t understand or empathize. I am not angry with him but just don’t want to put myself in that situation anymore.

Well, that plus all the interactions that I have had with others who have gone through similar experiences plus my therapists helped me see the baggage that I had been carrying since that first childhood love. Finally, I have been watching a lot of lesbian movies and tv shows. Elena Undone and I can’t think straight have been some of the best to help me cope.

I guess exposure to content and discussions that make me feel like what I experience is normal has helped me validate myself. I realized I was done just carrying that baggage and invalidating myself just to feel accepted.”

“And you don’t have to carry it anymore. How do you feel about all this now?”, my friend asked.

“Normal. Proud of myself. I just fall in love I guess. It doesn’t matter to me who you are or what you are as long as I feel that connection with you. I love a person for who they are and nothing else matters to me. And my love is valid and the pain of heartbreak is valid too. I would not tell a friend who is hurting that their feelings don’t mean anything so no one can tell me that either.

I don’t have to fear being “caught” for having feelings for someone I shouldn’t. I don’t have to pretend to be okay. And most importantly, I can set boundaries. If someone can’t give me what I need, I don’t have to hide what I feel and keep myself in a situation where I am not valued for what I bring to the table. Or continue pretending to be okay with just having an emotional affair with someone anymore because they can’t be honest with themselves and can’t see the pain that they’ve caused.”

“You don’t. And thank you again for sharing your story. What can I do to make you feel better?”, my friend asked consoling me.

“Let’s have some tea!”

From the Fallen Ashes, Phoenix Will Rise – Part 2

“From the ashes, phoenix will rise” – Her

For more background and context about this post, go to From the Fallen Ashes, Phoenix Will Rise

“Have you heard of functional medicine?”, asked the person I had just met on a dating app.

“No, what’s that?”, I asked.

“It’s a form of therapy. You know how cardiologists only treat ailments of the heart, an orthopeodic only looks at bones, etc. A person who performs functional medicine focuses on the entire body.

Another option is Craniosacral Therapy. Here, let me send out details of two of my friends.”

I was pleasantly surprised by this stranger. This was our first video call and she was already advicing me on what I could do to live a healthier life.

“..and I meditate and practice Heart Rhythm Meditation. Meditation changed me and all these techniques have helped me heal my body.”

Ignore it… Ignore it… She just meditates, everyone medidates. It doesn’t mean anything – my protective brain told me.

“And now I have developed a daily practice and try to align with my heart rhythm.”

Okay fine. Ask her.

“Do… Are you aware of something called Spiritual Emergence or Spiritual Awakening?”, I asked hesistantly.

“I haven’t heard of emergence but, yes, I have some experience with awakening. Why?”

“It just sounded like you did. I do too.” Interesting.

We continued to speak about different topics for another half hour. Towards the end, she said, “I was hurting when it started. Someone had left and it was just painful. That’s when I met the craniosacral therapists and also got introduced to Heart Rhythm Meditation.”

Noooooooo. It can’t be. It’s okay. Many people have these experiences. Fine, I’ll ask – my internal conflict chimed in

“Can you tell me more about your experience with this person?”

After listening to her for a few minutes, I had no other option but to ask her, “Would you like to meet? I think we have a lot to discuss.”

“Yes, please. When?”

Our first meeting turned into spending an entire evening together. We just opened up to each other about every crazy experience that we’ve had in the past few years. In the next few days, we shared more with each other than we had shared with anyone in the past, opening up about things that neither of us had felt comfortable talking about openly. It was like we had finally found someone who could understand the depth of shock, pain, and love that we had experienced. She had her awakening a year before I did and it had been as crazy as mine.

“You should really try functional medicine or CST.”

“Okay, I’ll try.”

For the past few months, I had been searching for someone who practices Somatic Experiencing Therapy – a type of alternative therapy that works with the body to release trapped emotions/traumas that are too intense for a person to otherwise process. I had been unsuccessful in my search so far. I had found some therapists but hadn’t felt like going back the second time. Since my search for a Somatic Experiencing Therapist had proved to be in vain, I took her up on her suggestion.

I looked up both her friends and decided to reach out to the one I felt closer to. In my first call with her friend, I asked the therapist about her methodology, her experience working with people suffering from PTSD, and her knowledge about Spiritual Emergence. She checked all the boxes. But, there was more. She knew Reiki (I am trained in it) and Somatic Experiencing Therapy. I booked my appointment for the next day.

The first time I entered her office, I was greeted with a hug. She was so kind that my body immediately felt at ease. However, my brain went into a fog. I looked at her and in my “third” eye saw a green aura around her.

That’s new, I thought to myself.

My first session was nothing miraculous but it was peaceful. I had an emotional release that weekend and knew that I had to go back. I called up my ex and told her about my experience.

“I am so happy for you. Looks like this is a good medium for you and you had been searching for such a therapist for a while. I am glad that you finally found someone.”

“Yes. There is just one thing…”


“I feel like I know her. I don’t know from where but I just have this feeling that I know her from somewhere.”

“Who? The therapist or this girl?”

“The therapist.”

“Have you met her before?”


“Interesting. Will you go back?”

“Yes. My brain went into a fog after I entered her room. The session was helpful. I don’t know, I just feel like I know her.”

“I trust you. You’ll know.”


On my next visit, I told my therapist how I had been feeling after the first session. In her room, however, I ended up having the same experience that I had the first time I was there. My body was at ease but my mind had gone into a fog. We had our second session which was even more impactful than the first. In this session, I had visions and communicated the same to my therapist. She guided me through those visions and I ended up having my first somatic release.

After the session, we sat down to chat.

“So how are you feeling?”, she asked.

“I am feeling good. Tell me something, are you a Reiki Master?”

“Yes, I am. How did you know?”

“Your hands get really warm during the session. I am certified in Reiki therapy so maybe that makes it easier for me to identify. You know, with my Reiki teacher, I can’t be in the same room with him for a longer duration. I start to feel all this energy and I have to take a break. I feel a lot of energy from you too.”

“That’s because you’re an empath. You feel other people’s energy and emotions even if they are not aware of it themselves. It’s a gift.”

“It is and is also tough especially when they are not aware of what they’re feeling or don’t want to accept it. Can I tell you something?”

“Yes, please.”

“I feel like I know you from somewhere. Have we met before?”

“I don’t think so. Not physically at least. What do you feel?”

“This is going to sound weird but the first time I met you, I had this vision of you just being surrounded by a green aura. And ever since our last session, I kept feeling like I’d met you somewhere. I just can’t… SHIT.”, my mouth fell open.

“What? What do you remember? Tell me?”

“You’re Her!”


“Last year when I had my awakening, there was a night when I felt like I was about to die. In my helpless state, I had asked for help from someone, anyone who could help. That night, I had a vision of someone surrounded by green light. She supported me and guided me at the time. It was because of her that I survived. I had felt so much love, unconditional love.

You look like her.”

“Did she tell you anything else?”

“Just that she has always been with me. And that she would soon meet me.”, I was still looking at her with wide eyes.

“Looks like a part of my soul was with you during your awakening”, she exclaimed with a broad smile on her face.

“Yes”, I said still shocked. “She was my guide at a time when I desperately needed help. She was the one I held onto and the only one I trusted when it was all happening. And now your physical self… Shit”, I again felt goosebumps.

“And now I am quite literally guiding you. Wow! I just got goosebumps.”, she exclaimed, equally surprised.



“Do you believe me?”

“Of course I do. I don’t know how any of this works either but I have felt a connection with you ever since you walked into this room. I didn’t know what it was. I don’t see things like you do. You have the gift of sight and empathy. I feel and hear sometimes. And I felt you.”

“I can’t believe that I am finally meeting you.”

“You are. You know I had been thinking about why I suddenly started this practice. I had been thinking about it for a while but due to certain circumstances, I could not make it happen. And, then, I opened this practice just a month earlier. I was on leave and had just come back when you called. I had been wondering to myself, why now. I guess now I know why.”

And that’s how after almost two years after my awakening, I met the human who had acted as my guide without meeting me in person. I finally met Her. And she’s as awesome a human being as she’s a guide.

I had written the original blog with this title as a way to let out my truth and unburden myself when my experiences had first started. It was a way for me to put my experience on paper with the hope that something will somehow make sense. Almost two years have passed, and my experiences have continued albeit the intensity has reduced. Either that or I have found a way to manage them better. At the time when I wrote the original blog, I hadn’t imagined that a day would come for me to write about that experience again. Well, feels like that day is today.

She is real and she is here 🙂

Ode To This Land

Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr

“I sold my recliner yesterday. It was so strange. You know, I got really sad and ended up hugging it and saying my goodbye to it? I’ve moved around so much in my life but this one feels much harder. I can’t understand why.”

“Because this one is not your choice.”


I had the above conversation with my best friend last night. For months, I have struggled with this feeling. I have tried to delay checking out houses, finding resources, and doing anything that I could do to delay the inevitable – allowing myself to feel the sadness of leaving a place, maybe the only place, I felt at home.

Growing up, we moved around a lot as a family. I left the city I was born in when I was just three but still have a special attachment to it. I spent my school years in four different cities and five different schools, and the next twelve years in five different cities and in two different countries. Any time I would make a group of close friends, it would be time for me to leave for a new destination – sometimes by choice, sometimes for lack of one.

Every time I moved, I would feel excited about what was to come. Struggling as a newbie in a new city would be tough but eventually, I would find a way to make it work. If it didn’t, I would move again. I’ve made friends across these places, some who are still in contact and some who I parted ways with. There are some good memories and some bad associated with all these places but I have never regretted moving on. I’ve also never given myself enough time to say goodbye to these places. Yes, there were farewells and goodbye exchanges but never to the entire experience that that place had to offer.

However, this time it feels different. I feel like I am leaving behind a part of me or maybe multiple parts. This time it feels different because, with all the experiences that this place had to offer, I felt more at home here than afar. This goodbye is for the land which felt the closest to me coming home.

I came to this country in 2018. In my confusion about which college to choose, the uncertainty of the future of my relationship, and my dilemma about leaving my loved ones behind, I didn’t give myself enough time to prepare for the move. The decision to come to this country was made two months before leaving and all the remaining time was spent in paperwork and packing for the new life. The move hit me hard after I arrived in the new place. With no one to call a friend and so many new things to learn, I felt alone. Past hurts and trauma started to resurface without me understanding why. Depression took hold of me and I started to doubt my decision to move. Relationships I had held onto started to fade away and life started to look much darker than ever. Looking at the sky, one cold midwest winter, I observed how dark my surroundings looked. It wasn’t the darkness of the evening but the darkness that I felt within – a lack of light, a lack of peace, and a lack of love.

In my darkest times, this land offered me a hand that slowly but steadily started to pull me out of my own darkness – therapy. Speaking to my therapists and learning about myself became the crutch that I needed to keep going. Months after months, I started to unpack my trauma, unlearn beliefs and patterns that didn’t serve me well anymore, understand my psyche, and see myself more clearly.

The five years that I’ve spent here have not been the easiest, to say the least. If anything, I have experienced more ups and downs here than anywhere else I have lived. I went through a breakup with someone I thought I’ll marry, lost a job during the pandemic, went through an awakening that shattered my world, injured myself in more ways than one, fell in love and felt loved, came out to half of my family and to most of my friends, got promoted at work and got in touch with my creative side. Throughout these times, while therapy gave me an outlet and a platform to heal, the journey itself was no piece of cake. It was hard to witness years of trauma stored in my body, feel the unprocessed emotions stored in various corners of my psyche, and become aware of the repressed memories tucked away in boxes. When you commit to healing yourself, it takes your entire being to surrender to that healing. Sometimes you cry in the middle of the night, sometimes you feel scared of the darkness within you, and most of the time you feel like you’re all alone in your fight.

At such times, this land gave me hope in the form of therapists and spiritual healers. They gave me the space I needed to open up, guided me, and helped me deal with the numerous wounds that were waiting to be treated. They gave me the love and support I needed to feel “normal” and helped me see the light in me. At times when I had lost hope, they gave me the motivation I needed to keep going. At times when I felt like there was no way out, they became the friend I needed to find the strength within me. When I had believed the world and those close to me who thought I was lying, these therapists and healers asked me to believe in my truth and told me that I was gifted. When I was too scared to take a step without falling, they guided me to ground myself and take it one moment at a time. When no one believed me and in me, they asked me to ignore the messages and believe in myself. These unfamiliar faces became my guides, friends, and teachers who helped me every step of the way to ensure that I survive and come out the other side alive.

Yet throughout the journey, I craved. I craved a friend, a companion who wouldn’t doubt my truth and just for once, hold me and tell me that I was not insane. I longed for someone to hear me and let me feel a little less lonely on my journey. I told a friend I recently met, “I wish I had met you earlier. It has been lonely. But it’s already time to say goodbye.” It has been hard to make and maintain relationships in this land. Very few people stayed till the end and I guess I had a role to play in it too. When I was struggling with my identity, I found it hard to relate to people who didn’t know my truth or didn’t understand my truth. When I was struggling with childhood trauma, it became hard to fake happiness and to lose myself in relationships, parties, and booze. And when I experienced something esoteric, the only way I had was to go inside.

Yet, this land offered me support in the form of connections that influenced and challenged me in their own way. Starting with meeting a person whose openness about her sexuality made me question my secrecy. To a friend who adopted me as her own and chooses to do so till this date. A friend who I lost on the way but who in her own ways left a mark on me. A lover who offered me support without understanding the depths of my struggles and finally, a lover who offered me the one thing I had longed for – for someone to believe in my story without doubting my truth.

But all connections didn’t come to me as friends or lovers. Some of them were there as colleagues and mentors. From a colleague who believed in his gut to get to know me more only to realize we’re more similar than different and took the role of a cheerleader along the way. To a manager who continuously chose to believe in my worth even when I had little to offer, cherishing me, guiding me, and laying out opportunities for me to become the person I am today. Finally, a leader, who took the role of a mother at a time when I was scared of drowning. Without asking me why she gave me what I wanted and became a pillar that I needed.

Yes, some of these were passing connections. Some came and left without much explanation. But they all played their parts in helping me get to where I am today.

This land showed me a way of life I was not familiar with yet gave me the tools to make it through. The city and the apartment I am in for the past year, have called out to me as home since my first day here. This is where I wanted to come back to after my first trip some three years back. This is where I chose to live by myself despite the challenges of the night. This is where I explored myself and found what I had been hiding my entire life. This is where I cried, loved, walked, broke, and survived.

In the past five years in this land, I have broken down mentally, emotionally, and physically. To the point that I asked my ex to write a story of my journey in her words if and when she chooses so that another Tanu knows that she too can survive (she’s a much better storyteller). When emotional and mental turmoil was not enough, my body gave in to back aches and finally to a broken foot. Yet, this land held me as its own. It gave me rest and solitude when I didn’t know that was what I needed. It gave me sun and now a downpour of rain as if to let me know that it’s all washed away.

Oh! the love I have for this strange land where I wasn’t born but where I died and survived multiple deaths. Words are not enough to show my gratitude to this holy land that I called home and will always cherish as the place where I was born again. Here is where I met myself and found ways to balance myself. Its trees, streams, skies, and streets – all stayed with me throughout my time. They offered me love and shelter when I had none, and showed me the right way to love. It taught me gratitude and broke down my illusions. It gave me peace and taught me what it means to surrender. Away from the noise of the cities, it showed me what it’s like to connect. It showed me the suffering of the masses and taught me to love without asking.

One blog will not be enough to speak volumes of my love. Even while I write, I can’t help but grieve and cherish the memories of the past five years. There will be more tears to flow and more healing to come. There will be more memories to rejoice and more times to mourn. But right now, I take the first steps to surrender to what’s to come and grieve the loss of the land I love.

A little more sense

TW – Death

“But she was a good person. Why do bad things happen to good people”?

This question has bothered me ever since I first experienced death. I was in grade 4 and a student from my school had passed away in a road accident. I didn’t know her and had never spoken to her. But, I always saw her with her sister, riding together to a coaching institute. One day, I saw the two sisters coming to that institute. It was like any other day but I felt stuck with grief looking at them. I couldn’t understand why but I remember going back home and feeling low throughout the day. The next morning, I heard about her demise. They had been in an accident. While the younger sister survived, the elder sister couldn’t make it. As soon as I heard the news, I went to my classroom and set there by myself, crying. It didn’t make sense to me how I knew but most importantly, it didn’t make sense to me why I was crying for someone I didn’t know.

Years later, I still don’t have the answer to how I knew something was about to happen but I know why I was crying – I was grieving. I was grieving for the sister who passed away and for the sister who stayed. I was grieving for the family who lost their daughter and I was grieving for her friends. I didn’t have to know her to know what the passing away of someone can do to a family and close ones.

The meaning of death has always eluded me. Sometimes I have been left emotionless and sometimes scared. When my maternal grandfather passed away, I was surprised by how numb I felt. I took the role of the supporter and tried to support my mother in her grief. The only time I could cry was when I saw the pain in my mother’s eyes. Years later when my paternal grandfather passed away, I became a pillar of support for my entire family. This time, my dad’s and sister’s tears did not make me cry so I just hugged them silently. The only thing that could eventually make me cry was wondering why I could not cry.

Grief strikes everyone in different ways. For some, the reaction is immediate. For some, it takes a while and for some, it takes years. It comes and goes in waves. There is no right way to grieve and there is no right time to grieve. It’s okay to not have a reaction and it’s also okay to break down. It’s okay to let it come in waves and it’s also okay to not know how to grieve. I grieved for my maternal grandfather through a series of dreams. For my paternal grandfather, it took years for grief to strike and months to understand what I was grieving.

Last night, I heard the news of a colleague passing away and I again felt the same distant yet familiar feeling strike me. I was shocked and sent my blessings to his family, friends, and loved ones. Today at the office, we had multiple meetings and interactions where people shared how they were feeling. While some knew exactly what they felt, some were silent. Some were trying to support the others and some were trying their best not to break. Here again, I took the role of a listener to give people space to grieve, sending them my love and blessings along the way.

During one such conversation, someone asked the same question that has always haunted me, “But he was such a good man. Healthy and full of life. Why?” The question made me wonder and I heard an answer – “Because his soul had served its purpose for this lifetime”. The answer gave me goosebumps and it started to make a little more sense.

We think of people’s purpose in a physical sense – relationships, finances, properties, etc. But most of the time, we don’t know what their soul’s purpose was. We don’t know why their soul chose to take birth, why it made connections with whom they met, why they made choices that they made or why they left the way they did. We don’t know what their soul had to learn or teach, how they chose to influence this world – in a good way or bad, or even where they will go next. But they were here for something and whatever it was – they achieved. So they left – maybe to come back for another lesson or to transcend.

I had the same thought when Paul Walker passed away. I used to ask why is it that good people die but bad people stay? A part of me had whispered an answer back then – “Because their role is complete while the others are still serving their role”. I had ignored the answers back then and instead blamed God for being unfair. Today, that answer made a little more sense. “His role was complete while others were still playing their role.”

So grieve for those who have left. Grieve for yourself and for others suffering the loss. And bless and celebrate the soul that has passed – for it accomplished what it was here for.