I love cheese, I mean obsessively love it. Just as I love being near the ocean, Sauvignon Blanc, my lanky ginger dog, Scandi noir, Italian food and the distant sound of thunder amongst the falling rain. But some people really dislike cheese? I know right, who’d had thought it, a cheese free life? As human beings we all have different tastes, it’s natural to have different likes and dislikes. It’s the same with people. In life some people will like you and some people won’t, you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. And mostly we pretend we don’t care, but mostly we do.
I had a friend. She was beautiful, fun and we enjoyed the time we spent together. One summer we went away together, it was due to be a relaxing, soothing and recuperating trip, but everything went wrong. I mean everything. It was incredibly stressful and it came at a time I was already dealing with some really personal stuff. Looking back now, I can see I was actually in a really vulnerable place. I was exhausted emotionally and on top of the personal issues I was facing, I was also dealing with a recurring back condition, awaiting a third back operation. I was in constant pain. In truth the timing couldn’t have been worse, in fact it was rubbish. But life can be rubbish at times, you just get on with it right?
So I tried to make the best of a very complicated situation, I joined in, I laughed and I joked. I thought we did o.k, even had fun.
A few weeks after the trip I received a message from my friend. Not a phone call, or a voice message suggesting I call her back to have a chat. No, it was a WhatsApp message. A WhatsApp that basically informed me that my friend suddenly felt differently about myself and our friendship. Our five year friendship. I remember I was sitting in the hairdressers at the time, a head full of tint, under the bright lights. I let out a small gasp as I began to read the words in front of me, and then began to force back tears as I slowly scrolled through the message. She felt differently about me, we hadn’t got on during the break. Following that was a list of things I had done to annoy her during the holiday.
I cried, right there in the middle of the hairdressers I cried. Me being me, I immediately apologised. I was sorry, I had no idea. Could we talk? I tried to call her immediately. Adults talk about these things right? No answer. Then another message to say she was busy, she didn’t want to upset me but she was busy.
I spent the next few days feeling incredibly sad and low. I began doubting my authenticity and my ability to be liked. I constantly played the holiday over and over again in my head. What had I done? Had I said something that was taken out of context, maybe hit a nerve? Was I selfish or rude in anyway? Was I so consumed with freeing myself from the constant pain in my back that I was offish? Nothing made sense to me and it was all consuming. In truth I felt completely judged. I pulled every aspect of my spiritual training into play. I meditated and meditated. I sent her love and healing. I listened to podcasts, read books and tried to forget my hurt.
A few months later I received a teaching from a Zen Buddhist Master. He told a story of the Buddha and how we should never allow the opinions of others, to cloud the opinions we have of ourselves. When we do, we give away our personal power. We become slaves to others judgements. We are human, and as humans we make mistakes. But when we choose to judge another, and express those judgements, all we are doing is experiencing life through our own ego’s. When we pick on the flaws of someone else, we are simply deflecting from concentrating on our own. None of us are perfect, so we should never feel the need to point out others imperfections. If we do, we aren’t ever coming so from a place of compassion and understanding.
It truly was a light bulb moment.
From that moment onward I made a promise to myself to never apologise again for simply being me. Always do YOU. Don’t conform to how others feel you should be, or how you should behave. Always walk your own path and speak your own truth. Those who are meant to walk alongside you will always find you, and those who aren’t are simply meant to walk alongside someone else.