Photo by Author, Balboa Park in California
At the end of this unprecedented year, 2020, where are we, and where are we heading?
The COVID-19 pandemic eruption has taken us into a crisis that no one could imagine before. The losses of over 300,000 precious lives have, in part, been fueled by deep-rooted social and economic divisions as well as racial disparities in our country and the globe.
The impacts from these losses and the scars would further require logistic actions to rebuild the confidence in people, societies, and our communities. Since we all are impacted and grieving in many ways, our souls and spirits also need to heal and free ourselves from these existing rooted problems. These processes may require much tenacity and resilience of our own and the societies.
Though personal, I would like to share my little story using this space, the story of my coming out of “the cave” this year. In the Buddhist scriptures, it is said, “Adversity leads to enlightenment.” Despite all the difficulties we have shared, I am still very grateful for what I’ve learned this year.
I lost my late husband for twenty-six years, Patrick, on July fourth, 2016. We were literally very, very close and inseparable beings. Our umbilical cords must have been intertwined somehow from our past lives. When Patrick was alive, he’d called me “the best-est friend” all the time.
However, he’d suddenly fallen ill in June 2013. The fall was so rapid and ironic as if the most multi-tasking and highest functional person had become the one with the worst possibly-imagined disabilities. Regardless of his early prognosis only for a few months and his never-ending crises, he had survived for over three years with my devotion and care.
You can imagine how many difficulties his illness, and, of course, his death had brought to him, to us, and me. After all the traumatic events during his illness, I was left alone only with severe insomnia and self-neglected panic attack syndrome. Perhaps, I must’ve been a sufferer of continuous “post-traumatic stress syndrome” as well.
Around nine months after Patrick’s death, I began to realize that my attitude to be a better leader and devout Buddhist had precipitated more stress on my system. I’d lived in this system so long, neglecting my own emotions, particularly vulnerability. After crashing myself with shame, guilt, and my own lies, I began to write before his first anniversary.
While writing, I’d literally groaned and cried out of sadness, sorrows, and agonies. Some of my sufferings have stemmed from my childhood emotional abuse. But still, I’d left lots of untold stories, almost no scenes to describe what’d happened either. It was because it’d been too painful to face them.
The draft was rejected by one of the writing coaches to further process for possible revisions. Then I began to take classes, workshops, and courses for writing. There were lots to learn from them. I’d finished the second revision in another six months. Even in this revision of my book (which wasn’t still publishable at all!!), there were still lots of hidden emotions, deceptions, and lies in me that had stood high to protect my own vulnerability.
In January this year, I’d finally decided to take one of the memoir writing courses led by Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Meyer, and I’d begun to work on my third revision throughout the course. Soon, writing had become my battlefields to face deeper truths in me. Thanks to Brooke and Linda Joy, with blood and tears, I’d begun to shed layers of my veils and see myself in the light of compassion.
With tenacity and consistency as my own merit and weapons, I’ve kept writing and fighting to accept myself every day. It’s become my spiritual practice to face and accept my ego and find my true Self. My journey in writing has become how I employ its power to transform and change my life.
While we were undergoing this COVID summer, I’ve completed the third revision, which now I regard as “the first” draft. In the book, I have found the ground and home, which has been me, Self. Also, as a devout practicing Buddhist myself, I’d long “performed” a good formal part of myself. But now, I am a naked version of myself, a naturally good and much fearless person.
The COVID pandemic has brought lots of challenges to everyone without exceptions. It has also made us look deeper into our existing issues from small to large, from an individual to the global level. Like you, I’ve also faced my own existing difficulties.
I’ve learned something from my struggles. Whatever the difficulties are, if we have the tenacity to face and work around the heart of the issues, we can eventually transform them into something profound and sacred.
I would invite you to this space. We all suffer, yet it would not be the end but be the beginning of our story.