I don’t talk to my dad, at all. We’ve been officially estranged for over 4 years now.
It wasn’t always like this. Granted, my dad and I never had an easy, comforting or reassuring relationship, but there was a time when I thought the world of him. He’s my dad after all.
Perhaps every little girl has those moments of seeing the whole world in their daddy’s eyes – at least, I have the memory of wanting too. I wanted the relationship he and my “naturally slender” sister had; to sit on his lap, cuddle up and eat treats at night with him… but, I was one of the chubby daughters which meant no food after dinner for me, and subsequently no bonding on the couch either.
Dad worked all the time as an entrepreneur, and that meant high stress, which he in turn took out on us at home. Of course, no parent is perfect, and even despite his anger issues and overinflated ego, I maintained a relationship with him well into my adult life.
The Point of No Return
I actually credit my ex husband with helping to first start distancing me from my father’s suffocating dogma and attempts to control. Still, it wasn’t until one of my sisters came forward with sexual abuse allegations that I started to see my difficulties with my father in totally different light.
Maybe this is why every therapist I’ve ever seen has wanted me to undergo memory regression therapy, telling me I have an abnormally high amount of my childhood “blocked out.” Maybe this is why I trained myself to wake up at the sound of my father’s footsteps even when I could otherwise sleep through a foghorn. Maybe this is why my guts tie themselves in knots at the mere mention if my father’s name and my skin feels like it’s trying to shrink back into my body at the thought of him being near me…
Did I want to believe it? Hell no. No one wants to think about their parent as that kind of monster.
At first, I simply stuck by my truth. I didn’t remember anything.
But of course, it’s not that simple… Here’s an excerpt from peice of writing about the night my sister confronted me about not fully believing her, 5-6 years ago:
The last time I went out with — she cussed me out for not protecting her from dad when we were little.I would have stopped my heartbeat if I thought it would’ve helped me remember –She asked me how I didn’t hear it – that I was in the room –A month later and I still don’t know what to tell her.***The pain has become an illusion; emotion cooked from raw to rubber?
After that point, it didn’t matter anymore what I did or didn’t remember. I was too young and naive to protect her when we were kids, but as a grown woman I couldn’t just turn blindly from her pain… So I began to advocate for her.
This ultimately climaxed in a heated conversation with my father just over 4 years ago. On that fated day, I would tell him that a relationship with me is a privilege and not his right, and that if he wanted to be a part of my life he needed to prove to me that his children’s wellbeing is more important to him than his pride.
My sister had asked him to get a polygraph so I simply backed her request, posting our relationship as collateral. I haven’t had a conversation with my father since.
Only the Beginning of the End
I had hopes, at first. In denial that my father would actually sacrifice me for the sake of his self-image. Then I got angry. Really fucking angry. Finally, extremely sad.
I recall sobbing to close friends during the saddest, most frustrating periods: “I wish I could hate him! This would be so much easier if I hated him… But he’s my dad and I love him – that’s what hurts most.”
Still, it’s not only the emotional turmoil that amps up in a situation like this. There’s the family drama, people taking sides or something even worse: people not taking sides.
It’s enough to make you crazy: being accosted by a respectful member of my small hometown community and innocently asked, “how’s your dad?” I’m not a liar anymore, even for discretion or convenience, so I tell them I don’t speak to him – which they’re always surprised by.
My dad has a public persona, only people close enough to be family were ever unfortunate enough to see his private side. Still, I’m not going to air my sister’s business to the whole neighborhood either. So, I just end up looking like the rebellious and wayward daughter he paints me as, every time. He’s a Christian after all, and in his circles, that alone counts for everything.
Then there’s the inter-familial dynamics. My mom still talks to my dad, and so does my sister who shared the nightly cuddle ritual with him. The family not only feels divided, it is.
We all play it cool, but I for one can always feel the underlying tension. Trying to imagine my poor sister’s position is excruciating: “either they believe me to be such a self-deprecating and attention-seeking liar that I would fraudulently claim to experience such horrible atrocities, or they’re simply willing to have relationships with my abuser…” Who could stand to think such things about their family? Yet, this is the strangeness we are living through.
Wading Through the Muck of It
One amazing thing has come from all of this though, I’ve become somewhat of a lie-detector myself.
My dad started gaslighting me as a child, telling me that some of my memories weren’t real. He was also accused of infidelity and asked to take a polygraph by my grandparents when I was in middle school. Essentially, the “truth” surrounding him was always somehow in question.
I didn’t realise how this had effected me until I was an adult though, and only after seeing some of the unfortunate patterns it had created in my behavior. As a young adult, I actually sought out liars to be friends with. I was comfortable with my ex husband’s con-man delusions and an ex girlfriend’s self-confessed pathological lying because I was used to being fucked with.
Things not making sense was what made sense to me. Because of my father’s self-constructed truths, I was completely comfortable with others who would try to bend and shape reality with their wills as well.
It wasn’t until I noticed this pattern in my relationships that I started to understand the gravity of my grooming. I made it my mission to detect truth from the lies.
Developing a Truth-Line
It all started with observations, and this was the biggest take away: when people lie, they often get dramatic and seem desperate. They will very often use their emotions, voice and body language to try and convince you of their lie. In fact, this is the most important determinant: lies require belief in order to exist.
The truth is the truth, is the truth. It cannot, by virtue of being the truth, be anything else. In this way, it is self-assured, self-justifiable and rightfully, can remain peacefully at ease – even when under attack.
You can research, read, ask, study, scour, hunt, discover and pry all you want and you will only ever uncover more truth. Truth is an advocate for curiosity because it has nothing to hide. Lies however, will always ask for your trust because it’s essential that you take them on faith – they will crumble beneath an investigation.
Lies only exist in our consciousness. Without a mind to think them to be true, and with no basis in reality to actually back them up, lies simply cease to be. In this way, they must be spread in order to ensure they survive.
This is where the drama and desperation come in. Liars often make theirs an emotional plea because they really, truly, need you to believe them. Without your belief, their reality starts to crumble.
Now, having done this work of developing a compass for detecting truth, I actually find myself laughing at my father’s feeble attempts at manipulation. He’ll spend weeks, probably even months at a time, tirelessly writing letters to family members about how true his truth is – as if somehow that makes it more true…
Meanwhile, I’m still taking ever further steps away from his delirium.
Showing up for the Yin yoga class my sister teaches at our local wellness center last night, I was cheerfully greeted by one of my Kundalini teachers at the front desk. “Oh Mayry! I’m so glad you’re here, it’s so good to see you!” Her smile was so big her eyes scrunched together to make room.
Now, this isn’t uncommon for the vibes at Taspens, but last night was also special because I had just officially registered for the Kundalini teacher training course they will be offering in the fall. I beamed right back at her, filled with joy and excitement for being a part of this incredible local tribe.
I was a bit early for the Yin class and began some light conversation. The owner of Taspens and a woman I consider a personal guru of mine joined in as well. She also teaches Kundalini and was excited to let me know a few of my next steps.
“I’ll schedule a call with the teacher for you, to discuss a few things,” she said, and then went on to mention the mandatory Saturday Sadhana practices during the course and signing the code of conduct at the end to get our certification. I nodded along in agreement, smiling.
Suddenly, my attention shifted though, “the code is essentially a commitment to the yogic lifestyle. So, trying for a vegetarian diet, abstaining from drugs…” Right there, “uh oh,” I thought as I shifted uneasily on my feet.
Honoring My Truth
I have been leaning vegetarian for the last dozen years but, no drugs? Given that I just found my hag stone after my plant medicine retreat in June and, according to my own personal beliefs, have thus been officially called to the Shamanic path, I worried this might actually be a problem.
“So…” I started, interrupting the flow of chatter between the teachers, “if I were unable to sign the code because I’ve been called to the Shamanic path, would I still be able to take the course?” I asked, nervously.
Shamanism is a part of my path for sure, but I’ve also been called to Kundalini. Not being able to reconcile the too seemed completely wrong – Pachamama had come to me through Ayahuasca AND through Kundalini, how could they be opposed?
“Yes,” both teachers exclaimed, looking at me and then each other, then back at me. They started, “and it’s just about trying your best, we understand some people have to eat meat for medical reasons… Maybe just try it for 40 days, you might be surprised…”
I cut in again, “I have no problem with the diet, it’s just that… I am called to the utilization of ‘drugs’ on a ceremonial basis for medicinal and religious purposes.” They seemed to finally understand what I meant now, their eyes widening to fully ingest what I was saying. “Oh, no, well – he just wants to get everything out in the open up front so there are no suprises when it’s time to sign the code… But, you will talk to him so you can mention that. If at the end you don’t sign, that will always be your choice to make.” My guru finished, half-smiling.
The big smile returned to my face and both teachers responded with large smiles blooming across theirs as well. “Okay awesome,” I sighed, relieved.
Embracing the Unknown
Now, some may wonder, “what’s the point of taking Kundalini teacher training if you know you won’t be able to get certified?!” And honestly, I don’t blame them.
In this world of achievement laden “value,” it would seem I am setting out to rob myself. After all, the certification is the reason for undergoing any professional training, is it not? Well, I suppose it’s not for me.
Some might say I should just lie, or withhold the truth, sign the code anyway. Others might tell me I need to really consider the code and whether I truly feel called to both of these seemingly “contradictory” paths, or even something to the tune of “perhaps your plant medicine experiences are behind you and this is the next step in your development?” To be sure, I’ve thought all these things for myself already too.
But, I cannot lie. Fundamentally, my commitment to authenticity and truth is what has aligned me with my path, and subsequently both of these paths too. And undoubtedly, I feel beyond called to both of them, I am already connected and intertwined with them spiritually. Finally, given the parts that plant medicine has played in my past, I cannot in good consciousness banish all plant medicines from my life in the future – regardless of how well meaning my intention is in doing so.
No, the mental gymnastics to be done here are not to rectify me to the norm – it’s the opposite. I will be a Kundalini Shaman and I will learn to walk this line with grace and appreciation.
Letting Mayryanna Bloom
Somehow it all seems better suited anyway… I’m not just a guru, I’m a Rockstar Guru. I’m not just a yogi, I’m a Rebel Yogi. I’m not just a Shaman, I’m an Modern Eclectic Pagan Medicine Woman who researches and utilizes a variety of ancient spiritual healing modalities to live my authentically powerful life to the fullest – all without shame, malice or discontentment.
I don’t need a certificate. I will proudly slap “Unofficial” to the front of my teacher title and gratefully explain my why to everyone who cares.
This “inconvenient truth” will not detract from me at all, no. This will only empower me more. By allowing myself unpopular distinctions, I will emerge unparalleled.
By allowing myself unpopular distinctions, I will emerge unparalleled.
So, after some careful reflections and considerations, I’m even more excited to study Kundalini now! Certification shmertification – nothing compares to a soul that fully embraces its fate, inconveniences and all (shout out to Nietzsche for his concept of Amor Fati). I am simply grateful for the opportunity to learn, to grow and to further become this gloriously inglorious woman: Mayryanna.
I pulled the card
seeking the answers to unasked questions
Smiling as she colorfully unfurls
I didn’t feel it then
pulling themselves delicately apart
It’s hard work
unraveling to reveal hidden glories
bit by bit
until nothing is left but undoing
giving all to possibilities
Spreading wide open
willing to fall completely apart
And watching myself fall
bit by bit
collapsing back into myself
An act of violence
itself cannot be undone
Yet these dead petals
feeding the blooms of tomorrows
The path to glory is fraught with dangers and distractions; sureties are luxuries that often must be bought at the expense of truth. What though is worth more? The confidence and strength of hard-won experience, or the comfort of waiting for an easy way that will never come?
Heroes are forged in battles, and not only the battles that find them. Heroes set out to find the “monsters” that will otherwise destroy peace and jeopardize love, in order to fulfill their destiny or die trying – that’s what sets them apart, that’s what distinguishes their journey from all the rest – they fully reject a life that sacrifices the soul for security.
Perhaps they don’t know how they will feed or shelter themselves along the way, but they go anyway. Perhaps they don’t have the right weapons, perhaps they live far from the threat, perhaps they could find several reasons why it would make more sense for them to just hope for the best and stay at home – but they go anyway.
A hero’s journey is one that defies logic, challenges rationality and tests grace, but that’s exactly what makes them great: by stepping out of the line of “right,” they place themselves in the midst of the void: the space in which nothing exists but every possibility. It is not their own might or power that makes them heroes, but rather, it is their acceptance of fortune, their faith in divine power and their calling to more that allows this greatness to manifest.
By stepping outside of reality’s guarantees, they create the space in which glory and miracles can manifest. True greatness doesn’t fit inside comfort, it must be invoked in spaces of possibility’s uncontained magnitude.
So, do you dare?