Didn’t this like, just happen? In fact, it did. About three months ago, from October 21-November 10, 2013. And it was shitty then and I wrote about it here.
Basically, Mercury goes retrograde about four times per year. Fantastic blogger Gala Darling describes it thusly:
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here we go. The planets are swinging around at all times, and their movements affect us all in different ways. All planets go retrograde, but Mercury’s journey seems to impact people much more than any other. (Even people who “don’t believe in astrology” often “believe” in the crazy aftershocks of Mercury retrograde!)
Why is that? It’s because Mercury rules communication, clear thinking, truth and travel, so when the planet goes retrograde — which means that it looks like it’s going backwards in the sky — all those things go backwards. They start to get ugly and tangle up. Mercury isn’t really going backwards, it’s just hanging out by the sun, but from Earth, that makes it look like it’s in reverse. It typically runs for a couple of weeks, a few times a year.
Mercury is in retrograde from February 6 – February 28. So what can we do? I’m trying not to take shit so personally. My finances are fucked up again. One settlement fell apart. Another settlement is in limbo until we receive the ok from the insurance company. The federal government owes me thousands of dollars in Social Security Disability attorney’s fees. Ironically, I owe them a bunch of taxes. I wish it was as simply as calling it even, but Uncle Sam doesn’t go for that shit. I was going to play poker today but I couldn’t justify it when I just got charged a $108 overdraft and I had to borrow money from my mom again.
Life, right? I’m trying to follow my dreams. To balance the life of a mother, lawyer, writer, yoga teacher, poker player, all-around-awesome Jedi Knight; and yet, I find myself in the same place I have been countless times before.
And finances aren’t the only issue. I’m living out my Groundhog Day story of unrequited love and unfulfilled expectations. I know the story is really about me. It isn’t about the friends that I blame it on.
Let me step back. I realized a few years ago that I play out a story with my closest female friends and that I have played it out many times over my life going back to elementary school. It starts when I “fall in love” with a best friend. I start to place expectations on the relationship as to how she should act, because that is how I would act, if I were her. When she doesn’t act the way I would act, I tell myself that she doesn’t love me the same way. I get jealous and angry. I start to get upset and withdraw. Brain voice says, “If she doesn’t feel the same way about me, why should I do all this for her?” Then I start to do what I blame her for doing: I start acting in a non-loving way. I’m the one that is being an asshole, but to my brain she is the asshole for not acting the way I want her to act.
So this summer, after a “break-up” with Jessica, one such best friend, I took a close look at it. I tried an exercise from Byron Katie’s “I Need Your Love – Is that True?” where she recommends writing a letter to the person that you are angry with. In the letter, first you apologize for three things that you did to that person, and ask if there is anything you can do to make it better. Then you thank the person for three things, tell them you love them, and close the letter. It may seem difficult to apologize to someone you are angry at. You might have to dig deep to really find something sincere you can apologize for, especially when you probably believe that they owe you an apology. You can give them the letter or not after writing it. The big shift comes after you re-write the letter, which we will get to in a minute.
I first wrote the letter to Jessica. It was easy to start with her, because I was still so angry with her. A voice in my head told me to write it to my mother, but I wasn’t quite ready for that yet. Start with the person that’s easiest, Byron Katie recommends. So I wrote a sincere apology to Jessica. I saw how our relationship failure was in part due to my personal Groundhog Day drama, my unfulfilled expectations of how a best friend “should act.” I also saw how the ordeal that we went through really helped me to evolve and be a better person. I wrote:
Dear Jessica –
I’ve realized now that I’ve always wanted something from you. I wanted you to be the person I wanted you to be, rather than just letting you be yourself. I see how I’ve used guilt and withdrawal of my love and energy to try to manipulate you in to acting the way I wanted you to act. In so doing, I was not a good friend to you. A good friend would let you be who you are. If there is anything I can do to make it up to you, please let me know. I am deeply sorry.
I also want to thank you for teaching me to be a better friend; for showing me what unconditional love looks like; and for being my greatest teacher over these past two-and-a-half years. Our relationship has been like a magic mirror – revealing to me hidden parts of myself – parts I didn’t want to acknowledge existed – and bringing those parts into the light. I love you, Jessica, and I am eternally grateful for our time together.
With deepest love and gratitude –
After I wrote it, it became clear that it was really about my mother. All that was wrong with my mom relationship was seeping into my other relationships – with Jessica – with everybody. I was so annoyed to have my mother. I thought to myself, “Why would I have THIS mother!? She is so different than me.”
The next thought came: “Why WOULD you have this mother? Doesn’t there have to be a reason?”
Then it became clear. She is here to teach me, and I have been acting like a jerk, putting expectations on her about how a mother “should” act. So I re-wrote the letter for her:
Dear Mom –
I’ve realized now that I’ve always wanted something from you. I wanted you to be the person I wanted you to be, rather than just letting you be yourself. I see how I’ve used guilt and withdrawal of my love and energy to try to manipulate you in to acting the way I wanted you to act. In so doing, I was not a good daughter to you. A good daughter would let you be yourself. If there is anything I can do to make it up to you, please let me know. I am deeply sorry.
I also want to thank you for teaching me to be a better person; for showing me what unconditional love looks like; and for being my greatest teacher over my life. Our relationship has been like a magic mirror – revealing to me hidden parts of myself – parts I didn’t want to acknowledge existed – and bringing those parts into the light. I love you, Mom, and I am eternally grateful for our time on earth together.
With deepest love and gratitude –
And I knew I needed to give it to her; that I really owed her an apology and that she would genuinely receive it. So I did. Our relationship has improved ten-fold since that day. But it really wasn’t about her either…
The letter was about me.
It was me that I needed to apologize to. All the things I was doing to others, that I was blaming others for doing to me, I was also doing to myself. Byron Katie says to re-write the letter to yourself after you write it to the person you are maddest at. Basically, you just tweak it where necessary for it to make sense. Here is the version I re-wrote for myself:
Dear Kelli –
I’ve realized now that I’ve always wanted something from you. I wanted you to be the person I wanted you to be, rather than just letting you be yourself. I see how I’ve used guilt and withdrawal of my love and energy to try to manipulate you in to acting the way I wanted you to act. In so doing, I was not a good friend to you. If there is anything I can do to make it up to you, please let me know. I am deeply sorry.
I also want to thank you for teaching me to be a better human; for showing me what unconditional love looks like; and for being my greatest teacher over countless lifetimes. It’s been like a magic mirror for me – revealing to me hidden parts of myself – parts I didn’t want to acknowledge existed – and bringing those parts into the light. I love you, Kelli, and I am eternally grateful to you.
With deepest love and gratitude –
And the letter was so true: I wasn’t letting me be me. I used guilt as a form of self-manipulation to get myself to act a certain way, the way I thought I should act. How is that kind to myself? And I also realized that I was so grateful for experiencing life in this incarnation as Kelli. And through this incarnation, being Kelli has taught me to be a better human and to realize unconditional love. I have always been my greatest teacher – the real me – my soul – the part that shows me and teaches me through my projections onto others and through my life situations and karma. Wow. It was really cathartic.
I felt a huge shift in my life after I wrote those three letters.
And yet, here we are. Mercury is in Retrograde again, and I fear I am living out similar stories of unfulfilled expectations with new “Jessicas” which, I am sure, is a sign that I am doing it to myself again too.
Feeling particularly down about my inability to break free from the cycle this morning, I asked the question, “Why would I have to continue to live out this same story of unrequited love and unfulfilled expectations again and again? Why is THIS my story?” At that moment Adele came on the radio.
Wow, Adele certainly seems to have a sad story. All her songs are so sad. Why would she have that story?
The thought came: one reason she might have that story is to sing about it.
Think of all the other heartbroken humans Adele has helped with her songs.
Imagine if she decided to keep it to herself and not sing about it.
Another though came: maybe the reason I have this story is to tell it; to write about.
So I just did. Mercury in Retrograde is a time for self-reflection. A time to take a step back and re-evaluate recurring life situations; it is a great time to reflect and take a pause on our journey.
So I’m pausing and reflecting. I’m trying not to take the shitty times too personally and I’m trying to really feel gratitude for all the greatness in my life.
Still, sometimes I feel angry and yucky and sobby and today is one of those days. Everything in life is transient. The point of times like this is to experience them; not to shy away or feel shame or guilt because I am not acting the way I think I should act. When I devolve into feeling shameful or guitly, then I am just committing the same sins I apologized for in my letter.
As the Sufi poets say,
This too shall pass.
And I’ll be the better for it. Why are we here on Earth if not to learn?