I just got off the phone with my ex; or, more accurately, she just hung up on me.
Now a phone call from my “baby mama” is never a pleasant experience, not by any stretch of the imagination. With all the lies, threats and accusations, there’s not a whole lot of actual communication that goes on. She mostly just yells over the top of everything I say. But more often than not, I am able to let it roll off my shoulders and stay Zen.
Today, not so much.
Today I’m gritting my teeth. Today I take the phone and hurl it across the room (toward the sofa, of course—I’m pissed-off, but not so much that I’m gonna destroy my phone). I feel a roiling in the pit of my stomach; a bitter emotional stew, the primary ingredients of which are frustration, anger, helplessness and hate.
Yeah, I said it. Hate.
The realization of it shocks me. I’m feeling hate right now. I didn’t even know I was capable of that.
In spiritual circles, even the more open-minded ones where we talk about “allowing all of our feelings,” hatred is still pretty taboo. No one talks about it, except of course when they are talking about terrorists, or racists, or religious fanatics. You know, “Them.” The other guys. The bad guys.
Well I’ve discovered hatred in me. And I’m allowing it. I’m accepting it. I’m sitting with it, listening to it, and seeing what it has to teach me…
You may not know it from looking at me, but I’m a “bad guy.”
I’m a bad guy because I walked out of a toxic relationship with the mother of my child. Or, as she puts it, “I abandoned her.” I’m a bad guy because I filed for full-custody as she bounced in and out of jail and rehab, and at least five different homes. “I took her child away from her.”
I have ceased to be a human being in her eyes. I have become an enemy, a villain, a scapegoat; the monster that “ruined her life.”
And as I sit with this hatred that I’m feeling, it becomes clear to me that I have done the exact same thing. I look at her and I see a face twisted with rage. I see a maelstrom of hurt, anger, addiction and violence; I see the pain and turmoil that it has caused my little boy.
What I often fail to see is a human being, a living soul, a child of the universe, just like me.
This is how racism happens. This is how rape happens. This is how hate crimes, gang violence and church bombings happen. As I look at this drama, this dance of pain between my ex and I, I can see the root and the seed of all war, terrorism, slavery and suffering.
There is no “them.” There are no bad guys. There’s just us. All of us together, living, loving and hurting as one. Learning and growing, slipping and falling, and finding our way back home.
Maybe my ex is my guru.
She’s not enlightened. She doesn’t wear monk’s robes or have a Sanskrit name—but nobody attacks my ego so effectively, so relentlessly. She doesn’t study the dharma or practice meditation—but she is a clear and perfect mirror for all of my anger, resentment and frustration.
She is showing me my attachments, my defenses, my illusions. She is teaching me to let go of my stories, my self-image. You know, stuff like I am wise, I am peaceful, I am “spiritual,” I am a good person, a good father, all that jazz.
Looking into the inner darkness takes me beyond good and bad, right and wrong; beyond the concept of self to the reality of Self. I Am That I Am.
My ex is my guru. So is my son, and my beloved. So are my friends and family, my neighbors, and all the people I work with, worship with, drink with, laugh with, talk with and cross paths with. As are the authors I have read, many long dead. And you, my readers and friends. And everyone who has touched my life in any way.
You have taught me. You have molded me. You are a part of me.
I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you. Please forgive me.
Thank you for being the doorway through which I come to know the whole spectrum of love, sadness, fear, ecstasy, and yes—even hate. My experience of human life would not be complete without you.
I love you.