Betrayed and Hurt But Still Barefoot

Because if you wear shoes, you cover the whole world in leather

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a child's feet, walking along a stone path

Watch out for the stones! But. It’s all stones, just some are sharper than others — Midjourney

“There’s some weird shit going on right now in my life. I was pretty emotional about it for a week, but I’m over it now. I’m fine.”

Jenna nodded and looked concerned. She didn’t say anything.

My bottom lip quivered. I began to cry. Light tears eventually turned into heaving sobs. I wasn’t fine.

“Just sit with that for a few minutes,” she said, “I’m here with you.”

I smiled through the tears. There was a box of tissue in arm’s reach. I wasn’t fine, but I was going to be.

I am preparing for a mental health retreat coming up in a few weeks, and over the magic of Zoom, Jenna was delving into current issues in my life as I tried to determine what my intention was going to be for the weekend event.

I’ve been telling people ‘I’m cursed to live in interesting times’ as a veiled reference to major events that are happening in my life. It’s also why I’ve been writing less than usual, as I bail water and struggle to right a ship that suddenly feels unstable. The wind has shifted on me.

One of my closest friends has betrayed me at a level that I didn’t think was possible. Why didn’t I see it sooner? But I wasn’t ready yet to tell Jenna what was really going on. And I’m not going to be ready to talk about the details for a long time, because I’m so embarrassed I let it happen.

Instead, I said, “My problems seem to come from wanting to be productive. I have enough money to not have to work. But when I just try to enjoy myself, I feel guilty. I know that I should be happy just sitting by myself in meditation, but I can’t seem to get there. Is it about achievement? Is it about being content? I don’t know. I can’t decide. Maybe that’s my intention for this retreat.”

Jenna replied, “The sides of the paradox that you’re describing, one of them feels very much outcome-oriented, and one of them feels deeply present, but it has a little bit of static energy, right?”

I sniffled and nodded, still recovering from my tears.

“So what if it’s about the experience of your life and what you want to experience?” She paused. “I’m going to ask you a kind of a radical question. Do you think you’re God?”

“That’s complicated. You have to define things,” I dithered.

She waited for an answer.

“The short answer is yes. I do think I’m God,” I finally replied.

“Great,” she replied, “So let me tell you about my personal belief system. I think about it like the water cycle.”

We begin as a vast amorphous cloud. Source. Pure consciousness.

And at some point, Source says, “I’ve done consciousness. I’d like to individuate.”

And you crystallize into a little raindrop so you can careen through life and wind and wetness.

It feels really intense to be a raindrop. You fall from the sky. You descend, cold and quivering. You crash violently into a vast ocean, co-existing with billions of other raindrops.

But you are God.

You are not a raindrop in an ocean. You are an ocean in a raindrop. It’s about the experience.

Experiencing weather, tides, waves, and the feel of sand between your toes. Experiencing joy and pain and calamity and peace.

You are here only briefly, eventually returning to the vast amorphous cloud, only to grow bored and repeat the cycle. Craving the experience. Always the experience.

It’s not about avoiding suffering and seeking joy. It is only.

Experience.

You are an ocean in a raindrop. One hell of a raindrop — Midjourney

I finally admitted to Jenna, “I’ve been betrayed, and now I’m questioning all of my relationships. Is anybody really who they say they are?”

“There is risk in connection,” she replied. “You’ve just experienced the consequences of big risk. The recipe for handling risk is resilience.”

She smiled and added, “If you wear shoes, all the world is covered in leather.”

I immediately understood and laughed out loud. “Oh my god, I’ve never heard that before, but it makes so much sense!”

She continued, “So, if you are a barefoot open-hearted man, curiously exploring the terrain of his life and then ouch, you stepped on a rock, does that mean you pick up the rock and move it out of the way, or does it mean that you’re going to put on shoes?”

“It means I’m going to watch out for rocks,” I said.

“Right, because you’d rather touch the grass and the soil and the warmth and the water than cover the world in leather.”

And I realized that I can say “Ouch,” move the rock out of the way and continue. My train hasn’t derailed. My ship hasn’t sunk. I stepped on a rock. It’s all part of the experience.

Covering the world in leather. Pretty, not pretty — Midjourney

I said, “I’m trying to rise above my anger at the betrayal. I want to feel peace. I want to forgive. But it feels wrong to just move on and let it go.”

“You don’t have to rise above your experience, and you don’t have to live under it either,” she replied. “You can go through holding both.”

“What do you want to say to him?”

I love you and get away from me.

I will love you from over here.

I love this part of you. This I am unwilling to tolerate.

She told me, “The difference between a boundary and a thing you said once, is enforcement.”

I smiled. I knew the path now.

At her instruction, I closed my eyes. I sat up tall, with my palms facing up. A posture of somatic dignity, she called it.

“Let your body take the shape of honouring itself, Sanjay.”

I took a deep breath and let it out. I thought to myself, what are the experiences I want to have? I can’t just pick and choose. If I want to experience relationships, I’m going to experience heartbreak.

I said out loud, “I’m sad because I’ve lost a relationship I thought I had, but I never actually had it. I only lost an illusion.”

I took a final deep breath and blew it out. I sat up straight. With dignity.

I have my intention for the retreat — to fully experience this journey I’m on. I’m God.

I’m not wearing shoes.

I chose this.

  1. For anyone interested in Jenna’s healing, click here.

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