My client, Badrah, a Pakistani woman living with her husband and two teenage sons in Texas, has traveled through the depths of depression to exhilarating moments of enlightenment. She is not committed to enlightenment, only to relieving the suffering of depression and anxiety.
Badrah began working with me almost two years ago, not only to find answers to her suffering but also to train with me to be a transformational coach. Weaving training with personal work allows her to experience self-empowerment where only self-deprecation lived for so long. Much like for Badrah, most people who suffer from depression practice a great deal of self-deprecation, which grows and festers as powerlessness, hopelessness and helplessness. That’s not fun for anyone!
Badrah has been attached to her identity as a wife, mother, daughter and sister. Her husband treats her badly. So, part of her identity as a wife is as a victim, unworthy of love. Her son is going off to college, so part of her identity is that she is a mother without a child. She is a victim of that too! Badrah, like so many of us, don’t know how to be free of these identities. We don’t know how to allow ourselves to know who we are inside our circumstances, separate from these circumstances. And so we suffer.
In our most recent session, Badrah shared a dream she had about her father, who died a little over a year ago. In the dream he gave each of his children a gift. To the first three children he gave worldly gifts. In the dream, Badrah waited anxiously, as it seemed nothing was coming to her.
Then, her father came to her with his wallet. He presented it to her. When she opened it, it was empty. “What does it mean?” she asked.
As is my way as a thinking partner, I asked her to tell me what it meant to her. Badrah’s interpretation was so much more interesting. She said her father was well organized, “so perhaps he wants me to start organizing my life better, make a plan.” Then she added, “And, wallets are where you put your identity, your driver’s license and cards. Perhaps he wants me to discover my own identity and not take on the identities others created for me.” She then asked, “Rosie, do you know your identity?” I shook my head no.
I shared with Badrah that I used to think I was my identities—mother, wife, coach, author, daughter, sister…
But, as I go through life, and now at 70 years old, most of those identities I carry have changed drastically, and who I thought I was no longer is true. As much as I want to remain attached to identities in all those ways, it didn’t work. It only caused me heartache, sadness, pain and disappointment—suffering.
I shared with Badrah, “I don’t know my identity. I don’t know who I am, except as the Divine Expression of the essence of my true nature. What this means is that when I’m most myself and I’m being present to my authentic self—whether that means I’m expressing sadness or happiness, I am free from what I should feel, what I should do and what I should be. I’m just ME!”
Badrah was raised as a Muslim. I didn’t know what she knew of Buddha’s teachings, so I shared his four noble truths. Basically, Buddha shares that every human suffers because they are attached to their desires. And, we all can free ourselves from suffering by giving up our attachments to our desires. Hooray—freedom from suffering. (We don’t have to give up our desires. We just have to look at how our attachments to our desires create frustration, disappointment, perhaps anger and jealousy—suffering. If you want to suffer—Enjoy! If you want to explore life without suffering—what a fun adventure awaits you!)
My sessions with Badrah are on Zoom. But the truth of what occurred in Badrah while listening to my offerings was undeniable. She woke up! Not just from her dream of a few nights ago. She woke up to who she was and has always been. She said, “I never heard this explanation so clearly! I totally understand it now!” Her whole demeanor changed from burdened with guilt and unworthiness to radiant, brilliant delight! OMG!!!
Badrah and I came back to her father’s gift of the empty wallet. She was able to see clearly that, up until now, she has put into the wallet only her attachments to other people’s perceptions of her. She said, “I have to stop thinking about other people and begin to live my own life.”
Then she said, “Yes, but I have laundry to do, cooking and cleaning. How do I do ME as I’m doing all of those chores?” I shared with Badrah the Zen proverb: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” Then I said, “In your case, Badrah, before enlightenment, cook meals, do laundry. After enlightenment, cook meals, do laundry.” She laughed and laughed. Then expressed, “It is very different from one to the other!”
Badrah will go off and immerse herself in her day to day life—being curious about who she is as she is doing the doings of her life. She will be wonder-full in this exploration, as we all are!!!
It doesn’t matter the culture or religion we were raised in. It doesn’t matter if we are male or female. It doesn’t matter if we are wealthy or impoverished. It doesn’t matter if we live in the East or the West, the North or the South. What each and everyone of us carry as a truth, and our identification with that truth and our attachment to that truth, will either create great suffering or great fulfillment. It will create guilt, blame, victimizing of ourselves and others, or it will create great compassion for the suffering we cause ourselves and others. It’s just a choice each of us make and will continue to make—always, everywhere!
Inevitably, like Badrah, each of us will realize who we are beyond what we think we are, and what we think we are supposed to do, have and be. Moments of elation of awakening will wrap us in a state within which the truth—the big T TRUTH no longer will be denied. Like Badrah, each of us will know ourselves differently within the day to day tasks and our relationships. What that will look like for each of us will inevitably bring joy and delight to our hearts and the hearts of every single individual on the planet. Kinda cool, right?
(For the sake of confidentiality, I asked permission of this client, and I’ve changed her name to Badrah.