I was first in denial.

 

By Michelleanne Bradley

I am a mostly trusting person.

I believe that people are not perfect, and that we are doing the best that we can with what we have at the moment. On this site right here, there were articles written on each step of the Eightfold Path, and what that practice looks like. For me, the hardest part about following the path is the grief and anger around betrayal. It is like there is this liquid that runs hotter than the surface of the sun that is in the inner core of my body, and when the cool of practice is exploded, this molten magma flows through my body. Okay, I’m sure that impending menopause is really helping that every once in a while, but it’s different when it’s fury related.

I have a routine that I go through that includes (but is not limited to): tapping, mediation, exercise, pulling weeds in the yard, writing and perhaps even cleaning parts of the house (that’s when we know stuff is bad, because my mom has always said that I am a terrible housekeeper, so I had better be able to afford help). I am inserting all of these bad jokes and jabs because what I need to talk about here is super painful, and this is what I do to avoid that part. I deflect, I tell side stories to avoid the topic at hand.

One of my teachers, whom I love and respected, and have held in very high regard—but also very much as human—has been accused of sexual misconduct, sexual impropriety, improper sexual behavior, and how ever many other ways that this can be stated.

I was first in denial.

I remembered the times that he talked about wise behavior when it came to sexual energy. I remember when we talked about becoming teachers in any tradition, the importance that the role ethics and behavior played that is beyond reproach. I remembered him talking about the pain in other teachers in our tradition who had lost their practices and their coming forward to talk about the pain that they caused to others, and the great compassion that came from the all of the participants.

I remember when I made light about my own story of survival, because I am so tired of the story, I barely bring it up; not because I haven’t dealt with it, but because after decades (literally) of therapy and really hard work, I am no longer willing to have that page in my life even a part of the story. Because I don’t want to be defined there. At one point, that was a central pillar in my life, now it is barely a speed bump.

So now I am sitting in this rage, which is a part of the despair, which is tied with grief, and bargaining, and will eventually come to acceptance. But for me a great deal is still all encompassed by depression, which I always think of as anger without motivation, and infinite sadness. The only way to get past this is to go through it.

I cannot make excuses for another’s behavior. I am accountable only for my behavior.

I wish that the stories came as more of a surprise to me. I wish that I hadn’t known that it would all go this way. Maybe it was me writing the story, maybe because I had always viewed him more as a little brother who I wanted to cuff upside the head, and never as the idol that I saw reflected in the eyes of so many of the other people who went to this center. But when his life began to change drastically, and his actions were reflecting more of someone who was no longer centered, I saw this all from a distance. I knew there was not a thing that I could do to stop it, and my initial response when I heard was to head directly into good old-fashioned denial.

As this has all unfolded, I find myself driven deeper into my own practice, to carry me through. I have been in touch again with people who I have loved dearly who have been affiliated there as well. I feel as if we are drawn together again with a nostalgia and longing and disbelief as one might at a funeral of a long-lost friend.

I find myself once again driven into practice, and holding onto the teachings that are forever deepening as I live them over and over and over again.

 

Photo: (source)

Editor: Dana Gornall

 

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Michelleanne Bradley

Columnist at The Tattooed Buddha
Michelleanne Bradley is a practicing Pagan and Buddhist in the San Diego area. She was ordained into the Order of Interbeing by Thich Nhat Hanh in 2013. She completed two years of facilitator training with Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, and has completed A Year to Live practice. She founded the Luminous Garden Sangha, and is a facilitator with Los Palomitas de Paz Sangha. Michelleanne's focus in practice has been on the role of women in Buddhism (and really, everywhere). Michelleanne is a feminist, and writer, and consultant who says fuck a lot.
Michelleanne Bradley
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