Last night I heard a voice say You’re ugly on the inside and the outside! I tried not to let it get to me. My voices have a tendency to be extremely critical of me, so I know that I can’t spend time thinking about what they say. This morning, I heard another voice say We want you to promise not to write your book, or your husband gets it. You’re not going to string us along. I felt compelled to say, “Ok! I promise not to write my book!”, although I didn’t. Instead, I filled out another Thought Record that my therapist gave me at our appointment last week. She told me not to pay attention to what the voices say, but to write down what my thoughts are in response to what I hear, and what my emotions are. Sometimes the things that I hear get me down on myself, but I try not to let it affect me. I chanted for 15 minutes this morning. I chanted for our long, happy marriage and our good health.
Last night my Buddhist leader came over to chant and talk. I had talked to Michelle a few months ago, back in April, about the voices I was hearing. I told her a little about what had happened in the past, and about how I thought that people were following me around, making threats and harassing me. She gave me some good advice. She told me not to give up on the Gohonzon. As part of my Buddhist practice, I chant to a paper scroll called a Gohonzon (Gohonzon means object of worship). The Gohonzon reflects our enlightened nature, and as Buddhists, we focus on it when we chant in order to bring out our Buddha nature or enlightenment.
Last night, I told Michelle that I had stopped chanting back in May for about a month. I told her that I had started chanting again, and now I am chanting an hour a day pretty consistently. She said that the voices, threats and harassment I am experiencing are like devilish functions that try to hinder my Buddhist practice, or keep me from accomplishing goals that I have set for myself. Michelle encouraged me to chant about what I want to do with my life, and to look at the big picture. What is my dream? I told her that I don’t really have a dream, except maybe to be a successful writer, and to have a happy marriage. Michelle said that we all have a mission to fulfill in our lives, and that our experiences are there to help us fulfill our mission and encourage other people. She said to tie my goals to my Buddhist practice, and to think about how I can create value with my life, and make a positive contribution to society.
This morning I slept in, but decided to chant for an hour instead of my usual half hour. I briefly heard a voice tell me that I’m not allowed to earn any income from my writing, or publish my book. I didn’t let this affect my mood, and I decided not to listen. Other than that, it was a good hour. I felt better after chanting. I’m going to create value with my writing, and somehow tie my writing to my Buddhist practice. Then I will make a positive contribution to society.
I went to my therapy session last night and talked to my therapist about how I had been feeling earlier in the day. She encouraged me to learn from my experiences in the past, and said that my past experiences did not necessarily make me a bad person. My husband said that I shouldn’t spend so much time thinking about the past, and that everyone makes mistakes. This is true. There is no such thing as a perfect person.
My therapist gave me a new Thought Record to fill out this week. She told me not to focus on the voices, but rather the thoughts I have in response to what I hear, and how I feel afterward. That’s what happened Tuesday night and yesterday morning. I was focusing on the voices, and my memories of the past and somehow came up with the conclusion that I am a terrible person. When I was chanting this morning, I found another quote that I liked. It reads, You can make a defeat the cause for future victory. You can also make victory the cause for future defeat. The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddhism of the true cause, the Buddhism of the present and future. We don’t dwell on the past. We are always challenging ourselves from the present toward the future. “The whole future lies ahead of us! We have only just begun!” – because we advance with this spirit, we will never be deadlocked. I definitely do not want to dwell on the past. I think back, and it seems like a time of darkness. I am writing about it, but that doesn’t change what happened.
This morning I also focused on courage and compassion while I was chanting. These are much more positive qualities to foster in myself, rather than sadness and depression. It takes courage to be happy. I chanted for the courage to write, the courage to chant, and the courage to live! Life is too short.
John came home from work early yesterday, and we were taking a nap before working out and having dinner. I lay in bed thinking about what happened back when I was living in Southern California and the voices started. I began experiencing extreme paranoia and other symptoms of schizophrenia. Yesterday the voices kept telling me what a terrible person I am, and this morning I became discouraged. I thought about some of the mistakes that I have made in the past. I have made quite a few mistakes over the course of my life, but I don’t think I am a terrible person.
I think about why I want to publish a book about my experiences in the past, and the other people that were involved. I’m not sure what my intent is. Initially I felt like I should tell my story, but on the other hand I realize that it would only be from my perspective. I don’t know the whole story, so my account of the events would be incomplete. I’ve started writing a few short chapters, and I left off during the time of my second hospitalization. Yesterday, when I was lying in bed thinking about the past, I realized that all I have to rely on is my memory of disembodied voices, and a few pages of journal entries from that time. I think I’m going to keep writing. I have a couple of other writing projects that I can work on, so maybe I’ll finish those as well.
I went to my volunteer tutoring session this morning, and that went well. Reading aloud to my student reminded me of the children’s book I had been working on a few months ago. I went to a critique group for children’s book writers, and got some feedback on my story. I haven’t finished the ending of it. I’m sure it needs quite a bit of work. I have an appointment with my therapist tonight, so I can talk to her about what I’ve been hearing, and what happened in the past. We are also supposed to do a 15 minute exercise on mindfulness during our session. I’m looking forward to it.
I went to a Creative Writing class yesterday afternoon, and really enjoyed meeting the people there. We were able to share our writing with the other class members, and I thought that was a great experience, especially being able to hear other people’s voices reading what they wrote. I wrote about wolves, Buddhism, and the gratitude that I feel for my own life. The class was very refreshing!
I read an article last night about Gandhi and his practice of nonviolence. The first prime minister of independent India, Prime Minister Nehru was Gandhi’s direct disciple. He said that the essence of Gandhi’s teachings was fearlessness. The Mahatma taught that “the strong are never vindictive,” and that dialogue can only be engaged in by the brave. The article also described an experience Gandhi had in 1948. A Hindu youth threw a handmade bomb at Gandhi. Fortunately, the bomb missed its target. Surprisingly, Gandhi was not angry with the young man, but rather he felt pity and compassion. Gandhi believed that hatred had been implanted in the youth’s heart, and that just as fire is extinguished by water, hatred can only be defeated by love and compassion.
Sometimes, although they don’t exist, I feel hatred and anger toward my voices. I wish they would leave me alone. It’s difficult to have compassion for invisible people. I heard a few comments this morning while I was exercising. Mostly statements that I have heard before (not this time, we’re trying to resolve it, you started it, etc…). After awhile they become repetitive. I feel like I’m fighting not only my own negativity, but my voices’ negativity as well. Maybe they are just a reflection of my own life. I’ve been chanting for courage, compassion and wisdom. Hopefully I can bring these qualities out of my life, and use them to improve my life, and my husband’s life as well.