How can I stop believing that men will make me happy and have the courage to go on my own?

Oct 19, 2020

QUESTION

Dear Venerable Robina,

I hope this email finds you well.

I would like to ask some advice from you, as I am at a stage of my life where I am very confused and I don’t know what I want and what I have to do in my life anymore.

I have been studying Buddhism intensively for some years, joining retreats and trying to practice. I find it really helpful and beneficial for my life and others. I solved some of my inner conflicts too and change the way I see things from my past through Buddhist practice.

I’ve been married for 15 years, but we are separated but still under the one roof. My husband has a beautiful heart, he is very kind, loving, caring, humble, but he has plenty of problems, financial and others. And he blames me for his problems.

A couple of years ago I couldn’t take it anymore so I had a relationship with another man. Well, this man started to abuse me verbally, and then he left me. He felt that I belittled him (which I didn’t). I used to beg for his love.

During this time, I was at my rock bottom but also it’s when I found Buddhism, which I am so grateful for.

This year I found a new man, he’s such a great individual but I think I fell in love too easily. But he wants to continue having relationships with other women, and he has quite intense anger. But this time, I left him, I didn’t beg for his love. It’s been quite painful.

I finally realised that it’s not right to want a man to rescue me. I need to do it myself, but I have so much fear to be on a journey alone by myself.

I feel so much sadness. In my mind, I just want to have somebody who cares, wants and loves me sincerely. But I also understand that happiness cannot be found outside of my mind. I have been meditating on the nature of mind. I know on an intellectual level that I have to stop looking for happiness in a man.

I want to study so that I can help others more. I also want to join retreats again when the Covid situation has finished and deepen my knowledge and Dharma practice. I am also thinking if maybe it’s best for me to become a Buddhist nun.

Should I stop searching for a partner? I am so unsure and very confused. I really don’t know what I have to do anymore in my life. I have been looking inwards but I am really stuck at this point. I feel very sad, tense, insecure. All I know is that I cannot keep pushing and I need some help and advice from somebody who I highly respect, feel close to and trust – which is nobody else but you.

Venerable Robina, please help me with your wise advice!

With much love,

P

 

ANSWER

Dearest P,

I’m happy to hear from you. Thank you for telling me about yourself.

As you have familiarity with Buddhism and you’ve been using it to work on yourself, I think you know well the problem — yours and everyone else’s! It’s called attachment.

Such a simple word but it has deep and subtle levels. Sure, you’re attached to the idea of happiness coming from a man, but it goes much deeper than that. Because you’re a patient person, it seems to me, even though you’ve been practising you haven’t been deeply in touch with the aversion, the disappointment, that comes when attachment doesn’t get what it wants.

Most of us aren’t — it’s only when things really start to go wrong that we go deeper into our minds.

We run between attachment and aversion a thousand times a day. This is ordinary life, of ordinary people. We get one thing, and then when we get disappointed, we go for another. You’ve been doing that with men, for sure. 

And now here you are, not knowing where to turn.

Well, it’s good! You’re finally seeing that attachment doesn’t work! 

As Lama Zopa Rinpoche said to a friend of mine who’d been doing years and years of intense practice and retreats and who at some point thought he was going crazy with anger and the rest — “Fantastic! The dirt has to come out, the dirt has to come out!”

Your practice is having an effect, in other words. It’s all a sign of purification, that’s for sure.

So, be brave, keep practising, keep moving. No need for extreme decisions — sure, it might be right to be a nun eventually, but don’t rush. That’s just following attachment again, grasping at straws.

Listen to more teachings — there is so much on Zoom these days! Sure, you can’t go to many places, but there’s plenty available, including retreats.

Whatever you’re doing now, wherever you’re living — with your husband or not — just go one step at a time. And aspire sincerely every day, “May I do what is most beneficial, may I do what is most beneficial.” This motivation will guide you when the time is right to make the right decision, to take the next step — leave him, stay with him, become a nun, whatever it might be.

Don’t despair, please! It’s okay. Just be brave, keep moving along steadily, one step at a time. Trust your own wisdom, trust your practice! You will become clear, I promise!

What do you think?

Much love,

Robina

 

 

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