Google Photos tells me that 6 years ago, I was in Banavasi, a temple town in Karnataka. It was the first trip we had organized through the travel startup I was running then, Trippin Traveller. It was an all-women trip for International Women’s Day. I was incredibly nervous – I am pretty shy – and dealing with a group of strangers was driving up my anxiety.
On the way back, something happened that would change my life forever. I was in the front seat of the Toyota Qualis, scrolling through my phone. I opened Gmail and saw I had a friend request. It was from a person who had been commenting on my blog posts with openness and warmth. I opened up FB to accept the request, but it wasn’t there anymore. Baffled, I looked at Gmail. The email was clear. This person had sent me a request. But nothing on FB. I shrugged, attributed it to my lack of knowledge of social media, and sent a request myself to the person.
She accepted immediately. We chatted for the next 5 hours of the drive back to Bangalore. It would be the beginning of an incredibly messy connection – one that would devastate, plunge me into chaos, but also show me the beauty in the shards.
Many times since then, I have gone back to this moment. To March 6, 2016. I have often wondered how my life would have been if I hadn’t sent that friend request. I have at various times wished I never had. When I think of the pain this person caused and some of the hurt I also inflicted, I have often wished I could undo March 6. Erase this day. Erase FB. What would my life have been? It would have been more peaceful, perhaps. More colored with joy. Less pained by anger. Less abuse. More love.
Because the next 6 years, this person went on to cause the sort of pain no one had done until then. I have written about this person before. Let’s call her Bear. Most people are kind to me. They respect me. They WANT me in their life. I am not saying this to boast: I am saying this because that’s been my experience in my life. So, here waltzes in Bear. What does she do?
She treats me with disdain. Rejects me. Calls me a moron and trash talker. Allows stalking and harassment.
So, when I think of March 6, 2016, I am filled with anger, bitterness, resentment, and frustration.
And this is the true lesson I want to share. I can’t undo any of these 6 years. But I can change the narrative I tell myself.
Yes, this person caused all of that. But if I hadn’t met her, I would never have known that you can truly have an electric intellectual and emotional connection with someone. And then I think of this…
Because this person blocked me, I reached out to my friend, Birdy. We hadn’t spoken in months, fueled by a break-up over our startup. What was dead became alive again.
So, I think of that gift. And then I think of how I started a deep exploration of myself. From the debris of this connection, I began to write like I never had before. The words flowed, shimmering cases of ice, snow, frigid dust, and whispered stars.
- I wrote an entire novel based on that connection.
- I learned about abuse. About misogyny. And I wrote on these. Relentlessly.
- I threw away the cloaks and masks of artifice and learned to embrace people truly.
- After the emotional trauma of these 6 years, I vowed to change people’s lives over mental health. MyndStories is the result – a service/product that 100s of people have already started to tell us they love this. Would they believe that this one person led to a product like this that’s making a difference to THEIR lives?
- I started therapy and learned to feel freer in my mind.
- I became more compassionate with my flaws, more understanding of my imperfections, and more curious about life.
- And here’s the most precious gift of all: I am learning forgiveness.
I had struggled to forgive this person. But last week, I realized that forgiveness is the final gift I can give to myself, and I found myself bathed in peace. A fragile peace. But its light is starting to shine brighter.
This is not about saying something cliched and misleading that everything happens for good.
No. There are lots of things that didn’t happen for the good. Especially this.
But this is to say that we have the power to change the narrative of our minds. Our brain is incredibly plastic, and it’s here to listen to our minds.
You CAN’T change the story of the past. But you CAN change the story you tell yourself. You can allow it to NOT dominate your future or present.
I have a choice. Can I continue to think of this with bitterness and anger and wreck myself? Because all the anger in the world has no impact on Bear, who probably is twirling around on the beach in Chennai at this moment, oblivious.
Or can I choose to think differently? So, I am trying to choose the incredible neural pathways this person opened up in me. I can choose to accept the pain. Choose to accept the lessons. And that somewhere here, the Universe is offering me a chance to truly understand compassion.
When I saw this beautiful video, I realized that maybe, I could finally breathe in this day with joy, gratitude, and perhaps a note of forgiveness. (I am not there yet. But that I can even think of it is testimony to the wonderful teachers I have in my life: Birdy and Poodle)
The Nova effect: how little actions can cause huge reactions. Also a testimony to how much of our life is intertwined and interconnected.