Last week, one of my best friends and I got in a fight. I said something that was snippy and unkind and it really upset her. We didn’t talk for a whole week.
When she was ready to meet, she sent a text and we arranged to meet at a coffee shop to talk. It felt very serious. I decided I needed to take a shower. Just before getting dressed, I could feel myself bracing for what was coming. I wanted to stay open and I wanted to protect myself.
So there I was, standing in my closet, staring at my clothes. In one moment, I sincerely wanted to be able to take in what she was going to say to me and to better understand why she was so upset and to tell her again, that I was sorry I had hurt her. I knew I needed to stay open for us to repair. That’s what our friendship needed. But then, almost simultaneously, another part of me didn’t want to do any of that and I could feel myself putting up the guard and hardening. That part, the self-righteous part, wanted to be right and wanted to feel justified and wanted to minimize what happened that day and not apologize again.
Though I kept reminding myself to breathe, to remember how much I love this friend of mine, and to believe that the good in me will prevail, I reached for an outfit that was not a stay-open outfit. I picked out clothes that would make me feel stylin’ and sexy and superior. Instead of my comfy worn-in jeans and fluorescent sparkly green belt, I chose the tight dark denim jeans and a belt of tooled leather. And instead of my super soft sweatshirt from the music festival that is my Sunday uniform, I wore my sergeant pepper jacket. I wore cowboy boots to make me taller and I put on bracelets and mascara. It felt shitty and necessary all at the same time.
Our visit was good. She was honest and vulnerable and friendly with what she said and I could feel the love in all of it. Despite my outfit, I was able to hear it and stay soft about 75% of the time. Eventually, we went on to talk about all sorts of other stuff. It was fun to be out on a Sunday afternoon and to visit without interruptions. I was glad to be there with her and to feel like we were able to repair some of what had gone awry the week before. Before I left, she commented on the boots.
I got in my car and yelled in my head, “What the hell am I doing wearing boots?” Why did the part of me that wanted to control the situation choose the clothes? And a more troubling and perhaps unanswerable question… Why do I, as a woman, have and use in my self-preservation toolbox this misogynistic clothing behavior that totally undermines my connection to other women… to my friend??!! This is such a big deal.
I’m still pretty amazed and disturbed by this misogynistic behavior outfit thing. It speaks to the many, many layers of saṁskāras, patterns, that are inside of me. This particular saṁskāra is one I’d rather not acknowledge and yet must because I’m seeing how it unconsciously influences or even determines my behavior at important times. I suppose knowing what I’ve got to work with and having more awareness is a good thing, but it’s also painful for me… and potentially for my friends.
I’m humbled by the work and reflection that’s ahead of me. I’m acutely aware that Amanda-the-feminist still has a ways to go. I’m grateful for this dear friend who continues to love me despite occasional bouts of exasperation and weird ways of power-dressing. And I’m, yet again, feeling indebted to my teachers and this practice of yoga that make it possible for me to notice the weird stuff I do, to have compassion for myself, even when I don’t like what I see, and, best of all, provides the means for making change.