As a woman who has been divorced for a number of years, I have found myself on a path of growth and discovery that has led me to places that I could have only dreamed existed before. I can hardly recognize myself as the same person that I once was! I am older, wiser, softer, more accepting of things that I do not understand. I like myself so much more now. But the journey has not been easy, or without it’s share of heartache. Growing pains are never easy, it seems.
Through a very odd set of circumstances, I came to understand that I have had a former lifetime. For those of you unable to accept this concept, think of it as perhaps a phase of life that I have lived and outgrown. The details of that life are very vivid.
You see, I know that at one point I was a geisha. The memories are very real and seem almost tangible. Maybe that was in 1880, or maybe it was in the toxic way that I chose to live my former married life. Either way, the concept is the same. I was a young woman who chose to live a life in the way that someone else expected me to live. Honorable? Not really. I had not yet learned that the total sacrificing of self is not necessary, or even conducive to becoming the woman I was destined to be.
Many people still think of a geisha as a prostitute. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A geisha has a formal education. She can read and write. She is well-read. She is taught to sing and dance and play the shamisen. Her purpose is to entertain and take care of her guests. She has no real life of her own. This is the life I was living.
My first romantic relationship after divorce was very much like that geisha life. I am a very smart woman. A woman who, by society’s standards, has been very successful. I can take care of myself. I own my own home, have a few really good friends, and I travel and continue to experience life in all of it’s beauty.
So why would I then choose to be in a relationship that was filled with heartache? Why was I giving up so much of myself? It was the wrong relationship and it was toxic to me. Even when you can see the truth, sometimes you try to convince yourself that sacrificing yourself means true love. Old geisha habits die hard.
It took me several years to finally wake up, and three more years of struggle to rid myself of this relationship. It is a weakness of human nature to tolerate the pain of familiarity rather than the pain of the unknown. Breaking free was a journey of self-discovery and change.
As I traveled this journey, it led me to visiting Japan and studying Japanese culture and history. I grew comfortable in concepts that are centuries old. As I learned, I grew stronger. As I grew stronger, I was finally able to walk away. As I walked away, I suddenly realized that I was no longer the geisha. I had no need of her personna any longer, for I had grown into a Samurai. Yes, indeed there were female Samurai! They still exist today. We all know at least one, and probably more than one. Modern day warriors that demonstrate strength and honor. These women are friends, sisters, wives, mothers, grandmothers. Women who have become strong enough to claim their own lives as sacred. Women who love themselves enough to demand to be recognized and treated properly.
In my journey of discovery, I learned about the Way of the Warrior, called Bushido. Eight simple rules for living that make all of the difference. I would like to share them with you now, in the words of Nitobe Inozo. I have chosen to live, as best as I can, by these virtues. They serve me well, because they serve and honor all. The way is not always easy, and sometimes I fall back into geisha mode. The real trick for me is learning to recognize when I am falling back into old habits and snap myself back into Samurai mode as quickly as possible. In order to do this I review the concepts of Bushido:
Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people. Believe in justice, not from other people, but from yourself. To the true warrior, all points of view are deeply considered regarding honesty, justice and integrity. Warriors make a full commitment to their decisions.
Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. A true warrior must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is living life completely, fully and wonderfully. Heroic courage is not blind. It is intelligent and strong.
Through intense training and hard work the true warrior becomes quick and strong. They are not as most people. They develop a power that must be used for good. They have compassion. They help their fellow men at every opportunity. If an opportunity does not arise, they go out of their way to find one.
True warriors have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to prove their strength. Warriors are not only respected for their strength in battle, but also by their dealings with others. The true strength of a warrior becomes apparent during difficult times.
When warriors say that they will perform an action, it is as good as done. Nothing will stop them from completing what they say they will do. They do not have to ‘give their word’. They do not have to ‘promise’. Speaking and doing are the same action.
Warriors have only one judge of honor and character, and this is themselves. Decisions they make and how these decisions are carried out are a reflection of who they truly are. You cannot hide from yourself.
Warriors are responsible for everything that they have done and everything that they have said and all of the consequences that follow. They are immensely loyal to all of those in their care. To everyone that they are responsible for, they remain fiercely true.
It was in choosing this Way of the Warrior that I was finally able to find the strength to break away from a bad relationship. In clearing that energy, new energy appears. That does not mean that new relationships are always going to be easy. We are all human, and the human path contains suffering. It is in the suffering that we can sometimes revert to old bad habits.
In the past two weeks, I have been through some emotional situations that have put me right back to the level of the geisha. All of the anxiety and pain of sacrificing everything for someone else came flooding right back into my life. I am a new Samurai after all. I have not had the years of discipline and training required to always think first as a warrior. But the beautiful thing, is that being a warrior is a choice. It is a choice that I have made for myself. A choice that I must continue making each and every day. For it is only in being a warrior that I can teach someone else how to treat me. I must respect and honor myself if I expect anyone else to respect and honor me.
As a warrior, I have the strength and determination to live as the best version of myself. I can lead by example and by positivity. I can move through life without doing harm. I can continue to grow, and learn, and thrive. And I can enter a new relationship with strength and without sacrificing my true self. I can stand proud as a woman who has overcome the greatest of all odds.
I can choose to continue to be the geisha, or I can choose each and every time to be the Samurai. I will choose the way of the warrior. How about you?