I am a deeply flawed woman. My edges are not smooth. My journey has been full of bumps. I am a survivor who had to do some pretty awful things. Some of them were pleasant and some were downright soul crushing.

Do I regret anything?

There are some moments that I am not proud of. But one can’t whitewash the past. It is what it is. I keep those memories hidden in a box, buried deep within my soul. When no one is watching, I get a whiff now and then. That makes me wonder if I am a good person.

 Aren’t we all made of shades of grey?

I have had issues with self-esteem and trust for many years now. I have worked on them and I am in a better place today. But it is hard to banish the shadows as they are always lurking in my doorway. What is real and believable can sometimes be different for different people.

I grew up in a loving home. My parents did not have much but showered us with love. My father was a spiritual man who read Osho and Vedas with ease. Everything was fine until a so-called guru entered his life. This man soon became part of his inner circle and one evening molested me. It was done in such a way that I was made to feel it was natural. At such a young age what would I know?

I confided in my sister and after that she became my shadow every time he was around. She never left me alone. But here is the thing – for years he kept coming and my parents failed to see what he had done inspite of all the signs. Until he died my father remained in awe of his knowledge. It was only few years ago when I told my mother what had happened, and she asked me why had I not told her earlier? I have no answer to that.

Looking back now I feel that one incident impacted me deeply and veered me towards disasters. I attracted men who didn’t love me into my life. I drank a lot. I lied. I cheated. I grappled with money. I became clingy in relationships. I lost myself for many many years. I regret that those years will never come back.

Since that incident, I slowly moved away from anything related to god. I am spiritual. I believe in a power beyond the universe. But I also believe that all humans are flawed, and we cannot put them on a pedestal. I lack faith. I was not able to create an anchor that would nudge me to look within to navigate through the troubled waters.

Like an unmanned boat I was lost at sea. Even when things got tough and bought me to my knees, I kept telling myself that I must rely on my strengths to move on. I wish I had some faith to hold onto then. It would have helped.

I tumbled upon many gurus driving bikes and Range Rovers. Read some of their books. Their ashrams are five star hotels and the courses they offer are a cost of a kidney. But in the end, I saw through them. They just reminded me of the time gone by.

My husband on the other hand is a Lebanese Muslim and has deep faith in god. The peace I see on his face when he prays at 4:00am is amazing. I want that. His ability to trust god and to believe that he is loved no matter what; is an enviable position to be in.

I struggle every day.
To pray or not to pray.
To read Bhagavad Gita or not to read.

I divert my attention in doing constructive things. I rescue cats. I nurse injured and unwanted cats that people have dumped. I shower them with love and find them homes. It makes me feel worthwhile and useful. It helps me heal in some corner of my heart. I am sure the universe won’t mind.

I am your go-to person for calamities. Need to organise a complicated project? I am in. Need to cook for twenty people? I am your woman. Need to transport injured cats in a far-off location? I am game. Need to cry? I am your shoulder. Ask me to pitch in, show up or work overtime and I am ready. I am a certified control freak. Ask me to pray or focus on myself and I will take a step back.

I told you, I am a deeply flawed woman.

One day while surfing YouTube, I saw a young bald swami talking in perfect English about everyday life. It was refreshing. Since then, I have been listening to him on and off. I go through the phases where I feel down in the dumps and I turn to him. I get a shot in the arm and I go back to my life. I have read some of his books. His perspective is appealing. But somewhere deep down in my subconscious mind, doubts remain about my ability to embrace a guru.

I see his organization is growing. There is a membership fee. There are ways to donate. Having run my own business, I know that to run an online platform plus to create an app costs a lot of money.  I can see he is making a huge difference. He is destined to reach millions. He has something meaningful to say. I have heard him. He has touched me somewhere deep. But I feel my own limitations and doubts are my biggest stumbling block.

I think about doing a small sadhana or even regular chanting. I start and then stop. The self-discipline towards developing faith is an aspect I need to work on. I have no one guiding me. I don’t even know where to start. You can learn to play the piano or play tennis. But how does one develop faith?

My life is a work in progress. When other followers share miracles or talk about dreams where Swamiji showed up, I feel amazed. For someone like me that kind of validation would mean that I am capable of developing faith.

Maybe in another lifetime there could be hope for people like me. Who knows?

I wish to meet Swamiji someday when I am ready or when he feels I am ready. He will see the darkness within my soul. He will see things that I am not proud of. I am certain he won’t judge me. Not his style. But I wonder what will he think of me; knowing me with my wounds and scars.

I will cross that bridge when I come to it.
Some day. Not yet. But some day.

Until then I will keep rescuing cats, write often, and keep going.  This is how I have survived for all these years, by constantly moving forward. This is the only way I know how to exist. I don’t know any other way to live. So I will keep going with the flow until it is time to call it quits.

I told you, I am a deeply flawed woman.

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Shivani Adalja

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