Comfortable in My Own Skin 

My name is Deb. I currently live in Indiana with my daughter, Jennifer. I am a widow living on Social Security and my late husband's pension.

I have had many experiences in my life — I am 48 years old — and I am experiencing MORE of life than I ever did now at this age than when I was younger.

I always ran from life's trials and tribulations. When the going got tough, I left it to others, usually my parents, to clean up my messes. My parents got custody of my two older children because I was too selfish to deal with the messes I made in my life.

I told myself that I left my two older children with my parents so that my kids would not have to live life on the streets — which was the life I chose for myself at that time.

I also had problems with alcohol and drugs. I told myself that I was "doing my own thing." The problem was that I did not know what that was; all I knew was that I was having fun moving from place to place, from job to job — you get the picture, I think! The real problem was that I was being evicted because I could not keep a job — Hey! The job stopped me from my favorite pastime, which was partying and staying drunk and high all the time!

After a while it all stopped being fun. Eventually I got help for my drug and alcohol problems and have been sober for nearly seven years now.

I tried many different religious faiths looking for that “quick fix” that I never got. I was brought up in the Baptist faith and had a hard time dealing with the doctrines. Like that women were supposed to be submissive to men, being treated second-class because I am a woman, that Christianity was the “Only True Way,” the list goes on and on! YIKES!

This Buddhism has taught me more in the two months I have been practicing it than I can even begin to list! I am learning to accept life's trials and tribulations and deal with them. I am finding out that it is okay to be who I am; I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin. I am learning that what I have experienced was of my own making and not someone else's fault or some unseen force that is keeping me down. I am learning to accent the positives in my life instead of lamenting about what I don't have. I am learning to not let others who choose to be rude and insensitive get to me.

I will not kid anyone or myself here because I most definitely have an anger problem but the practice of this Buddhism is changing that. Hey! I am a work in progress! But you know something? That is okay with me. I even pray for those who have hurt me — I pray for their peace and happiness! That, I think, is the most important gift I have received from practicing this Buddhism — the ability to forgive and ask for forgiveness.

By the way, I received my Gohonzon on 5/14/05. Now, I have my own Gohonzon to chant to, and the way I see it, is that my life can only keep on getting better and better!

P.S. I made peace with my parents, other family members, and most importantly, my two older kids. Life is good and I love my new SGI friends — they have made me feel welcome and accepted plus the generosity that has been shown to me and my youngest daughter, Jennifer, make me feel humbled and grateful.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!