Bianca Martinov

Realises Her Significance

Bianca Martinov

I want you all to imagine that you are walking to work after a sleepless night. You’re exhausted. It’s another day living in survival mode, running on adrenaline. You see work in the distance and you start to get anxious. You’re already dreading the moment you walk through the door. Your heart starts beating faster and your breath shortens. You think to yourself, “If only I could just keep walking past.” You manage to walk in.
Throughout the day your boss criticises you for everything. Everything you do is analysed, judged and dismissed.  Your anxiety rises and rises. You become fearful. Your mind rushes, your hands shake, you can’t carry anything, think straight or even begin to calm yourself.
Rewind to my childhood.
When I was growing up, my parents gave me every opportunity they could. If they couldn’t afford it, my mum would find a way. She only ever wanted the best for my brother and I. Growing up, I remember my parents would often fight. If my brother and I were arguing as kids, my mum recalls she would tell us to be quiet because she was fearful that it would upset my dad. I always felt like I was walking on eggshells. I was never sure what to expect. As a result of this instability in my childhood, I still don’t trust my external environment as an adult.
Fast-forward to my 20’s
I rebelled when I was around 23. I saw how unhappy my family were and I realised I couldn’t make anyone else happy but myself. I left home, left a note for my parents, and pursued a relationship my parents didn’t agree with. I wanted to learn who I was. After I left home I was fortunate enough to meet Cate through family counselling. Family counselling only lasted one session. My relationship with my parents deteriorated and I continued to be the target of criticism. I persisted with counselling because I was hanging by a thread. It was during this time Cate mentioned that chanting might help. I am forever grateful to Cate for her never-ending support and for her invitation to my first meeting.
I have only just begun to realise that I project my insecurities onto my environment as a result of my childhood. I have been doing this subconsciously because the child inside me is still scarred and trapped in the past. I became conscious of these insecurities when I got a new job in a cafe last year.  I saw my boss as an authoritarian figure and I have slowly learned that my inner child was afraid of him, and sometimes still is. I became less confident at work and felt extremely low. The simplest tasks seemed difficult because I didn’t believe in myself. As a result of my lack of confidence I became a moving target for my boss. He started bullying me on shifts – trying to find mistakes in everything I did.
I have insomnia and throughout this period I was sleeping around two hours a night. I thought my boss had been raised by the devil. I was taking everything so personally, which is something I am now learning to change – and my emotions were heightened by my lack of sleep. From practising over the years, I knew I couldn’t change jobs and escape my environment. SGI President Daisaku Ikeda writes,

"Suffering only gets worse when we try to run from it rather than facing it."

Daisaku Ikeda,

 Knowing this and in feeling this way I was encouraged to chant for his happiness. This felt impossible at the time. But I persevered, pushing through my doubts. Chanting for his happiness, I came to realise how much he was suffering too and I began to feel compassion for him. Although my compassion had grown for him, one day I still reached breaking point and I had had enough. My boss had been condescending towards me, in front of my co-workers. I arranged to have a meeting with my manager because I was too scared to face him directly. After months of bottling my emotions up, I courageously shared with her everything that I had been experiencing. I didn’t care if I was fired.
After I had spoken with her, he backed off and even started complimenting my work to other managers. Over time our relationship has slowly transformed. He has been so kind to me ever since I stood up for myself. He even gave me free tickets to a concert. I offered him money to which he replied “I am trying to build up my karma bank.” The most touching moment we have had was when he gave me a simple act of kindness. I finished eating my lunch one day and he cleared my plate for me when I had finished.
It was a day on which I wanted to give up on everything and thought that nothing was ever going to change. I was so grateful I nearly cried. More recently it was my boss’s birthday. I gave him a card I had made that I would love to share with you.

Dear X,

I hope you have an amazing birthday. I want to thank you for being such an amazing boss. I practice Nichiren Buddhism and through my practice you are known as a teacher to me. You have taught me the invaluable lessons of standing up for myself, being assertive and not to hold things in when I am upset about something and wait till I get to a bursting point. Your patience is a priceless gift for me, as I am learning to trust and say what I feel without being rejected. A thousand thank you’s for your patience. I hope you have a rad day.

Hugs, B

The next time we worked together he came up and hugged me. He said it was the nicest card anyone has ever given him. At that moment, I experienced a genuine happiness that words cannot describe.
Fast-forward to now. I am now 29. I’m learning of my parents’ upbringing and how much they themselves struggled. Both my parents were brought up in abusive and violent households and my mum was abandoned. I know they raised my brother and I to the best of their ability. In learning of this, my compassion, love and respect for them has grown. I am so proud that they are my parents and for everything they have done for me.
After going through SO MANY STORMS, I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the incredible support I have. I just want to say thank you to Cate, my mum and brother, my friends and my Soka Gakkai friends for all your support over the years.  I am so grateful. I feel like I have a massive family now. My real family, Soka, my workplace and my friends. My transformation has also inspired my Mum to begin practising.
I received the Gohonzon two and a half years ago and before that I was practising around two years. After experiencing many hardships since starting Nichiren Buddhism, one major thing I am now determined to do, is to not be a victim of my circumstance. I now know that I have the power to transform my suffering into happiness. I am determined to be a more committed group leader and really look forward to deepening my faith by learning more about this amazing practice and further transforming my life. I would love to leave you with a quote from President Ikeda:

"Confront reality, look it squarely in the face, and with guts, wisdom and strength, challenge everything that lies ahead of you."

Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhism Day by Day: Wisdom for Modern Life, 3 March 2014