May I learn from my sorrows. May my heart open in greater love and forgiveness. May I find peace, joy and happiness in my present life. May I let go of fear and come to see the gifts of wisdom and compassion that can be found in all suffering. And although I cannot change others, may those who hold to fear and anger eventually find these gifts as well. The separation we see in the world is but an illusion, a global dream we are dreaming together. May all our hearts and minds eventually awaken.
Let it Be.
Let’s face it. Many of us are working our way out of lifelong dysfunctional patterns – how we relate to co-workers, friends, family and all loved ones. Growth is a learning process. When we know better, we do better. But what happens when our friends and family don’t “let” us change?
Somewhere back at the dawn of time, I said something that hurt my mother’s feelings. I was 19 years old. She was 46. And for the next millennium, every time we sat down together and talked for any length of time, she brought up that conversation.
“You said you didn’t love me. You never loved me. You only loved your Daddy.”
I’m not excusing my 19 year old self. It was hateful, unwarranted and untrue. But it was how I felt in that moment and like all things the fly out of the mouths of teenagers, it quickly passed. Over the next 40 years, thousands of good times, friendly visits and loving acts had followed.
My mother neither perceived nor valued the good moments that intervened. On her deathbed, afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease, speaking to me, she repeated this about me:
“I have three children. I have a son named Bobby. I have a daughter named Cheree. I had another daughter. She said she didn’t love me, she never loved me, she only loved her Daddy.”
Of all the things that transpired over our lives, why did this resentment stick with her, literally unto death?
My mother had a mental disorder so it does no good to apply logic, reason or rational thinking to understand this. At its simplest, for whatever reason, she would not forgive it.
Today, I’m more than a little flummoxed to find myself facing this same kind of unforgiving resentment. Even when I’ve changed my behavior, deferred, complied, I’m still being charged for actions well in my rear-view mirror.
While preparing supper, I questioned something Stuart was doing and get a five minute diatribe.
“You always…” “You never…” “Whatever I do, you’ll want the opposite. Couldn’t you just ask nicely?”
It’s ironic that he asked for tenderness in a blistering harangue.
What a victim.
So here are some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head when I ask “why is this happening for me?”
The Unforgiving Kind
The most honorable thing is not to hurt others with rash words. When we do, we can strive to repair the rapport by admitting our error and do our best to make the wrong things right. Amends. But mistakes are human nature. They are part of growing and evolving. Unless one is an automaton, we’re just going to step on someone’s toes from time to time.
When someone refuses to support our growth and cannot see beyond our past mistakes, it’s now their mistake. Moreover, it offers a big pay off.
Holding onto resentments permits us to keep distance in the relationship. It camouflages our sense of vulnerability. And in a lot of cases, it lets us maintain a self-image (and sometimes public persona) of innocent victim or long-suffering martyr. Above all, it seemingly absolves us of owning our participation in the quality of this rapport.
It’s not me; it’s you!
My mother is dead so there’s no going back there. But when I look at the other people in my sphere – the ones who hold me in a negative light as well as the ones I cast in that frame – I wonder where to go.
I suspect when someone continuously judges us by our past, holds it against us and refuses to forgive, our self respect might urge us to to repair our present and future by leaving them behind.
Or we too can learn to forgive.
Action. Reaction. Love. Aver. Every time I hear someone say “You made me …,” I am reminded that no one “makes” us be or do anything. We, and only we, are responsible (read response able) for our choices. And this includes how we feel.
Easy? Not by a long shot.
Many of us have been programmed from birth to displace our icky stuff onto others.
If my most desirable self is always right, always perfect, always superior, then how do I account for the ways I am wrong, afraid, inadequate? This deformed consciousness is well described by personality researcher Dan Ogilvie in his writings on the topic of the undesired self. Thus our nemesis is born.
I call it The Big Ugly. The Zero to our Hero. It’s not me; it’s you.
Christ had Satan, Buddha had Devadatta, Popeye had Bluto, Austin Powers had Dr. Evil (and Mini-Me), etc. The nemesis becomes the repository for all that we do not aspire to – our weaknesses, insecurities and deepest fears.
This is a hide and seek game we play with our Psyche – see what you made me do.
Until we own this undesirable realm as our stuff, The Big Ugly continues to shadow us and shows up repeatedly in our life “story.” Controlling bosses. Maniac drivers. Idiot others of any stripe. And these are just the mild versions. Our aversion to owning The Big Ugly can become so profound that the only way we can get relief is to kill. On a personal scale, this leads to bullying people, torturing small animals, abusing children or battering women. On a large scale, it leads to genocide.
The catch is: rejecting the Big Ugly never works.
We can escalate our efforts to scapegoat others, but regardless of how hard we try, how much we terrorize, maim or murder, we are never at peace. By giving away our lesser angels, we also give away our better selves – our power to respond in a constructive way to the matters that have come “up” to support our growth and shape our happiness.
Our dear friend, Sarah Varcas, Awakenings Intuitive Astrology puts us on notice: there’s work to do with The Big Ugly this week. In “Finding the Cause Within,” she says:
We are on notice from the heavens that something very important is afoot, and to benefit from it we need to step out of habitual ways of thinking and view life through a different lens. It’s not enough to think ‘Okay, I’ll just be more patient when [enter the name of your choice] is really winding me up’, we actually need to get to the root of the problem and dig it up from there, not just chop the leaves off and hope it won’t grow back.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of support to get to the bottom of what pushes our buttons.
And in their infinite wisdom the heavens offer an important clue to start us off: it’s not what triggers us that matters, but that which is triggered and what we do with it. That another person is irritating is nothing to do with us, that’s for them to deal with if they want to, or not if they don’t! What matters is that we are annoyed and in that moment of annoyance we lose balance and begin to make it an ‘us and them’ scenario: THEY are irritating US (or hurting us, disrespecting us or whatever it is we perceive them to be doing). When it may be more accurate to say ‘WE are irritating US because of something that happens inside when this person is around’.
Sounds like fun, no?
We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Well tally ho then!