Day 46 – COMPASSION (March 16)
Mother Theresa implored us to “find someone who thinks he is alone and let him know that he is not.” Today, do as Mother Theresa suggests.
Today I feel a bit as if I am alone. Not as much as I did a few days ago, I’ve been reading an eye-opening book which is marvelously good at reassuring me that I am not, in fact, either alone or insane. No, I’m just dealing with crazy-makers and sick people. Of course I feel alone and crazy in these situations.
I have this phobia. It’s not so huge I cannot live and enjoy life but it does cause me some stress. I haven’t told very many people about it because it is embarrassing enough already. And one person I did tell thinks it’s fun to tease and judge me because of it. Both of which help me feel terribly alone and crazy and worthless.
Teasing is a subtle way of exerting control and trying to shift one’s own feelings of inadequacy on to someone else. It’s the complete opposite of compassion or caring. It might not be as obviously abusive as hauling off a punch but over time can be at least as damaging. It might start “all in good fun” and even be used by people who don’t have the emotional skills to express affection. But bit by bit it will degrade and hurt people. There is something particularly insidious about it because it is easily dismissed and may start small.
It’s taken me well over two decades of being the favorite play-thing of teasers and bullies to understand that people who like to tease and think it’s OK need exceptionally large helpings of compassion. But that doesn’t mean I have to put up with it. I still take it to heart, that’s just how I was born. But I am learning to take it very differently than I used to. It hurts and it sucks but it is not a reflection of me. It’s a reflection of him. It’s easier to judge my struggles and tease me for my weaknesses than to face his own inner demons.
There’s nothing quite so threatening to a coward as someone who will courageously and vulnerably be who they are and be open and honest and humble about their struggles and weaknesses. I know because I’ve also been on the other side of this.
I was in the grocery store with a friend quite a while ago and there was a young woman wearing an unusual outfit. I joined right in with gossiping about it. Secretly I wished I had the self-esteem not to give a fuck about the fashion rules and just be me. We, quite unkindly, joked about her because we wanted to be her. Not cool.
Teasing and mean jokes are just misery looking for company. Both the giver and recipient need a heavy dose of compassion and hearty hugs. I haven’t yet managed to get myself to a space where I can respond to such criticism and cruelty with kindness. I can pray for someone who wishes me harm and sometimes I can turn the other cheek but I haven’t gotten to where I can return kindness for meanness. But, after acknowledging my totally sane feelings about it I didn’t join the party or play the give-it-back game. Which is remarkable progress.
Compassion is not suffering with someone because they pull me into their misery with mind-games and taunting. It is seeing their suffering and choosing to suffer along side them out of love and empathy.