Being A Victim

Being a Victim

The other day I was up at the chemotherapy ward. I had a pleasant conversation with a 61 year old man. 11 years ago, he was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. In spite of being ill he had a great attitude. He had these words of wisdom:

“If you find yourself asking: Why me? Change the question to: Why not me?”

 

I chose to share this today because it’s a reminder of a few things:

 

1. We aren’t alone in our pain and suffering

2. We are all equal

3. The Universe is benevolent; or at least neutral

4. Anything can happen

5. Making the most of NOW is the best thing to do

 

Really, you are not a victim. If you are, then we all are.

A friend of mine who is a pastor often says, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” What does that mean? It means that despite what we want and despite all our efforts, we can end up in any situation – for better or for the worst.

I know I am speaking to a broad audience. I imagine some of you are, objectively, fairly healthy. On the other hand, I imagine that some of you are in constant pain. What do you have in common? Everything!

There will be times of life when you can be the helper, and there will come a time when you need the help.

Open your heart to this reality and may you be touched with compassion for yourself and others.

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Shame, Shame

Did you ever do something really bad?  Is there a moment from the past that you don’t understand and feel sick to your stomach about?shame

I was sitting here and my mind drifted way back.  I was remembering myself as a much younger me.  Most of the time that my mind leads me back there, I see myself, and I don’t know that person.  I am not that person.  If I was that person, I am sorry.  Shame washes over me.  I can feel it warm and burning in my past.  My throat gets a lump.  My eyes fade and do not sparkle.  My stomach twists itself into a pretzel.

I sat here and in the now moment and fully felt the shame.  It amazes me how physically it manifests itself.

I did not run from the emotion or from the memory that triggered it.  What we resist persists — this has been true for me.

I started getting all guru on myself with the whole “the past doesn’t exist” and the whole “forgive yourself” and then I stopped myself.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with those statements, but today, I had a new lesson.

As I saw myself, and as I judged myself, I let my compassion guide me toward understanding.  I wanted to know why I was that person in that awful moment.  I thought about it and one of my conclusions was that, the person I was seeing was suffering from a complete lack of love in their life.

I thought about the distance between that me and the me I am now.  I thought about wanting to disown the me of the past.  Those who disown, do you know how violent your disowning is?  And that’s when it hit me.

I wasn’t going to disown that me.  I wasn’t going to beat up on that past me.  I was going to to love that me, because that me needed love.  And that’s what shame taught me today.

Loneliness: It is more complicated than that

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The last time I left the apartment was twenty one days ago.  In that period of time I haven’t had any visitors.  I had one personal telephone call.  I did write quite a few emails.

Being an introvert is some sort of hipster trend these days.  I notice that places like Reddit promote a sort of “I am emo, but I am not” ego identity.  One way I see this phenomenon is that its popularity grows in proportion to the widespread reality that people do feel lonely — even whilst in a crowded room.

As a teenager, many years ago, I had a group of people I could be around.  Some of them were friends, most of them were merely being friendly.  Back then, and in the present, I always felt like I could only fit in so much.  At a certain point, I just felt tired and unloved and misunderstood.

You may have heard that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.  I know this to be true.  It can be more complicated sometimes, though.  Sometimes, if you have a health condition, you can’t get out of being alone.  You can’t go to the party or make coffee shop dates.  Perhaps anxiety leaves you paralyzed in the middle of the grocery store and you just want to run.

Sometimes we have the luxury of choosing to be alone and sometimes we don’t control it.  But loneliness goes further.  Loneliness is a feeling you can have even if someone is holding you in a warm embrace.

There is a common misconception that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.  Maybe it is.  Maybe it isn’t.  The truth, for me, has been that loneliness isn’t squashed by something outside myself.  Still, my mind often insists that if so and so would just love and accept me and if I had friends, I would be happy and complete.  Deep down, this just is not true.

Maybe loneliness is really me not accepting me and me not loving myself.  It’s the “I wish I could love myself.”

I read a quote the other day that said, “there is no one on this earth that, if you heard their story, you couldn’t learn to love.”  Think about that.  How does it make you feel?  Maybe the starting point is simply to admit that one has the potential to learn to love oneself.

When we cannot accept ourselves, how can we accept others?  Let’s admit that this just might be the hardest work we might do in our lifetime.  Yet, as we open our hearts to others we see the good and the bad, and we see that we can accept them exactly as they are.  Love is an embracing of the whole package.  If we see this potential with the world outside of us, it must be true that it is equally applicable to the world within us.

Tomorrow, I am invited to a stranger’s birthday party.  At first I was shocked to be invited.  Then I felt happy.  Then I started to panic and had to do deep breathing.

Will I go?  I said yes, but a huge part of me wants to say no.  When the moment comes, I’ll make a choice one way or the other.  I accept that it might be an answer to my social needs but I also accept that sometimes I need to be gentle with myself and know that I don’t want to feel that overwhelmed.

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” — Jack Kornfield

Perhaps loneliness is teaching a lesson to us.  What do you think?

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