Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Growing aware is painful

Growing aware is painful.  Aware of your mistreatment of others and of yourself.  I realized that you can never really "hate" another person.  What you hate is a representation of that person that you have created in your mind, which may or may not accurately represent that person.  And usually that representation is something about your self that you don't like.  Similar to how in your dreams, all these "other" people, recognizable or not, friend or foe, are not others at all!  The most frightening nightmarish alien enemy in your dream, may feel so very "other", but you *know* that all of it comes from your own mind.  The same thing with waking life, so much of our mental thought processes seem driven by external circumstances, but we, ourselves, create every mental representation in our head.

If you hate someone, especially someone that you are not in contact with, like a celebrity or a politician or an offensive stranger, that person will continue on with their life regardless of your emotion.  Their life may not even be accurately represented by your own mental picture.  What you have created is an external characteristic of yourself that you don't like.  Maybe it is someone's perceived weakness, their own uncertainty with life that you've picked up on, or their aggression, or myriad other so-called flaws that we all have as humans.  But since you refuse to tolerate said flaw in yourself, you have no tolerance for it in anyone else, and the more that person reminds you of your own flaws, the more you despise them.  That person may not even be aggressive or suffer from self-doubt, but you've created it in your mind that they do.

However, if you change your point-of-view to compassion, for yourself first, then you will naturally develop compassion for others as well.  Then, as you develop compassion, you may become embarrassed or even ashamed that in the past you used words like hate, but don't fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself.  Just more patience and compassion for yourself, just as you wouldn't think to chastise a child for formerly being unable to walk or write, don't hold it over yourself if you  made mistakes in the past.

I'll tell you what brought this to the forefront of my mind.  It was two individuals, two people that I didn't know very well, but who brought out a wrathful response in me, that upon later reflection, I felt first ashamed but then consequently enlightened by letting go of my wrath.  The first person was a woman at the dog park.  She had a timid rescued dog who brought out the alpha bruiser in my dog, and i was unable to control it in her.  My dog wanted to play with this rescued dog in a very rough way, and that made the owner nervous and gruff toward my dog.  I felt offended by both my dog, who was not backing down, and this owner who i presumed viewed me as an incompetent dog owner.  Meanwhile, I myself was viewing her as an incompetent dog owner for not being more kind and gentle with her dog and I judged her when I heard that she was a former dog breeder and horse breeder.  Subsequently, it seemed like she and her dog were always there when we wanted to go to the dog park, and fearing further altercations, I would just drive away rather than face her again.  One day I was at the park and my dog was playing with another big puppy dog and the other owner was telling me how her dog only ever got unruly at the park one time, and it turned out it was with that same dog!  What I am most ashamed of is that I wrote a status update on facebook as a letter to this woman who I felt was a bad dog owner.

Meanwhile, this woman kept on bringing her dog, and doing her thing, and that dog started to come around!  She really knew what she was doing, and I am reminded that even though people may seem to be "doing it all wrong" that there are many many ways to go about doing the same thing, and patience will often serve me better than jumping to snap judgments.  Yesterday I was in the dog park and that lady came in with her dog and Izzy didn't even try to jump all over him like she had previously.  Not so surprisingly, another young dog, who had not yet met this rescued dog, acted in a similar way that Izzy had when she first met him.  The owner of the young pup had to repeatedly reprimand her dog for acting aggressively, and she asked me if she was doing the right thing or should she just let them work it out?  I told her she was indeed doing the right thing and that that particular dog had a way of bringing that behavior out in other dogs, but that you should tell your dog that it's not okay to be a bully.  I was happy to see that the owner of the rescued dog was not acting so gruff toward the other dogs who were bullying her dog and her dog was handling it much better than he had when we first met him.  It's almost like the kind of behavior that was being brought out by the dog, was also brought out in *me* toward the owner!

The other person who brought this revelation to light was a little more complicated in my mind.  It was the surgeon who took out my appendix.  I had a deep dislike and distrust of hospitals and doctors prior to the surgery, and going through that event did not help, but it *did* bring some of the emotions to the surface so that I could deal with them better.

One thing I was so mad at the doctors about was that they considered the appendix a "mystery" organ and that there was only one way to cure appendicitis, through removal.  What is so ridiculous is that I would expect anything else from them!  That's like walking into a McDonald's and getting mad that they don't have organic local food for sale!  I am replacing my anger with compassion.  If the doctors had a more holistic understanding of the body and health, no doubt their own health issues would be better taken care of, I can only hope that everyone is able to gain a healthy, whole point of view of their body and their health.

Mostly I disliked my surgeon because I was jealous jealous jealous of her.  What was I jealous of? I was jealous of her "success".  I perceived that she had something that I felt I didn't have and should have in my own life.  What was that?  I thought she had more money, more freedom, more mental health.  All that was a mental construct of my own.  I had created an image that I was lacking in my life.  What I had failed to have was any sort of compassion.  I thought she was smug, but *I* was smug.

I didn't account for all the pain in her life that she has encountered and dealt with.  I didn't account for all her insecurities that she has, just like almost any woman of success carries with her, and women without success too.  Women in this country are given every reason to hate themselves, hate their body, hate their skin, hate their hair, hate each other, and I had fallen right into that trap.

I was talking to a friend about this doctor.  I was telling this friend *why* I had bought a jean jacket for myself.  I was explaining that I had gone to my follow-up appointment and the doctor came to the room wearing a jean jacket over her scrubs.  "Did you have a little bit of a crush?" asked my friend.  "No!" I answered with a small look of repulsion, followed by, "I hated her!"  Laughing, "It's this weird thing where you take on the qualities of the thing you are repulsed by in order to own it."

Those words, "i hated her" kept rattling through my head weeks after that conversation took place. Had *I* really said those words about someone that I didn't even know?  Hate?  It reminded me of my kids, who throw that word around so easily.  I guess their mom throws it around pretty easily as well.  I didn't like the way I felt I portrayed myself by saying that.  I felt like by saying that about  the surgeon, I was acting very immature, like a child.  But I don't even like saying that because not all children act that way.  Some children act that way, like me, I had acted that way, and my children act that way sometimes.  But I certainly didn't like that I had said that.  I didn't even *know* that woman, how could I hate her?

I had wedged the image I created of this woman into my subconscious and was pivoting around it.  I had found her facebook after the surgery.  I had discovered she had two young kids, and that she liked horses, dressage horses, and her kids showed horses---in San Diego?!  I was jealous of her ability to travel to horse shows.  I created an image in my mind of a wealthy doctor who did whatever she wanted.  I saw a video of her kid practicing a piano piece last Christmas.  Horses and piano, how stuffy can you get?

Meanwhile, my in-laws were moving to Tucson, and in the process of the move, we inherited their beautiful piano!  Also, they bought a gorgeous house in the foothills of the Tortolitas and told us they would feed a horse for us, if we wanted to buy one we could keep it at their house.  Yesterday Noah was incessantly practicing "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" on the piano and it hit me.  That was the same song that the doctor's kid was playing on the piano, when she had filmed it and cheered at the end of the performance.  All the things that I was so jealous of, were things I was getting in my own life, but I felt so guilty now.  I realized that all that jealousy and those words "i hated her" would never affect this woman, thankfully, but they had worked to color my own interpretation of life from something benign to something full of negativity, and I didn't like that.  Also, something else started to dawn on me.  I remembered how the doctor had told me words like, "skinny people like you" and "you're so skinny".  Then I noticed how there were no pictures of this doctor on her facebook, and one of her friends had made a comment about that and she had responded by saying, "I look the same, just older and fatter."  This woman was beautiful and I wouldn't even describe her as curvy at all, she just seemed normal trim.  It dawned on me that this poor woman could possibly have a crippling sense of body image.  She could have suffered from eating disorders in her past, she could have had a parent or family member who told her she was fat when she wasn't.  Who knows?  But that hit me and I felt horrible.  I suddenly realized how many "successful" celebrities and business people might have horrible images of their body and how sad that was and how I don't want to contribute to that anymore.  Which means I have to love myself and my faults.  And they aren't even really faults, they're just part of being human.  And how I must rid myself of language such as "hate"!  How ridiculous and self-defeating it is to think or talk that way!  Saying I hate someone is really self-abuse.

Growing aware is painful, it's like walking through a wilderness.