Wherever you go,
Whomever you meet,
Leave your love lying around.
Let the fragrance of your love
Linger far after you have gone.
Sometimes we can walk away from someone feeling as if our soul has been assaulted. Usually, it’s moments when we feel judged, accused, criticized, scorned, ridiculed, dismissed, slighted, or even rejected. When no one is in our corner rooting for us, believing in our capacity for good, and loving us unconditionally. I can recall several times when I have been the perpetrator. As I’ve healed, my scope of compassion, my ability to see myself in others and others in me, has profoundly impacted me. I can feel the pain I cause others when I engage in a way that is not loving, nurturing and supportive. I think about the times I’ve walked away feeling less than, either because I was diminished or because I diminished another.
I learned a profound lesson this past week. A profound lesson of compassion in action, not just in the ideal of walking this earth lightly with love and gentleness. It’s so hard to learn to be a gentle rose petal when all my life I’ve had to be a cactus with spines.
I had an encounter a week ago where judgmental and accusatory words were unleashed on me in a place I was supposed to feel safe and supported. A lot of wounds were triggered inside of me. I felt insecure, defensive, and attacked. I felt as though I wasn’t enough. Part of these wounds are connected to my continued spiritual and emotional growth – knowing I am enough; I am whole; I am perfect. But the other part of my triggers was the lashing out, the scrutinizing, the accusing, and the criticizing that happened in the meeting I was in. There was a lack of gentleness and compassion; a sense of blaming and shaming that some of the people in that room were engaging in. They wanted punishment; to have a moment of punitive finger pointing.
After the meeting, I had to go home and soothe my soul that evening. Stitch it up with love.
That evening, I realized that the experience that left me feeling so vulnerable and humiliated also challenged me to understand in a more profound place of my soul how deeply I must hurt my husband every time I accuse, criticize and judge him. The compassion I treat my students with and the people I encounter in the world seems to immediately disintegrate when I feel wounded, dismissed or not considered by my husband. The person we are most intimate and closest to is ironically sometimes the one whom we lash at the hardest. But I cannot speak of compassion without honor the being that shares the bed with me at night. Something shifted inside of me that made me truly recognize that what I felt that day in the meeting is the same way my husband feels when I attack him. Why would I want to diminish the very person I love so much? Why wouldn’t I want to uplift him? In diminishing him, I diminish myself. My husband is so precious to me, and I love him beyond the conditions and expectations of our relationship, and yet I don’t always approach him with the gentleness and compassion I seek, ideally. My love for him goes beyond the role he serves in this dimension.
As I contemplated him this morning in bed while he was sleeping, I saw the delicate beauty he carries as a pure being. How could I do anything to destroy that? My role is to nurture, uplift, and love him, even when we have disagreements or conflict.
Once again, something has shifted inside of me. An awakening of a part of my soul that had been numb. We’ve endured an incredible journey of healing, and one thing that I’ve learned is that healing is not linear, and it’s certainly messy and muddled. Old behavior patterns show up again, packaged differently and we must be vigilant – constantly reflecting and probing our thoughts, decisions and actions. While the accusatory screaming and judgmental arguments are no longer a part of our marriage, old patterns of victimization, blaming and shaming have a way of creeping back in subconsciously.
In processing these feelings, I also thought about the youth I work with. The people in that meeting with me make a living serving children, and if I left feeling the way I did, I wondered if there were also youth who walked away with a broken soul. They are so often assaulted with the same judgment, criticism and scorn that adults receive, only they don’t have the tools to stitch up their souls – to say, “You’re breaking my soul.”
I am so grateful to Spirit for teaching me deeper lessons of compassion despite the pain. The pain becomes a mirror through which I can confront the reality of how I walk my path. The pain is the chisel that exposes the compassion under the hardening anger, if we allow it. I cannot control the way others leave an imprint on the world, but I can co-create the world I wish to live in by continuously transforming myself.
It’s hard to become a petal,
said the nopal, when your
whole life you’ve been
hardened with spines.
Then, came the
And the nopal bloomed.