I lied. Because I’m a bad liar, I’m admitting it. I said I don’t make new year’s resolutions. So I’ll tell you I decided I have an intention for this year. See what I did there?
I’m dealing with someone who has been acting out, and it’s been progressively getting worse. I ignored it for a long time. Then I started to get angry. I’m not a fan of passive-aggressive behavior. I’m not a fan of unfairness. I’m not a fan of douchebaggery.
I vented to friends. I decided if this person was looking for a fight, oh I’d give ‘em a fight. Do not mess with me or my family. This is not a fight you will win, I assure you.
This person has been in my life for many, many years. There have been ups, and there have been downs. I used to trust this person a long time ago. I used to believe in this person. The trust was broken, respect was lost, and both were replaced by hurts and anger.
Through the years I’ve tried to accept or ignore the person. Some days are better than others. More often than not, I was just perfectly fine with disliking or being angry with this person. But lately, the anger magnified. There came a point where I had to make a decision–stay in the anger and distrust and opt for an ugly fight, or, or, or…
And this is when Life emailed me with two kind messages. Because sometimes I’m a slow learner and I get distracted by sparkly things, butterflies, and being too immersed in myself, so that I miss hints, clues, nudges. Sometimes I need a message to be hand-delivered. One email reminded me to let go of the story line and instead, own my feeling completely. “Let the words go and return to the essential quality of the underlying stuff. That’s the notion of the inbreath, the notion of making friends with ourselves at a profound level. In the process we are making friends with all sentient beings, because that is what life is made of. Working with the greater defilements first is saying that now is the time, and also that our greatest obstacles are our greatest wealth.” -Pema Chodron.
When I grow up, I want to be Pema. I get lovely notices from her periodically. Only because I subscribe to some list serv, not because she knows I exist. But she’s so magical, I’m certain she can feel my existence. But I digress. The same day, I received yet another email–from another meditation list serv. It reminded me of interbeing, and how we can transform anger and hatred into joy and compassion:
“The flower can only interbe with everything else. … that is the nature of interbeing. To practice meditation is to see deeply the interbeing nature of things. That kind of vision, that kind of insight, will liberate you.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
So I’ve been teaching the Boy not to be a victim of life. I’m reminded to practice what I preach. I don’t want to be stuck in a toxic place or angry place. I am teaching him to empower himself to move on, be vigilant, trust again. I want him to be resilient when trust is broken.
Getting there requires generosity. Generosity of assuming positive intent. That he/she did the best he/she could, and didn’t mean to be an asshole. Believing he/she will do the right thing. Being generous in this way doesn’t mean I need to agree with a person’s thoughts or behaviors. But it does free me from anger and accusations.
To be generous, I need to let go of the words that make up the storyline of how I was wronged in the past, or how I dislike certain behaviors. I need to let that go, and remember we’re all in this together. I need to admit I was in a petty, sullen, angry place. I need to admit I was hurt, and I’m afraid of being hurt again. I was not being generous in spirit nor kind in spirit.
I need to be friends with myself, and be friends with all sentient beings, including this person. We all struggle with our issues. We all hold hurts and fears. It doesn’t matter if I am right, or if I’ve been wronged. What matters is if I offer my generosity and loving kindness. What matters is if I offer my trust and compassion again. True, he/she can break my trust again. And I will sit with that disappointment and hurt and anger and fear. And I will practice letting go of the story line. And I will adjust how I interact with him/her in the future.
My anger was not only about past hurts, but it is also about our interbeing. About how I wanted to change that. How I wanted nothing more to do with this person. But that is impossible, because of the inherent interbeing. Accepting this was the first step to turning the anger into generosity, compassion, and loving kindness.
I need to do this for myself, and for this person. I need to do this because Life keeps offering me the opportunity to learn these lessons. Of staying in this soft spot. This is where compassion and kindness grow. It’s not a comfortable spot, but these are what I want to grow in life. So to continue to grow these things of life, I intend to be generous. Perhaps this person is really my greatest wealth; how generous of this person.