Monday, April 24, 2017

Compassion Monster

I'm a liberal leftist who supports gay rights, believes in equal pay for equal work, and recognizes the detrimental effects of institutionalized racism.

I support a woman's right to choose; I recognize the ongoing impact of white privilege; I stand by the separation of church and state.

My heart goes out to the homeless; I am appalled by what's happening in Syria; I can empathize with just about anyone, and commercials make me cry.

I am the very definition of a bleeding heart.

But I have no compassion for anyone I personally know.

In the past, I have attended a local Buddhist temple to participate in the compassion meditation, wherein one wishes compassion on those dear to them, then on human beings at large, and, finally, on someone that one actively dislikes or with whom he or she has conflict.

The meditation is crafted this way, because it operates under the idea that you wish good on others you care about first (easy), the world as a whole (more difficult), someone shitty (hard).

Last night I read that compassion meditation is beneficial in rewiring the brain, and has been linked with health benefits. So this morning I attempted to resuscitate my long-dead practice, and realized what I just revealed: for me, it is actually easier to wish compassion on the world at large than it is for me to bestow it upon those persons I care about.

You can imagine, therefore, how much compassion I spare for my enemies.

Intrigued by my own hypocrisy, I attempted to reason out why, for me, the situation was so.

My conclusions were these:

1. I have compassion for circumstances. I understand struggle. Therefore, if you are a stranger experiencing a tough circumstance, my heart aches for you. However, if you are a person I know who is undergoing a struggle, I watch how you handle it. And usually, I find fault. I judge you. Because I am a judgmental dick.

2. If I care about you at all, or, even if we've known each other for a long time, but I personally don't care much whether you sink or swim, it's likely you've hurt me in the past. Something you said or did stung, rubbed me the wrong way, made me cry in a corner when you weren't watching. And I've never forgotten it. You could head Green Peace, Save the Whales, and Feed the Hungry, but if you made fun of my stirrup pants in fifth grade, then man, we've got beef and I cannot be expected to muster up any sympathy for you just because your whole family was wiped out by a monsoon. Serves you right. You SHOULDA RESPECTED THE STIRRUPS, I say!

Because I? Am a judgemental, easily-bruised dick.

3. If I really care about you - if you are a close friend or family member - it is likely you have, at one time or other, cut me so deeply that I've been the walking wounded since the offending incident(s). I brighten when I see your face. I genuinely love you. I want to be around you. I want to have you in my life. But every time I see your face, the incident is etched in it. I cannot look away.

I am completely incapable of forgiveness.

And without forgiveness, there can be no compassion for anyone I personally know.

Including myself.

I have never forgiven myself for anything I have done.

There is no misstep or misspeak for which I have not chided myself repeatedly and mercilessly.

If I hold you to an impossibly high standard, it is nothing to the standard which, somehow and somewhere along the line, I set for myself.

I have been this way - ruthlessly judgmental - for as long as I can remember. When I was 3 or 4, I had a dance recital that my teacher (who would typically stand in the curtains and do the dance with us bc we were 3 or 4 and couldn't remember it all) could not attend because her mother had died. With no one to guide me, I screwed up the dance. And cried on the way home. And I've never fully forgiven my teacher for not showing up that day.



Let that sink in.

Because it's true.



And I don't know how to kill or conquer it.


I've held on to resentment and real and perceived slights for so long, I do not know how to do anything else.

So much of my time has been spent in contemplative judgement, that I do not even fully understand the concepts of compassion or mercy.

At the end of the day, the only being on whom I can bestow a genuine, guilt-free compassion is my dog, and even he pisses me off sometimes, and I take a few days to recover.

Friends, this trait of mine is impossibly detrimental.

My soul literally feels wounded all the time.

And once you're wounded initially, each further wound cuts deeper, hurts more, impairs more.

I now suffer 36 years of perpetual impairment.

And I don't know how to stop.

In one way, I know I am doing this to myself. I know I cannot control the actions of others, and I know I cannot allow myself to be a slave to these feelings.

And yet, so much of me says you must be held responsible for your own actions. You must be held accountable for the hurt you've caused me and other people. Why should you be allowed off the hook so easily, when others, like myself, have to suffer because of what you've done?

Some I know would call this "making myself the victim". Those people can go fuck themselves.

Because, put simply, my pain is real. What you did to me was real, and inflicted real pain, and there should be consequences for those actions.

But, conversely, those persons who should - if they listened to me - now be in the process of "going to fuck themselves" are right in that, no matter how or if apologies are offered, my mind cannot seem to erase the offense. This inability to move past my pain puts me in a perpetual state of victimhood.

Cliff's Notes - it's your fault I'm the victim. It's my fault I continue to be.


So what do I do about this?

How do I address it?

How do I move past it?

How do I develop compassion for you if I have zero even for myself?

I'm asking because I honestly don't know.

Legit - I. DO. NOT. KNOW. HOW.

And it's tearing me up inside.

Psychotically, I am beating myself up for ceaselessly beating myself up.

It's a loop of insanity - one I only avoid if I engage myself in perpetual distraction or activity.

Whatever you do, please dear God DON'T GIVE ME TIME TO THINK! It will only invite the spiral, and I will go from fine to fucked up in mere minutes.

Laughably, the advice I am often given to combat this behavior is to meditate, which, as you may have guessed, brings me full circle.

I cannot do the compassion meditation because I have no compassion. I cannot develop compassion because I cannot meditate on it.

It'd be funny if it wasn't so painful.

Sickly, it is funny to me.

My inner monster enjoys black comedy I guess.


I wish I could say I wish you a great day.

But I wish I could wish such things.

And, if today holds true to every other day, I will spend a significant amount of time berating myself for wishing I could wish others - and myself - well.

I really hope they quit killing people in Syria.

Yom HaShoah.

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