shadow work

Forgiveness, compassion, and shadow work.

This morning in a conversation, the shooting in Connecticut came up. I hadn't really talked about how I felt until today. As I tuned in to the sorrow, the words just poured out. I was expressing how important I thought it was for every one of us to feel responsible for what happened over there. No, we didn't do it, but we are all responsible for this society we live in and this society is the one that allows people like this young adult to slip through the cracks. Being a mother of two, I cannot help but think of the words of my surrogate father-in-law, "Your children did not ask to come here. You chose to have them and are responsible for their care and wellness." This individual that everyone is demonizing was once an innocent young child. Obviously, throughout the course of his life, he was not filled with love, empathy, and compassion enough to keep him from committing such a heinous act. His immediate family, for one reason or another, left him lacking as did his community and anyone else who could have been a cause for change. However, this person was born innocent and pure as we all are. He was born a human being and still is one. Unfortunately, he went astray and became a person who then killed innocence, as it was killed in him. This whole situation reeks of what is wrong with the world.

Later on in the day, a friend sent me a blog post that had this written in it:

"Do Shadow work. Any pain or ugliness that exists within our own individual Shadow adds to the collective Shadow of mankind. Rather than pointing a finger of blame at the deep Shadow wounds of others, we must take responsibility for our own unconscious wounds and bring them to light through daily reflection and intention. When we heal ourselves we heal our society as well and it is imperative that we begin now to practice compassion, forgiveness, and surrender."

In this situation, I have discovered the importance of compassion for everyone. EVERYONE. Not just for the children, for the parents of the children and for the people adversely affected by the shooter, but for the shooter as well. To what depths of despair do you have to be in to see the world in such a way where shooting children is a solution? With love, affection, and emotional and physical sustenance withheld, ANY ONE OF US could have been that shooter. Yes, me. Yes, you.

If you ask me, it's not enough to just pray that that never happens to us. Or to be grateful that it wasn't us. Or to hug our children extra tight for a few days while the shock wears off. We must all work on ourselves. Lift ourselves up so we can lift others if need be. Even if we're not all well-adjusted and perfect, we have to try. I don't have it all figured out, but I do strive for this and have evolution and the elevation of my consciousness at the forefront of my mind and in my heart at all times. I have people in my life that tell me when they feel I have made a mistake, whether it be a mistake with my children, with my spouse, or with myself. These things are all necessary for every person to be able to function properly. Otherwise, garbage in, garbage out.

Consider this:

Within the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases and every man, woman and child in the village gathers in a large CIRCLE around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, about all the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his or her lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any and every detail and accuracy is recounted.  All his POSITIVE attributes, good deeds, strengths and kindness are recited carefully and at length.  This often will last for several days. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.

I had a really hard day today. It's been a loooong month. I have felt quite heavy for several days now. As much as I try to be the best mom I possibly can to my children, some days I am not all there. On those days I flounce between two settings: "checked out" and "really angry". My toddler was being very difficult earlier and I yelled at her with a very deep growl. I even scared myself a little bit. She cried. I hugged her tightly and apologized and explained to her that I needed her to listen to me when I was asking her to do what she needed to do. When we got home- with no tribe to welcome us home or to put me in the middle of a circle- she went to watch Sesame Street and I went to the bathroom for a few moments to cry. I felt awful and guilty. I wondered, "If I know I'm going to feel bad afterwards, why do I do that?" I racked my brain trying to come up with an answer, but nothing satisfied me. Why do I do something that I know is wrong? I just had to surrender to the situation. I am going to be a parent for a long time and moments like this will happen. My hope is to always act in the highest possible manner for my sake and for the sake of my children and to always try to put myself in their shoes so that I can know what is best for them and feel empathy. If that doesn't always happen, well then there is always forgiveness.

For God's sake, let us all dig deep and find forgiveness in our hearts. And then let's find some more. I'm not saying it's not hard. For most of us, it is. Let's forgive ourselves for that, too. And remember that we all act according to what we were given. So let's give more. And then let's give some more.

Radical Forgiveness.

One of the scariest things I could imagine when I became a mother was anything hurtful happening to my little one.  I was even scared to say it.  One day as we strolled her around the neighborhood, my husband voiced the same fear.  I was relieved to hear him say it and then lend an ear to that and the rest of my fears.  We had a long, emotional talk and then we both felt better because to me it always feels better to be supported and it always feels better to release something instead of holding on to it- especially a fear.  Even after feeling better though, I still have a hard time hearing about or reading about or seeing bereaving parents.  And now I have a new sensitivity:  post-natal women's issues treated insensitively. I didn't know how sensitive I was to this until today.  Earlier, I posted a link to a blog about the 10 most ridiculous parenting buys.  It was funny and some items were a little disturbing but I had a chuckle.  But then I scrolled down to read people's comments and came upon a horrible one.  A man posted something that had no relevance to the blog.  He mentioned something about women becoming  "just mothers" and about letting go of their aspirations to do something as plebeian as raising yet another child.  He stated something to the effect of "husbands will no longer like you, friends will abandon you, your child will never really love you, and your mother will pity you for ending up just like her."  I can't and won't directly quote anything b/c I refuse to dignify these comments anymore than I already have by writing this.  And because I just can't bring myself to read it again to verify.  The new mother in me can't.  Won't.  Doesn't need to, because she is finding it very hard at the moment to not feel wounded and insulted and fearful that anything he said could be true.

I guess it is true in his world.  Lately, I have been focusing a lot on respecting differences and understanding the space in this world for everything and everyone.  This helps me understand why things happen a little more.  It helps me face the dark things in the world and within me.  It helps me explain people's actions, reactions, and lack of action.  With all of this dancing in my mind, I remembered an article I read somewhere once that stayed with me called "Radical Forgiveness."  Maybe it was in the New York Times...  not sure.  In it, a lady forgave the man that murdered her son and took him in.  She did this because she knew he needed love and didn't mind that life was pulling her in the direction that called for her to offer it.  So she did.  She gave him love and he was reformed.  Whoa.  The article tugged at my heart and made me feel so many different things.  It amazed me.  It made me very confused.   And it made me feel somewhat small.

How many of us  could do this?... I don't know. I certainly want to forgive this man who wrote these comments that so bothered me.  Me reading this was not without its purpose. It made me see something dark that needs to be nurtured and released.  And from that will come some light, so I am grateful for it too.  I forgive him because he needs to be forgiven- at least in my world.  I forgive him because I need to forgive and my nature craves finding love in every situation- even if it doesn't always find it.  Maybe nobody has ever forgiven him.  Maybe no one has ever loved him.  Maybe he has never loved anyone.  And maybe he never had a mother- or any mother-figure- love him... but-as baffling as it would be- maybe he did.  In any case, I forgive him and I hope this causes some ripple in the invisible world so that he can learn to forgive too.

Love to all.