Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How Do You Really Keep Your Heart Open?

I've been reflecting on my post "Keep Your Heart Open" that was inspired by an incident that occurred in our neighborhood this past weekend.  An adult expressed anger towards another in the presence of children and other adults.  How can I shine love on this situation that hits so close to home?

I grew up in a home where alcohol was used to control pain and deep-seeded hurt was expressed in anger.  As a young child, there were times when I wished that our dad would just leave.  At the same time, I couldn't imagine our lives without him in it.  I struggled with these thoughts, which compounded much of my childhood anxiety.  I wanted him to stay just as much as I wanted him to go.  But most of all, I wanted him well.  I was able to witness a miraculous transformation over the years as he is no longer the wounded person he used to be.  My parents have remained together for almost forty years now.  Did my mom make the right choice?

Until we have walked in another person's shoes, we can't judge them, their choices or their actions.  Now that I know about my dad's childhood and his difficult circumstances, I understand the pain he must have been experiencing.  Anger is a sign of pain that is directed outward.  It is a symptom of hurt that has been allowed to fester and fester until it eventually erupts.  It can be a cry for help.  But how do you provide help to an unaware or unwilling participant? 

In a lot of cases, you can't.  They have to be the one to acknowledge that there is a problem and also be willing to accept help.  You have to honor and protect yourself  and those in your care and still maintain a loving gaze on that person.  We often say, "He/She is acting like a child," but do we really stop to see the wounded child that they are?  We have to understand that their negative behavior is never about us or other people.  It is always a reflection of their frustrations, their fears and their anxieties that come to light.  We cannot interiorize their hurt and make it our own.   We cannot ignore it either and just expect it to go away.  Pain and warning signs don't just disappear.  Pain is a signal that attention and help is needed. 

How do we keep a loving gaze on this person?  How do we shine our love on them?  

There is never any excuse for blatant disrespect.  Just because a person is hurting does not give them permission to cause another to hurt.  A child should never stand witness to horrifying adult behavior.  A person should never remain in a relationship that either brings them harm or can potentially cause them hurt.  But as Ghandi said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."  Meeting anger with anger causes more pain. 

To update the recent situation, all of the other adults have rallied around this family and not against them.  There was no act of physical violence, but there was enough cause for much concern.  While the rest of our children are not allowed to enter that house, the child from that household is still welcome in each of our  homes.  The couple also knows that everyone is watching because we genuinely care.  The mom knows that she can call upon the other families day or night if she is ever unsafe or feels threatened in any way.  Right now, she assures us that she is safe and looking into getting professional help. 

It takes time in reflection and much practice to be able to see certain situations in a more loving light, especially when we have our own wounds. 

May your day be blessed and all your needs met.

Love to you,

Kathleen


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