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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Becoming a More Loving Person

Dear A. B.

Thank you so much for your previous advice. I'd already reached the same conclusion myself regarding my ex boyfriend--to use his offered help if I need it, and use my painful feelings of unrequited love as a meditation. I need his help for a job he had started on my property and so told myself to let him do it and just be prepared for the emotional pain it will probably bring.

Yet, at least I've had a prior experience that I can draw on. I remember returning something to his house last month and whatever exchange we had brought up all kinds of emotional pain for me. We were together for 18 yrs. but now he acts like none of it meant anything to him. I get so hurt by that. During that time we'd always go away for an adventure up the coast together for a week or so, then I'd stay at his house the rest of the summer,looking after his animals, his garden, while he went on fishing trips with the "boys" and hunting trips in the fall. During that visit I was referring to, he said that in his memory, it was always difficult arranging those house sits with me, as I was never sure if I could do them until close to his deadline.

I accept that criticism as valid as we had been on and off for years so I was always thinking I should end this pattern of my doing all his house sitting.So even all the years that I did the summer house sitting didn't even count in his eyes. I remember walking home from his house, thru the forest, and breaking into tears, lying on the ground sobbing. Then I remembered something my spiritual teacher had said, and realized I was more than this suffering I was going thru.I told myself I could handle the pain, got up and finished walking home.So I'll be prepared this time.

I've been reading your first book every night, since I've started getting back into using the brain switching to pull me out of the deep depression I had found myself in recently that was causing me to think I should start taking anti-depressants.

I'm interested in learning about my fears, for my big thing is always the fear of getting "hurt". You said in Chapt.12 that "hurt is fear directed inward".

Yesterday, I had to do the brain switching almost once an hour almost at work,as I'm involved in a difficult situation there with another teacher who has bullied me and in the past threatened to take over my job, when I stood up to her. She has seniority in our school, as she has been there longer than I have, so she would have been able to do that. It got so bad, I went to our teaching union for advice. (I realize that life is bringing me such people in order to point out the work I need to do on myself).

When I got home last night I was exhausted and more depressing thoughts, so more brain switching. I actually got tired of saying my nursery rhymes, which hasn't happened before. So I started to play the piano instead (I teach music at the school) and that worked just as well as the nursery rhymes. Then when I was doing my meditation before bed, I started delving into what my repressed fears might be.

I was shocked at what came out. My mother had told me once that I was always a sickly baby, always getting colds, and even had one the day she brought me home from the hospital. Interesting that she also said that my older brother, her first child, had been breastfed, but that she thought she must have been starving him for he kept her up many a night, walking the floor. So she said she decided with me, to always give me a supplement, after she breastfed. (I think that's what's caused my colds, as an adult I even got bronchitis til I eliminated milk from my diet).

She said the doctor told her the cure for those colds was to take my tonsils out, but that they didn't like to do that until the child was 2 yrs. old. So she said on my 2nd birthday,she got me right into the hospital for that operation. She said she was by my crib, when I came out of the anaesthetic and I kept crying and groping at my throat. She tried to comfort me, but then the nurse told her visiting hours were over and that she had to leave.

She told the nurse that she was worried I might pull out my stitches ( don't know if they even used stitches for tonsillectomy's) as I was so upset and she wanted to stay to comfort me. Yet the nurse insisted she had to leave. She told me that she could hear my screams all the way down the hall to the exit and that she was really upset with that nurse who had said she could tie my hands down and put the bars up on my crib. So she phoned the doctor when she got home to complain. The doctor said he'd go and check on me and phone her back.She said that he phoned to say I had fallen asleep so all was well.

When this memory surfaced last night, I sobbed and sobbed. I decided to comfort that little girl inside me and started stroking my brow as I have done with my own kids when they'd be sick. It felt good to comfort myself like that, but I must say I had a real cry.

Yet, I also came out of it with a very peaceful feeling. I had a good sleep and a very calm dream of my ex-boyfriend and his young girlfriend. We were talking together and I wasn't jealous in my dream, just calm and peaceful.

It has really been bothering me that I harbour these bad feelings for that young woman that came and offered my ex-boyfriend sex, right after his heart attack. So this was a breakthrough I felt, to have a pleasant dream about her.

After reading all of the above and the stuff about my EX, you're probably thinking I'm better off without him. I have thought that many times as there as been other indiscretions during our relationship. He has so many woman friends, but always tells me they are just friends.

One was always at his house,when I was there, and I was picking up on something. When she'd leave I'd ask him what was going on with her, telling him I thought she wanted me out, and that she wanted into his bed. He'd always tell me that he had no attraction for her, so I'd drop it. Yet, it kept happening, and the way she'd hug him goodbye was so intense. So I kept asking him about it, and he suggested I see a shrink for having such an active imagination.

Finally the truth came out, but only when I refused to do the house-sitting one summer, suggesting she do it instead, since she seemed to always want to be at his place. He claimed it was only "experiments in intimacy" that they had been indulging in, that it was never "real sex" so I had nothing to worry about. He said, he really hadn't liked it so he stopped it. He said he had never told me the truth before because he thought it would devastate me.

Sweet me, forgave him, and continued in the relationship as I feel good being loyal.

So yes, I realize that this new young woman that came along, might have done me a favor, for now I'm out of the relationship.( oh yeah, after having written a page about him). Our lifestyles were very different, until his heart attack when he had to stop his daily drinking and quit smoking. I also never liked his killing animals or fish as I try and not kill bugs or any living thing. I don't think it's my hormones now that make me miss him, it's the way he held me. I always felt so safe in his arms. When I moved back into my own house, I thought I was lucky to have my independence and have a man up the road for love and companionship and of course his help, living on a small island. Most men in my past didn't allow for my independence and I used to feel smothered.

So that's why I don't like having bad feelings towards this new woman of his I'm involved in spiritual practices to develop love and compassion for all beings, so it has bothered me.

Yet, my spiritual teacher told me not to be so bothered by these feelings, to just keep working with them.

So how can I relate my fears to helping me with my depression? M____________

Dear M_________

When you say you are involved in practices to develop love and compassion for all beings I have to tell you that I am on the same path. First, I realize that love and compassion is already my natural self but that my natural self is covered over by fears, of which I may not be aware. I have done so much work that I consider myself an almost fearless person, and yet I can't help but be aware of how sometimes I look at my fellow man. And I must give some heed to the fact of some quality of difference between my physical self and my spiritual self, not quite knowing exactly where those lines intertwine, and bowing to the ancient wisdom, "we know what we know but we don't know what we don't know"

For instance, when I am booksigning, and not actively engaged with someone, I notice whether the people around me are attractive or not, ill-dressed or well-dressed, interesting or not. I realized one day how judgmental I was. I vowed to become more aware of that. How come I wasn't a more loving person?

I realize the whole duty of our mind is to make distinctions between things so that we can make our path through the world. So now when the mind makes its distinction, I simply remember that the mind is a defense mechanism, so naturally all it's distinctions will be defensive, that is, negative. And I have decided that except to protect myself from some present danger, or in the craft of my writing, I will not dwell upon any negative thought. The reason for that decision is that negative thoughts can escalate and trigger the flight or fight response which dumps stress chemicals in our brain and is the precursor of depression. And I have further decided that I also will not dwell either on my negative distinctions of my fellow man because it separates me out rather than connects me to him.

If you want to remind me that I say that nothing good comes from fear and then I say that fear can save us from danger and that has to be a good thing, all I can say is that since we can't know truth as an object, we have to look at things as they come for "some hint" of the "path to truth."

Sometimes ideas are contradictory that purport to describe the same thing. But if you are on a journey and want to describe your path, part of the path may be stony and rocky, and part of the path may be grassy.

As far as fear and depression are concerned, all negative thoughts are fearful and all fearful thoughts are negative. Sometimes we need to be both fearful and negative to keep ourselves from danger, such as being mugged on a crowded street, but to keep ourselves from depression, we should consider negative thoughts "not an option."

And to become a more loving compassionate person, we need to recognize and release our repressed fear. And to me, other than self-protection, there is no reason to entertain a negative thought. Nothing loving and compassionate comes from a negative thought. The way to become a more loving and compassionate person is to keep releasing ourselves from those fears which covers over our natural love and compassion. We can't be totally successful pasting the supposed results of practices of love and compassion on top of our fear. I hope this helps.

And remember, nothing but truth is truth, truth is the simplest thing in the world. You don't have to figure it out. As a matter of fact, according to ancient wisdom, you can't get to truth through the reasoning process (Joel Goldsmith).You just have to accept it when it finally succeeds in getting your attention.

A. B. Curtiss

1 comment:

Ginger said...

This discussion reminds me of the wisdom Victor Frankly gleaned from the concentration camp. A.B., recently you suggested that I revisit his book, which I did, and his story is fresh in my mind.

It seems that Victor discerned his captors were hostile and brutal, but did not judge them. He discerned the entire experience to be brutal, but did not resist that reality. That is how 1)he made peace with it, thereby reducing his stress and suffering and 2) refrained from becoming negative, hateful or hostile himself. He did not harbor ill-will or dream up fantasies of retaliation. In essence, he actually became a more loving person in the midst of torture and hate.

I am learning from V.F.'s book and from your writings, A.B., that while we need to discern hatred or harmful intent in our environments, there is no need to judge it. Judgement carries an emotional charge, while disernment simply perceives the reality.

A.B., you say that love is our nature, so when someone is being unkind or even brutal, they must simply be confused, yes? Aggressors are pushing out the pain they have inside; pain they think is generated by an external threat. The pain is already inside them, they just don't realize that, so they blame another person or group. Scapegoating becomes their salvation.

But hold on, I shouldn't say "they," since as you are pointing out, we ALL must continually be in touch with our fears or we all run the risk of doing the same thing...blaming the world around us for what is already inside of us!

The world may trigger the pain inside, but it is not responsible for it. We are each responsible for being in touch with our fear and not blaming it on someone else. I think I'm starting to get it. I'm taking "baby steps."

This happens all the time though doesn't it? On a continuum that ranges from the miniscule to the horrific! I'm realizing it more and more in myself and others. Thanks!