One day when I was still a young man I was involved in an automobile accident. It was pretty serious, in that the car rolled multiple times through a lane of highway traffic that included enormous "semi" trucks. No one was seriously hurt, but the experience was a profoundly tramatic one, emotionally. When I arrived home, instead of comforting me, my father expressed anger at the driver, at the whole thing.... What I needed was warmth, a loving embrace. Such responses from him, and from my mother, were not uncommon. My emotional needs were not much understood, appreciated, acknowledged, seen....
I tell this in this moment with a raw feeling of hurt and vulnerability. All such experiences are in the foreground. There is a long string of them.
I wasn't (not often enough) held when I needed holding, wasn't loved when I needed loving. And through all of that I learned the habit of treating my own feeling life much as I had been treated in my family as a kid. I'm experiencing deep insight into this pattern. Reading Radical Acceptance has much to do with this process.
Earlier today I was feeling some emotional pain, some contraction..., and I realized how
impatient I am with my own emotional pain. In truth, I just wanted it to go away. I wanted to be done with it. I realized this is how my parents were in their relationship with their own pain -- and mine. Well, I'm still feeling it, really. It isn't pain about anything in particular, to be projected on a person or a situation. It's just pain. Old pain.
Was it yesterday? (My sense of time is a little awry, as I'm all stirred up at the moment.) Roughly yesterday I was feeling this pain and I decided to just be with it -- while washing dishes and then making dinner. The stabbing pain (much of it 'round the heart) would have had me go lay down, collapse (in a sense), maybe flip on the tv or have a drink..., or.... But I stood tall and on task. I'd let myself collapse later, if need be. But as I stood tall in it I noticed something arise. Tenderness, warmth. It wasn't really "self-directed". It was just tenderness meeting strength meeting pain. Tenderness meeting strength -- each welcoming one another, touching, meeting.... I was beginning to learn yet more about how to "hold" myself, give myself what I really need.
I'm learning not to shrink in fear of my own pain. I'm learning to stand tall and not turn away. I'm learning not to want "it" (myself, really) to go away. My task here is not to "be done with "it" / myself.
In standing tall I can offer more of my gifts.
Warmly, tenderly. To all.