“Momma?” My son woke me at 3am, with a voice full of love and kindness that melted my heart. He is just over 2 years old now, and every night since he was born he wakes me several times in the night. He hasn’t yet slept through a single night without waking, and neither have I.
Most nights when he wakes he is upset and shouts at me to help him. When I’m tired someone shouting at me just makes me angry, but tonight there is change in his tone and I am keenly aware of its affect over me.
I can’t get back to sleep so I start looking up some info for an upcoming trip we are planning, and I find an interesting travel blog where I read about a man’s travels to a small island where one night he is invited to a party to celebrate the construction of a new bungalow. He describes the great connection he found with the locals, how moved he was by this encounter and how much he has learned from their sense of community. He tells of how, in the days before the party, he had been so disappointed in himself for spending his last month in one place rather than doing more traveling, but he realizes that if he hadn’t stayed in that spot for so long he would never have met the people who invited him to this wonderful celebration.
I could sense that Love was trying to lead me somewhere new, and if I thought Acceptance had been hard, wait till I meet Kindness. I have already met Kindness many times, I have seen her force and it has left me in tears.
I have seen and experienced many acts of kindness and each time I am in awe and humbled by it; a kind word or gesture, the kindness of listening and understanding, the kindness of forgiveness, but in all of these experiences I was either giving kindness to, or receiving it from others. Not once was I giving it to myself.
So when I woke up this morning I made it my intent to bring Kindness into everything I do and above all to show it to myself.
As I made my children their latest favorite dish, ‘Toad in the hole’ (a fried egg in a cutout-hole in a slice of bread), I burnt the bread. As usual my first reaction was to attack myself, but then Kindness stepped in, and what Kindness brought was not what I had expected. I would have thought that Kindness would say, ‘It’s ok, just make another one”. This time Kindness didn’t speak but instead brought a memory back for me to see.
My sister was making a cake from an out-of-the-box mix, she was about 12 and I was 8. On the package there were two different sets of instructions; one for baking at high altitudes and the other for normal conditions. For whatever reason my sister thought we lived at a high altitude, so she followed those instructions. The cake did not come out well, it wasn’t terrible, just a bit of a flop. My mother went ballistic…screaming and hitting her. I watched in terror.
I realized this memory was helping me to better understand what had really been going on inside me while I was making my pancakes yesterday, why it had been so hard for me to make them, why I was so nervous about being perfect and why it was so difficult to go forward when I had ‘failed’. Kindness reminded me that my mother had been in a great deal of fear. Fear which had been passed down by several generations, all who had reacted in the same way over and over again. They had been taught to beat themselves rather than to be kind to themselves, but only with love and kindness can we move forward and change. I started to think about my life and how life-changing this would be. Simple things like peeing or eating would suddenly be ok for me. Normally if I am occupied with some task, even simple things like washing dishes or writing this blog, I am a tough taskmaster, not allowing myself to eat or pee until I’m finished. Ironically, I am constantly telling my children to be kind to themselves by allowing themselves to pee when they need to and to eat when are hungry, but how could they when they look to me for guidance and I’m not showing this kindness to myself!
I had seen this part of myself before, but today (with Love and Kindness) I saw why I hadn’t allowed myself to sit there for any length of time to get to the understanding; the reason was all the pain that came up and the tears that followed.
I remembered as a child being laughed at for crying; ‘cry baby’ my siblings would call me, or at school I was called ‘weeping willow’. I felt weak and ashamed because of these feeling inside me. Even though I didn’t like mean people, I secretly wished I could be like them, nothing seemed to bother them and no one pushed them around. But instead I became mean to myself, beating myself up for feeling sad and being such a cry baby. Whenever I felt vulnerable from these emotions I would lash out at whoever was causing me to feel that way, by saying something mean to make them go away. It was too overwhelming for me to process my feelings about everything that was going on at home, and I felt powerless to help or to change it. As children we are aware of everything around us, and it can easily become overwhelming as we don’t yet have the tools to process our feelings or to express how we feel. This doesn’t just go for someone like me, who experienced a lot of chaos and trauma at home. Everyone has at some point had do deal with traumatic situations growing up. As a result, people all around the world self medicate as adults, either with alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, gambling or anything else to help numb or push those feeling back down.
But things are different now. Since I began this journey Fear and Shame don’t have such a hold on me like they did before. I no longer believe that these feelings make me ‘weak’, but rather I know it takes deep strength and courage to allow ourselves to feel our feelings. In my work I have experienced, day after day, the incredible transformations that crying and feeling deep emotions brings to peoples lives. I am grateful to Kindness for not giving up on me and for helping me to transform, and I am grateful to everyone who has show me kindness by witnessing my journey.