The lovely Elizabeth who writes at Almost Spring, posted a comment on Monday’s blog. She asks: “In regard to feeling compassion for your abuser, is that sympathy as in feeling sorry as you would for someone with an illness, or is it empathy in fully understanding WHY?”
Her question triggered an immediate fissure of disquiet within me. The phrase “feeling sorry for…” sets off alarm bells. It triggers memories of my past that do not sit well with me.
I love triggers! I get to look at them, explore them and then, set myself free.
When my youngest daughter was about five or six years old she had significant back pain. Doctors, numerous tests, twice yearly MRIs didn’t solve it.
Irish dancing did.
At least, that’s my belief.
But that isn’t what triggered my feelings of disquiet this morning. What triggered them was the memory of my mother saying, “Poor Lele. I feel so sorry for her.” She would repeat this, whenever we got together. Say it again and again. It drove me crazy!
I hate that. Seriously I do. Okay. Hate is a strong word. I strongly dislike when someone says, “I feel sorry for….” or, “Poor you, blah blah blah.”
I feel powerless in sorriness! And believe me, when your five-year old daughter is in constant pain and there are no answers as to why, feeling sorry and powerless just doesn’t cut it.
Eventually, the doctors did label her distress with a word I couldn’t spell let alone pronounce. Didn’t make the pain go away, but it did give me a label to focus on, to beat up, and to try to stuff into a box of my understanding.
Label in hand, I let go of ‘why’ and worked with my daughter to not let the label circumscribe her life. (which is where the Irish Dance came in and the subsequent years of ballet and jazz and every kind of dance she could imagine — the dance strengthened, and stretched, her muscles, improved her posture and in the movement, overrode the pain with grace and litheness that continues to enhance her life today.)
My biggest fear at the time was that my daughter would grow up believing she was ‘sick’ or different, even ‘sorry’. I couldn’t change the label and I definitely didn’t want her to believe she was dis-empowered by her disease. I wanted her to know she was powerful beyond her wildest imaginings.
I forbid my mother to say it.
It didn’t work.
It is part of her make-up. Her way of expressing sympathy and support. It is her way.
It’s not mine.
So when Elizabeth asked, ” is that sympathy as in feeling sorry as you would for someone with an illness,” my mind leaped to that ‘No Way!’ place, as I began to back pedal through memory to ensure I wasn’t wallowing in feeling sorry for someone else.
And now I’m smiling. And laughing at myself.
The answer is so simple.
I don’t feel sorry for him. That would dis-empower him and the universe. Feeling sorry for him would be to say he has no ability to manage his own actions, no capacity for change. No place for miracles in his life.
Like me, like you, like all of us, he deserves miracles. It’s his choice whether he chooses to open up to his own power, and the gifts of the universe, or not.
And I have nothing to do with his choices.
What I have to do with are mine — how I look at the past. How I chose to let what happened then, affect me now. And I choose to let it affect me, in Love.
I choose to breathe through Love into those spaces where discord, angst, pain and sorrow once consumed me. I choose to stand in Love and trust in the Universe to always be there, to always support, applaud and make possible our wildest dreams come true. I choose to believe in the wonder and awe of humankind. I choose to believe in the essential nature of our magnificence.
I choose not to ‘feel sorry’ for someone else. I choose to see their brilliance, their capacity and courage and ability and power to deal with whatever life has given them without my heaping ‘sorriness’ onto their back. They don’t need my sorry. They need my belief in their power. They deserve my absolute conviction that we are capable of creating miracles in our lives because, we are, each and every one of us, powerful, magnificent, miracles of Life. The Divine expression of amazing grace.
And when faced with situations where I have no control to change what another does (which is kinda always ’cause I can’t change another, I can only work on me :)), I choose to not dive into asking why does he do that? The why will always lead me back to the inexplicable. And trying to figure out his why, keeps my light from shining in my own life.
I choose instead to accept, it is who he is in this moment right now and what he is doing does not fit with my life — and let my thinking, and him, go. And as I do, I release myself from wishing and hoping and feeling sorry for another. I dissolve into Love. In Love I celebrate the capacity for change inherent in each of us. In Love I am released from feeling responsible for anyone else’s life but mine.
Thank you Elizabeth. Your question triggered my exploration of what is true for me. Your beauty inspired my heart to grow in Love.
Your style – your belief system is known to your friends and readers, as I see/hear it … rooted in love, compassion, forgiveness of self and of others and rooted in judeo-christian value systems …
What is wrong with wishing the bastard death, dismemberment and being locked away for life?
What’s wrong with thinking of him as wrotten-to-the-core, valueless and a pox on society?
From what I’ve heard and read, most of us would think of him in those terms or perhaps worse.
So, why …. WHY, WHY, WHY do you keep returning to the notion of thinking kindly toward that criminal abusive scumbag?
If you took 1/2 the energy you devote to that, and turned it to the ‘new adventures of Louise’, I bet that energy would go very very far.
My friend Annie from New Jersey says, “build a bridge … and GET OVER IT!” … and in this case, I think her advice might help.
You have so much to give that has nothing to do with that piece of crap person and those dark days – the ones that are over.
I see you going forward in the world with so much energy, drive and good-spirit, that I can only wonder how far you could go, how much you could do, if you would quit dragging that sack of shit (him) and load of rocks (that heavy burden) behind you all the time.
Cut it loose … it is an anchor of the wrong kind holding you back. It could be argued that nothing is holding you back – by those who see how much you do, but I think it is.
My two cents.
Tee hee Mark — you made me laugh out loud! Thanks for your words of encouragement and inspiration. LOL — I actually do not feel like I’m dragging him along at all. In fact, he doesn’t define my journey — and releasing him without clouding my thinking with thoughts of scumbag piece of shit lightens my load! 🙂
And I do appreciate your voice of — cut loose and shine! Love it!
Thanks my friend.
I understand Marc’s comment, and I love your response. Forgiveness is miraculous. NO ONE DESERVES IT. So saving it for only those who do would be pointless. Forgiving is stretching far beyond the abilities of the natural being. It is so amazingly freeing, that I believe it can only have its roots in Love.
Okay, you are fortunate cuzzz I have to go to work! So I can’t write a big thesis here today. But I absolutely was so touched by this once again! I need your journey to make me look at mine. What a blessed vessel I am to have run into yours along the way!!!!
I needed this. My abuser as you know, came back into my life about two years ago and it totally interrupted life as I knew it. This time he was a man, not a boy. I learned things about his childhood that I’d known and perhaps was too young to understand when I was with him. But I forgave him his abuse… as much as I could. I mean , I feel it changed my course of life, who I was supposed to be… so I was a pretty “angry spice” 😉 for a lot of years.
Even though he’d changed. His manipulating me (once again) had not. Patterns are sometimes hard to break, even with the best of intentions. Well, he had me feeling sorry for him. Really sorry. I almost left my husband over the “first love” thing. I am not sure how my husband stuck it out.
But this feeling sorry thing had me really stuck. Thank you for sharing your heart today. I needed to hear the voice of reason! Even though I am pretty much past what I call my little glitch…the power of feeling sorry for someone can interrupt your daily thoughts and consume you.
Well, so much for not taking up too much space on your blog! lol.
It’s just that you inspire me to think with my head!
Di — I believe when we think with our heads and act through our hearts, balanced in integrity, compassion and joy, we create a world of wonder and Love all around!
Hope you’re having a fabulous day filled with all the love and joy you so richly deserve!
Your post resonated so strongly with me and the struggle I have in accepting my sister’s life and mental condition. I have to detach with love. I am struggling with how to do it and move on for me.
Feeling sorry for her doesn’t do either of us any good and keeps me spinning in circles wondering why she does what she does. It consumes me wondering if I have done enough, cared enough, been there for her enough and just makes me resentful of the power it has over me and ultimately I resent her.
How on earth did you get so strong Louise? I admire your forever positive outlook on each and every day.
Today -I will detach with love because I am a strong and authentic woman.
Love this post.
I can relate to the challenge with your child, …. or rephrasing that ‘the challenge of dealing with people’s attitudes’. My second son was a failure to thrive and throughout his early years (until his teens) was on an extremely restricted diet. I used to have to make special food for him to take to birthday parties, and people would say ‘Oh, I feel so sorry for him’. ‘But, he is WELL! Why do you feel sorry for him!!’ would be my declaration time and time again. Anyway, he remembers me making the special sausages cooked in beetroot juice to colour them pink so he would have cocktail frankfurters just like the other children and has said thank you, thank you, a hundred million times over, so it his love which is what counts; not all the thoughtless comments from all the other people over the years.
I will remember to be careful with that expression again. I know how it can hurt.
Words are so powerful — as are actions — and wow! Your actions with your son speak to Love in action. So loving Elizabeth — and how wonderful he still remembers and thanks you. What a special son you have raised!
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