Pain Becomes Compassion

I was typing up from a month ago when I had woken up feeling sad & scared, and was so disappointed that I had lost the good feelings from the day before.  I was angry at myself for “wrecking” my own good feelings, as though I had done it deliberately.  I tried to understand it as worry about Eleanor’s situation, or as my trauma being triggered.  But mostly my attitude was wanting to get rid of it.  I could have understood my scared and sad feelings as a message about the whole situation, not just my personal problem.  Looking at it that way, I see that my painful feelings were because I care about Eleanor and I’m angry at a society that can’t/won’t take care of so many people who are having a hard time.  If I see it that way, I see that my pain is about a much larger pain in the world, and I start to feel compassion.  Compassion, even mixed with sadness and anger — I was reading somewhere about compassion and anger being the same thing and now I see that anger on another’s behalf is a form of compassion — even mixed with sadness and anger, compassion is much more satisfying and much bigger than worry about my own personal emotions.  I don’t even feel helpless, I see that I’m doing what little I can, I’m not in denial or complacency.  My feeling are about how much I care, not about how I keep making the same mistake.  What a relief!  What an easing and softening of my heart.

I’ve been having a fantasy of working with kids — adolescents — who are dealing with addiction and suicide.  I imagine this is something I could do when I’m in Hanover.  I’m aware of my sympathy for and anger about the situation of a young woman who doesn’t see anything worthwhile in her life.  Then it occurs to me to wonder about my teenage self, and my efforts to contact her.  She thinks the misery she’s going through is her own fault, because she’s a bad person, she’s defective.

Imagining saying to a teenage girl “No one takes drugs unless they are trying to numb unbearable pain,” and she bursts into tears.  Then I see what to say to my adolescent self: “No one cuts themselves unless they are trying to numb unbearable pain.”

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