Finding Compassion

Yesterday I talked to my friend Elizabeth.  I wrote down some of the things she said.

Today I woke up feeling the usual misery.  I tried to bring compassion to it.  Then I thought, as Elizabeth said, that I was hardening my heart against myself.  Then I felt an awful pain in my heart, that convinced me that Elizabeth was right.  I’m angry at myself for messing up whatever it was that was bringing me the days of grace.

Take a big step back.  Here’s this woman, who’s struggled with depression and terror and self-hatred for her whole life.  She’s had very little real happiness.  Recently she had the experience of being comfortable in her life and in her body, that she was doing just what she was supposed to be doing.  She felt better than she’s ever felt before.  It lasted for a few days, then faded and returned for almost a month, then disappeared.  This woman felt very disappointed and sad at the loss of the “days of grace.”  Now she’s very angry at herself for wrecking this good thing.  She doesn’t know how to make it happen, she doesn’t know why it went away, but she’s blaming herself for doing something wrong.  She doesn’t know how to turn it around, and she’s angry at herself for that.  Elizabeth saw a dynamic of a mother hating a helpless frightened baby, which sounds very accurate.  I think “inner cold mother” and feel my heart soften.  O the poor thing!  How painful to be hating your baby.  And she probably feels justified and she probably also hates herself for not being a good mother.  Her husband is away and she has no one to turn to.  My heart just goes out to her.  There’s the compassion I’ve been trying to find.  There, there, dear.  you did not mean to scare the baby.  Nobody ever taught you how to be a good mother.  I’m sorry you’ve been in so much pain.

As I paid attention to this mother, I could feel her hating her baby, hating herself for being a bad mother, hating her baby because the baby wouldn’t be comforted and that made her feel like a bad mother….  and having no resources at all to deal with it.  So there’s no way she could be conscious of any of it.  What an intolerable bind.  No wonder she drank.


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