"The crucified give pain because they are in pain. But the redeemed give joy because they have been healed of pain. Everyone gives as he receives, but he must choose what it will be that he receives. And he will recognize his choice by what he gives, and what is given him. Nor is it given anything in hell or Heaven to interfere with his decision." - ACIM
I wanted to address two comments that I received in response to the Entropy and My Kitten post. When I received these comments, I immediately thought of a post I wrote way back when about the importance of not labeling people. These comments feel like what I've done myself many times, which is to wrap up a lot of assumptions in a few words, and go from zero to 100 mph in five seconds flat.
These commenters are in pain. How do I know that? Because the comments are filled with judgments, and whenever we (myself included) get into the realm of judgment, we are in pain. No, I am not going to equivocate on this one and say something like "well, everyone is on their own path." That is true of course, but it is also true that judgment of self or others leads to one place, and one place only: a place called Pain.
Let's first take the comment from Anonymous:
good lord what a charmed life you've lead. this is your "huge trauma"? Try getting brain cancer doing radiation and chemo... you have no idea what real trauma is.
I don't know anything about Anonymous. Anonymous is posting anonymously (presumably) because he or she is scared to reveal him or herself. Which is fine. I appreciate all of the anonymous comments (well, almost all of them ;-).
Notice how many assumptions are in Anonymous' comment:
1. Assumes I have led a "charmed life"
2. Assumes that whatever I've experienced in my life is less painful than "brain cancer doing radiation and chemo"
3. Assumes I have no idea what "real trauma" is.
4. Assumes because I wrote a blog post about my kitten that this particular episode is the most painful thing that has ever happened to me.
Let's dig a little deeper. What does "charmed life" mean? Does it mean "has experienced less pain than other people"?
What does "real trauma" mean? Do we measure it in decibels or years? Does the kitten episode count if it blocked me from having an intimate relationship for most of my entire life, or does that not count as pain? Are some people entitled to feel their pain and others not?
And now what about cancer? Does Anonymous realize that cancer is caused by exactly the sort of trauma I wrote about -- unresolved emotional garbage that festers so long it turns into disease? Does Anonymous know that I nearly died a few years ago in an incredibly painful way?
Now I'm going to make what we call in non-violent communication an empathetic guess about where Anonymous was emotionally when making this comment:
Something in my post triggered pain for Anonymous. Perhaps it is very painful for Anonymous to see me express my own pain and have it be heard publicly because Anonymous has pains that feel enormous to him/her that have never been heard or received any empathy.
What I hear behind Anonymous' words is this:
"I've felt so much pain in my life, and I have seen others be in so much pain, that it hurts when I read your words. It hurts because your pain is being seen and heard and witnessed by others. My pain feels so much larger than I imagine yours to be, in part because my pain has never been expressed or witnessed. I am not able to acknowledge the enormity of the pain you experienced because my own pain has never been acknowledged. I am in so much need of empathy myself that I cannot give empathy to you."
That's what I hear. I may be off base, we don't know because we're not in a live conversation with Anonymous. What I hear from Anonymous are a large number of unmet needs: for empathy, for acknowledgment, for healing, to be seen and heard.
Okay, now let's turn to SMoKeLioN's comment:
"Is it brave to go hungry for years waiting for a feast that might not come? The idea that you can deny yourself and your urges to reach a greater satisfaction... a very disgustingly catholic thing to do."
Again, what are the assumptions here:
1. "hungry for years" - what does that mean?
2. "waiting for a feast that might not come" - again, what does that mean?
3. "deny yourself and your urges" - what does that mean?
4. "to reach a greater satisfaction" - all right, yes I do plan to continue reaching greater satisfaction in life from here on out ... I'll give you that one.
5. and the judgment of all judgments (lol, SMoKeLioN, I hope you are able to laugh with me about this one): "very disgustingly catholic thing to do"
Okay, now if I take an empathetic guess at SMoKeLioN's feelings and unmet needs here, I come up with this (remember, I am willing to be wrong, I'm guessing based on very limited information, but this is my guess):
"I, SMoKeLioN, grew up in an environment where it was not okay to enjoy the moment and where gratification was always deferred. Perhaps I had a lot of people around me telling me frequently what I 'should' or 'should not' do, and it felt very constricting. Thus, when I hear you talk about 'not being willing to settle for something halfway,' it pains me because I assume that means you are not living in and enjoying the present moment for all that it could be. I assume that you are waiting for some future satisfaction, and I feel pain when I hear that because I identify with it."
That's my guess.
When I hear other people judging me, I don't feel heard or seen. I've decided though that I'm going to try to hear or see the people who are judging me, even if I end up being off-base, because offering empathy, even off-base empathy, feels way better to me than internalizing the judgments.
Remember, all judgments are false by their very nature. All judgments are painful by their very nature.
"Judge not because you cannot." - ACIM