There is a deep peace that comes with knowing who you are. Don't let the world shake you. If you hold yourself accountable to your own integrity and truth, then nothing that another could say or think can really harm you. We live on this planet with billions of other souls where the chance for conflict, misunderstanding, and misalignment is phenomenally huge. Monumentally, outrageously huge. You are not being singled out by God for punishment when these things happen, you are simply experiencing life as we know it on this planet full of struggling, complicated and often very confused human beings. It's not always your job to set people straight if they misunderstand you or are angry with you. Sometimes you just need to trust that 'the truth will out,' even if that 'out' won't happen in your lifetime.
Why am I saying this? Because I experienced a catastrophic misunderstanding this month. It was so out of proportion that it started looking to me like the people involved might possibly be dealing with mental illness. It was like a loosed wild animal. The whole experience was stunning in its' ferocity. I literally remained speechless for a number of days while I tried to wrap my head around the experience. In the end, I couldn't. It simply was something out of my control and I had to step away.
The crux of the matter involved someone accusing me of lying and intentionally hurting a group of people, and yet when I offered physical proof that this was not the case, the person continued, and still continues, to misalign me, gossip about me and generally act like a junior high school bully. It's so far beyond my ability to comprehend it, that I nearly wrote this person to offer to meet her in person so she could exorcise her anger face to face and, maybe, resolve whatever is going on in her head. Friends smartly advised against this. Why engage a spitting cat? It won't work. When people are angry, they cannot hear. And when people are so entrenched in their own version of the truth, wild horses couldn't pull them in the other direction. They are stuck in their belief, and there they'll stay.
The whole experience has been a deeply painful but powerful lesson, however. It came on the heels of my finally setting some important boundaries in my life. Although it honestly took a health scare to shock me into setting such limits, it was inevitable. My life could no longer run the way it was if I planned on staying in human form for much longer. Sorry to be cryptic -- I'll tell a more detailed account of this when the adoption is complete! For now, you all know the drill -- pre-adoptive parents (like me) are forced to keep a tight lid on everything but the mundane. Apologies for that.
Anyway, back to the lesson: I've always had a very hard time dealing with any anger directed my way. It's common for anyone who had a childhood that involved an active alcoholic. Anger brings out the fight or flight response. I think I've spent more energy in my life keeping others happy than I have in attaining any other measurable goal. It was my life's work -- and I was good at it.
But there comes a point when you either decide it's time to take care of yourself or, as in my case, a time when your health or life circumstances demand it. And when you finally do what you should have done decades earlier, well, people don't like it so much. You've changed. People like the OLD you. They have no use for this NEW you. And then the world around you shifts, because people are rebelling against this change you have made. Ah well, you must just breathe and keep your eye on the prize. Because in the end, of course, there is no one you can change but yourself.
In the past week, fate has brought several people to my door who are struggling with similar things. It's been such a gift to share my journey with them and help them to look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that nothing matters so much as Love. But Love takes many forms, and sometimes the most loving thing you can do is take care of yourself and trust that others will be taken care of without your meddling. Sometimes love involves letting go, as we've all heard so many times. Sometimes love involves keeping silent when others rage and rant about you, or accuse you falsely or send you hate mail. Yes, silence can often be the most loving response of all.
Buddha said to love, forgive and let go of that which you cannot change. Jesus said to turn the other cheek. The Dalai Lama was recently asked how he handled hatred and anger directed at him, and he explained that patience and compassion are the only helpful responses. He also reminds his listeners of the intimate connection between compassion and humility, when dealing with hatred:
We must do our best, strive to our highest selves, even when we are dealing with the worst in others -- especially when dealing with the worst in others. We, each one of us, is on an arduous journey and we can have no real knowledge of how difficult that journey is for another at any given time. We do right by ourselves most when we rise above the storm and keep calm. We do right by God when we choose humility and patience over fear or retaliation. We do right by others when we do right by ourselves and God. Here's to all those brave human warriors out there, courageously choosing humility over hate and calm acceptance over fear. It will pay off, my brave friends. It always does.