What Makes Us Mean? Why do We Abuse the Other?
I feel shaky, yet grounded and clear.
I just walked away from an abusive encounter, feeling untouched by the insults that were hurled at me. The words had no power to hurt, and nothing to hook into, not anymore.
It’s taken a long time, but I’ve come into a place of power where I know that what another person says, thinks or does has nothing to do with me.
That abuse, it’s not personal. It’s not about me. If it was, everyone I met would be saying the same nasty things. No, the abuse coming from that person is about them. I’m triggering whatever it is that lives inside of them.
Walking away, untouched, unhurt, unfeeling, I felt like I’d been given a gift. Life was showing me how far I’d come and how much I’ve changed. I was grateful. Even to the person abusing me.
Later, a few minutes after driving away, I parked my car and sat. Now I was shaken, now I was feeling, now I was upset. The words themselves hadn’t affected me, but what the abuse revealed about the ongoing nature of the relating between this person and I—that affected me.
So I sat. I watched my mind. I breathed into my feelings. I allowed myself to be. In the sitting, I felt into the fullness of the experience and questioned into the ideal response (is there such a thing? Or is there only the actual response?).
This sitting is important.
If I wasn’t to sit and feel into my experience, instead pushing it away and going about my day, the energy of the unexpressed feelings and thoughts would manifest in other ways. Energy has to go somewhere. It can’t disappear. It’s always transmuted.
Sitting and feeling into my experience doesn’t mean that I react to what I’m feeling or thinking, only that I stay present to it, observing it as it arises.
This is my practice, integrated into my life.
This is meditation, taken into my day.
This is how I’m incrementally learning to master my mind, and master my emotions. Not by controlling either of them, but by giving them the attention they need. By seeing them. Hearing them. Feeling them. Acknowledging that they’re there, and that they’re okay.
I had planned to come to the library and write the workbook I’m creating for a yoga workshop I’m delivering next weekend. I want to do this. I don’t want to let the events of the morning derail me because it feels like I’m letting the abusive person control my life, and control me.
I notice that wanting. I notice the desire to stay clear and grounded in my life. But I also check in and see what it is that I need. The events of the morning have shifted my energetic, emotional and mental state. My needs have changed.
First I text a friend and make arrangements so I don’t need to see this person again today. I need to protect myself. Second, I take time to be where I am. I’m sitting in my car still, and watch a parking meter man chalk my car. Two hours. Time enough to go into the library and just see what arises. Maybe I’ll work. Maybe I won’t.
In the library my eye is drawn to the religious section. Last time I was here, I couldn’t find that section of the library, this time it’s the only section I can see. A quick browse reveals four books worth taking off the shelf, books that are piled up beside me now. One or two might even help with my workbook.
As I browsed through the many books written on spirituality, oneness and God, I could feel the need for expression. For writing. There is something in making manifest my internal experience that helps me to be with it. It’s all grist for the mill. Maybe this is what calls the artist—that need to express what is experienced, the need to share it with others and so reveal the reality experienced within, widening others’ experience of what it means to be alive.
So I do.
I sit. And I write. In the writing, I feel relief. A sense of:
Ah, yes, here I am. It’s all okay. I’m okay. This is okay. Just another experience. Not a big deal.
And I wonder… what inside us calls forth nastiness? What makes us mean? Why do we abuse the other?
What was this person hoping to achieve? What did they want to create? Or are they being run entirely by unconscious desires and unconscious needs? Are they playing their part in a drama, of which I have a role to play too?
It doesn’t really matter, why they do what they do. Oh, I can feel into their experience, I can call up that part of me which could be abusive and nasty and mean and see what it feels like from the inside out so that I may understand them better. But what they do? It doesn’t matter.
All that matters is how I respond.
This is the difference between trying to control the world outside of us, which paradoxically turns us into its victim.
And responding to the world outside of us, which calls forth our empowerment.
He is who he is.
I am who I choose to be.
Therein lies my power.
And perhaps that is where his rage comes from, his anger too. He feels no choice in his circumstances, in his relating to me. He feels my power and has yet to feel his own. He feels a victim to me and all that I have done, and in that powerless, helpless state, needs to call forth his anger and his rage so he can feel strong again.
‘Tis only a musing of my mind.
I could be wrong.
It might be something completely different.
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Editor: Lynn Hasselberger