It’s a practice that I have been learning more about and embracing over the past few weeks. And it’s something I’m turning to now, to help me accept something I am absolutely not loving about myself.
My self-love game is strong from a meta-perspective. I am confident and adoring of the human I am. My soul is warm and full of light—even in my darkness. And my heart is bursting with love for humanity and humans and every single person in my life, including the ones who have hurt me.
But the practice of maitri in moments of conflict and strife is a challenge for me. This week, especially.
I shared an innocuous post on social media early in the week about two stickers I put on my car. One that said, “Boom, you just got loved.” And the other one said, “You’re like super pretty.” I put them on the back of my car for two reasons: to hopefully just make someone smile, and maybe even make someone feel a little more loved if they are behind me at a stoplight. That’s it. It was meant to be lighthearted and fun and happy.
Instead, it spiraled into an argument between two friends—one challenging the superficiality of the stickers’ messages and the other challenging the first friend about my well-meaning intentions. It got to the point where I ended up deleting the post, but the argument continued privately. That conflict ended with me letting go of one friend and deeply hurting the other one. And my soft, bruised heart feels like collateral damage—and it’s been hurting ever since.
But it aches even more knowing that I hurt someone else’s heart.
As I burrowed myself into work and my bed for the rest of the week, I kept asking, “How can I practice loving-kindness toward myself when I know I’ve hurt someone’s heart?”
It’s a question I am struggling to answer.
In my own experience, I have always abhorred when someone told me they never meant to hurt me. Or that it was never their intention. To me, it’s the most ridiculous statement we can make to someone we’ve just hurt. Because, of course, these people in my life never meant to hurt me—I hope I would never have someone in my life who set out to intentionally hurt me or anyone else for that matter. But the fact remains that I was hurt. Whether they intended it or not.
And it’s almost unbearable knowing that I have inflicted that same kind of pain on someone I care for.
In the moment that I caused this friend pain, I was in the middle of all the busyness that is life. I was trying to wrap up a project at work so I could run and pick up my son from school. And when we got home, we had to go through what schoolwork needed to be done as we try to climb out of this Covid black hole of learning. I was doing the best I could.
Actually, I believe this about all of us. I believe that we are all doing the best we can in this moment…and in this moment…and in this moment. I absolutely believe that based on the experiences we’ve been through, and the tools we have, and how conscious we are of where we are in our worlds, we are all just doing the best we can.
I believe that about my kids when they are expressing their anger toward me over some boundary I’ve set for them as their mom. I believe that about my ex-husband and what happened in our 25-year marriage. I believe it about a certain beautiful stranger, who broke my heart last summer. And I believe it about the friend I let go of this week after seeing the hateful words they used toward another friend of mine. I believe that we are all doing the best we can in each and every moment.
But I am still struggling to feel loving-kindness toward myself knowing that I’ve hurt someone’s heart.
When I took a few minutes to meditate this morning and let myself feel the feelings of this week, the tears were instant and the pain in my heart was overwhelming. I had already cried about what happened this week, usually as I fall asleep or while I’m in the shower—because I’m a mom and sometimes that’s the only time and place a mom has the time to let herself cry.
Sometimes I think—maybe a little too hopefully—that allowing myself to feel the feelings will help them go away faster, help me move through them quicker. I don’t know why. Because usually what ends up happening is I feel like I’m right back in the middle of it instead.
This morning, though, I felt a tiny moment of peace. A split second when I knew there was nothing more I could do about this situation. I have apologized to my friend from my heart and made sure they knew the truth about the situation. Now, I can only hope that they choose to forgive me and remember that my heart is the same loving heart that they were quick to defend a few days ago.
Ahhhhhhh…therein lies my own answer.
What I hope my friend remembers about me is what I also need to remember about myself.
That I am human. And I am still the same loving, caring person I was a week ago before anything happened—even when I make the mistakes that humans make.
Maitri is a practice that I know will take time for me to develop. But even those few precious moments of meditation this morning reminded me of the gift of grace that I can offer myself. And that I hope my friend will offer me.
But even if they choose not to, loving-kindness will give me a way to accept even that piece of myself that I don’t love very much this week. That part of me that I can still embrace and hold close and offer love to, even as I witness her imperfections and all their perfectly bruised beauty.