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Last week I had an intense wave of sickness that had literally knocked me down, leading to me being whisked away to hospital in an ambulance.
Once I got to hospital, the worst had passed and I was basking in the relief of feeling much better.
While I waited to be released, I observed an “angry man” who was swearing black and blue, causing a ruckus in the waiting room. Even although I still felt physically weak, my gratitude for having moved through such intense pain connected me strongly to my heart.
A lot of people in the waiting room were rolling their eyes and making judgemental remarks toward the “angry man” while the staff retaliated and treated him like a criminal and troublemaker.
All I felt for the man was compassion. Even although he was swearing angry words, all I could feel was his pain.
In his rants he mentioned having been beaten up, which was why he was at the hospital. I had no idea of the details, but that didn’t matter to me; all that mattered was that I saw a human suffering and a whole room of people blaming him for his reaction to his suffering.
Although a part of me wanted to judge them for judging him, I observed the situation with love and non-judgement, and my compassion for the judgers took over as I recognised that their pain must be at its limits because they were unable to be compassionate toward him.
I wanted to go up to the “angry man” and give him a hug, but I wasn’t sure it would be safe. The man got fed up with the staff and stormed out.
I handed over the situation to something greater than me, and then I felt an impulse to chase after him.
The security followed and watched us from a safe distance.
I yelled softly, “Excuse me, sir!” (I don’t know why I called him sir.) He turned around hesitantly, unsure of what I was going to say. Was he about to get berated again?
I didn’t fully know what I was going to say either.
I opened my mouth and said with a heart full of love and compassion, “I hope your day gets better.”
He softened immediately, “Thank you so much. I’m just having such a hard time.”
I replied compassionately with tears in my eyes, “I know, I could see that, and I’m sorry no one was able to be compassionate.”
We chatted for a little while while he opened up about what was really going on. He had attempted suicide earlier in the year and had recently been beaten up. While he was waiting at the hospital he started to play music on his guitar in the waiting room and the staff had told him to stop.
I don’t know whether the staff started the angst or he did, but it didn’t matter to me. This man had clearly been through a lot and he was just trying to do his best to soothe his pain with music. He lit up like a kid at Christmas as he told me how healing music was for him and that it saved his life.
I asked him if he had received therapy for his trauma and recommended he gets some help because that’s a lot to deal with. He was so appreciative to receive some compassion.
And it wasn’t just him; I could see the way it affected the security guards, how surprised they looked when this “angry man” was so soft with me and that I wasn’t afraid of him. It was because instinctively I could feel that I was safe and that he wouldn’t hurt me.
I’ve been working with my trauma practices, letting go of old resentments of abuse I’ve received at the hand of someone else’s anger, and this felt like such a beautiful healing moment for me to be faced with anger and hold loving space for it without any blame. (Of course, this is easier when it’s not directed toward you.)
While I held loving space for him and his darkness, in return I was loving myself for any time I’m angry or make “mistakes.”
This “angry man” was really a little Buddha giving us a chance to love the parts of ourselves that we think are unlovable.
The problem isn’t “other people”; it’s our perspective of them.
There are a lot of big emotions and heavy energy moving through the world at the moment. Remember that not everyone expresses their pain in the same way.
Some people cry,
some people scream,
some people shout,
some people laugh it off,
some people shrink away,
some people distract themselves,
some people numb out…
And if we’re honest, most of us do all of these things at some time or another.
Everyone’s just doing the best that they can.
When we can hold loving compassion for people who are “acting out,” we’re holding that loving compassion for those parts of us too.
We never know what’s really going on for people.
If we blame others, it’s usually an indication that we’re avoiding our own emotions and pain and we need to look inward.
And if we don’t have the capacity to hold loving space for people, that’s okay too.
Take the time to process however you need to and allow others to do the same.
That’s the world I want to live in. A world where everyone has the capacity to process their own pain and we no longer see it as something wrong, something to be punished, or something to be ashamed of.
Because pain is universal, even if we don’t always express it the same way.
And healing…it starts and ends with us.
Disclaimer: I’m in no way encouraging anyone to override their own pain to support others or to try to “fix” other people’s emotions. This situation wasn’t guided by my ego; it came from presence.