The man came into the restaurant where I was finishing my breakfast and sat down in the tiny booth directly across from my table. The restaurant, at the time, was fairly empty so I felt a bit peeved that the man brought near me his “Pig Pen Cloud” filled with stench, dirt, and fresh smoke that could have only come from smoking an entire pack of cigarettes at once. He sat down with a nearly visible poof! of thick muckiness that went careening outward to slam into my face and turn my stomach immediately.
Instantly, my head went into overdrive. I lost all of my internal navigation that normally steers me in the direction of Love and Compassion and instead, found myself wandering lost in the world of disgust and judgment. I was appalled at my own reaction. I was even more appalled that the only thing I could think of was to egoically shout out on Facebook that I was being completely lacking compassion and needed serious help!
Before I left, I posted a Facebook status that was admitting I was being very judgmental of this man whom I had deemed as being “homeless.” I asked to be granted “Serenity Now” and to be returned to Love and Compassion. I didn’t proofread the post. I didn’t catch the two typos that made it seem a lot worse than I meant and I didn’t read it from someone’s point of view that didn’t have the backstory. I just posted it, closed down my computer, packed up my belongings, focused on holding my food in my belly, hurriedly paid my bill, and left the place.
In the car, I began to have foreshadowing of what I had done. I began seeing through the eyes of others how horrible my post was. I saw that it didn’t come across as self-recrimination and being in need of compassion for myself and for him, but rather, it came across as me damning that man and all of the homeless society in general. It was horribly off the mark of where my heart was at the moment, but there it was, for everyone to see. And I was in my car and could do nothing to change that. Maybe no one will see it.
Four minutes later, I landed somewhere that I could log into the internet and remove it. Four minutes! And in that time, several people had commented and I received a couple private messages. I didn’t read any of the comments on the post; I simply deleted it. I didn’t want to be adding to the sadness of this world and I certainly didn’t want to be coming across as uncompassionate and judgmental of others. (Of myself, somehow that was okay, but of others… no!)
A couple hours later, I read the messages I had received prior to deleting the post. They ranged from “EW! Gross!” to “How did you handle it?” I never replied to those messages. I didn’t want to keep the drama going. I was mortified that I had done what I had done and I wanted to lick my wounds and heal. So I let it drop with those two messages. However, with the third and fourth messages, I couldn’t let it lie.
More on that in a moment…
In the consciousness and spiritual communities, there is a very common misconception that unconditional love means you need to be perfect and take a lot of crap from everyone and say nothing about it. Along with that is the concept that, if you are a Sensitive (healer, psychic, intuitive, empath, etc) then you, of all people, have feelings of steel and lots and lots of cheeks to turn for the hitting. These are concepts I struggled with for a long time because I fully bought into them. I fully believed that, to be unconditionally loving, I had to withstand abuse and turn my unhurt cheek toward those who hit me to receive a smack on that one too. Because of this, I was continually hurting and confused. Why is being loving so hurtful?
Because I was forgetting the most important tenet: Loving begins with me.
To be unconditionally loving, I have to start with myself. I have to stand up when I have been wronged. I have to speak up for those who are unable to speak for themselves. And, most importantly, I have to stand up when someone tries to dump their crap on me.
When the third message came in, it was from a fellow “lightworker,” I will call “Jo” and possibly change the gender to protect Jo’s identity. I have never actually met Jo in person, but Salt Lake City is lovingly called “Small Lake City” for very obvious reasons. I don’t know him, but my friends do and have for a long time.
Jo’s note to me read:
Angie, thank you for removing your post about the homeless man coming into the restuarant [sic] you were in. I was very disappointed when I read it, with you being a lightworker. It is truly time for more compassion & less judgment or assuming on the public’s part. We all need to do more to assist the homeless no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. So again, thank you for removing that. Namaste, Dear One
I felt gross when I read the letter. Jo’s note came with shaming energy attached to it. I had been judging that “homeless” man, so I can see the irony of me getting angry with Jo for judging me. So, I chose to not react… until I read the fourth message awaiting me, which had been sent an hour after Jo’s first message.
Jo’s second message to me read:
This is for you:) Read till the end it’s adorable! I sent an angel to watch over you last night, but it came back and I asked “why?… The angel said, “angels don’t watch over angels?” Twenty angels are in your world. Ten of them are sleeping, nine of them are playing and one is reading this message. God has seen you struggling with some things and god says its over. A blessing is coming your way. If you believe in God send this to 14 friends including me, if I don’t get it back I guess I’m not one of them. As soon as you get 5 replies, someone you love will quietly surprise you… Not joking. Pass this message on. Please don’t ignore it. You are being tested and God is going to fix two big things tonight in your favor. If you believe in God drop everything and pass it on TOMORROW WILL BE THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE. DON’T BREAK THIS. SEND THIS TO 14 FRIENDS IN 10 MINUTES IT’S NOT THAT HARD WHOEVER SENT THIS TO YOU MUST CARE ABOUT YOU (the message was written just like this, with all those caps)
I was aghast! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to scream or laugh hysterically. So I did both. But, boy! I was pissed! And it bumped me up against my “how do I be unconditionally loving in this situation? Shouldn’t I turn the other cheek? Shouldn’t I just let this go?”
I chose to stand up for myself. I responded to Jo:
So… You judge me for what I posted earlier and then thank me for removing it, without even knowing why I removed it and then you forward me a chain mail letter that tells me god is testing me and that I need to conform to your demands or lose my blessings???
I am human and therefore flawed. While I am not proud of that, I do recognize it. And this morning’s post was my vulnerability in my humanness showing up. It was me asking for support in remembering who I am in that difficult moment. I removed it because I saw the misinterpretation of it.
You judged me and then condemned me. Perhaps you should look into yourself before you throw stones.
Jo’s third message, in response to me, came two hours after I sent my reply to him:
Angie, The reason I thanked you is because I wasn’t condemning you. I was expressing my own thoughts on what ‘we’ as a community could do to hopefully begin assisting the homeless more. Please re-read my post to you when you’re not in a trigger. I was hoping to be sending love & understanding. The 2nd post had nothing to do with God judging you, it was God being aware of some struggle you have been going through & it’s about sending angels to assist us & the fact that you are already an angel here on earth. It was a positive posting not a negative one. I’m sorry that you took any of this as a personal afront [sic].
Frustrated, I read the response several times and looked for what I was missing. I talked with a dear friend to get clear on what I was accountable for. I got really accountable for the fact that all of this had started because *I* was being judgmental. Publicly. And after I got accountable for that, I discovered I was hurting and I was angry. I was in the middle of a clash with someone I didn’t even know and I had inadvertently started it. By being open about my lack of compassion, I had opened up myself for an attack. But, Jo wasn’t seeing it as an attack and I was so confused by that. Jo was seeing his behavior as being loving and supportive. Jo was seeing this as me being “in a trigger.”
So… was I “in a trigger?” What does it even mean to be “in a trigger?”
I met with my mentor to get clear on this. I asked her, “Can you help me understand the difference between being angry and being triggered?”
“For me,” she said, “being triggered can happen in any situation and isn’t necessarily only attached to ‘anger’ feelings. When I am ‘triggered,’ I experience old emotions and thoughts rising to the surface that need to be addressed and healed. When I feel angry, it is because my personal boundaries have been crossed in that moment.”
I was definitely angry.
Just so you know, I did reply one more time and, honestly, by this point, I was probably beyond my willingness to be compassionate for this person and should have kept my mouth shut. But, in the vein of true transparency, I will reveal myself here, lest you think I am a saint or something:
Jo… It was an inane forward that clogs the airwaves. It wasn’t from god. Anything that asks me to perform a task to earn my blessings is not of god. It is of man. I was aware I was in judgment and was asking to be supported then. It didn’t come out that way. Your need to “thank me” and point out that I needed to be compassionate and then forward junk mail to me was not supportive. It was judgmental. Again, I say to you… For you to call me judgmental, you too were in judgment and showing no compassion.
I’m not proud of how I handled it in the end. I wish I would have kept my mouth shut, actually, but I felt really treaded upon. I’m tired of being treaded upon. And I felt gross about the entire thing. I felt angry that someone spewed at me, but I had spewed in the first place, so didn’t I sorta deserve it? Did I?
The final piece of the story came in several days later, when a friend questioned me about what had really happened behind the scenes. I shared the details and then he asked, “Would you mind sharing with me the name of this person?”
When I gave him Jo’s full name, I thought my friend was going to pass out. He asked, “Do you want to know Jo’s trigger?”
“Oh! You know Jo?”
Curious, I listened as my friend shared a story that saddened me. Several years ago, Jo’s life came tumbling down all around him. He and his wife and children lost all of their money and their house. They were homeless and couch surfing and relying on the generosity of friends to shelter them. They were borrowing large amounts of money from friends to get through the rough times and at last accounting, had yet to make good on all of those debts.
I couldn’t speak. My jaw dropped and I was literally without words. The whole truth came through loud and clear: Jo had been in a trigger and had projected his trigger onto me. Turns out that my careless judgment of that “homeless” man had fallen on tender ears and eyes. In my words, Jo had seen his own situation and perhaps, felt my judgment falling on his own shoulders. It was a pain that I could not undo.
Here’s what have I learned through this experience:
- Being a Sensitive does not mean you’re perfect with emotions of steel and endless amounts of cheeks to turn for the hitting.
- Unconditional love means that you love yourself too and if you’ve been abused, stand up for yourself and don’t take it.
- Unconditional love means that you love, forgive, and accept yourself and others. And when it comes to others, you can do it from afar; you don’t have to stay in the presence of those you unconditionally love.
- If you are going to live a public life, be prepared to take the heat.
- When you make a mistake, own up to it, and make amends. (See last week’s post if you need more info on how to apologize.)
- When you point a finger at another, remember that it is always an opportunity to look at yourself first.
- It is hard to understand what is going on for another, especially at a glance. Be careful who you judge and why you are judging them.
- When you believe that someone else is “in a trigger,” it’s very possible that you are the one in the trigger.
- If someone “comes at you” out of nowhere, it’s very possible that you’ve set off a trigger for them and their “stuff” is much bigger than they can hold on their own so they’re going to dump some of their crap on you.
- It is up to you whether or not you hold the crap that’s dumped on you.
- If you’re not sure whether or not it’s yours to hold, refer to number one.
© Angie Millgate
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