Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Compassion

A month ago one of my very good friends basically handed me my ass on a silver plate.  To be honest, he didn't believe I deserved the silver plate even.  He just handed me my ass.  The most frustrating thing is that he was 100% right when he gave me a rundown of all my transgressions and offenses and it's taken me a year to realize just how true everything he said was.  I haven't been listening to anyone.  I've just been acting like a stupid jerk and wondering why I've been so miserable.

I was so miserable to be around the days following my epic telling off, even the animals wanted nothing to do with me.  Everyone stayed upstairs, well out of my way, giving me a wide berth as if my very presence in their orbit was distasteful to them.  That's when you know you really have a problem.  The animals are avoiding you.  To be fair, the cats were obsessed with the new bedspread on the bed so they were spending a ridiculous amount of time on it, and the dog had developed a distrust of the stairs. She has since gotten over that now that the Cowboy fixed them with some kind of no skid treatment so she wouldn't keep falling down the stairs.

At my request of course.  The poor dog.

Once again it all comes down to compassion.  I treat my animals with so much compassion.  Tess pees on the floor and my first thought is she has a bladder infection or kidney issues so she needs to go the vet to get checked out.  It's happened twice now.  I don't yell at her or scold her for having accidents.  She feels bad enough already as peeing in the house is not something she does regularly.  There is no reason to punish her.  It's the same with the cats, particularly Willow.  Her peeing on the floor became such an issue, instead of getting rid of the cat, I got her a kennel with her own litter box and tore all the carpeting out, opting for hard floors.  Now if she pees on the floor, it doesn't matter (it does still irritate me though - I mean how hard is it to just walk the extra four inches to the box and get in it?).  Still, I can clean it up, no problem.  I accommodate the cats.  I've changed their food to accommodate food allergies, changed their litter to make going to the bathroom easier, had the floor treated for Tess' benefit.

I even rushed Puckett to the vet when there was absolutely nothing wrong with her.  Precious just wanted her breakfast in a china bowl.

Why then is it so hard to treat my fellow man with the same amount of compassion I show my pets?  Why do I believe people aren't as deserving of compassion?  Obviously when one is behaving like a miserable cow, one isn't capable of compassion even for oneself. However, the thing I've learned over the years is that when people are at their absolute worst that is when they need compassion, love, and understanding the most.  Unfortunately that is when it's the hardest to give them that compassion they so desperately need, and more so because one has as good a chance as any of having it flung back in one's face for having the nerve.

How dare you try to make me feel better!  Get along with you, ruffian!

Animals behave similarly at first.  Following abuse and trauma they will lash out at first, distrustful and terrified.  However, abused animals, once they have been moved into a safe environment and undergone a bit of behavior therapy, live in the moment, move on and forget their trauma. Unfortunately many abused or mistreated animals are in such bad shape initially that few people want to deal with them and many may end up being euthanized. Humans aren't as simple, but they need compassion just as much, and more so because they are capable of behaving like the nastiest pieces of work anywhere to be found.  After all, they can't just be put down when the rest of society doesn't want to deal with their issues.  I should know.  I've been one of those people. I'm pretty sure some of my former friends wouldn't have minded having me put down. My knee-jerk reaction when I feel I've been wronged or hurt is to shut down, bottle up, and lash out in unhealthy ways.  I get easily overwhelmed by others' emotions, behaviors, and actions and I'm so sensitive to mood shifts, I take a lot of people's behavior towards me personally.  This can culminate into me reacting to what I perceive as a slight and it all goes downhill from there.  Also I sense people's moods around me and the longer I know them the more easily I can pick out their emotions.  So when someone changes their behavior towards me without any explanation or I feel a wall go up or a door slam in my face I get very agitated.  I respond with my own round of doors and walls.

I'm not always very nice.

Animals are so much easier to be around because they are sensitive to moods themselves and generally don't project a lot of emotions on others.  Unfortunately when my emotions (and others' emotions) overwhelm me so badly that there is nowhere for them to go but up and out, the animals dive for cover.  They are compassionate too, but there is really only so much they can take.  They wait for the volcano to subside before they come back around.  I don't really blame them for that and again I seem to be able to forgive them sooner than I do their human counterparts.  They forgive me as well.  I live with four role models who are constantly teaching me about compassion and forgiveness and yet, I still struggle with it.  I still fall short.

I am working on it though.  At the end of the day, I do believe that most people mean well, they just sometimes don't know how to get there either.  I guess this includes me, even when I am being a miserable cow.  We should all take a lesson from our dog friends and be more compassionate towards each other and towards ourselves.  Soul searching is never easy and sometimes it leads you to the conclusion of what others might already know, that you suck and you could use a lot of work.  Admitting that is step one.  It's only a place to start.  Step two then is maybe not being so hard on oneself.  After all, no one will show you any compassion if you aren't capable of showing yourself any, and especially if you don't believe yourself deserving of it.

And don't we all suck at times?  Couldn't we all use some work?  Don't we all need understanding from each other that we aren't going to be perpetual breaths of fresh air?  None of us are perfect all the time.  All of us are human all of the time.

We can aspire to be like the animals, but we will never reach their level of grace.

This is definitely the season to reflect and think about what we all can do for others and for ourselves, how we all can do better.  It is definitely the season for compassion.  The world is hard.  Life is hard.  Let's help each other.

I'm ready.

2 comments:

  1. Good luck - I have the same problem - animals are much easier!

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  2. thank you! i have high hopes that this year will be better!

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