Fragile would be an excellent word to describe me in the face of the western world’s bullying culture. I’ve been hearing the same internal whisper over and over for the past few weeks: fortify, Brooke, fortify, says the quiet voice, barely heard above the noise.
I’ve been away from facebook for a very long time, but over the past week or two I’ve gradually dipped a toe in to see how things are going. I’ve loved reconnecting with my lost people, I won’t lie. And things have been lovely and positive for the most part, which has been a nice surprise.
But. There was that one moment. The one that derailed me, the one that had me questioning: what do I do with the way I feel about this? What do I say to myself to help it feel a little better inside? Apparently the humans have come up with a term for the ache I came across. Cancel Culture, is it? Where a person is shamed for holding a view that is not generally agreed upon (and therefore, cast out of society, via pitch fork) is the general gist of it.
In this case, I came across a post which mentioned a man ( out of respect, I’ll not name him ) who has received quite a lot of back lash in the past due to his alternate views regarding health and wellness. The post was celebrating his downfall (I can’t remember the specifics) and the comment below the post was so vicious, it actually ached within me. It really had me wondering. Are we really still there? Slavery may have been abolished, but apparently we are still bullying the innocent (which is much the same thing, in my eyes.) Many a time in my life I’ve considered becoming a hermit. Tonight, I edged ever closer.
I would consider myself an extremely forgiving and compassionate person, but I have to say: I am struggling to find compassion for the bullies of the world. I try so desperately to see the higher perspective, to be there for everyone while we muddle our way through the chop, but it’s so hard. It hurts to say that, because I really do feel that every person is beautiful in their own way, even those I don’t necessarily resonate with.
I was bullied very badly early in high school. In fact, it was so bad that the whole class cheered when I was called out of the classroom on my last day at that particular school. My Mum thought I was going to kill myself. I was happy enough to snuggle up with the joys of my imagination until it all went away. Still, it’s clearly done some damage.
Perhaps this is why the current day bullies, trolls (whatever you might call them) feel so horrible to me. Perhaps this is why I find it very difficult to wait out the course of their abuse in the hopes that they might one day learn kindness and understanding via the consequences of their bullying ways.
The interesting thing is (and here’s to the absolutely mind boggling paradox of life): I am placing the same judgement on these bullying individuals as they have placed on that poor fellow who just kinda doesn’t believe what they believe. Life, hey. I’ll leave that old chestnut with you to mull over a while.
The nature of the universe is chaos. It is not black and white, and this is where us humans do seem to struggle. We seem to need the polarities and contrasts to help us to fully experience life. The differences in life create experience, and beauty, and deep, deep life.
I just wish deep, deep life was a little gentler, sometimes.
I’m devastated, I really can’t paint it any other way.
Melbourne, my home town, has gone into stage four COVID restrictions (the highest level: full lockdown, but for essential food/medical needs), which is very much necessary given the rising case numbers, but also very much a kick in the gut for those of us who are already struggling a little with life in general (hello to all the parents of sweet-faced three-year-old, terrorists.)
The struggle is a little more real for Melbournians, today. Yesterday, it felt like I’d been stuck in a mud-brick home with two small children climbing the same walls they have been climbing for months. Today all the windows have been boarded up. Considering I’m human, and not yet floating in Buddhist Monkville…I’m not living my brightest day. I’m aching at the prospect of the dark tunnel lengthening, and although I know It’s possible to change my thoughts in favour of more joyous ones, I don’t really want to do that, today.
I want to say: I know I will be okay.
I want to say: I know we will be okay, together, and a big part of me believes it— in fact the shining depth of me believes it. Still, it’s hard. And today I feel like I need to be the person that voices my pain, in order to act as a mirror for anyone else who is struggling with this. We’ll struggle together.
Empathy and compassion are my two favourite words on a good day, and these shit-storms of life are usually where those two traits are birthed and polished, within even the hardest of human hearts. So there’s one good thing. And interestingly, even with my natural inclination towards empathy, I’ve also been triggered to dive deeper into that aspect of myself in order to keep the peace at this tough time.
We all experience the world through our own focused lens, and my goodness it can be hard to understand the views and behaviours of others, sometimes, especially when they differ so radically from our own. But the last thing we need is to separate at this time.
So I’m here to say to those of you who are struggling: I see you. It’s so bloody hard to be human at times like this—really, so very hard to push through the dark curtains of life unknown, but we will. And when we do, we will be so proud of the growth and change we’ve produced as a society, I’m so sure. When looking back at the mountains we’ve each climbed on this COVID journey, we’ll very likely value our freedom and peace far more. We’ve got to see that as a win.
Lastly, I’ve been a bit tardy with my thanks to those of you who have pushed past your comfort zones in order to meet the needs of the more vulnerable in society, whether it be health care workers or those offering compassionate care to those in need. How beautiful you are.
No really. You’re beautiful. And you make me proud to human alongside you.
Most would consider it an embarrassment, I suppose, the darling life lesson that found me at the supermarket yesterday. But to me, it was a beautifully mysterious lesson, one I will never forget.
We’ve all had that moment, I’d imagine. The moment we see a person with a small handful of things lined up behind our massive trolley full, and the done thing is that we would usually let them sneak in before us. (No judgment if you don’t, we all have our reasons: shyness and social anxiety happen. And are absolutely worthy of understanding and empathy.)
Anyway, I’m waffling already, sorry.
Back to the supermarket line.
I had a full basket of things, not just a couple of items, and the lady in front of me had a trolley that was about three-quarters full, so according to my calculations…she really would have only taken a few extra minutes to check out than I. Still, she offered to have me pass, and would see it no other way.
I’m always so touched by genuine kindness, and this time was no exception. How could I return the kindness, and have her know just how much it meant to me? Could I pay for a small amount of her shopping as a nice surprise? No. I was paying by card. Could I buy her one of the mint packets sitting on the counter? Umm…no.
And that’s when I saw the bag. A beautiful country style shopping bag: I would buy that for her, and as I was leaving I would turn around and hand it to her, knowing we had both done our bit to brighten each other’s day.
The cashier announced the amount I owed, I opened my purse and…my card wasn’t there. My only way of paying for two bags worth of groceries and the special surprise bag…was-not-there. I was gutted. I walked away, without my bags, knowing that when I returned the kind lady would be gone, and I would have a random bag that I really didn’t need.
But as I drove home to pick up the very pesky card that had left itself in my jacket pocket, the universe flashed me a feeling here and there and suddenly I was face to face with the truth.
It was all meant to happen.
And it was meant to happen exactly as it happened in order for me to learn a lesson. What was the lesson? The lesson was kindness—my most fluent, and cherished language. And why did I have to forget my purse in order to remember that I value kindness above most things?
Because if I’d not forgotten my purse…I’d have given that bag to the lady.
And If I’d given it to the lady… I wouldn’t still have it, always to remind me how beautiful it feels to both give and receive kindness.
Well. 🙂 We made it my beautiful bloggy friends. 🙂 All the way through these darling days of May, and as always I’ve been so ridiculously grateful for your company. I really didn’t do an awful lot differently, did I, apart from add the word darling in here and there. Ha ha ha. Thank goodness I’m such a love hearty girl, in general, hey. 😛
Give me one more chance to look into the eyes of the bullies, to have them see that they are loved. By someone. Even just one person might do. Because that one person may be the very person to fill their cup with hope, and turn things around for all of us.
Give me one more chance to react as the kind girl I know that I am, rather than the scared one who’s been in the ‘victim’ seat before. Such damage was born in round one. But now that I know a bully is born of pain caused by another…how do I feel about the pain they burned into me?
Give me one more chance to find compassion.
Give me one more chance to balance the dark with the light.
I’m going into this deep (possibly triggering and controversial) space, because last night I read an article about narcissistic disorder and how completely awful and horrible and unacceptable narcissists are. As I wound up the article it occurred to me that the whole thing was shaming the narcissist in question because how dare they, why wouldthey, can’t they just behave?
Something fell in my heart as I read that article. It was only at the very end that the writer dared to mention the possibility that we might feel sorry for the narcissist, and it saddened me, guys. I have to admit, it really did.
It took me back to a time in my early twenties. I was a gymnastics coach and I also worked for the holiday programs the gym ran each school holidays (which were hectic let me tell you, but satisfying all the same.) I have an affinity with kids, and I still credit that work as my most fulfilling to date. But one day there was a stand-off: a little boy, behaving badly. Very, very badly—probably hitting the other children, I really can’t remember the details.
The other coaches were bothered. I could understand that, but I could also feel that little boy, and I could feel that his bad behaviour wasn’t coming from a place of I don’t care about any of you! destruction. It was coming from a place of pain and need. So I sat with him and I gave him my heart. Within the hour we were up and playing with the rest of the children as though nothing had happened to destroy the peace in the first place.
The thing about my way of seeing the world is this. A narcissist is born off a painful past and my goodness I ache for the child that was. I ache for the adult that child went on to become, too…and so I suppose what I’m asking is: can’t we be a little more caring? To everyone, not just the people that ‘belong’ because they tick all the good behaviour boxes absolutely.
I wish our society lived more with their hearts, I honestly do. Because if we did, we’d not see the narcissist as some kind of monster that must be banished to the black hole of misbehaviour, where they cannot hurt the ‘good’ people of the world any longer. I used to be one of the people who said: how dare they. I used to be that girl.
I’m not her anymore. My heart loves everyone, even the narcissists, and it’s the narcissists of the world who need the most help to get their sinking ships back above the water. No ship ever, floated back to the surface of life whilst continually being pushed back down.
I don’t know, guys. I don’t want to upset anyone with this, I truly don’t, so if this has triggered any of you who have been seriously affected by the behaviour of a narcissist—I’m so sorry. Please know that your voice and feelings matter to me very much. It’s not my intention to belittle your pain.
It is my intention however to shed some light. We all belong, none of us any more, none of us any less. And because of this…I truly think we should help each other to rise above our demons, rather than cast stones at each other for having them. Compassion to all people just seems right to me, that’s all. How about we give each other the support and encouragement we need to heal?