Love begins with me

Eleanor by the new plant

Eleanor by the new plant

A few years ago, I was sitting in a diner listening to someone talk about the unfairness of his current life situation. He was lamenting the devastation he felt at being excluded by his family….and his suffering was heart-breaking and so real to him. And he kept it alive. He brooded over the hurtful letter he’d received from one of his sons, and the years of stony cold silence from another. He alone kept these hurts alive, and they eventually became his prison.

He couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see that he had played any part in creating the unhappiness he felt… and so he was trapped. He wanted everyone to admit that they had been wrong; had judged him harshly, and unfairly. He thought that their actions (or lack thereof) were the key to his freedom, his happiness, and he was so angry at them, for not loving him.

And yet, knowing him for many years, I also knew that even if all of these people finally said exactly what he wanted them to say, he would not be happy. Oh, maybe for a few days or weeks he might be, but his feelings; of not being good enough, of being excluded and marginalized, were beliefs that he carried within himself, about himself.

His feelings of self-loathing were being mirrored back to him by those around him, and they were so painful to see, that he wanted to run away from them all. He wanted to shout, “I don’t need any of you!” at the top of his lungs, from the lonely prison of his own making.

He holds the keys to his freedom, but he is not ready to hear this, because the price for his freedom would be giving up the need to make anyone else wrong. The price would be a fresh start, beginning today; radical acceptance, radical love of himself and “them” too. He doesn’t know that he can love others, even if they never respond, even if he never sees or hears from them again. He doesn’t know that it only takes one to Love.

Don’t brood. Get on with living and loving. You don’t have forever.” Leo Buscaglia

 

30 thoughts on “Love begins with me

  1. Dear Mary…..”it only takes one to love” are some of your most powerful words! Thank you for this beautiful message of acceptance and inner peace. Forgiveness starts within….I will be thinking of this truth today and throughout the weekend. Bless you for your ever-present clarity and kindness, Mary.

    • Thank you so much Debra. “it only takes one to love” is something that I came to know fairly “late in the game”…I’m sure that I heard this concept earlier (as now I recognize it in so many great teachings) but I wasn’t ready until I was. That is why I can identify with this man, my father, so well.

  2. We all know someone like your friend, their unhappiness, bitterness, drama, becomes who they are. If you are around that person a lot and hear the same laments over and over again, it is hard to be sympathetic. I want to say to them Get over it! Let it go! Move on! But I think it is who they are and they won’t change (after all, they have no ownership to the problem), so do they really even want things to be different?
    Guess this struck a nerve this morning because I do have people in my life who are like this to varying degrees. Hard to be around them and hear the same old thing.
    Your mood and attitude is a choice and I choose to be happy!

    • I know him only too well, having been in his shoes for many years myself and never realizing that I had the choice to change. I wish that I could give this gift away, but we all (including myself) have to be ready to receive it. Sending you a big hug today Marian, Mary

  3. Mary – This issue has been on my mind lately. And, Marian, I completely agree with you. I have a friend who is so caught up with all the perceived injustices in his life; it’s very sad. He has many good traits and has had a positive influence in many lives (a long-time teacher at our high school) but turns off many people by constantly complaining about the lack of recognition he receives, etc., etc. This attitude is really backfiring on him. I would love to have an honest conversation with him but I don’t think he would hear me (or want to). I am going to keep this quote in mind, though, and share it!

  4. Hi Mary. My father has made the decision to put my mother in a nursing home. He’s been the prinicipal caretaker for over a year and no longer has the physical and emotional strength to continue. She’s in a wheelchair, very hard of hearing and her dementia is progressing rapidly. We all know it’s for the best and we are sad. Feel your feelings…we’re feeling them. I will always love her. It only takes one to love. Love that. Thanks for listening. Just needed to say what’s so today.

  5. Wow – your posts always reflect something that is an issue in my own life!

    I also have a friend like this. She sees herself as a fortress under attack from all sides by malicious people, most of whom have no idea she feels that way. What you said about self-loathing being mirrored back is so true in her situation.

    Do you have any ideas on how to deal with the situation? I’m so afraid that she will lump me in with her “enemies” that I just go along and don’t question her assumptions, but it’s difficult to be around her when she is being a victim. I also can see that she is miserable much of the time, but when she forgets about her “enemies” she can be a delight. There is a happy person in there somewhere.

    Susan

    • My only thought would be to be true to yourself. I don’t ever agree with anyone, just so they don’t get angry, or I find I end up resenting them…but that doesn’t mean I tell them (if they are not asking) what I think about how they should respond or change their thinking, either. With the man that I spoke about in this post (my father), I did tell him how, when I was having trouble with someone in my mind, I quietly sat and imagined them as happy. Our breakfast ended quickly that day, and that was OK with me.

      • That’s a pretty good strategy – it avoids either confirming what they are saying or contradicting them. I’ve actually been trying to imagine my negative friend as being happy, so that would be an honest response for me to make. Thanks –

        Susan

      • Oh, Mary, how did you feel when ‘the breakfast ended quickly’…I’m wondering if you struck a chord within your father or if he became exasperated with your more positive thinking? I have found a half brother in later life (I am adopted and found one half of my family of origin at the half-century mark) and experience the same thing when I speak up to his reality. Retired now and having been alcohol-dependent when I met him, I tried to establish a connection with him and couldn’t. Speaking directly to the reason for not being able to connect with him, there was no going further, until a few years ago, when he stopped drinking and we established an on-line connection. However, he spends a great deal of time, at intervals, wishing he was living in the mid-southern region of eastern United States and writing copious emails about it. His wife, an American by birth, will not hear of it. He talks of the money he would save in living in the US, the cost of buying a home much less, he feels than in Ontario, Canada, disregarding the cost of aging in a country where health care is expensive. I finally told him that instead of talking about it so much, to do something about it. Never get a response to that. Cut off and on to another topic the next day. I’ve come to the conclusion he’s happier with his dreams, than reality.
        SandyP in Canada

      • Good question Sandy! I wouldn’t say that he became exasperated…it was more like he didn’t understand what I was saying. …but it wasn’t that I just gave him a positive thinking response, because personally I dislike that (when someone says, “Oh look on the bright side or you need to….”). My father knows that I have had the same struggles that he is having. I’ve been in that place where I felt so wronged that I couldn’t or wouldn’t see anything but my narrow (unhappy) view of a situation and so I try to talk from what I’ve learned. If I haven’t been in a situation (and gone through it), I know that I have little to offer and I have no problem saying that either. Sending happy thoughts your way today! Mary

  6. I enjoy your blog so much and it often is the very blessing and message I need at exactly the right time. This one particularly so…..thanks for sharing with us.

  7. Sometimes there will never be acceptance from those we want acceptance from. At some point you have to move on from that, minimize their involvement in your life and seek others who love you as you are.

    Nancy

  8. Love and forgiveness are gifts I give myself with no expectation of the receiver. I can send loving thoughts to anyone, they can’t stop me, and I feel good. Thank you for the reminder, I think I will send some loving thoughts to a few friends past and present and family. Happy weekend to you and readers!

  9. I see my son in today’s post and can only hope and pray that age and example will help him to move away from these ‘ghosts’ that he carries around in his head: the people whose apologies he wants for wrongs done years ago or yesterday. I know the pain is inside of him and until he realizes that he ‘holds the keys to his freedom,’ he will be miserable. I wish a mom’s love was enough.

  10. Lovely flowers to compliment a stunning sofa
    Loving words to fill a need in our hearts
    This place we all gravitate to
    Learning, caring, sharing.
    Happy weekend, everyone.

  11. OK Leo. I’m doing it! All I can think of is “Maia” the sweet Palomino I began my horsemanship training with on Wed.! This sure beats brooding!
    Cindy

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