We are all harmed when we blame, or shame, or attack each other – or even ourselves. I learned this truth at a VISIONS® workshop I attended some eight years ago. And yet dear as I hold this teaching, there are moments when I slide back into a state of forgetting, as I did twice, just in the last week.
The first time occurred when I messed up at work and then got called on it. Immediately I curled up like a badger and withdrew to my badger-cave, the one with the sign over it reading, “You’re hopeless, you’ll never learn, you might as well quit.”
I had made a mistake, yes. But I dragged it around like an ant with a dead ant on its back. I lost two whole days of my life during this cave-retreat and nothing was made better for my having stayed there, chanting over my little witch’s brew of self-contempt.
So that was my first ‘forgetting.’
The second forgetting occurred when I began blaming and shaming someone other than myself the silent and sneaky way: in my mind.
This happened as I was entering the women’s restroom in a tourist hotel and heard a commotion from within.
“It’s STAINED Mother, have you heard of the concept ‘stained?’“ a young female voice was shouting. “And no, the stain WON’T come out!” she added.
“I actually think it will,” a second female voice said. “It’s only make-up after all and–”
I rounded the corner then and saw a mother by the sinks standing beside her child of about 15, who was wildly scraping at the corner of her gauzy top with a wad of wet paper towel.
“We’ll go up to the room. I have some liquid Tide-” began the mother. But the girl was having none of it.
“It cost friggin’ $200!” she bellowed, only she didn’t say ‘friggin.’’
“Let’s go to the room and see what we can do,” continued her mother in the same quiet voice. “Come on now,” she urged again, and exited the restroom as if to lead the way.
“I! Am! Not! COMING!” bellowed the girl, even more loudly and stayed where she was, so that she and I were the only people in the rest room.
I approached the sink to wash my hands and glanced briefly at her in the mirror. She wouldn’t look at me. I wanted to say “Wait and bring it to a good dry cleaners and you’ll be fine.”
But there she still stood with that furious scowl on her face and her harsh words echoing in the tiled space, so that then I wanted to say a few more things:
Like, “Hey, calm down!”
Also, “What’s wrong with you, talking to your mother like that?”
Also, “How much of a sap does a person have to be to spend $200 on a half-yard of fabric that looks like it’s made of Kleenex?”
And then I caught myself. Maybe she couldn’t meet my eye because she was ashamed. I thought about how quickly her mother had left, and with no apparent anger. Maybe the girl has a condition, some turbulence that has beset her since birth, something she has no control over.
In short, who was I to judge?
Now if I could just learn to REMEMBER this valuable teaching I hold so dear, I just know I would do a lot less damage, both to myself and to others.