Oh, the torturous and complex few days I have had. Dealing with the issues of judgment, stretching to give myself permission to HAVE opinions, but then immediately I would pull away. I never feel completely justified in not liking someone. It makes me sweat. But some people are so unlikable.
Let me explain.
Two nights ago I worked with someone who acted really weird. I could feel him very loudly. He is plain and unassuming, but his energy fairly hollers at me. Even so, this man refused to give me eye contact, refused to greet me, talked to me, briefly, three times in twelve hours, and was as uncivil with our patients as he was with me. He was eerily animated with a few of the staff. Because he was such a sour puss, I was glad to see him getting along with somebody, anybody. However, then something weird began to take place.
By the way, my other colleague was also as cold as ice. Not mean, not hostile. Pleasant, actually. But cold. Guarded. Shut tighter than a drum. I read quietly in a corner a lot that night.
It was the man’s behavior that really got my goat. As the shift progressed, I got more and more chapped that here is this guy who can be decent to other people, but he treats me, and the patients (!) like crap. Good God, did the judgments start flying. And the more judgment I indulged in, the farther and farther off course I began to feel.
That’s when the questions came up:
How can I reconcile hating someone with having to love them? How do I deal with someone who literally acts as if I am not there? Is this disdain? Contempt? Resignation? Prejudice?
How will it be possible to ascend as a planet, as a people, when people suffering to this degree, acting out badly and hurting others in the process… how are we going to even pull this thing off? Everything could be solved with kindness. No it can’t! Yes it can!
On and on and on this went. I lived my life, but this was its soundtrack.
Tonight, he was there again. The dude still ignored me! Wouldn’t look at me, speak to me, acknowledge me in any but a cursory fashion. We did not work the same unit, however. As a result, I could observe him and his two colleagues rather than participate. I saw a pretty nice crew. I was glad this guy seemed a bit more at ease, but really, most of the night he isolated away from all of us.
I attempted eye contact at the start of the shift with him. It failed. I stopped doing it. That’s even better for me, actually. I hate giving eye contact. It’s too familiar, too intimate. I don’t like it, and don’t really fit into a culture which uses lack of eye contact as a symptom of mental illness. So, cool, no eyes. No speech, that’s good for me too. Once I know someone is unreceptive, life becomes so simple. Disengage, apply energy elsewhere. He made his preferences known, so I honored them. And we got along fine.
Besides not having to work with the same patients tonight, the biggest difference between the shifts was that tonight, I no longer cared if he liked me or not. It took me all shift to figure it out. And then my aha moment…
This episode brought up rich ground for exploration: energetics, intuitive communication, judgment vs. discernment, all these interesting and seemingly important issues, but what this all came down to, its essence, its core, is that he didn’t like me, and I don’t know why. And, let me be clear, he really didn’t like me. Is there something still so wrong with me? Why am I not liked by people when all I want to do is love them? Why do people reject me?
As I was settling into my bedtime routine, after my shift, it hit me: When it all gets weeded out and dealt with and discussed, how much truth has actually been said? The truth is, I wanted someone to like me. They didn’t. In fact, they sort of hated me. And I felt hurt. It hurts when someone you like does not like you. not be liked.
Do you know where I can go to with this now? I can go straight home with this. I can ride the forgiveness train all the way to more nirvana. Because this guy — well, I guess it’s time to discuss the soulic arc.
I feel people and their thoughts in a very clear and vibrant way. It is difficult at times, because I don’t have a mute button. I have known this guy for awhile, and I had always been under the impression that we got along, so I had approached him as I do all my acquaintance-colleagues. And the silence began.
But, you see, although he was mute, he was HOLLERING. Not words, but vast waves of interference. Unhappiness, but also, I have always felt friendly toward him, always felt like he might be someone I know. This sent my apprehension into a distinctly uncomfortable realm.
I took a night away from work, but as you can see from my blogs, I was knee deep in alligators, trying to reconcile this. How do you love someone you hate? Can I hate and still be loving? GOD! It just went on and on. I think this has to do with this hook I feel to this fellow. I just feel a connection. Counter-intuitive, I know.
But there is another type of sight I have, you see. With this sight I perceived this man to be someone who was repaying a debt to me. I sensed him say this as I entered the unit the first shift. I could feel him encouraging and coaching me that first shift. He felt like family. That’s why I found his behavior so confounding and hurtful.
Through the night tonight, he was unreadable. Big gigantic wall. But our debt had been paid. We tolerated each other just fine.
I can and have used this chain of non-events to learn quite a few things. Knowing he was family and doing me a favor was sort of the underlay, the bass beat. It was nice to know, but made no sense in real time. It changed nothing, mitigated not an iota of suffering. Only in retrospect did I understand what he had been saying to me.
His rejection triggered in me such pain, such hurt. A lifetime, many lifetimes, of unkindness, of betrayals and slights and neglect and harm. It felt so overwhelming there for a little bit. Intolerable. To feel again so many times of loneliness, and the exquisite beauty of a kindness given when needed.
All this work brought out a terrific need to write, and finally having the equipment I need, I went to town.
And here I am at the end of this cycle.
I understand that when all the noise gets to be too much, the inner noise of clashing beliefs, clashing realities, clashing desires, there is a scared seven year old within me who needs a dependable, nurturing, loving mother to stroke my hair and remind me that I am beautiful to her.
That seven year old speaks raw truth. “Somebody was mean to me and I wanted him to be kind to me. I thought he liked me,” ending with some sobbing, and then an amazing sense of renewal.
I could take this further. There is a very significant relationship with which I have been struggling. There is a big love mismatch. It’s family, not anything sexual. Just two peers who cannot get it together. But I know one thing: I have been rejected more deliciously, more flippantly and therefore even more cruelly by this person than my colleague ever could. This mismatch causes me great grief, terrible sadness. I feel unseen, uninvited, unimportant.
I know now that this is some sort of pre-arranged deal. I’m just not going to sweat it like I had been. I can’t do it wrong. Pulling away a bit, that can be a very good thing. Witness shift #2 with the distant dude. HE didn’t change. I changed.
I realized that when all is said and done, the villains could wind up being the heroes when all is finally sorted. And in any case, people are in my life on purpose. As teachers and guides and friends and loved ones. I am surrounded by support and love, and sometimes it is so clever and determined, it actually takes the form of a nimrod co-worker.
This mysterious thing we are involved in, it is far too mysterious and sturdy to second guess. Questioning its ways only lets it know that you need more exposure to it.
I loved on my 7 year old today, and I feel great. At this point, I don’t give a flip about koans or judgment or attachments or any of that stuff. It is all a little melodramatic, a little hysterical. I like it over here better. Where adversary is brother. Where miracles abound. Where it just comes down to love.