“Then a thought arose. Up to this point in time I had thought of myself as a damaged person, a person in need of healing.
“On the day when I first heard my Mom and Dad arguing, I died of a broken heart.
“Aside from that one incident, I saw that every other broken heart, every other wound, every other imagined injury I had ever endured, I had inflicted on myself. My wounds are almost entirely self-inflicted.”
It’s always easier to see something when one is in a heightened state of awareness. And, when one is, the tendency is not to explain it because it seems self-evident at that time.
But it isn’t self-evident.
My heart broke because my parents were all of a sudden fighting. And the sound of their voices was quite different than anything I’d ever heard. There was a tone of desperation in my Mom’s voice that said to me that this was not the first time they’d had a disagreement. That also was shocking to me.
Their fight crashed my idea of the world. Up to that time, though I was aware of a certain strain, they’d always seemed to contain it so I took it in stride. But the shouting and the hurt being conveyed brought it home to me that things were not at all OK and all of a sudden my world became a dangerous place where before it had been safe.
Once my heart broke, so to speak, it didn’t go away. Werner Erhard might call it a Number One upset – creating a strong vasana (or record) of shock and loss in one so young.
From that moment on, any upsetting thing I saw, I saw through the filter of a young child who was disillusioned, scared, and insecure.
Heidegger might say that I now had an “always, already listening.” I had a preconception of how things were and no evidence from outside could convince me otherwise.
No longer was my heart intact. No longer could I ignore the negative connotations in what a person said and just go with the positive content. No longer could I hear with a balanced and open heart.
That increased the likelihood that my response would be skewed, that I would focus on the negative spin and not the positive content.
Moreover, no longer could I see an angry, troubled or negative exchange as simply a matter of the other person’s frustration. It now became all about me – my survival, well-being., etc.
And this skewed response to things has lasted to this day. Much more than that. The constantly-skewed response means that I’ve gathered more and more proof that the world is a dangerous place.
Just as an artery gets blocked from more and more plaque, so I closed off from more and more “evidence’ that the world was a threatening place.
Life became a vicious circle, full of self-fulfilling prophecies that “proved” that life was dangerous. Phrases race past my mind that encapsulate the conclusions I reached: “You never know.” “Nothing ever lasts.” “Things are not as they seem.”
Might as well make lemonade from lemons. Probably the only good that can come of living in a vicious circle is to share about it in the hopes that others can avoid it or come out of it if they’re in it.
Now I see the mechanism whereby I created life being a threatening place and inflicted injury on myself again and again and again. Now I see why I seldom expect things to last, feel shaky when a fight occurs, and all manner of other things.
Awareness is a solvent that removes the varnish we coat ourselves in. My hope is that awareness will allow me to hear what another says when feeling frustrated and negative and see that it isn’t about me. It’s about them. And then respond with more compassion than I have in the past.