Letter to My Enemy Within

Dear Kozo,

Your arrogance and lack of compassion have made more enemies for us than friends.

Your selfishness and lack of empathy have sunk our career, nearly ruined our marriage, and destroyed our reputation.

Despite these failings, I forgive you. I forgive your sharp tongue, your lack of impulse control, and your insecurities. I forgive because I don’t want to be like you–lacking empathy. I forgive because by accepting you, I engulf you. I make your need to be special unnecessary.

I don’t just forgive you; I love you. I love you because by loving you I love all my enemies. I love you because I understand how all your trespasses were a desperate search for love. All your attacks were a cry for help. All your hostility stemmed from a desire to be held.

I will always love you because you are not just a part of me; you are a part of humanity. You are Godliness, Christ Consciousness, and Buddha Nature all at once. You deserve my love like a baby deserves a mother’s love. You will always be my baby. I try to lead by example, so that one day you will be a compassionate man.

With All My Heart,

Kozo

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This post is part of the Bloggers for Peace Monthly Peace Challenge: Love Thy Enemy.

For more information on Bloggers for Peace click on the logo in the right hand menu.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Label Me A Loving Abuser

My 6 year old son would not get out of bed until 7:45 this morning. We have to leave for school at 8:15. Then he wouldn’t eat his eggs since he was distracted by his Pokemon cards, so I threw the cards in the garbage. This is when his meltdown started. It was 8 AM, so I asked him to put some clothes on which he threw back in my face. This is when my meltdown started. I grabbed him and put him in the car in his pajamas. Then I dragged him without shoes or a jacket in front of the whole school to his classroom. He was kicking and screaming the whole way, which is why I couldn’t put his shoes or jacket on.

The whole time I was seeing tunnel vision. I did not notice all the other kids laughing at my son or all the parents aghast at me dragging him across the rain drenched pavement without shoes. When we got to the classroom, I awoke from my sleep state and realized how much my son was suffering.

Onelove photoIt is International Label Day at Rarasaur’s house, so it only seems appropriate that I wear the label of abuser or bad father which is quite different from the photo I sent Rara with “LUV” scribbled across my forehead. But like I told Rara in the comments, “Labels like the ego are neither good nor bad. They are a necessary step in claiming our identities so that we can give them up to reach a higher consciousness or what Fr. Richard Rohr would call the Second Half of Life.”

One way I’m breaking the label of abuser is by how I treated my son after I realized that I was being irrational. As the survivor of physical abuse, I speak from experience when I say that although the beatings hurt, they were not the cause of the deepest emotional scars. What really tore me up as a child was the lack of compassion from my step-father and mother AFTER the beatings. No one ever comforted me and explained to me why I was beaten. No one put an arm around my shoulder and told me that the beatings were done out of love.

Jett at school

Photo of Jett Post-Meltdown

So I told the teacher that Jett would be late and we went back home. At home, I let my son pick out his favorite shirt. I washed his feet, fully aware of the religious connotations of this action, and warmed up his half-eaten breakfast. I explained to him how sorry I was for taking him to school in his pajamas, but also how sad I was that he refused to listen to me. I told him that I loved him, but I needed his cooperation if we were going to get to school on time. I also told him how to handle any teasing that the other kids might dish out today. I will make sure to check in with him after school and honor any shame he felt in front of the other kids at school.

Being a compassionate man is hard. Raising compassionate boys is even harder. Social conditioning and past scars take constant vigilance to overcome. The good news is that compassion is a skill that can be learned over time. We can heal ourselves and heal others in the process.

Although I am not proud of my actions today, I am thankful for the growth I displayed and the hug my son gave me when he finally got to his classroom.

Thank you for reading, empathizing, and/or sharing.

Have you transcended your labels? How? Please share.

 

 

Re-Authoring Our Lives

This weekend at Interchange Counseling Institute, Steve Bearman introduced us to Narrative Therapy. We learned how to help clients re-author their predominant stories by “thickening” marginalized stories. We often get caught in one story that dictates our perception,self-worth, and mood. Examining the cracks in this predominant story often lead to awareness of a more preferable story.

“What limits people is that they don’t have the fucking nerve or imagination to star in their own movie, let alone direct it. Yuck….It’s a wonderful time to be alive. As long as one has enough dynamite.”~Tom Robbins

Part of this weekend was writing and sharing our bio. When I wrote my bio, a book on my bookshelf that I haven’t read yet haunted my peripheral vision–Radical Honesty. I wrote my story leaving nothing out. When I shared this story with a group of three other counselors-in-training, I buried my face in the printed copy almost out of shame. I revealed how I had spent a large part of my adult life hurting others. How I had stabbed loved ones in the heart with my words. How all this hurt I brought into the world created a karmic tidal wave that almost drowned me. I ended with how hitting rock bottom allowed me to set my sights for the heavens.

When I finished reading, I peeked up to see three smiling faces. It felt like I had confessed all my sins to a compassionate God who had nothing but love for me. One of the group members gave me a hug. Another called me courageous. What I realized is that often the tragedy of our lives is actually a story of hope and redemption. Below are a few quotes from wise people who have a similar take on re-authoring.

  • “The Art of Suffering goes together with the Art of Happiness” “No Mud/No Lotus”~Thich Nhat Hanh
  • “Before the ‘truth sets you free’ it tends to make you miserable.”~Fr. Richard Rohr
  •  “Many of your greatest successes you thought were failures. And many of your greatest failures, you thought were successes.”~Marianne Williamson

To be sincere does not mean to be perfect. In fact,the very effort to be perfect is itself insincere, because it is a way of avoiding seeing yourself as you are right now. To be able and willing to see yourself as you are, with all of your imperfections and illusions, requires genuine sincerity and courage. If we are constantly trying to hide from ourselves, we will never be able to awaken from our illusion of self.~Adyashanti

I’m hoping you can re-author some of your stories. I feel a lot lighter since I did the exercise. Here are some suggestions:

  • Can you see part of your story as a preparation for a launch? Is a low point simply the loading for an acceleration towards the good, like stretching a rubber band right before you let it fly?
  • Is hitting rock bottom laying the foundations for a rebound in the right direction?
  • Is the tragedy of your life a glimpse into the comedy of life in general?
  • Is your need for “closure” an opening to a new way of loving or acceptance?

In no way do I want to disregard your story. In fact, narrative therapy does not try to erase the predominant story; instead it offers a new angle to view one’s life. A marginal story is meant to transcend and include the predominant story.

You’ve probably seen this before, but if you haven’t, ignore everything above and hit play.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Have you ever re-authored your predominant story? What did it do for you? Please share.

Compassion Can Make You More Attractive–Thich Nhat Hanh Re-load

A week ago, I published an article about a conversation I had with Thich Nhat Hanh. Thanks to the generosity of Dr. James Doty and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, I am able to share the video of this short interview with you. To see the whole Conversation on Compassion with Thich Nhat Hanh go to: http://ccare.stanford.edu/videos/conversations-on-compassion-thich-nhat-hanh/

For more interviews with compassionate men visit http://peaceinrelationships.com/offerings/

BBQ: Tracy from FEC-This

Tracy Quote

 

They say that hardship brings wisdom. I couldn’t agree more because Tracy from FEC-THis has had hardship and she is one of the wisest bloggers I know. I’m sure you agree after reading the quotation above. For more wisdom check out Tracy’s blog: http://fecthis.wordpress.com/

This post is part of BBQ—Beautiful Blog Quotations.

Feel free to join the fun.

  • Take a quotation from a favorite blogger
  • Create a BBQ post with the quotation
  • Link back to the blogger you quoted
  • Tag your post BBQLUV
  • Link to other BBQLUV posts (optional)

BBQ logo

The amazing Rarasaur has made a logo for Beautiful Blog Quotations. Feel free to copy, paste, and resize the logo and put it on your blog as a badge or use it in your post.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

What do you think makes us human? Please share.

On the Road to Healing

I’m guestblogging today at Black Box Warnings—“a collective of bloggers who share their personal stories about mental and physical health, parenting, daily tribulations, and life’s little moments. An on-line community built around support, respect, and compassion.”

screen shot of black box warnings

Check out the post “Why Most Men Hate Depression, Especially in Others” by clicking here.

May you be free from suffering. May you find Peace and Joy.

{{{Hugs}}} Kozo

Beautiful Blog Quotation—BBQ

While searching for quotations for the Monthly Peace Challenge, I noticed how many wise and inspiring quotations came from blogging friends’ posts and comments. So I’ve started a new series called BBQ—Beautiful Blog Quotations.

Feel free to join the fun.

  • Take a quotation from a favorite blogger
  • Create a BBQ post with the quotation
  • Link back to the blogger you quoted
  • Tag your post BBQLUV
  • Link to other BBQLUV posts (optional)

Hurt people hurt people

I love this quotation from Broadblogs.com blogger, Georgia Platts. It took me a few reads to figure out it wasn’t a typo, but when I finally got the message, it hit me like a left hook. As a survivor of abuse, I have definitely hurt people. Part of my drive towards peace and compassion stems from guilt from hurting so many others in my past.  What really strikes me about this quotation is the compassion it cultivates for both those who hurt and those who are hurt.

If you haven’t dropped by Broadblogs.com, treat yourself to some sexy politics that will transform your views towards men, women, sex, beauty, and media.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Have you hurt others due to past hurt? Please share.

I Will Rise

How neuroscience offers hope to survivors of abuse and peacemakers of the future

“What happened to you, then?” my step-father’s booming voice echoed out into the early evening crowd at Outback Steakhouse.

The question was not asked with compassion or caring. It was a jab, an attack, a verbal confirmation that I was a failure in his eyes.

I had been explaining to my extended family how my son was a highly sensitive boy (HSB), when my mom chimed in that I, too, was highly sensitive as a child. She used the term “glass feelings.”

I explained to my sister-in-law how HSBs, if nurtured, could become compassionate artists or peacemakers like Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, and Carl Jung.

That is when my step-father interrupted me with “What happened to you, then?”

What amazed me most was my reaction. In the past, an aggressive comment like this would have sent me to fight or flight mode. As a survivor of abuse, my amygdala and sympathetic nervous system were trained to go into over-drive and flood my system with epinephrine and cortisol. With clenched fists, I would normally either ignore my step-father completely, retaliate with a sarcastic remark, or flee the scene. But this time, I remained calm as I stuttered for words.

“Well, I…um…I…um.” The thought of saying “Someone beat the sensitivity out of me” occurred to me, but the desire to retaliate was absent.

Finally, my wife jumped in to help me, “He wasn’t nurtured.” (Sometimes it is great to have a wife who is a psychologist.)

I still remained calm. In fact, I protected my mother by explaining, “They didn’t know about highly sensitive boys back then.”

Writing about this scene today, I realize that my parent may never realize how damaging 12 years of physical abuse can be on a child. I am almost positive that I will never receive an apology.

But I feel no ill-will towards them at this moment. I’m reminded what of Brene Brown said about her parents instilling shame in her as a child. She said she doesn’t blame them anymore than she blames her grandmother for letting her ride standing in the front seat of the car. They just didn’t know any better.

Armsreach

Armsreach (Photo credit: Awen o greu)

Some of you may argue with this point, but the truth is that I have stopped blaming others for my shortcomings. I am thrilled with the idea of neuroplasticity—that we can change our brains and our lives, just by changing the thoughts we think everyday.

I have seen and felt tremendous changes in how I react to outside stimuli. If we can re-wire our lives with just a few minutes of mindfulness and cultivating compassion practice everyday, then world peace truly is possible.

Thank you for reading, empathizing, and/or sharing.

Have you seen signs that world peace is possible? Have you felt healing occur in your soul? Please share.

A Peaceful Path through Music

Music carved a peaceful path in my tumultuous history like a lifeline that saved me from the abyss

Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” marks a 15 year journey to find peace through music, film, and poetry. I’ve always had a soft spot for Irish female singers–I know McLachlan is Canadian, but I envision her as Irish descent. In 1984, trying to recover from 12 years of physical abuse, I clung to the lyrics of This Mortal Coil‘s “Song of the Siren.”

“Did I dream you dreamed about me?” offered me an escape from reality in the arms of some nurturing goddess. Continue reading

How to wring compassion out of your child

IMG_0824My 6 year old son wants to quit his Kung Fu class. Last time I drove him to the Kung Fu studio, he threw a tantrum and wouldn’t get out of the car.

I threatened him by explaining how he would not get Christmas or Birthday presents for 5 years to pay off the non-refundable tuition we paid for the whole year.

I shamed him by telling his younger brother what a big boy he was for not “crying like a baby,” even though I am reading Brene Brown’s research on the horrible consequences of shaming.

You see, my son cries more than any child I know. If you mix his eggs with too much soy sauce, he cries. If someone closes the door to his room at night, he cries. If you don’t put enough toothpaste on his toothbrush, he cries. All this crying drove me crazy until I realized why. Continue reading