Over the past week, I have had hundreds of thousands of people reading and sharing this message of “being an includer” on one of my blog posts. So much so that my server couldn’t handle all the traffic. I had hundreds of emails and many comments on the post with parents, teachers, and grandparents sharing their stories — their own stories, the stories that their daughters are currently going through, and stories of what they see in their schools, on the playground, ….AND between women/moms.
You have shared stories of cruelty and hurt. You have shared stories of triumph and named the gifts that came out such hurtful experiences. You have asked for advice. I hear the desperation, the yearning to protect your children’s hearts and bodies. I hear the desire within you to create SAFE SPACE and HOLD SPACE for your daughter (and sons) to be SEEN, FEEL SAFE, and FEEL LIKE THEY BELONG.
I don’t know why I am surprised (I hear these things in counseling and coaching with clients) at such hurtful stories. I see enough cruelty happening in the world – on CNN, on newsfeeds, in session with clients. BUT the depth to which CRUELTY in all its forms exists just blows me away. I’m reading some of the stories that have been shared in the comments section, and my heart is breaking.
I think “NOOOOOO! This should not be happening! This child is precious! This teen is precious! This person (mom, sister, brother, dad, grandparent) is precious!”
I want to GO TO THAT PERSON – literally – get on a plane and go to them (in Australia, Tokyo, Hong Kong, India, Seattle, Boston), run to them, take them in my arms and say, “I SEE YOU! I SEE YOU ARE HURTING! I AM HERE!”
I am good at that. And I hope that my words are enough. That my blessing and care are enough. That my deep ache for them and solidarity with them is enough.
Some times, I am a great problem-solver. I have great ideas and suggestions as to how to address any situation – from bullying to other forms of trauma.
Some times, I am a great encourager. I have a lively spirit, I see the good in others, and I can HOLD HOPE for others.
Some times, I am a great presence — one that says, “I’ll be alongside you. I’m here.” I can abide with some and BE that sacred space and HOLD SPACE for others – to share their story, to cry, to mourn, and to be heard.
And some times – I can get overwhelmed by the hurt. We all can get overwhelmed. We can think “what difference can I really make?” So we do nothing. We turn off the TV. We ignore the pictures of Syrian children being swept up on the shore. We turn the other way when a friend is being teased between classes. We remain quiet when another mom is being left out.
Friends, we CAN’T turn away for long. We FEEL THEIR PAIN in our souls, our nervous systems. That’s how connected we are. Nervous system speaks to nervous system. Heart speaks to heart. We are wired this way.
What to do we do?
When I start to feel dishearten. When I start to feel overwhelmed. When I question if I’m doing enough. When I question if our world will ever change — I remember. I pause and I choose to remember: FOCUS ON just THIS person. THIS moment. THIS choice.
JUST THIS PERSON. Just this one moment. Just this one pause to look at your child with regard. Just this one
moment of turning toward your beloved instead of turning away – even if you’ve been silently turning away for decades. Just this hand on a friend’s shoulder. Just this moment of asking, “How are you? I mean – really – how are you?”
And then I remember my gifts. I remember that I have my presence. I remember I can abide with this person. I remember I can encourage this person. I can regard this person. I can hold space and be sacred space for this person.
Friends, I know that YOU TOO have gifts to share with others to HEAL OUR WORLD.
~ I know that YOU TOO can HOLD HOPE for the teen in your classroom who feels like nothing is going to get better.
Just this teen. Just this moment of calling back that teen after class ends and saying, “I see you. I see you are sad. I am here.”
~ I know that YOU TOO can ABIDE WITH a friend who is going through chemo, or whose husband passed away, or who just looks a bit sad and maybe is missing her daughter as she started kindergarten this week and doesn’t have a word for this kind of grief.
Just this friend. Just this moment of pausing, reaching for their arm or hand and saying, “I see you. I am here.”
~ I know that YOU TOO can HOLD SPACE for THOSE YOU LIVE WITH to be heard, validated, loved, and…(this is big) REGARDED. Your partner, your children, your aging parents.
Just this dear one of yours. Just this moment of choosing to slow down, to look them in the eyes, to smile at them like they are a newborn baby, and say, “I so love you. I so deeply love you.”
~ I know that YOU TOO can BE THAT SACRED SPACE that is SAFE and reliable for your children to come to when they don’t know what they are feeling, can’t make sense of the cruelty of the world (in their school, in Syria), and don’t know how to navigate the rough waters of preschool alll the way through adulthood.
Just this child. Just this moment when its bedtime and you turn the lights out, and they start to share, and you are tired, but you stay and listen. Just these fumbled words, “I know, the world can be cruel. It hurts so bad. I am here with you.”
~ I know that YOU TOO can BE THAT EMPOWERING PRESENCE that UPLIFTS other women and INCLUDES other women.
Just this mom, at this playdate, at this bus stop, at this moment, this PTA meeting. Just this moment of taking a chance to BE AN INCLUDER and say, “Can I sit next to you? How are you? This is hard work parenting, isn’t it?”
Please, for the love of God and all things sacred and holy, please, just this moment…be kind to your own self. Be tender with all the different (and competing) parts of yourself. Put your hand on your heart, close your eyes for a moment, exhale fully, and offer yourself a moment of compassion. Let it be with kind words or a gentle touch. Breathe in your goodness. Forgive yourself – or at least – say, “I WANT to forgive myself.”
AND AS YOU HAVE COMPASSION for your own self, your compassion will grow and flow from you to others – to BE that sacred space, to hold space, to be that empowering presence, to be that person in your family that changes things by loving with regard and gentle words, hands, and presence. Keep showing up for YOURSELF. Keep being that sacred space for your own self.
JUST THIS PERSON. JUST THIS MOMENT. JUST THIS CHOICE.
And so whether an opportunity comes your way to work for justice, stand up for what is right, or be that healing presence, you are AWAKE and ready to RESPOND with compassion. Whether that’s in Syria, your classroom, your workplace, or your home.
THIS is how we transform our world.
Beautiful souls, I believe there is GOOD in this world. WE are the good.
I just had to tell you all that. I will get to your emails and your comments. Some of you have asked for a consultation – just fill out the contact form. Be patient with me – because I’m going to continue to be a voice – a voice of compassion and connection to heal our world. Big time.Blessings,