Tuesday, January 6, 2015


What is this thing called compassion?    Where does it take us?  Where does it come from? What does it ask of us?
I had a childhood totally lacking love, compassion and passion.  I never felt loved, not once.  I never remember any tender arms around me mothering me, consoling me, relieving my pain, holding onto me so I didn't feel like I was going to fly off into space. What I do remember was physical and mental abuse.  My father, a prominent oil and gas attorney, was never there and my mother never touched me, except to hit me or yell at me. And I never remembered anyone ever telling me they loved me.

I do however remember my grandmother, Nanny, the first woman pharmacist in Oklahoma, holding me as I fell asleep in her small  iron bed, covered with her down-filled pale blue handmade quilt.  She would wrap her arms around me, and we snuggled as she taught me what love felt like, as I fell asleep peacefully in her arms.  I have rarely felt it since. Today I have my own white iron bed with a pale blue bedspread.  Nanny is still with me in so many ways.

Growing up I recall all too well reaching out to those classmates who were not the 'pretty ones' or the 'popular ones'.  I could see pain,loneliness and something missing in their eyes and their souls.  And it was to them I gravitated.  I felt their pain.  Just like me, they felt that they weren't good enough.  This I knew and understood all too well.
At the time, for me, this emotion or this feeling didn't have a name.  Later I realized it was called compassion. Since those early days, for me compassion wakes me up and reaches out of me with tender arms to those around me who cry and suffer and long for something of an unknown origin. I have done this for as long as I can remember, back to grade school, then high school,  college, and now with my wounded warriors or with anyone, stranger or friend, that I see struggling or suffering. 
I quite simply want to relieve their pain as much as possible,  perhaps because compassion asks this of me.  I don't knowingly do this because there is something in it for me.  I do it simply because it was born in me.  Show me the excluded, the ill, the dying, the sad, the lonely.  Show me those who fight daily with demons that can't be tamed. I will appear with the bandages to help sooth their wounds, whether physical or mental.  The bandages I arrive with, more than likely, are rescued four footed angels that happened into my life, as a salve themselves for the pain I have been afforded in my life. They provide a place of nourishment for me, and for those patients I have worked with for decades.
It has become quite clear that when I was struggling alone for a great portion of my early life with my own loneliness and pain, sharing my suffering with others has become a holy act of compassion.  This quite simply, I truly believe, is why I am on this earth.
Every tear I have shed, every betrayal I have been afforded, every moment of grace, every hour of hope, every sunrise and sunset over an ocean or  thunderstorm in the mountains, every moment however small has suddenly been a wonder, a surprise, a knowingness, a gift of huge proportions toward fully  understanding there was a hope rising in me, to help all of us to understand that each of us fight our own battles, inwardly and/or outwardly.  And that from that promise emerges the fact that we can all exist with our own scars and a knowingness that  kind words, an outstretched hand or a simple smile can quite literally save another person.  A sincerity that they can see in your face and feel deep down inside, as I pull them back into life, if even just for a moment, as I live my religion.
From my scars, hope has arisen in others, smiles appear on vacant faces, arms stretch out wide open to encompass a complete stranger, who for whatever reason loves them with all her heart. Through me, my dogs are an offering of unconditional love to others.

So out of my scars great lessons have been learned. And for them I am a better person. I am compelled to struggle and suffer with those around me and to help relieve their pain, as much as possible. For this I suppose I should be grateful for the neglect and abuse I endured at a way too early age. For now I get it.  Now I understand.  We must all stand as a community rather than alone and reach out to those who need us the most.

I remember the little girl in me who had been wounded by life at a tender young age. A little girl who went on to adapt to others expectations by trying to please everyone, no matter the repercussions, because she was so fearful of disapproval and drawing outside of the lines. In finding compassion for others, she has become able to cradle a ragged old stuffed rabbit, that has no nose, every night and release that injured part of herself, as she soon realized this rabbit was indeed herself.

Now I get it. Now I know I am enough.  Now this little girl feels and listens deeply to the silent and sometimes not so silent cries of others, and with everything in her, she tries to help them in whatever way she can, for in so doing she find she is healing herself.

No comments:

Post a Comment