Actually, what I truly believe is that mean people deserve our utmost sympathy--while at the same time, we need to draw clear boundaries to protect ourselves from them.
Occasionally, those clear boundaries call for twenty-foot high walls to shut the mean people out altogether. How very sad that they are so twisted that they need to be mean. Even mean people deserve love, but tough love, emphasis on "tough."
What got me thinking about this? Yesterday a much-loved friend was so badly mistreated by her blood relatives that it just rendered me speechless...no one should be treated like that, no one. And it's been going on for years, but yesterday was really the capper. Notice I call them her "blood relatives" and not her family. Technically, they are her family, but I wouldn't dignify them with that title. My heart was also wounded for her, as I simply cannot comprehend this behavior or why they would inflict it on her. I went back and forth from angry to sad and back again.
Today, I drew this mandala:
As I was drawing it, I was thinking of the art of alchemy, of turning the lead of our lives into gold. I was thinking of how badly we sometimes treat each other, and about the power of resilience. I know that my friend will regain her footing and go on with her life.
We are all, as the saying goes: "Strong at the broken places." And at the same time, we are still broken at the broken places.
We manage to get up after being slapped down, and we go on with the journey. Most of the time, we even learn from our experiences and realize it's all part of maturing and getting through life. These trials and tests often teach us to recognize in advance that another one may be building, and we can skillfully step out of the way in time to deflect it. Or we learn to steer through it safely. Or we recognize that, though these attacks can feel personal, they aren't personal--and they are more about the attacker than about us.
But other times we just cannot get up, the devastation is so great. We need help from our true family--our loving relatives and our friends-as-family. Even from strangers-as-family.
May we all learn to give this loving help to each other when it is needed.
I know I have done my share of being mean, of hurting others. Hopefully, not too much of that lately...but after watching what happened yesterday, I know I need to be very mindful to act on my desire to choose kindness. It is pretty hard to resist being mean sometimes, yes? We really want to lash out. I've done it, you've done it--it's universal. But I hope to do better now.
Tough love when needed? Yes.
Clear boundaries when needed? Yes.
But yesterday was a powerful reminder of the need for Right Speech and Right Action.
That's why I am calling today's mandala an "Alchemical Mandala," I dedicate it to my caring and kind friend, who did not deserve what she experienced yesterday.
May we all be safe and protected. May we all be kind to one another.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm always open to hearing about a good venue in the Cambridge-Somerville area). I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society
Skillful Meditation Project