Sunday, August 06, 2006

Wounded dog

So I have been working on this concept of love as retribution. I'm not doing as well as I would like.

Days I must see the woman who seems to enjoy hurting me, I visualize greeting her with a smile and kindly thoughts. The smile does not come easily.

My pulse quickens. My palms sweat. I feel anxious. A little trill of fear runs down my spine. What has she planned for today? Spitefulness rises like a snake, and I feel false, forcing a smile I do not feel.

The minute-by-minute effort to replace anger and pain with compassion is exhausting. I resent the need to spend my energy this way.

What foolishness! She wastes so much of her own energy, and what can it possibly gain her? What reward does she find watching me struggle with my personal ethics--watching that first hit of pain, followed by teeth clenching, eyes blazing (I am prone to a bit of Irish temper), then the effort to seek peace in my soul and bring it to my face, my body, perhaps to bridge the space between us. Does this give her such pleasure? She smiles, a funny, twisted, small smile, and turns away.

Love can heal. I have seen it many times. I have seen it with this woman. Simply returning her hatred with unspoken love, a prayer for peace, a vision of her as a child beloved of Spirit, has brought a generous smile from her face, warm and true. And momentary.

In my resentment, now, I want to hang onto my "righteous" anger. Anger protects me, keeps the wounds fresh, reminds me not to trust again, not to extend myself only to be rewarded with betrayal or worse.


I quiet myself.


I acknowledge the ragged breath, the unhappy thoughts. Let them go.

Ask for guidance.

Several days this week, in that still space, Wanda Tucker's advice came to mind (see her comment to Love as Retribution) that wounded individuals who attack repeatedly are like a dog hit by a car. You've seen it, too. In his agony, the dog strikes at every helping hand, lashing about, running blindly into objects, hurting himself the more.
The image of the terrorized dog arrests me. I don't understand how a rational, well-educated person can enjoy hurting others (I am not her only target), but I can understand the impulse of a crazed, injured animal.

In that moment, a tiny bit of healing takes place. I release a breath I had not realized I was holding. I take another breath, and another, deeper and deeper. I move a little closer toward compassion and love.

I'll keep you posted on the progress of this experiment in creating peace from strife. I invite you to share your stories. If one person can make peace with one person, there is hope for peace in the world.



  1. It is so wearing to do this kind of toe-to-toe love-in-action. Part of the issue is that the nasty behavior on the part of the wounded dog is traumatizing to the receiver. Have you tried using the "Trauma Tap"?

    It can help to take the charge off the situation for you so your palms don't get so sweaty and you are not dreading it quite so much. If you have any questions about it, let me know. I'd be happy to help.

  2. Thank you for reminding me of this lovely tool, Wanda. I will let you know how it works.

  3. I don't work with the same tools you use.

    I do find it helpful to repeat a simple mantra "it's not about me." The ugly words, the nastiness only have power to hurt if I believe it really is true, really IS "about me."

    It isn't. It's about the other person's idiocy/injuries/pain. It's all about them, every word.

    Remembering that gives me the distance to truly not react (not the same as concealing/suppressing my reaction) except with curiosity towards the offender. I find that this disconcerts or disarms them - and they go elsewhere in their search for the psychic 'hit' they receive when they inflict pain.

    Does it heal them? don't imagine that it does. But it does make them change their behavior, get one less hit of the drug they're addicted to.


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