This morning, a friend was telling me about how someone she loves treats her. Her stories sounded painful and brutalizing, even abusive. I wondered why she tolerated such apparent disrespect. She was describing someone who obviously doesn’t appreciate the gift of this friend of mine, who is such a love bomb. When I asked her why she didn’t give herself the gift of distancing herself from this person and make space in her life for someone who treated her with more affection, appreciation, and care, she said, “But he loves me.”
Right now, I am at Esalen, in recovery in the wake of the death of my mother. Although grief can be consuming and the deathbed vigil with my mother was intense, I couldn’t ignore the #MeToo stories that were erupting in the news during this journey with my mother. So let me take a moment to add my two cents to the swell of outcries rising from women who are finding their voice. I know my mother would be proud of me for saying, “#MeToo.”
According to my friend and fellow Hay House author Dr. Neha Sangwan, who recently gave a killer speech at the Hay House I Can Do It Ignite conference in San Jose, breakdowns in communication lie at the root of many illnesses. We make agreements with people - often unconscious agreements - and when our agreements don’t align, we experience conflict, which leads to triggering of the body’s stress responses, which causes the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms to switch off, then VOILA! We get sick…
Neha says that many of the conflicts come when we aren’t in alignment with our agreements with others, especially regarding “Yes” or “No” agreements.
The Doctor Wants It STAT!
She gave an example from her work consulting with operating room staffs that aren’t getting along. Take Dr. X who screams, “Someone get me 2 units of packed red blood cells STAT!”
Twenty minutes later, when the patient is hemorrhaging and there’s no blood, Dr. X bellows, “You all are totally incompetent!”
Is it the OR staff’s fault for being incompetent? Or Dr. X’s fault for failing to communicate properly? According to Neha, it a case of misalignment of agreements. It was the doctor’s responsibility to ensure that the order had been acknowledged (a Level 1 agreement) and a plan had been made. Ideally, he would have made sure Nurse Sharon agreed to run to the blood bank and have the blood back in the OR in 10 minutes (a Level 5 agreement.) But instead, the doctor just barked an order that nobody acknowledged.
My eyes were opened recently to many of the ways in which I create my own suffering, including how I’ve created this separation story that left me feeling lonely and disconnected for much of my life. Now that the blinders are off, I find myself driving on Highway 1 or hiking in the coastal hills or among the redwoods, with my mind drifting back to ways I’ve inadvertently hurt people, and through that unintentional hurting, how I’ve hurt myself.
Looking back is like a knife in my heart. Oh God, did I really say that? Did I really do that? How could I have been so insensitive when I love that person so much?
It feels like grating my heart with a potato peeler.
I never meant to hurt my college boyfriend, who wanted to marry me before I was ready to get married and who wound up taking the diamond ring he bought me, placing it in an oyster shell, and setting it out to sea. I didn’t mean to hurt that friend who wanted more of me than I was able to give at the time. I didn’t mean to hurt the people who tried to help me with my business before I was quite ready to be helped. I didn’t mean to hurt my mother and my brother and my sister and pretty much everyone else in my family who I adore.
It’s enough to make you think you should just cloister yourself in a closet as a public service to keep yourself from wounding others. But part of me knows that’s no way to live.
I was about to lead a teleclass in two minutes, when the phone rang.
I could tell by the tone of his voice that something awful had happened.
His name was Dan. He asked if we had a puppy named Bezoar, and after confirming that we did, his voice broke when he confessed that he had just accidentally killed her with his car. He was sitting by the side of the road right behind my house, holding her, waiting for me to come get her.
I bailed on the teleclass, and, heart racing and body shaking, dashed out to Highway 1 to wrap my arms around the 6 month old puppy who just joined the family in July, shortly after our beloved Grendel died prematurely in June.