The C Word: Compassion, not Cunt.

26 Dec

At 16:55 on Wednesday I arrived at daycare, just in time to pick up my boy. But he wasn’t there. And that’s because my mother had gotten confused, picked him up and took him to his dad’s, which she was supposed to do on Thursday. BD rose to the occasion, thankfully, left work and took our son to his apartment. So I had a spontanious free night, and I spent it working, doing laundry, cooking, learning new Russian phrases, and inviting D to spend the night with me, when he got off work at midnight.

But a couple of hours into my sudden freedom, I became extremely gloomy. It was nothing specific, it was the whole of it, this thing called life, which sometimes presents a bit more of a challenge than I feel I can handle. I stared into nothing for about half an hour. There was something sharp pinching me in my gut, hurting me physically, whispering all sorts of forgotten phrases into my ear: you’ll never get through this; you’re not strong enough; you’re not good enough; you don’t deserve any better; you’ve made too many mistakes which cannot be corrected and finally, the untilmate you’ll die an old spinster (and you’re allergic to cats too, you’ll make a horrible cat lady).

Snap out of it! I imagined myself slapping me accross the face.

And then something wonderful happened, something that made me realize how much I’d evolved in the last year. I felt compassion towards myself, and for once, I was able to be kind to myself. It is, objectively, a hard time for me, I thought. And I am entitled to my ups and downs. I’ve been through bad times, and I always get through. I’m stronger than I give myself credit for, but even the strongest have moments of weekness.

The first thing I did, was text my principle and tell him I wasn’t feeling well and needed to take the morning off the following day. I never miss work if I can help it. I’m the kind of teacher who comes to school with a stomach flu and infects everyone because she’s too much of a workaholic and a control freak to stay at home and let a sub teach her class. But this was neccessary. I took a long hot shower, wore comfy pajamas and made myself tea. And already, my mood had begun to improve.

Then I texted D: Hey, I know we’d said you’d come over tonight. But I just wanted to give you a heads up that I’ve been walking around with a dark cloud hovering over my head all day. I’d love to see you, but don’t bet on me being too much fun tonight. He texted back immediately: Of course I’m coming. You don’t have to be or do anything. I’ll just come give you a hug, and if you want, I’ll stay. Then he added: You should go to sleep, I’ll wake you when I get there.

And that’s what I did. I fell asleep at once. And when I woke up he was knocking on the door. He came in and hugged me. We stood there for a long time, holding each other. Then he stripped down to his T and boxers and pulled me into bed. There was no sex, just hugging and chatting, and kissing for a long time, after which we both fell asleep.

The extent to which I felt comforted, got me thinking about compassion. It’s easy for me to feel compassion towards my son. Everything is always forgiven and forgotten. He will forever be loved and contained. The other day though, my mother began crying in the middle of a conversation we were having and I found myself telling her off: “You can’t cry now. This is MY thing. You have no right to cry about this. You’re supposed to strong for me.” (Not me at my most compassionate, clearly.) I don’t know why I couldn’t show my mother the same compassion that I show my son every day, even when he is throwing cerial at me because it’s not the right kind, or the right bowl or the right spoon. I should have been kinder to my mom.

D may not say I love you, but he is able to show compassion towards me, to be comforting and to not expect anything of me when I’ve got nothing to give. It’s not the L word, but it has weight.

More remarkably, I’ve learned this week that I have he ability to be compassionate towards myself. To put judgment asside and be kind to myself at times like this, when kindness is all that is really neccessary.

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