Week 13, Kindness Begins
It is the dawn of 2016, a chance to collectively reflect on what has gone by, to dream of what is to come, and to plant new seeds of hope into our lives, in order to step bravely into another year living.
I have been listening to many people hope for better things to come in the new year, and I share their desire for ‘harder days’ behind me, however, I am reminded of this common quote:
My present to myself this year, is starting it with a focus of KINDNESS. I am surrounded by people who believe in this ‘religion’ of kindness, choosing it even when it is difficult, when it is politically incorrect, when it would be easier to be bitter, cold, cruel, spiteful, or simply neutral. Their philosophy is straight-forward:
Kindness matters too much, to live any other way.
Early on in our dating relationship, hubby and I were careful to always speak kindly when we had something crucial to say. The more we got to know and trust each other, the less careful we became in voicing our thoughts and opinions, to a point where the deposits into our emotional bank accounts were not equalling the withdrawals, which I am told can only stay balanced if using the ratio of 10 deposits to every withdrawal.
Noticing a ‘wedge’ starting to form between us that gradually increased in distance, we checked our approach to one another, and found it lacking. We corrected our kindness level, or lack of it, and the wedge dissolved. Whenever it returns, we pay attention to our deposits of kindness.
My oldest son, now 22, had just turned 14 when I left his father. He took pity on his dad and ultimately decided to live full-time with him, while me and the other 3 children, lived up the hill from them. It was not long before my son had completely turned his heart against me, siting all kinds of untruths I can only imagine came from his father. When I occasionally saw him, he would ask me why…..”why did you leave my father”??
At first, my response was solely based on the abuse and how unjust and imbalanced our lives had been. After a few years of soaking up the love of a supportive family and friend circle, I enhanced my answer to include, we were not compatible or “in love” with each other. I explained how much his father had changed in the first year of our marriage, specifically after news of my conception with him.
More years passed, making it possible to go deeper into the answer, delving into layers not possible when wounds are too raw, too recent. I found a much simpler answer, the deeper I got.
If only he had been kind.
I could have managed the home-schooling of 4 kids, the strict dietary rules, the OCD cleaning rituals, the extreme religious actions, the squeaky tight budget, the isolation from family and friends, if only he had been kinder. My son used to raise many arguments about how ‘loving’ and ‘righteous’ his father was, but he could never disagree about his dad’s harsh and critical methods.
It would not have been a happy life, but I would have stayed loyal to his father, true to my vow, honouring the commitment I made without wavering….were it not for the cruelty. Cruelty paved a smooth, direct path to violence. When seen as a worthless, undeserving object, one can easily be struck down or tossed about, commanded to perform a multitude of absurd and demeaning tasks that never measure up to an unachievable standard, and then used as a scapegoat for all that goes wrong.
No, I could no longer live in it. The cruelty was slowly killing me, robbing me of the desire to take another breath, knowing breathing meant, continuing to live in a callous, merciless world.
Kindness matters this much!
It saves relationships. It validates people. It changes situations instantly. It sustains weary and hopeless travellers on distressing, uncertain pathways.
Week 13 is going to start like all the other topics, with a focus first on ME. I have already found myself trying to create a loophole. Often in the first week of a topic, I have trouble for a few days, keeping the learning towards myself, but with this topic, it seems different.
Instead of my usual jumping ahead and looking at how it applies to others, I am catching myself using the ME focus as a way to excuse any low levels of kindness I display toward others, knowing that I am to be kind to myself this week, and not focus on being kind to others…..yet. Forget about them….this is MY week. 🙁
Oh, the tricks I play, to get away with ‘stuff’ that is hard to take responsibility for….. like:
Not using my manners,
Thinking higher of myself than another person,
…..I think I was guilty of all of that in a space of a 24 hour period, even with the presence of my best Christmas cheer!
But this is still getting ahead into Kindness with YOU, and US, and THEM….
This week is ME.
How to be KIND to ME….when, to be kind to ME….why….to be kind to ME….and not forgetting about my typical kindness to others. I will use this frumpy, wrinkled pillow case my mum gave me as a child, for my icon this week. It should help me centre my first and last thoughts of the day, as I rest on it during nights of what could be a daunting week.
Brave on, little warrior. The battle is not won. Kindness is at stake!