The art of compassion

I am a work in progress. I’ve been through the wringer on more scales than most people can identify with. I’ve given up on myself more often than all others combined have given up on me. And there’s been a smorgasbord of people who have given up on me.

A smorgasbord.

A few years back I realized that giving up on myself was not an option. By giving up on myself I was also giving up on my children. And my family. And my friends. So no more of that BS, thanks very much.

When I got that point where I realized that I was actually valuable here in this world – and believe me when I say that was a long process in itself – I began trying to show others the same within themselves. That each of us has value. Even when we can’t see it in ourselves. Even when we don’t want to see it in ourselves.

So… I’ve been wronged by people. We all have. The details of those wrongs don’t matter right now – perhaps another day I will share some of that – but what does matter is how I’ve chosen to address those wrongs.

So let me digress for a moment and slide off to the side to shed some relevant light.

I’ve been the person who was alone when I desperately needed somebody – anybody – to care. I was the person who struggled silently for years, and then I was the person who struggled solo when people turned their backs on my cries for help. And, because I now understand what that feels like – the utter loneliness and despair that accompanies struggling alone – I refuse to be another person who turns a blind eye. I will not – nay: CANNOT – be that person.

That said…

I’ve been wronged. Sometimes severely. But I’ll be damned if I will walk away from somebody who is hurting. Even if they have have walked away from me. Even if they have scarred my soul. Even if they have broken my spirit.

Friend or foe, I will never let somebody suffer alone. Because that is, in my humble opinion, one of the cruellest things somebody can do to another human being.

Compassion doesn’t come easy. And often there is a price tag. Sometimes a monetary one. Almost always an emotional one. But it’s a price worth paying.

Yes, there are boundaries. I’m not going to let every whimpering Willy scam me. I’m not going to let myself be used or taken advantage of. (Not to say neither of those have happened in the past, but each new error in judgement brings wisdom for the next time, so hey, it’s not all bad!) Being compassionate is not the same as being a sucker. But if I can stress one point to my post today, it’s that finding compassion for others – especially for your enemies – is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself, and this world.

So go forth and be a beacon of hope to somebody. Even something as simple as buying coffee for the homeless guy outside your office will make a difference in the universe. But if you can spare a moment to simply listen to somebody’s story, you will make a bigger impact than you can ever understand.

Be good to each other, my friends. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

~E.

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