I have been taking some time to go through the program Reclaiming Virtue; it has been a blessing. The questions you out to your guests and their responses are thought-provoking and inspiring and calming. The calming is something I need in a way that's hard to articulate, for me. But hearing others talk about troubles and the discoveries they have made is inspiring; the stories give breath to my hopes and uncertainties. The last two years have been the most challenging/miserable of my life. Please God this time of trial is ending. Your guests have shown me the way to some forms of hope I had not had. There have been many levels of pain and attendant humiliation that several of the commentators have discussed. I can't tell you how grateful I am just to hear this articulated. I have indeed been growing more and more isolated, removed, desperately lonely . . . even among my family. My family - my wife and two teenage children - have been confused, hurt, angry, and . . . and unable to understand my depression. Part of the non-understanding has to do with the fact that I am a man; I am (maybe was) the "head of the household." I have shown vulnerability; I have shown genuine need. That freaks them out. They have responded by thinking I am weak, "needy," less-than-a-man. It's been incredibly difficult to try and talk with them about this aspect of the issue of pain; but so much of the humiliation and shame comes from the disrespecct and, at times, contempt they seem to feel. There are other dimensions of pain than the "gendered," aspects, of course. There is the the basic human need for consolation, TOUCHING! They have said that my desire to say "I love you" when they leave for work/.school, and my enjoyment of a kiss good-bye, are forced. ANd, in a way, I suppose they are right. But it has become something we are self-conscious about because they have complained, even criticized. Boy, "consequential actions," . . . what a brilliant phrase used by Sharon Salzberg! I feel that I may be going on too much. But please let me finish with an observation: there is an analogy to my individual, personal experience during my time of trial and exquisite pain. and it is American society's inability to think critically and compassionately through the roles we play, in our families, at work, in our communities, even in our faith communities. I think there are assumptions we carry with us that have to do with GIVING; we think about the sources of material assistance - from the Gov't, from people in our communities, in ourselves even. Where does our vulnerability fit? Is there any way to consider need, suffering, humiliation, or other forms of devastation as RESOURCES? Do these states, whether emotional or material, count as things we bring to the pain of others; or, are these "states" (for lack of a better term right now), just vacuums, black holes, liabilities?
I would like to thank :Natasha" especially. You unlocked a part of my heart that has been closed. Thank you so much. I wish you were here, I would give you a hug..
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