100 Happy Days: Days 59-60

I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind - Kahlil Gibran

Happy Day 59: I have been stuck on writing the story that goes with this drawing for over a week, which has put me significantly behind on posting my happy day drawings. It has been an exercise in patience, loving-kindness. It’s easy to beat up on myself for not keeping up and to tell myself that I have failed. Those are my inner critics coming to the fore. But then my inner wise self also emerges to help me love myself and understand better what is at the root of my inaction.

The story that goes along with this drawing is complex and it is one that has been full of sticky parts for me. No wonder I have been frozen. Bottom line is it isn’t easy to tell for many reasons. For the sake of moving on and not let perfect get in the way of good, I am giving myself permission to tell a mediocre bare bones version of the story for now. I trust that a more in depth version will emerge when the time is right.

Sometimes we have difficult people in our lives. When these people are merely friends, when things get tough we tend to naturally pull away and give the situation space. If things are bad enough, we cut them out of our lives.

Sometimes however, the difficult people are family and this is harder. We can still be pushed to the point of cutting them out of our lives, but usually we put up with a lot more before we walk away.

We learn a lot from people who are positive influences in our life. But, as the Kahlil Gibran quote suggests, sometimes it is the difficult people in our lives who are our teachers.

My parents can drive me crazy – they don’t do emotions, they can be very judgmental, and it can sometimes feel like I am the least important person in the world to them. But I have learned a lot from these things and they have very actively influenced who I am today. I have learned to engage my emotions from their emotional shutdown-ness. I have learned compassion and empathy from their judgments. I have learned to be a supportive friend from their lack of availability.

But today was about another difficult side of them – my dad’s denial and stubbornness, and both of their limited communication and from their perspective not wanting to inconvenience anyone.

I learned this day that Dad for several weeks now has been experiencing periods of intense cold sweats. Mom finally convinced him to call the doctor. While he was waiting for a call back, he started having pain in his left arm. This earned him a ticket to the emergency room for bloodwork, EKG, stress test. All were negative for anything heart related. They sent him home and told him to follow up with his primary.

Mom rejected me going to the ER to support her, bring her food, or see my dad. Mom wanted me to just go to bed and she would tell me tomorrow what the test results were. Hello!!! You really think I am going to sleep when my dad is in the ER and they are still ruling out heart attack???

In the garden of my heart the flowers of peace bloom beautifully - Thich Nhat Hanh

Happy Day 60: Continuing the ER saga, dad was inclined toward denial and was highly resistant to the idea of following up with his primary care doctor. He was embarrassed that he went in and they didn’t find anything. It’s easier to avoid your fears when you deny there is anything wrong.

I struggled in myself about whether to keep my mouth shut or to say something. Was I supposed to honor his choice to not follow up, or should I say what’s on my mind. When I asked myself how I would feel if something serious happened and I didn’t say anything, the  answer was obvious. I would have serious regrets and no peace in my heart if I said nothing. So, I told him I knew the choice was his, but that I highly encouraged him to follow up with his doctor. At that point, I could then sit with this line in the Great Bell Chant openly and expansively.