Watching The Mystery of Love video was just what I wanted after a hectic week, something I could half pay attention to while I finished a knitting project. When Frieda called I put the sound on mute. She cut right to the chase. Her father, never a nice man to begin with, had delivered an emotional hit and run severing all ties with her over a dispute about an inheritance, a pittance of one at that. Go figure. The fact that Frieda is over fifty and was not the least bit surprised by her father’s most recent diatribe did not lessen the sting of his words. Frieda’s other friends all urged her to strike back and let him have it. She wanted to know what I thought.
I said the first thing that came to me. “I think you should let it go. Nothing will be gained by lashing out and if you do your soul will suffer for it. Let it be.” I’m not entirely sure I knew what I meant by that when I said it. It had a ring of truth to it though, so I chalked it up to one of those may my ears hear what my mouth just said moments. Frieda and I talked about what that might mean a bit longer then hung up. When I turned my attention back to the video this quote was on the screen, “If you really loved yourself you would not harm another.” Buddha. Now, I have probably seen that particular quote a hundred times over the years and always dismissed it as an unrealistic ideal or just plain didn’t get it. Then I got it even though I didn’t know it at the time and I still can’t completely put my understanding of it into words.
We are never more destructive to ourselves then when we hurt someone else. That’s what I was trying to tell Frieda. Letting her father have it would hurt her and I didn’t want to see her do that to herself. There was nothing to be gained by dumping on her father. After all, isn’t that what he did? He let her have it, let her have all his negative energy like she was an emotional dumping ground. He didn’t really expect anything positive to come from what he said or he wouldn’t have said what he did. When we lash out we just want to unload and to hell with whoever gets in our way. If we really cared about ourselves and each other we would do many things and none of them would be done in anger.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to lash out in the heat of the moment and justify our wrath. We have become masters of that particular brand of destructive self deception. We have all the answers. We know everything; therefore we can do and say whatever we want because we are right. Self restraint in the name of love, that takes effort, and sometimes a lot of it. If I have learned nothing else I’ve learned this much, it’s either fear or love, baby. We always have a choice. It might not seem like much, but every time I choose love over fear it gets a little easier to choose it the next time. Practicing self restraint is an act of love that I do for me, no one else. Maybe they do deserve it, but I deserve love and inner peace more. I do not have to say or do the first thing that pops into my head. Waiting is a verb too. When I choose to stay silent first in the face of conflict, it’s not because I’ve lost my edge or don’t care, it’s because I have come to trust that the right action will present itself if I get out of the way. We are not in this alone. We are all connected. What we do to them we do to ourselves first. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for us to value self restraint at least as much as we value our right to speak out. Aren't we all worth at least that much?