Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “may.” Use it any way you’d like. Have fun!

May I live in peace. May I be safe. May I be well. May I know kindness.
May you live in peace. May you be stafe. May you be well. May you know kindness.
(directed toward someone you love)
May you live in peace. May you be safe. May you be well. May you know kindness. (directed toward an acquaintance)
May you live in peace. May you be safe. May you be well. May you know kindness. (directed toward people you may not know, but in your general vicinity, apartment building, town, school…)
May you live in peace. May you be safe. May you be well. May you know kindness. (directed toward everyone in the world, as we are all united in our desires for peace, safety…)

The meditation listed above is a variation on the Loving-Kindness or Metta meditation. Metta meditation usually starts with the self, because as Buddha said ‘unless we treat ourselves with love and compassion, we cannot reflect the same on others.’

May I know kindness. May you know kindness.

I have come to realize that something I hold dear, kindness, has evaporated from my existence—both in the giving and receiving. It is so rare for me to receive kindness, that the slightest kind act in my direction both elates me and sends me into a depression as I recognize the lack of it in my life. I don’t even have to be the target of the kindess to experience the glow of it being given to someone else or even an animal. I think the world at large has been suffering from a lack of kindness.

I truly believe that you should start with kindness when interacting with others because we do not know what their experiences have been—that day, that week, in their lives.

I’ve been suffocating from lack of receiving kindness from others, but worse still is the lack of kindness in me.

My true self has been obliterated from decades of crap and trauma. I want desperately to return to the me that was before people and life happened. There are innate, lasting personality traits that are present in childhood. I don’t wish to return to childhood, nor do I wish to be childish. (Although adulting is highly over-rated.) I want that part of me back. I’m becoming fixated on it.

When I was very young, probably around kindergarten age or a tad younger, I had not yet been totally stripped of my true self. We lived in the country just outside a city, and where we were the housing lots were set on acre plots. There was an old, rusted, short, wire fence that ran between our lot and our neighbor’s. There was a strip of pine trees that ran along the fence. To a little kid, that area was mysterious and exciting. It was a place to explore. Some how it felt dangerous to be close to the fence, peering to the other side.

I got even more adventurous and I went to the other side of the fence, into my neighbor’s yard. I had never seen the house there as it was a wooded lot. I had never seen people there. What strange new land was this? And how much trouble was I getting into? Soon the “other side of the fence” was part of my normal exploration.

One day the incredible happened. Our neighbor was in her yard! She saw me. I don’t know if she called me over, or I did it on my own, but we became introduced. Her name was Annie. She was older than my parents, maybe older than my grandmother. She was old. (She was probably only 50…)

I started visiting Annie regularly. Not every day, but often. She was nice. She invited me into her house. She gave me juice and cookies. I’d never been in anyone else’s house before, except for family member’s homes in Indiana. Annie gave me a beautiful bisque doll and a little china zebra planter. I loved visiting Annie. I loved the gifts.

I never told my parents about my visits. I didn’t show them my gifts. Some how I knew nothing good would come of that. It was my secret. But as a little kid, secrets don’t last long. My mother found one of the gifts and grilled me about how did I get this?

She was horrified. I had been visiting the neighbor? I was told to stop immediately. I was never to go back. I was an annoying child, and I was surely annoying Annie. Annie did not want me there!

I was crushed to know that my visits to Annie had been bothering her. I did as I was told. I never went back. Mom took the gifts and stuffed them away so I wouldn’t break them. I didn’t get them back until I left for college. I still have the zebra planter.

Of course, in hindsight, what mom said was cruel nonsense. My mother never talked to Annie. As soon as she learned of my adventures and new friend, mom shut it down. I believe that Annie probably liked the precocious little girl’s visits, hence the gifts and the interactions. My mother had serious issues, and I believe she was a malignant narcissist, but I didn’t know that as a child. I believed that I had been bad, a bother, and that my presence was not something anyone wanted.

I learned that lesson deeply. I carry it with me today.

In kindergarten I had that lesson reinforced by the teacher. My natural inclination was to please the teacher. I remember I drew pictures of turtles and the teacher really praised me. There were lots of pictures of turtles after that.

I also loved to be helpful, to the teacher and to the other children. I remember teaching others how to tie their shoes and how to open milk cartons. If I saw a classmate struggling with something and I could help, I would help. No hesitation. It was just part of me being me. Until the teacher once or twice told me to stop. Sometimes my help happened during nap time, and so apparently I was disruptive. I heard that I was once again being a bother and bad by interacting with others. I stopped.

Thank you early lessons…

That kind, generous, helpful kid is my true self. Those were innate things I was born with as part of my genuine personality. Abusive parents, oppressive teachers added layers to cover that part of me. By sixth grade I was writing poems about building a stone tower around myself. Stone by stone the wall grew higher. I had no idea about metaphor.

Decades of life, traumatic or not, decades of people, traumatic or not, have taken their toll.

I want me back. I’m becoming obsessive about it. There are worse things to focus on.

In the last months I have watched myself be the opposite of kind, generous and helpful. My own personal pain and grief and anger (and a lot of it PTSD related) obliterated me from my own kindness. I have not been kind to others, mainly because I have not been kind to myself. I no longer recognize this person masquerading as me.

May I live in peace. May I be safe. May I be well. May I know kindness.
May you live in peace. May you be safe. May you be well. May you know kindness.

8 Comments

  1. A wonderful post. (And I’m not just being kind! 😉) I’m glad you still have the zebra to remind you of Annie. She sounds like a really nice lady. I’d send you a plant to put in it, if you didn’t live so far away. 😌

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is pushing it to call the zebra a planter, but it is. It is very small. I don’t know what you’d put in it. Maybe a tiny ivy or something. I kill plants, so it’s probably best you’re in Europe. 🙂

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  2. This is such a touching post. I hope you can remember and trust those feelings you received from the neighbor. In times today it seems trust and kindness are hard to find, but trust yourself and your instincts first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It is “funny” that I’m sure Annie didn’t think much about me after a possible, “I wonder why the kid isn’t around anymore?” But many decades later she still holds a place in my heart.

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  3. What a wonderful piece on the important role adults play in mentoring (or not) to kids!
    From what you’ve written, that little girl still lives in you. Now that you have an overview, embracing her may get easier. The point about loving oneself is your greatest. My favorite quote is “What others think of you is none of your business.”. Reclaim yourself. You’re worth it!

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    1. Thanks, yes… even adults with the best of intentions can have such profound impacts on children. That’s kind of scary actually. Annie was definitely a positive one to me, and “all” she was doing was showing kindness. I’m sure the teacher had no idea she was reinforcing such a negative lesson given by my mother. I love that quote of yours, thanks for reminding me of it.

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  4. What a beautiful meditation. That zebra is adorable. Though it ended the way it did, glad you had your time with Annie. I’m sure it was a gift to her. In fact I’m absolutely positive it was a gift to her.

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    1. I hadn’t thought of the Loving-Kindness meditation in quite a while. Thanks to the prompt I may practice it. I think it would do some good.

      All these years later I wonder what Annie thought of my visits. As I got older and could comprehend things, I have always felt badly that my visits just stopped. I wonder what she thought. Probably, “Just the whims of a kid” since I also just sort of showed up one day. We’ll never know, cuz the zebra ain’t talkin.

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