July 23 – Coming to Terms – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

We are all the stage and all the players. 

One of the great contributions of psychology has been to help us understand how we replay our hurts and affections with people other than those who have hurt or touched us. There are many names for this, the more well known being “projection” and “transference.” In essence, we play, what has been said or done, or what hasn’t been said or done, over and over, until we come to terms with it. The coming to terms is called healing, surrender, letting go or even forgiveness. 

Being yelled at and then later kicking the dog is the stereotype of this. Yet more often, we replay the styles of clumsy love we experience. For example, while growing up, I endured the cold dismissal of my trust feelings. when I would show my hurt, I was seen as trying to weaken my parents’ resolve. They then turned their backs on me, as if by showing my pain, I was trying to trick them.

Having experienced this, I am especially sensitive to the pains of those close to me, yet there are times when I catch myself holding firm, just out of reach, replaying my parents’ role as well as my own. This is humbling and upsetting, to say the least.

But just as germs must run their course, all the players in our dramas must be voiced before they will leave us be. Just as we keep trying to get what we never got from someone else who doesn’t know our game, we also keep the trespass alive by reenacting it on others nearby until we can humbly know what it is to be hurtful – the first step toward forgiveness.

I have seen myself doing what was done to me, never as cruel or as harsh. But it has been enough to make me tremble at how easy it is to be cruel when afraid, and how difficult it is to accept that we are all capable of terrible things, and how cleansing it is to realize that true kindness breathes just beneath this acceptance.

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