the other cheek’s turn

Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek.”  My father said, “You get what you give.”  I think sometimes, they were both wrong.  I do my best to be kind and loving, gentle and compassionate.  I treat others with respect, often reminding myself to look for, see and even touch the Divine Spark in everyone.  Most of the time, I do get what I give, or at least close to it.  It’s the reason when someone shits on me, I am truly staggered.  We have just come through the worst move ever (and I have moved a fair number of times in my life).  Moving is certainly stressful enough without the additional insult of having your possessions, your home and your self poorly treated.  And that, dear reader, I assure you is a phenomenal understatement.  From holes in walls to cracked, chipped and broken furniture.  Boxes clearly marked, “THIRD FLOOR” were carelessly discarded in the basement and our chest freezer ended up on its side in the middle of the basement floor (unplugged).  And the list goes on and on.  I will do my very best to spare you the diatribe that belongs in the Craigslist Rants section.  What floored me most was the response of the moving company when I called the following day.  “You should have called the office when the first piece of artwork’s glass shattered.  That’s your fault.  There’s nothing I can do for you a day later.”   I spluttered and stammered.  I pleaded with her to understand my plight, explaining and re-explaining my situation in hopes she would understand and acknowledge (it’s amazing, but all I really wanted was an apology) the wrong done to me.  I told her about the multiple holes and gouges in the walls from my cherished piano being slammed into the wall repeatedly all the way up the stairs.  And her response was, “The guys told me you were going to have that wall painted anyway.”   Stunning.  From me, more begging for understanding, compassion, an iota of empathy.  She remained aloof, blaming me, untouched by my plea for humanity.  From imploring to anger, I went from beseeching to swearing and threatening.  “I have access to social media and I am not afraid to use it! I will bury your company!“, words brandished with a shaking voice.  And finally, when none of that worked, I cried.  I was completely ashamed of myself and the ridiculous trajectory of emotional lunacy I had just displayed.  Pema Chodron says, “Don’t bite the hook.”  Easy for her to say when her home was not thrown into total chaos and disarray, her possessions pitched about piteously by strangers who then condemned her.


So what would Pema suggest?  What would Jesus do?  What would my father conclude? I sure know what my grandmother would have said.  You get what you pay for.  I tried to skimp, tried to save a few bucks by hiring a less expensive moving company and this is what I got.  I have no one to blame but myself.  Drive all blames into one – ie: myself.  Isn’t that the slogan Pema quotes?  Not quite, not really.

Pema most certainly would not say to wallow in my misery and blame myself.  It’s just my response, the one I’m most used to.  Tracy explains it as the path well-worn in one’s brain.  The wellest worn path in my brain is the path of shame.  The well-rutted road my brain derails onto at the merest hint of a problem.  That is the place, down deep, where I know I am worthless and that everything (no matter the situation or circumstance – droughts, floods, calamity or misery) is my fault, that I don’t deserve anything good.  I know that because my mother told me so.  Oh dear reader, don’t cringe as you read that.  It is nothing less than the truth of what I have lived with for as long as I have lived.  I fight against that message every single day.  And generally I do a decent enough job at keeping it down, and sometimes even winning past it.  But when something like this happens, the little picket fence I have so carefully erected around my fragile heart gets washed away in a storming ocean of despair.  I am sucked helplessly out to sea.  How dare you expect better?  You deserve treatment like this.  The words echo in my head.   And why is this my fault?  Well, in this particular instance, I chose this moving company.  Clearly I didn’t do my due diligence and research them.  So it must be my fault.  Right?

Pema’s slogan of “driving all blames into one” isn’t really even about blame.  It is about piercing through, getting past, the story-line and accessing the actual feelings underneath all the turmoil and the can of whoop-ass I just opened up and spilled all over myself.  And those feelings are?  Ok.  Deep breath.  Primarily I feel foolish, stupid, ashamed.  My trust has been battered, broken, torn, and I am wary (if not downright terrified) of having to find, trust and hire all the help we need to get the house (that needs a ton of work) in order.  I feel frightened by how unable I was to protect my family and my possessions from harm and how easy it was for others to do that harm even with me standing by.  Mostly right now I am feeling very very sad.  This incident seems to have pierced a deep well of sadness in me.  And on top of my tender heart being bruised, I feel badly that my possessions are damaged.  My grandmother would say, “But they’re only material things, honey. Thank God you have your health.”  Honestly grandma, get a grip.  I worked for those things.  I earned those things, paid for those things, took care of those things.

The part of me that is angry wants to know, when does the other cheek get a turn?  I’ve turned my cheek, eaten crow and swallowed my pride.  Being a compassionate spiritual being should not be synonymous with being a pushover.  What would Jesus have done if his moving company fucked up this badly?  I probably shouldn’t speak for Jesus (for so many reasons), but I can tell you what I’d like.  For starters, I’d like some kind of restoration, compensation, for fixing and putting to rights my piano, the walls, Emily’s dresser and whatever else they broke or damaged.  A close second I would absolutely settle for would be acknowledgement, a little responsibility, perhaps even an apology.    But that means me being in charge of other people and we all know that I can’t control how other people act or respond.   What I would like from myself is fairly simple.   I would like not to feel responsible for the poor treatment I received.  I’d like to not feel deserving of that kind of treatment.  I do not want to feel at fault for someone else’s poor decisions and crappy actions.  And those things are within my power.  How I view and respond to poor treatment or the bad choices of others should be in my control.  Oh.  Ok.  I’ll get on that.  In the meantime, would Jesus write a negative review on Yelp!? or on Angie’s list?  What would Pema do?

About halitentwo

i am. god is. we are. as soon as i write something about me i change, am different, evolving. i am trans. i am a parent. i am a partner. i am a human. i am attempting to live a well-lived life in the spaces in between, beyond definition, fluid, dynamic, omnifarious and always changing. hopefully growing.
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3 Responses to the other cheek’s turn

  1. lucas says:

    You really know your stuff… Keep up the good work!

  2. halitentwo says:

    thank you so much! many blessings to you

  3. Pingback: more than meets the eye | kaleidoscope life

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