Holding Our Complexity vs Making Each Other One Dimensional

This is me reinforcing the positive voices inside in order to quiet the negative ones (and hoping to help you do the same):
It amazes me how resilient and adaptive we humans can be when we need to. While I am struggling with being disappointed in my birth mother resilience at the moment (though I understand I may have been asking myself to do what is impossible for my Mama Heart), I am amazed at my overall resilience the last three years and in this moment as I make another big life transition. I am managing two chronic illnesses that impact my daily life, a full time job, a partner relationship, our unusual family, other relationships as best I can, and a bit of learning and thinking towards writing my books. And I am doing it mostly with grace and kindness, or at least quiet instead of disruption. For someone whose had to work all of my life to manage my emotions, I’m doing remarkably well for all the stress I have been holding. I need need need to be kind to myself. To remember how much grace has imbued my experiences, no matter how hard they’ve been.

And then I think of other people I love near and far, and how much resilience they have and how much grace has imbued their hardnesses, even when it was impossible to see in the moment. I think of Eros, Jennefer, and Gaius and the equal intensity they’ve experienced the last three years in their own ways. Our Heart-Sister Camille, who also turned her life upside down to be in Portland. Our dear friend Kari Ann changing herself inside and out as she relocated. My children, Akacia and Isaiah, doing what they have to in order to make their dreams come true. My Heart-Sister Lauren changing the shape of her entire life inside and out. Patti Digh making camp happen every year even though her family has faced many changes and challenges. Each and every one of you really. So much resilience and grace I see in you as you navigate the immense complexity of this human life.

Holding each other in our complexity vs making each other one dimensional is coming up a lot in my consciousness these past weeks. We hurt each other when we see and describe one another in one dimension (you are “this” – fat, poor, black, crazy, a liar, an asshole, an addict, etc.). We dishonor the complexity that lies in every human when we narrow them down to one category or quality or behavior. These days I find myself changing my language so that I try to say “sometimes you do this” instead of “you are this” and “people who experience poverty, mental illness, etc..” instead of “poor people”, “mentally ill people”, etc. It’s a subtle change, but I think it’s a very important one that helps me remember that everyone has galaxies spinning inside of them (said Sonya Renee Taylor). Everyone is doing their best with the constellations of life that shape who they are, from genetics to how they were raised by family and culture to personality to illnesses of body, soul, and mind to every relationship they have to every single moment of life that shifts the constellations and galaxies inside to new configurations.

I believe resilience comes from being able to hold the complexity of our lives and to make meaning of our struggles in order to live narratives of triumph (per Andrew Solomon).

I believe grace comes from seeing each other beyond one dimension and holding the knowing that the complexity of life is hard and beautiful for every single one of us.

Think about the people in your life and the ways you make them one dimensional when you are angry. Instead of seeing the whole person, we see one thing about them and we weaponize our language and behavior in response. Suddenly the person we love for their quirky complexity becomes the one dimensional target of our emotional violence. We do this with those closest to us and we do this with people in our culture who anger or offend us – politicians, celebrities, and ordinary people like Kim Davis.

Now think about how it feels when someone does it to you.

As I learn to honor the galaxies spinning inside of me, I seek to honor the galaxies spinning in others no matter how I feel about certain behaviors they have. Compassion and grace, if not for the behavior, then for the person who is so much more than that one thing that drives me crazy about them. Every person is doing their best with their galaxies, just like I am.

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