“Every human person is inevitably involved with two worlds: the world they carry within them and the world that is out there. All thinking, all writing, all action, all creation and all destruction is about that bridge between the two worlds.” – John O’Donahue
Valentine’s Day is a celebration of connection. Sending heartfelt thoughts is a way to reach out, perhaps say what can’t be said, with a greeting already packaged.
Sometimes the day is not welcomed. There may be complex feelings, confusion or hesitation, in reaching out. Past connections may have been more painful than pleasant. Donahue’s quote highlights the inner and outer are in an inextricable dance.
Thich Nhat Hanh wisely and lovingly points out in his Meditation on the Inner Child that the five-year-old is alive in each of us. She or he is alive in those who deal with us harshly. She or he is alive within us still reacting to those around us. Incessant tapes from the past may silently demean us, telling us we are unworthy of love or that others did not love us as we deserved. ( Here is the meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAsPUIevY6U&feature=share).
The extraordinary monk reminds us that the little person is very vulnerable and easily hurt. We can look upon her or him with compassion and help the healing that needs to occur. This healing will then begin to show up on the bridge between without and within.
Today schools are more aware of the social dynamics of classrooms. Kindness campaigns and anti-bullying projects recognize that hurt people hurt people, unless they heal.
In my case I remember dreading Valentine’s Day, because I knew either I would not get any or the ones I got would be demeaning.
The recent award-winning series “This Is Us” shows how long lasting these hurts can be. An obese character Kate, played by Chrissy Metz, explains as an adult that her life will always be about the weight. In a flashback, we see the cruel note from the other girls calling her a pig and refusing to be around her. The pain of rejection based on her body lives in her every day, no matter how old she is. It interferes with her adult relationships and health.
The connection between obesity and weight can be traced for some to childhood abuse. It may not be so much that there is a deliberate attempt to protect oneself with fat by eating. The eating and fat are related, but not everyone who is obese overeats. It may be that a person’s metabolism has been permanently damaged by the abuse. This field is only now beginning to be investigated. Some members of other recovery groups have admitted that eating is their core addiction. What does seem known, however, is that learning to deal with and heal painful emotions is part of any addiction recovery. Recovery is about connection.
Perhaps this Valentine Day would be a chance to reconnect with our Inner Child’s memories, including ones about the body.
I suggest writing two: one with all your criticisms and sorrows, all the losses and disappointments. Get it all out. Then use these as a guide to tell your little person what she or he longs to hear.
For example, a first letter might acknowledge the loneliness, the silence, and the criticism of your body that you experienced as a young girl. There was no one to talk to or she did not know how to ask her questions or for what she wanted. As a result she felt separate from others, an outcast, and unwanted. The second letter tried to take these experiences and assure her that she is wanted, no matter what her size is.
Dear (Your Name),
I remember your embarrassment at being taller than others very early. I remember your intense loneliness because others did not seem to want to play with you and you didn’t know why.
No one seemed to want to talk with you so you didn’t know how to get any answers. You thought you were always in the way because you were too big. Others told you to be smaller, to take up less space.
You were taught to be helpful but not to ask for what you needed. So you tried to be good and caring but it didn’t get you the attention or love you needed.
Today I want to say that you are lovable. You have a right to be here. You have a right to have needs and to take up space. You are a gift to the world.
You can explain your needs today and they will be honored. You will find the others who want to be with you. You don’t have to earn other people’s company. If someone disrespects you, let them go. Sometimes rejection is God’s protection.
Honor your faithful body. Your hands, your feet, your eyes, your hair, your heart…so many miracles happen to keep you supported all the time. See your body as a way to know that you deserve love every day.
Here is your invitation to join the love in the world. Believe in it and watch for it to show up. You deserve it and it will be there. Please believe this. I am here for you.