I’d Rather Be Bitten

It’s a scurrilous affair to be the target of an assault upon our humanity. Judgments, condemnation and criticisms all aim to reduce our opinions of ourselves, and are often successful in altering how others view us as well. We may well learn best through adversity, but none of us likes feeling attacked. It perpetuates suffering on both sides of the defenseless/defensive coin, especially when it’s of the insidious variety. That’s how the term backstabbing doubtless came into being, this feeling of being assaulted from behind where we can’t view the perceived enemy. And it’s a coward’s way out, this character assassination. It may temporarily grant the accuser a sense of superiority, but of one thing we can be certain; if we observe another engaging in this practice, it’s only a matter of time before they place us squarely in their sights.

I grew up with some fairly critical people, and would venture to say that years of habituation brought this trait out in me. I was an extremely sensitive child in a chaotic environment, and did not receive much guidance in handling the world with equanimity. And though I did garner some fundamental truths which would later prove beneficial, the chasm between what was practiced and what was preached was too vast for my child’s mind to bridge. Only later with age, experience and my own inevitable mistakes in parenting was I able to put the past into greater perspective. It’s still a process at midlife, so I suspect some lessons are deeper than mere conditioning.

As a teenager, I bolstered my fragile sense of self by finding fault with someone I thought better looking than I was, smarter, more talented or popular. Even if I shared these thoughts with no one else, a sense of smugness enveloped me like the proverbial warm fuzzy blanket. Eventually though, and it wasn’t too long in coming, that wrap felt suffocating. To something more decent inside of me, it just felt wrong. Hacking others down did not fill me up, nor did it give me any genuine or lasting sense of self worth. In fact it lent nothing of these attributes, it only carved a hole in my soul.

It has taken many years to rout the poison of criticism from my core. Like standing before a polished mirror, the presence of truth reflects back anything unlike itself. In this space, I am able to experience an up-swelling of compassion for the child that was me and for all the confused children in the world, trying as best they can to survive and thrive in adverse circumstances. Thus my ruminations extend to the child that lives within every adult, and it is easy to experience forgiveness and unconditional love, both for myself as well as for our deeply flawed yet simply human race.

 

28 thoughts on “I’d Rather Be Bitten

  1. “Like standing before a polished mirror, the presence of truth reflects back anything unlike itself.” A wonderful line, dear Bela. Thank you for your candour and insight here. You still have the eyes! What was the dog called? S/he looks a real sage. H ❤

      1. Haha, sweet one – I’m not too young to remember Cole Porter! I will convey your love to Bodhisattva Cindy, wherever her spirit is. Aloha 🙏🏽❣️

  2. Honest and wise voyage of discovery into the self. Our upbringings often involve overcoming so much, don’t they? I’ve often pondered why our lives involve peeling so many layers of onion away to reveal our true essence. We are forever at it, it seems.

    1. Yes, Eliza, I appreciate the lessons learned, I truly do. But I’ve often wondered what it’s all about. I’m so much more settled in my skin now, so I guess all that pain was worth something. Peace of mind, in essence. And the willingness to do no harm, even in thought. Though some days are easier than others, obviously 😉 Aloha, and thanks. ❤

  3. Beautifully written Bela. That last paragraph is gut wrenching and glorious! May we never forget and continue to pass on the love and compassion that is ours now to give.
    Thank goodness for our loving dogs in childhood ❣️

  4. This struck a chord in me, Bela, as your words often do. It seems we never stop learning about ourselves and others, and what makes us tick – and why we react as we do to certain “triggers”. Thanks for sharing this here. ❤️💞

  5. So true! “…Even if I shared these thoughts with no one else…” Thank you for sharing – wonderful food for thought!

  6. Criticism always bites deeper and at a young age, it really leaves us disillusioned and disheartened. Slowly we learn to deal with the arrows of people and learn life-lessons. I started loving my critics when I read somewhere that they are better than friends because they point out our flaws, motivate us indirectly to do better and help us in enhancing our personality. I loved this positive approach and started blessing them. 🙂

    1. Yes Balroop, constructive criticism can be valuable, no doubt about it. The kind of criticism alluded to here is petty, demeaning and hurtful. Fortunately I learned to discriminate between the two. And realized the hurtful kind meant the person doling it out likely possessed a strong inner critic, as did I. Ah, life is for learning, is it not? Thanks for adding your thoughts, always appreciated. Aloha ❤️

  7. Perfect title for the piece, Bela. “…this feeling of being assaulted from behind where we can’t view the perceived enemy” is terribly vicious. And confronting these demons is an uphill task. Letting the backstabber go might not work since s/he is actively at work, chipping someone’s reputation away. My father once said that only demons can confront backstabbers (he wanted me to relax.)

    1. Wow, that’s cool. Given my background in Depth Psych. This is what immediately arose for me upon reading your words: etymology of the word demon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon Interesting to note “The Greek terms do not have any connotations of evil or malevolence.” Have a gander at this more ancient form/word: https://www.alchemylab.com/daimon.htm

      In this sense (daemon), I wonder if your father said one thing but meant something far more complex, more evolved.

      I learned to face evil early in my life BY confronting it. Which I hated. Not when I was under my parents’ roof, but after. And it just. kept. on. coming. Yet the more I faced it, breathing in my Highest Self, if you will – calling on my divine daemon – these powers no longer frightened me.

      What a journey, this human life!
      Aloha, dear one. ❤

      1. This is interesting. Not sure what my father actually meant but he’d never, now that we discuss this, considered “demon” as a distinct identity – perhaps that meant “daimon” or the more enlightened self. And I await this: “most all of us at least once in our lives, during a sleepless night or an illness, have heard a voice which, coming from nowhere, and as it were, speaking silently, gives us advice.” Thanks for sharing, Bela. xoxo

  8. Well said. My mother-in-law is very much how you describe. There is criticism and constructive criticism. And when I say constructive, I don’t mean detailed. Sometimes people make that mistake, where they feel they are being instructive as they criticize when in reality they are just making things worse. I think it’s also important to know that sometimes flaws are overcome not through pointing them out, but through positive reinforcement of someone’s own willingness to grow and become a better person.

    1. Exactly Swarn. Your suggestions are well taken. And glad you grasp the distinction. It’s one thing to be helpful, it’s quite another when one’s agenda overrides the process. This post speaks to the latter. The constant picking apart becomes habitual if one is not mindful. I regret my own unconsciousness as a young mother, but the girls and I have grown up together, and I have apologized many times over for what I was unaware of at that time. It’s all we can do, really.

      My next post reflects back on that time as well, from another viewpoint. I am deeply sorry for the pain my (now deceased) parents endured due to their own inability or unwillingness to see the damage they passed on. But redemption and grace are there with open arms, if one allows it. Aloha. ❤

  9. Ah! Bela…I so resonate with this.post…right down to a recent non-provoked attack. I think, like you said, it is life long work to Erase an undesirable beginning 💜

  10. Who among us have not criticised or had to stand before the mirror of Self!. To Look deep into our core and pull out our Inner child to learn to nurture her as we learn to forgive others and ourselves.. The Journey often starts from our childhood, and takes a life time for us to get to know that child within..
    I think you did a very good job Bela in looking into her eyes.. ❤
    Love and Blessings ❤

    1. Thanks so much, Sue. A lifetime, indeed! If we only knew this early on, could have accepted it would take so long, how much suffering we might have averted for ourselves as well as others in our sphere! Enjoy your weekend, my friend. 😘

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