Wayne Dyer said, “When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out – because that’s what’s inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what is inside.”
Having children, for me at least, was like agreeing to live in a damn juicer. There were times it felt like everything in every moment of every day, put the squeeze on me. In times of great squeeze – like my son’s obsession with anything he could swipe and put in his mouth or his great love for parking lots and streets full of fast-moving cars – what came out was violence. I was deeply moved to scream at him about cigarette butts being nasty. I driven to beat a fear of streets into him.
Most of the time I didn’t fall for it. Usually, I was able to breathe instead of scream. Often, I could just retrieve him from danger and feel grateful he lived through it. Sometimes, I lost my cool… and violence was what oozed out of me. Sometimes, I yelled. On a few rare occasions, I actually spanked my children.
I hated myself for that.
I don’t believe in hitting people, not adults and not children. Not in war… and certainly not in love. In relationships, violence never helps, even in parenting. It doesn’t help. And over the years I picked up more and more tools to keep that from happening, tools to help me keep the violence within… trying to keep it from getting on them.
I have had similar experiences in intimate relationships. Again, I’ve worked HARD to get control of myself, to tame the beast who, when she rears her ugly head, erodes any possibility of trust from the woman I love. I have a patched but still unpainted hole in my bedroom wall from a night when a miscommunication put the squeeze on me… and the violence I’ve worked so hard to contain came pouring out. It’s been a couple of years since that incident. I broke my foot that night.
In a span of time that couldn’t possibly have been more than 15 seconds, I yelled some nasty things, banged the side of my fist into the wall… and trying like hell to keep the rest of the violence that was surging within me, within me, I turned around to leave. It was then that with absolutely no explanation, I felt a horrible snap on the outside of my left foot and fell into a sobbing pile of Christy juice that not even I cared to consume.
It was my breaking point. Not really the outburst, but the pain and the hole in the wall, and worst of all… the fact that the woman I love tended me like I hadn’t yelled horrible things, like I hadn’t put a hole in the wall, like I hadn’t been someone who acted in a way that justified being scared of me. It was the closest I’ve ever come to the whole Jesus-washing-the-feet thing. I was profoundly humbled.
It changed me.
She treated me like I was better than that and expressed her expectation that I be better than that. And, despite so much evidence to the contrary, for some still unknown reason, I believed her. I allowed that life-changing moment, this intersection of unconditional love and uncrossable boundaries, to change me.
I realized that keeping the violence inside was not working. I already knew that releasing the violence on my children, or my wife, was not an option, but I had to find an acceptable way to release the violence that for a million good reasons, lived inside me.
Since then, I’ve yelled into pillows and banged the hell out of my djembe drum. I’ve written letters expressing my anger, sadness, frustration… releasing much of that pain. Yes, I’ve even worked with life coaches. I’ve found that Kundalini Yoga has been one of the most effective methods so far, for moving back into alignment with the truth of who I am.
I am truly desperate to live in a world without violence and I have begun to study the ways that I can contribute to that vision—both personally and professionally.
In meditation today, I was reminded that this mission begins within. If we desire to live peacefully, to refrain from violence, from behaving violently with others… we must first learn, chose, desire to be peaceful with ourselves.
Obviously, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Get support. Sure, it’s what I do for a living but I’m not just offering me as a solution. There are many, many resources available—programs, teachers, healers, books, life coaches, etc.—to support you in recovering from the past, in releasing the fear and uncertainty of yesterday.
Find something that feels like the next best step for you. Take action, any action, that will empower you to live more peacefully within… and you will make the world a more peaceful place.
Photo credit: ToriMBC via Flickr