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"HATE (My Story)"

I understand hate. I have felt rage so intense that it incites to kill. I have felt seething, malignant resentment so extreme that it brought me to premeditate horrific revenge, but it is the spiritual person who grows beyond such things, and the soul of human ethic that calls us to a higher understanding.

My mother introduced me to my step father on my fifth birthday. I did not like him from the beginning, and chose to stand behind my Grandpa’s knee rather than accept the gift he had brought: a piggy bank in the shape of a rooster. When he could not coax me to take it, my mother took it from his hand, extended it to me, and I finally accepted it. The displeasure that she had stolen his moment was evident. After accepting, I retreated back behind Grandpa’s knee, stared at the stranger and held the toy at my side. Grandpa reached for it, took some pennies from his pocket, and plunked them into it as an effort to coax me into appreciating the gift. It was the last gift I ever received from my mother, and for the remainder of childhood, that rooster sat atop the TV where Grandpa would occasionally visit to add bits to the bounty.

Two weeks after my fifth birthday, my mother was dead. My tormenting anguish was so confusing that I would be an adult before I ever came to understand it. I could have sworn on the day of her funeral, some kind man picked me up, and held me over the coffin so I could see her, but I learned years later that her body had been so mutilated that the casket had remained closed. She had died, they said, in a single car fatality on a sunny day with dry pavement, in near perfect conditions. The car rolled down an embankment mutilating her body as it went, and my step father walked away from that same crash with barely a scratch. It was ruled an accident, but I learned as an adult, my aunts had secretly speculated that he may have murdered her and used the crash as a cover. After the funeral, the stranger was gone, and so were all of my mother’s belongings except for her jewelry box and a set of silverware she had left with Grandma for safe keeping. Whether the memory is true or not, I recall standing on the front porch before the funeral watching the stranger cry, and thinking, “The tears are fake. He killed my mother.” I grew up hating a man I would never see again.

My grandparents had five children. The oldest, my uncle Ray, had been the only boy. They struggled to conceive for the first two years of their marriage, so when Ray was born they cherished him. As was often the case in those days, boys were prized over girls and the remaining four children were all female. He was prized more than most boys because they had initially thought they would be barren, and he was the only boy. As the prize child, and prince of the family, he was babied, and there had been an ongoing battle for his favor between my grandparents.

When he was twelve years old, my Grandpa gave him his first drink of whiskey, and from that moment on, he was lost to alcoholism. By the time he was an adult, Grandpa had relinquished him to Grandma, and despised him for what he had become. Grandma forever resented Grandpa for giving him that first drink, and compensated for it by treating Ray, for his entire life, as though he had never grown up. He never left home, never married and when he rarely worked, spent most of his income on alcohol. Grandma cooked for him, did his laundry, and cleaned up after him including wiping spit from the floor of his room because he wouldn’t make the effort to get a handkerchief or grab the used coffee can he kept as a spittoon.

Although one of my aunts fought heartily for her parent’s attention, my uncle Ray never had any real competition until I came along. My grandparents obtained custody of me after my mother died. Early on, I didn’t question why my father was not present. Later, when I asked, I was informed only that he was “somewhere in California” and they had questions about the quality of his character. They made no effort to find him, and I was not allowed to seek for him, nor did I know how. The only record I had of his existence was a book he had autographed to my mother, a narration of his experience as a Japanese prisoner of war in World War II. At eighteen, when my grandparents could no longer forbid it, and when letters to the Marine Corps got no response, it finally occurred to me that I could contact him through the publisher of his book.

In the meantime, Ray was not at all happy that, for the first time in his life, he had to share his parent’s attention. As the prince of the family, he had sucked up all of their concern for as long as he had been alive. He had taken it without giving back, taken it without concern for their sacrifices while raising him during the Great Depression, without concern for the nights of anguish Grandma spent pacing the floor, and checking the window to see if he might finally have come home after a drinking binge instead of possibly lying somewhere dead in a ditch.

He was thirty four years old when I came along, as the poor little orphaned boy. Never before in his life had he been required to share, and the attention suddenly shifted to me like the needle of a compass held to a magnet. The women of the family were hugging me to their bosom. The men of the family were teasing and playing with me. Although Grandpa, for the most part ignored me, the family seemed to pity that I was an only child on a farm, miles from the nearest neighbor.

I became the new prince, and Ray was usurped from his throne. His response was to abuse me, and torment me in any way he could imagine. Often, it was done when grandma was out of the room, a simple thump to the head with a pretended innocence at her questioning. A response like, “I have no idea why he’s crying. Maybe he’s got a belly ache.” At other times, it was more sinister. The simple emotional taunting of walking by the television and turning the channel to static in the middle of my favorite show, became kicks and jabs or holding me down with a pillow over my face. As I got older, he delighted in telling me that I was a bastard, that my parents were never really married, and that my mother was a slut. A child does not know how to discern the difference between poison and nectar when fed it by any adult.

The older I got, the angrier I got. My resentment was compounded by the fact that almost every weekend and holiday had been ruined by his drinking, compounded by sleepless nights, because he laid drunk in bed mumbling to himself all night long. My ears became so keen I could hear the slosh in the whiskey bottle when he retrieved it from his supposed hiding place under the mattress. The roll of the cap off the bottle was metallic in my ears. Then, he would take another swig, slide the bottle back under the mattress, and continue to talk to himself. My awareness of him became so astute I could see the glaze in his eyes from across the yard, and knew if he had taken even one drink as soon as he got out of his car. I did not figure out until I was much older that I had been the new prince. There had been no coronation, and regardless of the role, the world always seemed to be revolving around him, and I resented it immensely.

About the time I reached twelve or thirteen, Ray kicked me in the ass one day as I was reaching for a dish from the kitchen cabinet. Something broke inside of me then, shattered like the dish that went flying to the floor. I turned on him in full rage. Although I was almost half his size, I had determined I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I flew into him with all I had, fists, feet and claws. The next thing I knew, he had me on the kitchen floor, his knees on my shoulders beating fists into my head, while grandma pulled hard on his collar trying to choke him off me.

Not only had Ray been forced to give up his throne to the new prince, Grandpa had turned on him when he became an adult. Grandpa shamed and cursed him for his drinking, told him how worthless and useless he was, told him that he had become worse than nothing. Regardless of the remainder, Ray’s response always began with, “I’ll tell you one damn thing! I’ll tell you one Goddamn thing!” Over and over it went. The arguments between them often escalated, yet whether it was out of respect or fear, Ray never struck Grandpa. However, one evening he did fetch his twenty two riffle from the wall of his room, and returned to aim it directly at Grandpa. I remember him saying, “By God! We’re going to put an end to this right now!”

Grandma rose from her chair, and stepped between them. She put her hand to the base of the barrel, and pushed it toward the ceiling so if it fired, the bullet would go through the ceiling instead of through one of us. She talked him out of the gun, talked him down from his anger, and finally, he released it to her. My Grandma was strong, a kind but firm protector, and she never had the option of not having to deal with Ray. All this made me hate him even more. In my mind he was a cancer in a family that might otherwise have been healthy. I did not understand, at the time, that the causes of that cancer had festered for generations long before.

By the time I was fourteen, I’d had enough. I was tired of being abused, tired of watching what he was doing to Grandma and Grandpa, tired of his constant ranting. I wanted him out of my life. I wanted the anguish to stop and the only way I could see for that to happen was for him to be eliminated. I did not plan weeks ahead. I did not contemplate exactly how I would kill him, but I determined that one way or the other I would find a way to end his life.

On a summer Saturday afternoon when Grandma and Grandpa had gone to town for groceries, I caught him asleep in a living room chair. I carefully and quietly sneaked out of the house to Grandma’s flower beds. She lined them with big rocks as a border from the yard. I picked up a rock, almost too big for me to lift, but I did lift it. I scrunched it between my left arm and leg as I cautiously opened the screen door, and went back to the living room. As carefully as I could, I crept up behind him, and held the rock above my head with the full intention of thrusting it down hard enough to crush his skull. Yet, at that moment, a question ran through my mind. “What will happen if you do this?”

A potential future began to unfold in my mind. I saw the devastation and heartache of my grandmother over losing her only son, the heartbreak of my grandfather whose emotions were a mix, and yet one of them was love. I saw myself in prison, perhaps facing the death penalty with all hopes of a better life dashed against the same rock I then held above my head. Quietly, I lowered the stone, and returned it to the flower bed. I never told a soul until after I became a mental health clinician, where at times, I shared the story with someone who might have confessed in a session that they harbored a similar hate.

I put up with his abuse for four more years until I could make my escape. The hatred, anger and rage didn’t stop, I just contained it, or vented it a different way. I knew that one day I would leave, and I thought that I would put my childhood behind me. Little did I know; there is no such thing. A past put behind us without forgiveness, cannot be released, and only finds alternative ways to haunt. Even with forgiveness, the memories of it leave a tender scar upon the heart.

I had been told my entire life, “Your mother wanted you to go to college.” That dream became my refuge. No one in my immediate family had ever gotten a degree. It became my hope for a way out. On one hand, I saw myself achieving great things, becoming prosperous and respected, maybe even becoming rich. On the other hand, I struggled to have the minutest confidence in myself. Yet, I was going anyway. I would not allow anything to stop me from getting out of there. In fact I planned to leave the entire Ozarks as a smoking trail behind me as soon as I could find the way.

Just prior to graduating high school, I got up early on a Saturday morning and drove a little more than an hour away to visit the college I planned to attend. I returned home late in the afternoon to find Grandma and Grandpa had gone to town, as was the Saturday routine, and Ray was in the house alone, slobbering drunk. I ignored him, went straight through the house, into my room, and put a record on my stereo. The next thing I knew, the door to my room flew open and he came in ranting, not about my music, but yelling his usual denigration of me. He was adept at finding ways to say things that were demeaning and degrading, and he delighted in taunting me into giving him a reason for attack.

Having grown as tall and he, and outweighing him by a good thirty pounds, I no longer feared him. I turned him around by his shoulders, pushed him back through the door into the adjacent kitchen, and closed it behind him. In a moment he was back. This time I did the same, but told him “Get out, stay out and leave me alone!”

When after several expulsions he would not stop, I knocked him down, beat his head into the door facing until it was bleeding, and dragged him by his feet onto the kitchen floor where I stood over him and exclaimed, “YOU SET FOOT IN THAT ROOM ONE MORE TIME MOTHER FUCKER, YOU ARE A DEAD MAN! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?”

He lay there staring at me in disbelief. I stood over him, glaring at him until I felt certain he knew I was through with mercy. The only mercy I was willing to extend, at that point was to spare his life. He did not return.

That summer, I finally figured out how to reach my father, and I met him for the first time. I sent a letter to the publishing company of his book asking them if they could give me contact information. They wrote me back, and said they would not release information about their authors, but that they had forwarded my letter to him. A few weeks later, I received my first letter from my father.

The letter indicated to me right away that he was not the tyrant my grandparents had made him out to be. They had never met him, and only knew what my Mom had told them. Later, when I studied PTSD, I realized that my mother had met him at a time when his experience as a Japanese prisoner of war was taking a different kind of toll on him. He had been captured in Guam a few days after the Pearl Harbor attacks, and was not released until the American occupation of Japan at the end of the war. Given that a third of all Japanese POW’s died, and at one point, his six foot stature had diminished to seventy eight pounds, the fact that he survived to conceive me was a miracle in itself.

His letter indicated his concern for me, his recognition that I needed answers and his willingness to provide those answers. He left a number for me to call, and since my grandparents had just installed their first phone with the excuse that I would be able to call home from college, I called him. Arrangements were made that he would fly to Little Rock where one of my aunts was living at the time, and we would meet.

I met my Dad in August of 1973 just before I entered college. I didn’t trust him on that first meeting, but he won my confidence. My grandparent’s description of him did not fit, and he was not at all like anyone in my mother’s family. He did not seem to be the mean man my grandparents had described, who hoarded things, and was angry if the radio knobs of his car became smudged. In fact, he was very generous and very accommodating. I spent the night in a hotel room with him, and we talked more than slept. He described things I had never known, such as how he met my mother in a little bar in Taft, California where she was known as the “mystery woman.” She intrigued him because she ignored all men. She would come in once a day, have one drink and leave. No man who had approached her had been able to win her attention. It was a challenge he could not resist. He discovered that she had been through a very bitter break up not long before they met, and learned of how she had come to California.

My mother’s family had originally moved to California in the early 1950’s because someone told Grandpa the desert air would be good for his asthma. Intense culture shock drove them back to Arkansas, but my Mom stayed until after meeting my Dad, and she became pregnant with me. She then left him during the pregnancy and came back to the Ozarks. He admitted to drinking and womanizing at the time, admitted he had been unfair to my Mom, and that he had cheated on her. The last straw had been so embarrassing for her that she left and told him never to contact her again. He assured me that if he had known she was dead, he would have come for me, but he also excused himself from the responsibility of trying to find me by questioning whether I had actually been his. Having been one to sleep around, he had assumed the same of my mother. However, he said when we met, one look at me convinced him I had to be his son, because he realized how much we were alike.

On the following day, he took me to a Shriner’s parade in Hot Springs, and treated me as no man ever had. He demanded nothing of me. He only gave, and for the first time in my life, I felt like a son. When he left to fly back to Las Angeles, he hugged me. I stood stiff in his embrace, shocked by the first hug I had ever received from a man. I stood on the street in front of my aunt’s house, and watched him drive away feeling like I had missed the childhood I should have had.

In early September, I entered college. At Christmas, Dad flew me to Los Angeles where I met my Step Mom, and my little brother and sister for the first time. The years went on, and many times he flew me to LA. I became increasingly more comfortable with my new family. They may not have been the perfect family, but they were a cool spring drink compared to how I was raised. I can’t say that my relationship with my father has always been pristine, but it was never as tumultuous or as heartbreaking as the experiences of my childhood. My Dad had healed greatly from his own ordeals. He had become a successful engineer, and therefore became a role model for my own efforts at success. On one of my visits I watched him banter joyfully in Japanese with a Japanese waitress, and realized that, although he still had nightmares, he had mostly forgiven his war experience. Although he had been brutalized by many of them, he seemed to feel no blame toward Japanese people.

Before I ever met my Dad, I knew I had a very large internal puzzle that had to be pieced together, and there were deep emotional wounds I needed to heal. Meeting my father was the first step toward healing those wounds. I had taken a high school class in psychology, and had become intrigued by the idea that the mind can heal. I determined that there had to be a better way than the way of my upbringing, and I determined that even if I had to search for the rest of my life, I was going to find it. Within a couple of weeks after starting college, I went to the campus counseling office, and signed up for my first sessions of therapy.

I sought to know. I read self-help books, psychology books, and took every related class I could find. I was lucky that I seem to have been guided every step of the way. In addition to numerous counselors over the years, I have also been led to spiritual teachers and guides who taught me that there is a different and better way. I came to understand that the mind can change, and that sorrow and anger did not have to be a permanent stamp on my heart.

Upon graduating from college, I worked for a community mental health center for two years before entering graduate school. After moving to Little Rock, I supported myself before my first semester at graduate school by working as a psychiatric tech for Arkansas State Hospital. Then I got a wonderful weekend job at a private, upscale psychiatric facility with views overlooking the Arkansas River. The job was cushy. I only had to work weekends, and it paid well enough to support my needs through school. They fed me while I was there, and my duties consisted primarily of doing crafts with patients, or taking them on outings such as nature walks or the movies. Who could ask for more than being paid to have fun? With that job, I assumed I had graduate school in the bag.

I planned that I would graduate, go into private practice, and prosper as an independent therapist. I determined that I would not treat alcoholics or abusers like my uncle Ray. I would simply refer those people to someone else, and save the cream of the patient crop for myself. I had initially secured my graduate field placement at the University Counseling Center where I would be learning cool things like biofeedback and neuro-linguistic programming. However, God had other plans.

Only three days before I was to start my graduate field placement, the psychiatric facility I was working for called to inform me that the weekend census was down, and they would immediately be closing the program. Suddenly I had no job, and no way to support myself through graduate school. I went to the university to notify them that I could see no recourse except to drop out because I could not afford to continue. They informed me that there was one graduate field placement left where I could get a stipend that would pay me roughly the same as I had been making at the psychiatric facility. It was a drug and alcohol counseling center and the stipend would be for teaching drunk driving classes. I almost bolted from the room, but after catching myself, and reaffirming that I would not give up on my dreams, I accepted.

When I met my field placement counselor, the first thing she said was, “Tell me your story.”

Again, I almost bolted from the room, but instead I told her about my uncle, about the abuse and the constant binge drinking. When I had finished, she said, “I’m not saying it will matter regarding whether you graduate, but I would strongly suggest you attend Al-Anon meetings.”

“Sure!” I thought to myself. “You can say it won’t matter toward graduation, but I’m smart enough to know that if I don’t go it will be a strike against me.”

Begrudgingly, I began attending Al-Anon meetings, and began to face the hatred I held toward my uncle. I came across books by people like, John Bradshaw, Melody Beatty, Janet Wotitz and Charles Whitfield. I absorbed them along with Al-Anon literature and daily affirmation books. My attitude began to change, and I began to see my uncle as a sick and lost human being instead of the villain my mind had always perceived him to be. Forgiveness becomes easier when we recognize that our pain was caused from the other’s woundedness instead of their malice. Perhaps it is easier when we realize that it is malice, not love which is blind.

I began to appreciate my work with addicts and alcoholics which helped me as much, if not more, than it helped them. Later, I came across books by people like Jerald Jampaulski, Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer and Neale Donald Walsch. I entered into spiritual counseling with the minister of my church in Little Rock, and began to realize that I had to forgive my uncle. I began to realize that clinging to my resentment was like hugging a porcupine. It would never stop hurting until I let it go, and only by looking at, and caring for the wounds beneath it, could I ever find the freedom of forgiveness.

Not long after graduating from graduate school, I had gone home for a visit. While sitting there one evening watching television, my Grandpa and Ray got into one of their common frivolous arguments. That time it was about how deep the well was. Neither would concede, and the argument escalated. Each ego’s demand to be “right” fueled attack and counter attack to the point of becoming very loud. Finally I turned and said, “Fellas, I’m having a hard time hearing the TV.”

My uncle immediately went into a screaming cursing rage directed at me. He jumped up and hovered over my chair spouting every superlative and verbal attack he could think of. He had not hit me since the incident when I was eighteen. He knew better, but he certainly looked like he wanted to, and I definitely wanted to hit him. I felt the tension crawl up my spine, and I thought to myself, “I’m going to shove his head through the wall!”

Then another thought crossed my mind, “I don’t have to do this.” As simple as that, “I don’t have to do this.” I took a deep breath, said nothing and allowed him to scream. Soon, I felt the tension began to drain from my back. I did not make direct eye contact with him, but let him know that I was listening. A few times, I started to speak when there seemed to be a lull in his tirade, but this threw him back into rage. When, finally, too much screaming, and COPD from thirty years of smoking landed him back, exhausted, on the couch, I calmly asked, “Did you get a chance to say everything you needed to say?”

The shock and confusion on his face was priceless. After contemplating for a moment, he softly replied, “I guess so.”

“I’m glad,” I responded. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to go back to watching TV now.”

At that moment, I beat him. Without raising a fist or striking a blow, I beat him. Without any attack whatsoever, I subdued him. There was never another time in his life that he could shake me loose from the resolve I gained on that day. There was never another time that he could goad me into confrontation. I stood strong and calm through any tempest he dared to create.

Years later, I had moved to Nashville, Tennessee where I worked as a clinical supervisor for a drug and alcohol treatment center. It was around that time that his smoking converted itself to lung cancer, and at sixty-two years old, he was dying. My grandfather had died only a couple of years before, and I had known that Ray would not be far behind.

I took time off work, drove the eight hours or so from Nashville to Arkansas, and relieved my grandmother from sitting by his bedside. After taking her home to get some rest, I returned to the hospital where I sat with him, and tended to him all night. On the following morning, one of my great aunts came in to see him. She had no sooner entered the room when he began to tell her that I was a “selfish little bastard” who only cared about himself.

My aunt looked over at me, smiled and winked. She knew better, as did I.

I continued to stay there for a week to make sure Grandma didn’t wear herself out over him. On another day, as he was becoming increasingly weak, I sat by his bed alone in the room. Barely able to speak, he mumbled something.

I stood up and leaned over the hospital bed. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t understand that.”

He mumbled again.

“I’m sorry,” I went on. “I still didn’t get it.”

He took as big a breath as he could draw and said quite clearly, “You’re a Goddamn liar!”

I responded, “Ray, no amount of anger is going to improve my hearing. I honestly did not hear you, and I’m willing to try again if you are.”

Again he wheezed for air, and whispered, “I want a drink of water.”

I crossed around the bed, poured a glass from his pitcure, lifted him up and gave him as much as he could drink. Other than saying goodbye when I left, that was my last interaction with him before he died.

I would like to think in those last moments that he finally got it, that he understood there is better way than hatred and anger, and that beneath all anger is hurt, fear and vulnerability, but I have no way of knowing.

I guess the most important thing is that I got it. I was able to do what I did on that day because I had already forgiven him. I ascended from the hatred where I once thought the only way out was to kill. I found a better way, and the way was love. I learned to love him, in spite of his anger, in spite of all the vile attacks he waged against me until his very last moments. I learned to see him as a wounded child of God instead of a tormenting monster who needed to be destroyed. Ultimately, the greatest battle I fought was not with him, but with myself. Unfortunately, I can’t say that it is a battle that has been completely won, but I intend one day, that it will be. I continue to seek love within myself, but I cannot say that there aren’t still thoughts that hurt me. I can say that anger or blame extreme enough to kill no longer plague my mind. I can’t say that nothing makes me angry, but I can say that I try to deal with the feelings inside myself, beneath the anger, instead of plotting revenge against their supposed source. I had to learn that I could never heal myself by attacking someone else, even if they had first attacked me. I could never forgive if I justified any attack in return.

In order to heal, I had to learn to cry instead of rage. Crying does not mean that we are weak. It is instead a gentle rain over the soul that washes the dirt away. It is the nourishment that brings forth new growth, and allows the barren mind to bear fruit. It means that grief is healing. When we accept our tears, and deal with the feelings beneath the anger, we allow ourselves to move on. When we accept life on life’s terms, we accept that life is grief, and loss is inevitable. As we allow our grief to heal, a sprout of joy comes through the muck of resentment that we once thought was our only option. In time, another spout arises, and then another until the nasty stench of hatred becomes a lush garden of rejoicing splendor.

I understand hate. Hate is a festering and horrifying illusion that plagues all of humanity. It is both victim and that which victimizes. Hate is the temptation to attack in response to attack, but as Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”

If I don’t want the whole world to be blind, I must do my part to relinquish malicious intent. In fact, until everyone gives up the belief of an eye for an eye once and for all, the world cannot have peace. There can be no part of me that I allow to return hatred for hatred, because I am then part of the problem, instead of part of the solution. They say that love is blind, but it is not love that is blind, it is hatred and malice that are blind. They lash about like a cyclops with a spear in its only eye, fighting whatever comes near and seeing nothing. Genuine love is anything but blind. It looks deep, sees beneath the dark veil that hatred casts over the world. Love looks at an anguished soul and sees a child of God. Love is like a light switch that we can turn on or off. In hatred, not only have we switched it off, but we blame others for our own darkness. It does not matter whether I hate an individual or a collection. It does not matter if I find some way to blame, blacks, gays, Muslims, Christians, Jews, white supremacists, the Chinese, the Russians, Democrats, Republicans, the rich, the poor, the young, the elderly or paper dolls. If I blame anyone but myself for my hatred, I am refusing to take responsibility for the only real source of it.

I cannot promise that I am completely free of malice. I have a lot of work to do on myself. Few people have even come close to such a freedom, and even fewer have achieved it. I see it like weeding my mental garden. Whenever a weed of malice is found, I pull it out. Some weeds come out easier than others. Some are obstinate with deep roots. I have to tend to my garden on a regular basis in order to keep the weeds from overtaking it. Whatever weeds of malice I find have to be uprooted and discarded so that the fruit of my happiness may grow in their place. I cannot attend to any garden but my own. If I focus on pulling the weeds out of someone else’s garden, then my own becomes overgrown. Only if we each attend to ourselves, can the task of peace be accomplished. Only when I have cleared my own garden, can I help someone else with theirs.

I ask myself, and I ask others, “What would the world be like if everyone adopted this one simple goal? Relinquish all malicious intent.” The requirement is that there can be no blame, no judgment. There is no one to blame, not even myself. In order to achieve this, everyone is required to weed his or her own garden. Everyone is required to realize that the switch that turns love on or off is always within our own reach. There can be no projection that others are responsible for our feelings and behavior. Nor do we dare assume that the behavior of others has anything to do with us. Another person’s behavior is never about me, even if it is directed at me. It is always about what is going on inside the mind of that person. Whether the other chooses love or hate is completely beyond my control. The only thing that is within my control is my own choice. The only real power that anyone possesses is the power to choose what to think, say or do at any given moment. That’s it. There is no other human power. All else is illusion. Only I decide if I will turn the switch of love on or off. There can be no one else to blame for the darkness that we ourselves create when we turn love off. Regardless of any excuse, we are each responsible for the choices we make. Instead of blaming, instead of judging, try flipping the switch to love.

I am eternally grateful that on the day I held the rock above my head with the intent to kill, I did not dismiss the recognition, and the choice, that there is a better way.

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