Painful Subjects

1158 Relax and Succeed - If there is no struggleShe tried to act like there was nothing wrong, but her mother could tell she had been crying. She found her in her room, sitting on her bed. She sat next to her and put her arm around her shoulder. They were quiet for a while.

“Why are they so mean to me?”

Her mother kissed her head. She took a while to speak, composing herself first. “Some people just like teasing. But most people just want to feel secure. They want to feel like they belong. It’s human nature. But if there’s an inside, then there has to be an outside.”

“And I’m on the outside.”

Her mom smiles at her misunderstanding and pulls her closer. “Oh no, dear. There is no actual inside or outside, it’s all in people’s heads. They just think they belong or don’t belong or others do or don’t. They want to be in so they needed an out and people pick on difference. But everyone’s lines in everyone’s heads–they’re all different and they change everyday anyway.”

“They hate me because I’m fat.”

Her mother furrows her brow. What’s going on? She moves to face her daughter. They look at each other a long moment. “How did you make the leap that they hate you? Dani, them creating an inside and outside–that’s not emotional. It has nothing to do with how they feel about you. They’re trying to fix an alone feeling they have. When they tease you, that’s about them, not you.”

“But they called me fat and they were all pointing at me and laughing.”

“It just felt to them like they were succeeding in being more in the in group because if you’re crying then you looked ever further out. You looked ‘more different.'”

Her daughter looks at her mother witheringly. “Mother. ‘More different?’ What are you a Valley Girl or something?”


“Ha what?”

“See? You just did it. You created an outside.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“A) You made fun of my mistake, which could be viewed as mean. And B) You attributed it to a definable group: Valley Girls. See? You do it too. And you don’t hate anyone. Outsides and insides. I was outsides the rules of grammar and so now you felt you had permission to tease me.”

“Mother. I really don’t think there’s an organisation out there protecting Valley Girls.”

Her mother smiles. The energy in her daugher is changing. “Fair enough, but you still made my point. Did you mean anything against Valley Girls; or where you truly against me when you corrected me?”

Her eyes roll. “Of course not.”

“But you still did it. And if I was feeling insecure it might have hurt me. Maybe I’d talk less because I’d be worrieder–“


“Okay. I did. Maybe I’d talk less because I would worry more about being judged.”

“And what’s the advantage to doing it your way? Why shouldn’t I care?”

Her mother laughs. “Uhh…. you’re not in pain? You accept that what’s going on in someone else’s consciousness doesn’t impact yours? That you just go enjoy your life anyway, just like you hope the Valley Girls do? If you responded super positively, maybe you’d start teaching English, or start an organisation to protect Valley Girls.”

“I bet the little camouflage bikini uniform would look great on me.”

“I think they give you a sexy little hat too.” Her mother laughs and hugs her. “Honey, I want you to remember one thing: you left school and kept thinking about this. Painful subjects are called ‘painful subjects’ because they hurt. So you have to watch, because when we’re sad or depressed our brain will sometimes tilt toward them. So you have to be really conscious about being happy sweetheart. There’s a lot of great things about this world. You’ll experience plenty. But you have to watch for them. So don’t let what’s happening in someone else’s brain distract you from that. Fair?”

She’s obviously right, but what kid wants to take advice? “I’ll think about it.”

“Okay fine. You meditate then. I’m sure you’ll see the wisdom in it too, just like the Buddha. I love you. I’ll leave you to your meditation oh Great One. OOOHHHHHMMM” Her mother bows.

Her daughter waves her off like Cleopatra. “Be off with you then.”

Her mother closes her daughter’s door. Her daughter’s stronger thanks to an unpleasant experience. That’s as good as it goes. Mission accomplished. Her mother smiles and heads back to her day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Relationship Training

Somewhere inside of himself he is a good person but my husband is very emotionally abusive. He never hits me but still I want to leave him so badly. But I cannot because I have a daughter who is only seven and she loves him so much. It would break my husband’s heart to lose her as well. I am so lost and so sad and I don’t know what to do. Can you help me?

Sad Wife

Dear Sad Wife,

I am relieved to hear that you are physically 289 Relax and Succeed - No matter how hard the pastsafe. Still, this is obviously not a good situation. While I cannot make decisions for you, I do believe I can clarify the issue enough for you to possibly see your own way out of your predicament. Only you know your values and what sacrifices would be associated with what action, but what I impart to others has value because it allows you to access your own personal wisdom. Wisdom that is always available to you if you strip away all of the busy thought-ideas currently trapping you, so let’s do that.

Firstly, it is good your daughter has such a compassionate and respectful parent. Considering your husband’s behaviour toward you it is very big of you to not undermine your daughter’s love for him. People can be flawed—even heavily flawed—and still they are worthy of love. We might choose not to be around people like that, but that doesn’t mean we have to hate them. One of the most important things a child can have is parents who respect each other. And if they can’t have that, then one that respects the other is better than none. I have every confidence that your daughter will pick up on which one of you to emulate.

So let us accept that there would obviously be a set of consequences that would go with your daughter being estranged from her father or even just from your breakup. And I can appreciate why you would want to protect your daughter from that. At the same time, let’s remember that non-action is in fact a form of action. So to not leave is to stay.

So let me put it this way: let’s play magic and say that your husband has passed away and now you’re a single Mom. You meet your current husband, but let us say that because you are friends with his friends, you quickly get a clear understanding of how he truly acts. Knowing how disrespectful, demanding and selfish he is, would you want your daughter exposed to that? Would you want her to live with someone who speaks disrespectfully to others? As a woman, would you want your daughter to see “romance” portrayed as an 289 Relax and Succeed - Wear your tragediesobsequious woman enduring the tirades of her mate? Is that the behaviour you want to model to her? Because if it is, that will become her “normal” and she won’t think there’s anything wrong with that when she’s older and dating. She’ll think that’s what a relationship looks like. That’s obviously not a good thing.

As long as you are not putting yourself in danger (and you should quietly contact your local women’s shelter for advice about a plan of action and info on area resources etc.) leaving should not feel overwhelming. Like a frog in boiling water, because this situation developed over time you’ve become accustomed to painful things. Leaving that behind will have an enormous impact.

If you feel you should leave then the odds are that leaving will feel much better than you’re anticipating. It will also model healthy behaviour for your daughter. She should know that you and she deserve better. That there is better. That people will happily and voluntarily treat you both much better, and that rather than staying and resenting and hating, people are better to leave, forgive and then build something better. That’s the only kind of experience that will teach the guy too. Unless there’s a price to his heart there is no motivation to change the behaviour. That’s why they say the second wife gets what the first one paid for. The second one gets treated better because the man is now fully aware that he can be left at any time.

289 Relax and Succeed - The rest of your lifeIf you stay your daughter might learn to resent you or hate men. If you leave your husband still has the chance to earn his way back into your lives, but at least your daughter isn’t being subjected—or isn’t seeing you subjected—to actual abuse.

Maybe this judgment and the idea is being carried by recent anger. Maybe you’re at the stage of quiet acceptance—only you know. But if it really is an abusive situation then leaving is never a bad idea simply because there are many ways to be happy in life. We don’t have to get married to one source of happiness and then hope it stays that way. We can change routes right up until the day we die.

I wish you well with the decision. But you must make any decisions from a place of loving yourself just as you love your daughter. For you are just like her—a child of the universe. You have many routes to happiness. If one path has changed, then you have every ability to shift to another that’s better overall. Your daughter is lucky to have you—your husband too. Make sure you see all of that value too. Because when you do, you’ll automatically choose the direction that’s the healthiest of your choices.

Big hugs and all the best,

peace. s

Ferrett Steinmetz: Dear Daughter

188 Relax and Succeed - If you love a flower
Thanks to a friend I recently stumbled on to a blog entry that demonstrated unusually high levels of character. Most people claim to have principles, but those will quickly evaporate if there is any social pressure applied. Our sense of belonging is so strong that our ego will often make enormous sacrifices to try to fit in—including being hypocritical about our principles.

If someone really believes in equality then they accept that their children will need to; suffer to grow; and they deserve to have the same shot at life that their parents did. Maybe an even better one if we all continue to develop our compassion through developing our consciousness as this father has. This is very simply an honest, loving presentation of how open and empathetic true love is and I invite you to enjoy this excellent piece of writing:

There’s a piece of twaddle going around FetLife called 10 Rules For Dating My Daughter, which is packed with “funny” threats like this:

“Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilising some kind of ‘barrier method’ can kill you. Let me elaborate: when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.”

All of which boil down to the tedious, “Boys are threatening louts, sex is awful when other people do it, and my daughter is a plastic doll whose destiny I control.”

188 Relax and Succeed - You must love

Look, I love sex. It’s fun. And because I love my daughter, I want her to have all of the same delights in life that I do, and hopefully more. I don’t want to hear about the fine details because, heck, I don’t want those visuals any more than my daughter wants mine. But in the abstract, darling, go out and play.

Because consensual sex isn’t something that men take from you; it’s something you give. It doesn’t lessen you to give someone else pleasure. It doesn’t degrade you to have some of your own. And anyone who implies otherwise is a man who probably thinks very poorly of women underneath the surface.

Yes, all these boys and girls and genderqueers may break your heart, and that in turn will break mine. I’ve held you, sobbing, after your boyfriend cheated on you, and it tore me in two. But you know what would tear me in two even more? To see you in a glass cage, experiencing nothing but cold emptiness at your fingers, as Dear Old Dad ensured that you got to experience nothing until he decided what you should like.

188 Relax and Succeed - Do all things

You’re not me. Nor are you an extension of my will. And so you need to make your own damn mistakes, to learn how to pick yourself up when you fall, to learn where the bandages are and to bind up your own cuts. I’ll help. I’ll be your consigliere when I can, the advisor, the person you come to when all seems lost. But I think there’s value in getting lost. I think there’s a strength that only comes from fumbling your own way out of the darkness.

You’re your own person, and some of the things you’re going to love will strike me as insane, ugly, or unenjoyable. This is how large and wonderful the world is! Imagine if everyone loved the same thing; we’d all be battling for the same ten people. The miracle is how easily someone’s cast-offs become someone else’s beloved treasure.

And I would be a sad, sad little man if I manipulated you into becoming a cookie-cutter clone of my desires. Love the music I hate, watch the movies I loathe, become a strong woman who knows where her bliss is and knows just what to do to get it.

Now, you’re going to get bruised by life, and sometimes bruised consensually. But I won’t tell you sex is bad, or that you’re bad for wanting it, or that other people are bad from wanting it from you if you’re willing to give it. I refuse to perpetuate, even through the plausible deniability of humor, the idea that the people my daughter is attracted to are my enemy.

I’m not the guard who locks you in the tower. Ideally, I am my daughter’s safe space, a garden to return to when the world has proved a little too cruel, a place where she can recuperate and reflect upon past mistakes and know that here, there is someone who loves her wholeheartedly and will hug her until the tears dry.

That’s what I want for you, sweetie. A bold life filled with big mistakes and bigger triumphs.

Now get out there and find all the things you fucking love, and vice versa.

Ferrett Steinmetz

True love looks and feels like freedom. Share as much of it as you can.

peace and love. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.