Hate is Such a Strong Word
My cat hates me. Well, she’s not my cat, she’s my son’s, but I’m the one home with her all day; the one who feeds her, who saves her from the dogs, who talk to her, who suggested getting her in the first place. And do I get any thanks? Hell no. Not only that, but she likes/tolerates (she is a cat, after all) everyone in the family…EXCEPT ME!
I walk into a room where she’s been sitting quietly and she jumps down from her perch and leaves. I pick her up and she instantly stops purring and clamors to get away. I talk to her and she gives me the stink eye.
So fine, if she wants to be like that, I’ll just hate her right back.
Isn’t that the way it goes?
And yet, I can’t. I often chalk it up to her being a cat, they’re supposed to be like that, aren’t they? And I take solace in the fact that my dogs trail after me all day and look pathetic when I leave and then ridiculously happy when I return. They love me, so it’s not that I’m unlovable. It’s obviously the cat’s problem.
But that doesn’t mean I have to like her. Or be nice to her, right?
I’m not talking about the cat. Well, I am, but I’m not. The cat is so reflective of the rest of my life.
Over the past couple years, and moreso the past six months, I have really undergone a great deal of personal transformation. I used to be such an angry person, full of spite and bitterness and rage and, well, hate. Now, I really feel like I’m moving past that. I look out at people and instead of launching into full scale commentary/criticism on everything wrong with them, I smile (or try to. Sometimes, just sometimes, you gotta…no. Even if they are dressed like a stripper in an elementary school, I am not going to judge. That is not my place.). Basically, I am no longer able to live in a world of judgment and hate. I don’t get pleasure out of gossip or insults or talking about others behind their back. Actually, it makes me feel quite icky. Those people I may have judged or criticised (I grew up in criticism, it was all I ever knew. Add that to living in a tiny town, well, just cut me some slack, will you? I’m trying here) I see now as other people just like myself, trying to get by the best way they know how. I am trying to come from love rather than judgment.
So why, then, does my cat hate me? Why is there any rage or hate present? If I am all peace, love and happiness, why does that not spill over to all my relationships?
Because there’s obviously a part of me still carrying resentment and blame and that cat must feel it.
I’m not sure I’m making any sense. Let me explain things a bit better.
Take, for instance, the phenomenon of bitchy resting face. The reason it is called “bitchy” resting face, I believe, is because it seems to be on women so often (myself included. Keep in mind, I will not talk about an issue that I have not been guilty of myself, that would be hypocritical and snobbish). You know that look, that deep, dark glare that others see and say, “What the hell is her problem?” When really, there might be no problem at all, or they might be thinking about all the shit they have to get done before school gets out and then all that has to be done afterwards and so on and so on. Or they may simply be crumbling under society’s pressure to remain young and beautiful and skinny and perfect.
Why do we insist on making this look, this glare, about ourselves? Making it personal?
Because it’s all about us, isn’t it? It’s about our issues, not theirs.
There is a woman, a fellow parent at the school, who I am certain, hates me. I do not know her, I have not spoken to her (I have tried to say hi and acknowledge her a few times, but to no avail. Maybe she is hard of hearing?), but every time I catch her eye, I swear, she is plotting my death, silently, behind that death glare all over her face.
I refuse to believe it’s bitchy resting face. I am sure it’s her shit and it’s being directed at me. And yet, if someone said to me, this woman hates me for reasons I cannot fathom as I’ve never met her but she is always trying to stare me down with her laser eyes, I would tell them they’re crazy and not to make it about them.
But I can’t follow my own advice. Instead I think about all the things I’ve never done to deserve such ill treatment. I’ve never spoken to her, I’ve never flirted with her husband (does she have a husband?), I’ve never hit her kids…Okay, okay, of course, I don’t do these things. Basically, there is no reason for her dislike me and yet, I insist upon it. So I dislike her back. Until I tell myself to stop being so stupid.
If I didn’t recognize it whatever is happening between me and this woman (or me towards this woman) that it’s my own, ridiculous made-up drama in my head, I’d probably walk about hating this woman. Probably, in my old days, saying and thinking mean things about her, just to keep my ego intact. And while I still look at her and wonder about it, I also try to look beyond that face, to the fact that maybe she’s sad, maybe she’s lonely, and maybe I don’t have any right to make judgments about her or her emotions and certainly should never make it about me.
But I am. I made it all about me. And that is the problem. The problem lies in my own issues and self loathing, not in anything she did or did not do.
And that is when I realize how far I have to go in path to enlightenment (and by enlightenment, I just mean being a good, authentic person). Because if I was truly living from love and understanding, I would never have seen the dirty look on her face in the first place, would I have? I would have seen someone just like myself, doing the best she can with the tools she’s got. Not a woman who has problems and obviously a problem with me.
So then, what do you do when you know someone definitely HAS a problem with you? Sure, strangers have their own shit and we should never make it about us, but what about those whom we know? Who have made a point of letting us know how much they dislike us? There is one woman in my life with whom I used to be friends, whom I considered a very good friend, and then things went south. Like, far down in the very, deep hate-filled south. Now, we walk the other way when we see each other. We communicate through a third party. We basically pretend the other does not exist while at the same time being so keenly aware of the other’s presence.
How do you get past that? How do you look at a person who has hurt you so badly, and forgive them? Well, not even forgive them (I think that is such a trite, christian word that I’m not interested in using it. It suggests rising about the other person and I’m not thinking that is a better alternative.) Instead, I would rather look at them and accept them, completely, whether they have harmed me or not. And yet, I can’t. I can’t let that unresolved shit go (also, it’s impossible to work things out when they refuse to respond to your phone calls, emails, or texts, but that is still not an excuse). And I look at this one relationship that went so wrong, so bad, and think, well, until this is resolved, until I can look at this person without any ill feelings, I will never be happy myself.
And I get how there is so much anger and bitterness in the world. Right there, in the period of 1300 words (man, I do talk a lot don’t I?) I have written up 3 relationships of which there is tension, frustration, and anger (not all mutually inclusive). And that is certainly not all of them, and if you added them up over the course of my life there’d probably be too many to count (remember, I was raised on criticism and anger and bitterness – not blaming anyone, it was not their fault, but that is another story). And I am so hyper aware of these relationships because they seem to be a light for me, a sign that I’m not quite there yet. They are reminding me of how far I still have to go.
On Facebook the other day, I saw someone had posted something about another person. It was some kind of Dawson Creek site and I was so sad to discover that it was some kind of social media site whose entire purpose was to trash and insult other people. You post a picture of the person and then go on a crazy rant that absolutely rips them apart. The moment I saw it I felt awful.
I could not imagine what it would be like to be on the other side of that picture, no matter what I’d done. And it made me sad to think what anger and hatred can do to people, how much damage and hurt it can cause. To be so enraged at someone else that you would post something like that only seems to show how much hurt and rage a person holds within. I know, for myself, how much hurt I feel when I think of that relationship with my friend that is now, well, nothing but resentment. And I could never do something like post trash about her online. So, to do that, I would imagine the hurt would have to be almost overpowering, all consuming. I think that would be the kind of hatred you’d have to carry with you every minute of your day to post something like that. The kind that takes over so that all your thoughts are on the hate. And if so many aspects of our lives are simply a reflection of ourselves, would that outward directed hate not also have a spike turned inwards?
I know when I was angry and critical and judgmental, all I sent out into the world had an equal arm pointing at myself. The anger I felt towards others was only a fraction of what I felt towards myself and that is why I know I am not fully passed that. If I had no more negative feelings towards myself, I could not possibly have negativity towards others. I remember learning in a psychology class, that those who are critical of others are most critical of themselves. So, when I read some of the stuff posted online against other people, I not only felt so sad for the victim, but also for the attacked. I can only hope that the haters and the hated will find peace and acceptance, because that is all I hope for myself.
I never was the type to preach love and kindness, to me that was weakness. But now I see, you have to be incredibly strong to lead with loving kindness and acceptance, to smile at those who have hurt you, or who you’ve allowed to hurt you. And I know that I’m not that strong yet, but I hope to one day.
Now to go find that damn cat and give her a snuggle before she scratches my eyes out and runs away….