When I was young, I was taught to treat others as I wished to be treated. I was told that this “golden rule” would insure that people would treat me well. Growing up, I learned this to be not quite as true as I had hoped. Yet, I continue to strive to treat others as I wish to treated. Now, as I go through my yoga teacher training, I read about the yamas (an ethical code of conduct for yogis and the like minded). First on the list of yamas is “ahimsa” which reminds us to practice nonviolence to ourselves and to others. Furthermore, it urges us do good, even to those who do not do good in return.
Every day, when I roll out my mat, I practice compassion with myself. My practice is a mix of poses which are easy (but not too easy), challenging (but not too challenging). I practice being kind and accepting to myself and in turn am kind and accepting to others when I am off the mat. It is good.
Occasionally, however, we are faced with someone who has found fault with you. They are unkind and not accepting of you as a person. What do you do? How do you do the right thing but not get walked on?
A few months ago, the mother of one of the students in YaYa’s class took issue with me. Her accusations were unfounded and I tried to reassure her that they were lies. Unfortunately, she refused to believe me citing that, in the four years our boys were at the school together, I had never invited her over or met her for coffee. I am a single, working mother with a son who no longer has extra curricular activities at the school. I rarely made it to any of his sporting events, when he did, and I hardly had met any of the moms or dads. But I had run into her husband from time to time at the coffee shop just across from the school, as I had with several of the other parents whose kids go to the coffee shop immediately after kid-drop. These “excuses” were not good enough to defend my innocence however. Guilty until proven innocent. Isn’t that how it goes?
She began called me intermittently over a 3 month period of time to voice her ill opinion of me in the most hurtful manner. She made me cry often. Still, I listened and did my best to reassure her whenever I could get a word in edgewise — which was rare. Whenever I would try to reassure her that I was not after her husband, but was instead in love with my boyfriend of many years, she would scream louder and threaten more forcefully. She would tell me that all single women are BAD and insist that she “knows my type.”
At one point, I thought I’d gotten through to her. We ended the call on a good note and I promised to call her up if ever I was in her neck of the woods (which is near where I grew up). I felt a connection of sorts and wanted things to be good between us.
But with just a few weeks of school left, her anger at me was back. This time, she’d pulled YaYa into it by saying that he was not to come to a party she was hosting for all of the students in the two eighth grade classes. The problem was that YaYa was given an invitation.
So when she called me up telling me that she didn’t want him there, I decided to do the nicest thing I could do. This was to put the responsibility back on her. “I am NOT going to tell him that he can’t go. If you don’t want him there, then YOU tell him.” I said. This was when she backed down saying that she would “allow” him to go but did not want me OR theMAN to attend. And when she started in on why she did not want me there, again accusing me of not wanting to be her friend, and blaming me for the unhappiness between her and her husband, I did the kindest thing I could think of at that moment. I reminded her that this was HER divorce, not mine. “Take responsibility for it.” I said, “I don’t want any part of it.” Then, I said good-bye and hung up.
Given that this party was at one of those places with loud music and poor ventilation, I was not the least bit disappointed. The only reason I would have gone was to try to make good with her. Obviously, that was not in the cards. YaYa did attend the party and he said that he was not treated badly so I am thankful. But it’s not over yet.
Now that the words have been said, and with two more events surrounding graduation, I hope and pray that she will start up a practice of ahimsa herself. Life is painful enough; can’t we all just get along? Really.