Where do I put this?

September 23, 2010

So when we are hurt, and we know self-pity is not the place to go, where do we put the pain?

Our understanding begs for some satisfaction.  The problem bounces around our head and often forms a resentment, anger, sadness, and robs us of our time, focus, and energy.  Then self-pity gets ahold of us and sucks us in like a vortex.  Or… what?

What is the alternative when you feel the pain, sadness, and the thin edge of the resentment wedge?  I ask this because as much as I have written about it in past, it has come to visit me again in the past 2 days.

My elderly alcoholic father is living like a cave man.  In squalor by choice and habit.  Unreasonable and unruly.  In isolation.  He won’t accept help from the staff at the senior’s facility he is in.  He insists on staying shut in his room with his tv, magazines, and mess.  Porn pin ups on the same walls as family pictures.  Insisting that life should come around to his way of thinking.  Mad at everyone, blaming everyone.  The room stinks and he is ok with that.

So my mind says to me, “This is what you get”?

Just the other day, I had a business transaction with a father who is grooming his adult son to take over his business.  Dad is mentoring him along.  Showing him how to make a decision in a large transaction.  Parenting him in a way I would have preferred to be parented, and in a way that I am endeavoring to parent my own son.

My mind is trying to say, “This kid has this kind of Dad.  Look what I get”. 

Some pretty toxic thinking on my part isn’t it?  If I were to let these thought have free reign, they would lead me to very dangerous places.  Self-pity is not an option.  Nor is resentment.  Nor is envy.

Gratitude and surrender are my weapons of choice.  Even so, they do not take the pain of disappointment away completely.  It is an uncomfortable place to be.  But better than going further down the road of negativity and into depression or worse.

So this is very much a journey and we don’t “arrive” as far as I can see.  Just for today, I am grateful that I was not left to follow in these same footsteps to this same destination as my father.  I am grateful to be someone different, even though I started out down this same road of alcoholism and self-centredness.





  1. I am learning a lot from listening to Katie Byron at the moment. It is taking a while to really sink in. But after many many ! many repeat plays, it is starting to seep into my bones. It is essentially a master-class in Acceptance with respect to our relations with others. and life in all its forms. I love learning new ways of practicing the principles in all my affairs, so this is my current focus. will be something else in 6-12 months!

    So yes, I thoroughly recommend brainwashing yourself by repeat play on loop on your ipod of I Need Your Love – Is That True? by Byron Katie if you are struggling to accept life on lifes terms with relationship issues. its the same as AA (well thats how i see it) so no problem for confusing you.


    Good luck and hope you feel better soon 🙂

  2. Thanks IFB… by simply sharing the truth about how I feel in writing and/or with another person, healthier perspective immediatley begins to form.

    Thank you for your feedback and suggestion. I just looked up the link and read a review. Sounds very positive. I will look more into it.

    I also just expressed some gratitude by going for a 12k cycle. I find that if I just try to think gratitude to get out of a spiral of bad feelings, it isnt as effective as behaving gratitude. What better way to be grateful for my life than to live it in a healthy way?

    And the sights and sounds of the beautiful country I live in leave me nothing to feel bad about.

    Funny how it still happens though eh? But we get better and better at dealing with it. Years ago I would have disappeared into depression or drinking or some other form of escape.

    Still room for improvement though. Onward.



  3. Thanks for the reply Chaz 🙂
    ah yes exercise and outdoor beauty are very helpful, but unless I find a skillful way of analyzing my destructive and negative habitual tendencies of thinking I cannot ? cut through ‘samsara’. In buddhism they call it the ‘sword’ of wisdom. Like cutting through the undergrowth. Unless you find a skillful means to do that, the other aspects of practice which generate wholesome mental states (such as gratitude) are of limited use. (for me anyway) Ultimately one needs to see right through the delusions. I use exercise as well, and yes it helps a great deal, but I absolutely need the sword of wisdom, so I am constantly (trying) to educate myself as to how to identify and counteract my delusions. Which I see as an infinitely challenging task. a lifetime’s work really. ‘cunning baffling and powerful’ basically 🙂
    I knew one very ‘new’ monk who was a bit wet behind the ears in terms of experience, and he used to read at least one book a day. Not easy books either. Relative to those ppl, I am a total !!! lightweight in terms of how much I study the tricks of the mind, but I try to study something new all the time, knowing that I am operating at a snails pace compared to very average monastics with only a few years experience. All the really good practitioners I know devour books endlessly. Amazon is their big spend 🙂 So I have a lot of respect for the wisdom contained in books 🙂 love em 🙂 Shame I cant read faster 🙂 Or take it in faster ..

    • IFB… I see it the same way that we do need to weed out toxic thinking. If we don’t, it will continually try to work its way in. So to me, if we learn new habits of thought that replace the old ones… such as gratitude displacing self-pity… we reduce the degree to which we self pity while increasing gratitude. But we cannot attack our self pity without knowledge of its existence or it will hide for a time then sneak in again. My experience anyway.



  4. It’s nice to hear a positive voice. Keep up the great work! Good luck on the bike!

    • Thanks Duke… yes, the bike is very therapeutic.

  5. Great post…I agree that there isn’t an end to a journey and not repeating mistakes – is huge – and so many do it. Sounds like you are doing well – glad for that!

    • Hey Jolene… nice to hear from you… been a while. Yes, continuing to grow. I expect we always will.

      See you on the blogs!

      • ps Jolene…. where’d your blog go?

      • it’s still up! tbdetermined.wordpress.com 🙂

  6. My heart goes out to you. Your inner little boy needs a lot of soothing, comfort & loving words. You are becoming the dad ‘he’ never can have. So glad you did not have to finish the road your father has stayed on with such determination.

    Self-hate (a negative) is built on blaming ourselves for how we were treated. Seeing who our parents truly are takes the burden off of us. It allows us to know in our bones that we have value & worth.

    Of course the kid is envious. Isn’t that normal? We have to mourn what we didn’t get!, not just try to spiritualize it away. We can validate how the kid feels & thinks, without being negative!

    Exercise is great to burn off the rage but comforting is needed to sooth the pain.
    ACoAs want the pain to go away. It’s more loving to be -with- the kid in his suffering, to let him know he’s not alone. Alone & in emotional pain, for a child, is one of the worst things!
    I often pat my chest / heart chakra, when I feel my IC crying. She responds by relaxing. She is not alone!

  7. Thanks Donna…. I knew there were IC issues at play here… just didnt know exactly what.

    I guess you summarized what I was trying to say with, “We can validate how the kid feels & thinks, without being negative!” I felt something when feeling disappointed in my father, but didnt want to go the old route to self pity. So there is a no-man’s land between feeling the pain, and the self pity I wont go to.

    “Validating the feelings” describes a place to me. What am I gonna do… ignore or stuff the feelings? No. Been there, done that… for like 30+ years.

    So ya, the kid felt pain and never dealt with it so the pain lives on. And I dont want to be one of these people who takes it to their grave. Or dies hating or unforgiving.

    Thanks for your reply. It helps.



  8. Where do we go when we have such heavy burdens in our heart? Go to the Lord in prayer. He is waiting for you and wants you to cast all your burdens on Him. God bless you. I pray you find peace and forgiveness. There is a reason your life has been what it has been. God has been preparing you for a purpose.

    • Thanks for your reply. Yes, I turn it over to God regularly. I usually then find I am directed to do something tangible with my time and energy. I don’t always get it right, but doing something is always better than wallowing. And many times it feels I hit the mark and some huge new understanding is revealed. This life of faith and recovery is amazing.

  9. Hi Chaz. Thanks for your post. This is so true. The Attitude of Gratitude can really turn a life around. It’s helped me to accept, forgive, and release all kinds of baggage. All the best.

    • Thanks Piper… yes, forgiveness is a huge component too. I put a lot of effort into this over the past few years and made some interesting discoveries. A big one for me is that I do not know how to fully forgive certain people. I would like to but I do not feel there yet and dont yet know why. Then one day, in an AA meeting, someone shared that they believed forgiveness to be, “giving up your right to vengeance”.

      A penny dropped. I realized, ‘I can do that’. And also that for now, until a more deep and thorough level of forgiveness is possible for me, I can at least lay down my weapons and let them pass in peace. This is progress, even if not perfection and a far cry better than going nuts with unforgiveness, bitterness, envy, resentment and a host of other toxic emotions.

      I do however believe that forgiveness is something more than simply foregoing vengeance. I look forward to the day when I forgive in a manner that I feel I have been forgiven. And give grace as freely and thoroughly as I feel I have received it.

      But just for today, I forego any right my unrecovered self feels he has a right to justice, vengeance, or equalization of any type. It is so much more of a peaceful, serene place to live.



  10. Thanks for sharing, I really appreciate your words. Hope its ok I put you on my blogroll, I’m not sure what the protocol is there. I’m think I see the surface of my self-pity pool and I’m planning on getting out soon. Sadly there is a towel of unforgiveness to wipe myself off with so….

    • Hi Unlikely…. no problem at all, happy to be on your blogroll.

      Yes, unforgiveness helps us stay stuck. It can be tough to get past if we are surrounded by people and circumstances that cosign or at the very least tolerate our self-pity.

      For me, it has taken a lot of strong messages against my self pity and a consistent feeding of positive input to keep it at bay as much as it has so far.

      Yet as recently as today, self-pity showed its ugly self when I was bothered about a couple of things at home and work. It seems to always want to work its way in and throw me off my game.

      But rest assured, it does get way, way, waaaay better with time and practice. We stop listening to it and find better ways to think and live. Self pity loses its hold on us. We are less confined by it. We discover new freedom and new happiness.



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