A double enquiry between Angelika and Michaela
Situation I (Michaela)
M: There is something currently in my life that is just ridiculous and somewhat disturbing. So I wonder if we can shed some light on the sub-conscious pattern and solve this riddle.
In my neighbourhood there are some homeless people, beggars. They always stand in the same place – in front of the grocery store, the bakery, the pharmacy – places that are frequented by many people. I know them all and I often speak to them. They know my name, and I know theirs. They are mostly Romanian gipsy and their life is hard enough. In summer they sleep in the park and in winter they find shelter with some charitable organisations. So they are regular appearances in my life, we chat and I always give something – money, food, water, aspirin or a smile, whatever seems appropriate.
However, there is another beggar I always meet on my way to the subway and this man is probably the only beggar in my life I have never given anything. I simply cannot get myself to do it. He is a middle aged man with sad eyes and a toothless mouth, playing the violin with so little skill or talent, that it hurts my ears each time I pass him.
In the beginning I would greet him or smile, but I could not get myself to give him money. He of course started to silently ask for a pittance, by the look in his eyes or grimacing. I still could not do it. One day he came up to me and started talking to me – he said he was coming from some Hungarian village and he showed me a picture of his decrepit house with crumbling walls and water damage, which needed repair. This would have been the moment to give him ten Euros, but as it happened, I id not have any money on me at the time.
And even thereafter, I still cannot get myself to give him something but rather make a big detour to avoid passing him. I really feel bad about this, but there is something that does not let me do what I would do for almost anyone else – give freely.
I know this is ridiculous and I am in complete resistance – but I cannot get out of it. I actually get angry when I hear him mistreating the violin ( this is how bad it sounds). He clearly triggers my painbody and I don’t know why…
Situation II (Angelika)
A: It took me some days to be able to write about this topic. Something within me (an unconscious identification HA!) kept me from getting started.
Anyways, for almost twenty years now I have been friends with a woman. Our children are of the same age and we somehow brought them up together. The kids have known each other since they were in our bellies and now two of them are already of full age. She practises Buddhism and neither my children nor I are Christians, so we spend quite some Christmas holidays together. As much as I can remember I we all enjoyed these special kind of celebrations.
Last summer she phoned me several times and I simply had no space and clock time to talk to her. I can remember that her way of communicating (as a response maybe) became a little tense, not to say harsh and slightly unfriendly.
Although I was already feeling uneasy when talking to her briefly, I did took time to phone her back and when she asked me what was taking all my time, I told her about The Living Room.
OMG . . .
I got questioned and I felt like being on a trial. Why do I write in TLR, what is it good for…and so on. I had to justify almost each little feature of the settings of the blog as well as the content.
When she mentioned that she wanted to visit for a weekend I told her that I was booked out, because I could not deal with her unfriendly manners other than drawing back.
In addition to this she keeps sending emails to an old email address of mine, which I hardly use anymore and check only very rarely.
Several weeks ago John (who shares this account and checks it more regularly) told me that she sent an email to me, again. Two weeks later I looked at the email and learned that her mom, who had been sick for quite some time, passed away.
Until today I could not write anything to her nor phone her. Something keeps me from doing this.
Michaela questions Angelika :
M: I have a question about this. To me this looks like this woman is reacting to you changing. She obviously does not understand it, nor does she approve of it. And it looks like the trigger has been her reaction / opinion about the blog. So what does that mean ? What in you got upset about having to explain what you are doing writing a blog ?
A: While reading your words, I felt a pressure in my stomach area, as if someone is wringing out my stomach. Staying with this sensation I can feel energy in motion in this area. For one moment it pushed up towards my sternum area. And I feel a light sickness.
Rereading your question it comes to me that she wants me to remain with the role / function (object) that I have in her life. It seems to me that she is not interested in me as a human being but rather in what I can be and do for her.
M: But she appeared to be interested in what you do ? She asked a lot of questions, even tough you had the impression she did not approve. And then you would not allow her to come for a visit or get in touch with her. Did she actually say she did not approve of the blog or what you were doing ?
A: I would call it “perpetual nagging”. You know what, I just realize something.
I used to live the following pattern. Whenever I was dissatisfied with my current life situation I would do this “perpetual nagging” about what ever crossed my path. Actually all complaining was about myself, my own mental state. Since my upbringing did not allow me to pay any attention to my own emotions, etc. I simply projected my anger on what happened to be next or in front of me.
M: So was she really nagging ? Did she raise a concern or did she say it is not good what you do ? Was it more content or style ?
A: I felt like I had to explain myself about why I write about Welwood and Tolle. It was certainly about content, about mind control. She practises a certain spin off of Japanese Buddhism, which by some sources is called sect-like. All those years she made different attempts to get me interested in it. I never felt drawn to it.
M: It sounds to me like you felt she does not approve of you in terms of your spiritual development and/or choices regarding your blog. For whatever reason – but the fact that she does not appear to accept or approve of what you are doing, triggers a reaction in you. So what does this remind you of ?
A: JA! No matter what I do, she does not approve of it. Like my mother.
And I react with with-drawl. I go into refusal.
When experiencing the role of a victim I react as a perpetrator by abandoning the ones who “did me wrong.” And this stops any further exchange.
I close up.
Michaela, Thank you so much for leading me through this realisation.
Angelika questions Michaela :
A: Here is my question to you. Why can´t you allow the Hungarian guy to play the violin so badly? Why does his lack of skill touch you in any way?
M: It hurts my soul. I cringe..it is really bad. And it reminds me of my father, who was a very talented pianist, but gave up his musical career for a more mundane and safer profession. When he did that, he stopped playing the piano altogether and only resumed playing some ten years later. Obviously he had forgotten a lot and I remember he was very unhappy about what he called his “unskilled playing”. He resented it.
Something else I remember is that my father always worried about financial matters. He had his own business and made good money, but at times business was not so good. And he would very easily panic about the money. He had this nightmare that we would lose everything and had to live in the streets. There is an HC Andersen tale about the little match girl. Its a story about a poor girl selling matches in the street on New Years Eve and watching people in their homes being merry and eating and drinking. She froze to death in the streets. I remember he hated that story, and he could not listen to it.
A: Wow. Is this guy a living memorial plaque for the fears and lost chances of your father?
M: I am not sure. Those are the things that are coming up. He makes me feel helpless. He acts like a victim and it makes me actually feel really angry. There clearly is something about him that is different than other beggars. I am reacting to his demeanour. And I think it is exactly that – he makes me feel helpless, because I’d like to tell him – why are you doing this, why are you lowering yourself to play an instrument in such an unskilled way. It would be better if you just sat there or sold magazines or something.
A: Would you actually like to tell this to your father?
You may consider that your father might have not been such a great piano player, or his trust in his abilities might have lacked. So what….
Which child wants to deal with a weak father?
M: I think it reminds me of an unresolved childhood terror. Not necessarily to be rendered homeless, but really to witness this low confidence my father had about himself. This belief that he was not good enough and that he was different than everyone else. Knowing his story I understand where this was coming from, but you are right – I had to deal with a father who believed he could not provide for us, because he could not provide for himself. For many years I believed that about myself too, even tough I was really successful. But this inner feeling of being vulnerable and helpless never fully subsided.
What is becoming clear is what I am reacting to is someone being identified with a victim. This is triggering the “offender” in me – someone who would be heartless enough to pass by and does not help, even though they could.
Conclusion: One day later I am looking at this exchange and I have had an opportunity to contemplate on my insights. It has a lot to do with not wanting to be seen as weak and helpless. It has a lot to do with being strong on the outside, but feeling scared and vulnerable on the inside. It has a lot to do with being the perpetrator. These feelings are lifting and I am looking forward to walk past this beggar, stop and finally give him what he is asking me for – to accept him as being weak and in need of help. To accept that being weak and in need of help is not necessarily a position of weakness or danger.
Angelika – thanks for being there and guiding me through this.
The photograph was taken a few years ago in Central Park, New York. I always suspected the wolf living on the West Side and the Grandmother residing in a rent-stabilized classic six on Park.
Wonder where they are NOW….
Thanks for sharing your story, I have a last course I teach my students before they go out seeking their new job, called Strategies for Success. One thing I always stress is, “never judge or come to a conclusion”, unless you have walked a mile in their shoes. There are many reasons, may they be, from physical, mental, or sexual abuse or loss of a job or even addiction why people are homeless and need to beg. In my own life I find myself giving to these people, feeling very sad knowing I’m sure they all have a very sad past. I find when you even say Hello or smile they seem to light up, I feel they deserve respect even in their situation.
Lovely post, you two. Thank you for sharing your processes!
My journey lately has involved a lot of simple (and yet profound) recognition of feelings, without trying to label them, figure out why I am feeling them, or trying to find out where the feelings came from. Having been very analytical for most of my life, this is a new way of being for me, and I feel that this has liberated some feelings so that they no longer arise (are triggered). But I am constantly amazed at how many more follow on the heels of those that have dissolved!
Interesting topic, my boss is going through a limit situation basically he has gone from owning multi-million dollar business and home to bankruptcy and messy divorce in the space of 6 months
I think there is a German word for this and it is a despicable feeling when i catch myself doing it, it is like a pleasure received from someone else’s misfortune that the ego i parading as detachment. Also i really should be looking for another job but i am interested in seeing what happens to him
Not nice indeed
Oh, I think the word you are looking for is “Schadenfreude”. Literally, take pleasure in someone’s bad fortune. Done correctly, it is a delightful feeling and you should fully enjoy it. Only to realise this too is the ego, being happy about being “right”… 🙂
Marille you told me it is dedicated to me.You do not know how much that means to me.
This has been of great value. Thanks to you both. Combined with “Symbols of separation” I was able to discover where resistance in me had arisen.
Healing, by your example.