There's a part in the Tony Robbins documentary, I Am Not Your Guru, where Robbins is talking to a woman at his Date With Destiny seminar, and he asksThere's a part in the Tony Robbins documentary, I Am Not Your Guru, where Robbins is talking to a woman at his Date With Destiny seminar, and he asks her to tell him about her dad. She responds, saying that her dad was a wonderful man who always took care of her and showed her love and kindness. And Robbins is like, "Oh yeah? Well, fuck that bastard! He protected you from having any skills to deal with real life."
That's kind of the point of this book, even though Melton stays very complimentary of how loving and wonderful her parents are. And, I don't think blame is really necessary for them, they sound like kind people. But, their presentation of a perfect, idyllic life to her gave her no skills to deal with her own negative emotions.
There's a point at the end of this book (I don't think it's a spoiler but consider yourself warned that I'm talking about the end of the book), where Melton has self-reflection that when her daughter was upset one morning about the tension within the family, the whole family started basically chanting the mantra of "You're okay; everything is okay." It wasn't okay though. And perpetuating the false idea that erecting all of these walls and protections around pain - the idea that it's important to pretend things are okay when they're not - doesn't heal. It just festers the pain.
That's my major takeaway from reading this. Melton had a major trauma around realizing that the okayness she had set up in the form of her marriage and family was actually fake. Then, she had to get to know herself again and allow pain to happen in order to access love.
I have all the respect in the world for that journey, and I think Melton is a lovely person and writer. It is not my journey, and so it was interesting to hear someone learn to allow pain in such a different way than I think I have learned it. Both different and the same because we are both human, feminist, smart, writer warriors. The outside description of covering up pain with bulimia, alcohol, marriage, and babies was so different. My covers have been more like overwork, TV, and unavailable men. But the journey to accepting pain and love was really similar. I think we're both still working on it, too....more
This is my favorite-favorite of all of Pema Chodron’s lectures. I haven’t listened to this one in a while, but it was really influential in my total lThis is my favorite-favorite of all of Pema Chodron’s lectures. I haven’t listened to this one in a while, but it was really influential in my total life overhaul last year.
My favorite part of this lecture is Pema Chodron’s description of the Buddhist idea of ego, which is so different, I think, from the western idea of ego, which is more like hubris. But, I do think that the two descriptions are different ways to get at the same thing. They both see ego as something that alienates us from other people.
The Buddhist idea of ego, like everything else in Buddhism, is a way to describe aversion and clinging and the chaos they cause in our lives. She describes it like this: ego is like if you’re in a room you love. The temperature is your perfect temperature, the food is your favorite. Your favorite music is playing and the walls are your favorite color.
But, you suddenly realize that you can hear sounds from outside and there is an uncomfortable breeze, and so you close the window. Then, you realize there’s a little air still coming in under your door, so you put a towel down. You can hear the neighbors through the wall, and so you brick up that wall, and pretty soon you are trapped in your perfect room.
Anything from the outside is threatening to your comfortable space, and you can’t tolerate anything coming into your space or being taken from it.
I’ll tell you about how I’ve seen this play out in my own life with the topic I’m so passionate about right now (as always) – sexism. I used to react when someone said something sexist by pulling into myself and seeking out people who I knew wouldn’t be sexist, jobs that would encourage me to show myself. I assumed I wasn’t welcome where sexism existed, and since I wasn’t welcome, I should go home.
For example, a supervisor said, “Women often have trouble promoting themselves in their resumes.” Even though I listened to his advice about my resume, I decided that this was evidence that so many lawyers just assume women are pushovers. Maybe we are pushovers, I thought. I also thought there are so many benefits to being humble and straightforward about skills and not bragging, but maybe the law and especially men in the law, can’t accept that.
Maybe I don’t belong in the law, I thought. Men in the law were the outside world, they claimed it, and my inclination was to withdraw into my comfortable house and let them have the outside.
But, that was a limitation I was putting on myself; it was not reality. In reality, I can go out into any situation and be safe in my own thinking. Who cares if this guy thinks women have trouble promoting themselves? I don’t have to think that, and him being wrong doesn’t hurt me. My thought that maybe I’m a pushover and don’t belong was super uncomfortable, but that was allll my choice.
I can open my door and step outside, and then I can step back into my comfortable spot when I want to. I can open the window, and then close it again when I’m tired of the outside smells. But, I can still be me no matter what feelings are out there. I can hear someone say that women have trouble with promotion, I can sit with the thought and let my supervisor think it, and I can still not choose to believe it.