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5 years ago  ::  Feb 04, 2009 - 11:49AM #1
France2211
Posts: 4
I am so grateful for this topic and the chance to hear and share. Last weekend a dear friend took his own life, jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge.

I have been agonized to realize that I didn't listen nearly well enough to him. Yet, ironically, he felt that I was one of the few people in his life who listened and heard him at all. And his wife told me the same thing after his death - actually thanked me for what I'd given him, something I simply couldn't stand hearing because I wished with all my heart that I'd given so much more.

Because I know that what he had needed more than anything was someone to listen fully, and I listened only half the time. The other half of the time I was talking about me and how I could relate to what he'd said.

It's so complicated. A dialogue goes two ways and sometimes sharing is exactly what is needed. I know that when I'm talking about my pain, sometimes nothing helps more than  hearing an insightful person share how they experienced the same and how they coped. But also, at other times, I simply need to talk and be heard. Sometimes I need to talk to know how I feel. Or to move forward. Or feel connected and respected and important.

This is already so long, I'll cut to the chase.

There was one core reason I didn't have the presence of mind and discipline to sense and give him what he most needed:  I wasn't caring well enough for myself.

I had stress I wasn't tending to well enough. I had needs I wasn't treating as priorities. I was neglecting the things that calm and nurture me, and driven by fear, trying a bit too hard trying to support myself. I was neglecting my emotional and social needs for companionship, telling myself those things were a lower priority than earning money, and I wasn't finding enough joy or fulfillment through creativity.

I guess you could say that what prevented me from meeting his needs were my own unmet needs.
I've never seen so clearly that the best way to care for others is to care for myself.

It's ironic because since I learned the agonizing truth 4 days ago, I've once again taken care of myself in some ways but in other ways not. I keep asking what I could have done for him and the answer is right in front of me - take care of yourself right now, as fully as you can. Stop asking what I could have done for him in the past and ask what I can do for myself right now.

Ironically, that's made harder by a belief that I did something wrong, that I failed, that I was self-absorbed and therefore a bad person, so I don't deserve taking care of. Isn't the problem in the first place that I was too much about me? And now I'm saying that the solution is to be MORE about me?

But yet it makes perfect sense. We are One. If I want to care better for you - including listening more deeply and compassionately - then the best way to do that is to start doing so with myself.

I have never been good at taking care of myself - not really, not on the deepest, most profound emotional and spiritual levels. And to be honest, I don't see many good role models for self-care around me. I think this is a very difficult world in which to truly, fully, deeply and profoundlyl love oneself.

And therefore to truly, fully, deeply and profoundly love - and be with - others.
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 04, 2009 - 3:32PM #2
France2211
Posts: 4
Dear Dazzle,
Many thanks. No, I do not meditate (want to and will start!) and yes, I love Pema Chodron. I'm still trying to learn about this board, hope this message is sent the right way to reach you. Thank you for your kindness and support. I will, indeed, read the article you've linked to.

Best,
France
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 04, 2009 - 3:55PM #3
France2211
Posts: 4
Dazzle,
From the bottom of my heart, this article is exactly what I needed to get started. It relates to exactly what I'd posted about self-care. I will print and keep it next to my meditation spot.
What a gift you've given me.

France
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 04, 2009 - 4:57PM #4
Serenne
Posts: 2
Dear France,
I am very sorry for your friend; what i don't undrestand is, why do u blame yourself. Your friend needed professional help to deal with depression and sucide. This is heavey burden to carry; u did not have the skills to deal with severe emotional problems. Be kind to yourself.
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2009 - 11:30AM #5
France2211
Posts: 4
Serenne,
Thank you so much for caring and sharing your thoughts. I believe that non-judgmental caring - "being with" - is the most powerful and supportive thing any of us can do for each other. Had I listened more carefully and fully, I would have perceived his pain was much deeper than I realized. And he would have felt heard.
But you're right, blaming myself is unrealistic and not productive. Still, I want to learn and expand from this.
Thank you again, Serenne and Dazzle.
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2009 - 2:03PM #6
Serenne
Posts: 2
I wasn't part of this forum or discussion, till i read France's comments yesterday. It moved me to the point of joing for frist time in any types of form or anything like that. I think we need to know who is the person we are connecting to and why? I have learned that i only want to be connected to kind, loving people with positive energy and higher conscienceness. This is only way at this point, i could be the best that i'm in my personal life;  my work, is another story. I have to be on a solid ground to lend a hand. What we think creates what we feel and then how we behave. I don't want to have a constant part  in someone else's drama everyday; there are better use of our time and energy. Being kind, compationate is one thing, being drawn in other people's emotional and mental problems is another thing; that is why there are profesionals who deal with thses kind of  things.
I don't agree with u,  that if u were for him at the moment and connected to his pain, u could have done something. If u study about sucidal ideation, u will know that when person ia at that point, it means he lost all his connections with u , his wife  family memebers and other friends, already. Otherwise, he would thought about the pain all of u will feel because of his actions; he couldn't connect to his wife, let alone you. Mental illness is about many factors, one being chemical inbalance, u being at the mome with him, listening  to him, could not made that much of a difference, a professional with skills, yes. You , I don't think so, Believe me, i know what i'm talking about.
I hope i wasn't too hard on u, just don't want to see u in pain for something that u had nothing to with. Love yourself so u can love others, take care of yourself so u can be compationate toward others.
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 06, 2009 - 3:31PM #7
Jenna Julianne
Posts: 7
France, I feel sorry for what happened to you! It must be terrible to learn that a dear friend has taken his own life and naturally you keep asking yourself that if you only had done xyz, could he still be alive? Well, I tend to agree with Serenne that a person who wishes to end her own life is no longer on stable feet - so probably nothing you could have done would have prevented his death. So please do not blame yourself for his death, you are in no way guilty! See if you manage to get comfort in your family and friends because right now it is you who need some pampering and people listening with kind attention to you.

Love,

Jenna
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 07, 2009 - 1:07PM #8
bshmr
Posts: 14
On Topic:

One benefit of insight meditation is that one practices listening to one's own self, without  diversion or coercion. Some need to learn, some merely need to break a habit, and so on. Once I learn enough to understand the 'ins and outs' by doing something for myself, I find it easier to learn more, as well as share my 'knowings', with others or appropriately contribute with my acquired or freshly honed skills.

Sometimes, one benefits from adding an insight meditation perspective to interacting with others. Realizing that another person is not my own conditioned mind but is 'coming in' through my five Western senses helps. This can complicate as my own consciousness processes my empathy, attitude (grasping, rejection, neutrality), and the rest of that 'can of worms'.


Back to Off Of Topic:

While I certainly understand the psychological rationalizing about suicide, I discount  almost all  "why's" proffered. On the other hand, I have immense empathy for those struggling with the dilemma or its consequences. For us, I can proffer only this harsh reality: I can't make an inanimate bowling ball do what I intend, how in the world can I expect to control something as complex as human, pet, or potted plant? I may desperately desire otherwise but I have definite limitations -- that, I suppose is 'buddhist'.
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