Kindness Changes Everything

"Any Kindness," by Alfredo Mendez, from via Creative Commons 2.0 license. "Any Kindness," by Alfredo Mendez, from via Creative Commons 2.0 license.

Last night we went out to dinner with another couple.  Upon arriving at the restaurant, I looked down at my light colored pants and saw that my catheter leaked.  Again.  And because I was wearing light colored pants, it was pretty visible.  But not only was I sitting in urine (granted, I couldn’t feel it but it still pretty uncomfortable-if you know what I mean), but that acid material is very unhealthy for the skin on my bottom which is already fragile.

Obviously I couldn’t go home so I no choice but to go in the restaurant with wet pants.  Fortunately I brought a windbreaker with me so we put that on my lap and kept it there.  Nobody said anything because I have discovered that as a 70-year-old quadriplegic, I can get away with a lot of stuff and people don’t even raise an eyebrow.  So that’s the good news.  The bad news was that I peed in my pants.  Again.

When we got out, I told my girlfriend/partner that I felt disgusted.  She tried to talk me out of it reminding me that it wasn’t my fault.  Bless her heart, but it didn’t help.  I still felt disgust.  And I felt ashamed.  Although it wasn’t my fault, shame is a very human reaction to having bodily fluids visible to others.

So there I was after 36 years and after this happening hundreds of times, I still felt those emotions.  And oh yes, I’m not proud of this, but I also felt self-pity for a little while.  It was a beautiful evening and I would have loved to have sat outside with Joan and have a cup of tea.  But I had to go to bed to change.

But once my mind stopped racing and I was able to feel what I truly felt, I felt great compassion for this guy named Dan.  He’s a good guy and cares deeply about others.  My heart breaks when I see people suffer.  Almost every day in my office, I am moved to tears-tears of compassion.

So last night as I lay in bed watching the sun go down, I felt great compassion for myself.  Not self-pity, or even self-love, just a sense of kindness for this man with this body that I have lived with my whole life.

Self compassion last night didn’t feel good and it didn’t make me happy.  But it did feel so very real as it enabled me to feel kind towards myself rather than ashamed.

Kindness changes everything.  Everything.

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