The Otherworldy Courage And Awe That Self-Compassion Can Bring: A True Story

Self-Compassion For Shorty

The following is a true self-compassion story.  When I was ten years old and in fifth grade, I was short for my age.  How short you ask?  Short enough to earn the nicknames Shorty and Papa Smurf from two of my best friends.  To add to my problems, I had a crush on the most sought after girl in my class.  She had Rapunzel’s silken, blonde hair.  Blue eyes that shone like that of a clear water lake, when the sun is perched high in the afternoon sky, and when she swam she looked like a mermaid. 

I had been smitten, since a carpool ride involving my best friend, Jillian, on our first day of preschool.  She opened the rear driver’s side door, and I was lost. I do not remember what I said, just the site of her hair slowly blowing in the wind, and the sun behind her.

Finding The Courage To Leap For Love

Back to fifth grade, I had been pondering how I would ask her out for some time.  “Leave her alone, Shorty,” one of my best friends said.  “She’s out of your league.”  I felt sad, my shoulders drooped forward, and I looked at the ground, thinking about how it would feel to hear a decisive no or even worse, a gasp of horror.  Then, I thought of my mom and my grandmother. 

Every time I stayed with my grandmother in Boston, she would let me wear my great-grandfather’s silk, paisley robe.  My mother would say, “Your great-grandfather was only 5 feet, two inches tall, and he was the most powerful, and loving man I have ever known.  You were the first grandchild named after him, and that was no accident.”  This thought filled me with love and courage.  I knew the story to be true, and never doubted the love or hope of the narrator.

I reminded myself of my mother’s words, and despite the criticism of others, allowed her kindness to assuage my fears.  I took out a piece of notebook paper, and I wrote my very first love note.  I have no idea what it said, but I know that it ended with asking her to go out with me.  In the hallway, while waiting in line, she turned and chastised my friend, John, for forging such a letter.  I corrected her immediately.  “No, it was me.  I wrote it.” 

If you have never given yourself permission to be present around someone you care about, do so as soon as possible.  Like our initial meeting, I can still see the look on her face.  She blushed immediately, and smiled in the shy way that can only be the product of acknowledging a secret wish granted.

Otherwordly Powers

Stress, fear, and our very imperfect, human bodies limit our lives in ways that cause us regret and suffering.  The gift of self-compassion is that it draws on something with otherwordly powers.  It draws on the love of those who care for us unconditionally.  Their love knows neither fear nor limits, so when we tap into it, it has the power to free us from the same chains.

Several years later, I am no longer too short for my age, but when I need the strongest self-compassion I can wield, I still draw upon the unconditional love of those I treasure most, and my mother, amongst a select few others, is at the top of that list.  It is never too late to draw on this self-compassion, and to thank those that have helped you get there.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 143.  In The Books.