“A**holes are your teachers,” is what yoga teacher Philip Urso said at my 5-day Live Love Teach yoga teacher training in Mexico. His colorful comment was part of a larger discussion dealing with the LLT principle “See everyone as a higher being.” Especially a**holes.
Why? One reason is because the a**holes really need our compassion and forgiveness. Another reason (in case that one doesn’t quite reel you in) is that we actually have a lot to learn from a**holes regarding our own capacity for self-love and forgiveness. If you are incapable of forgiving the a**hole…maybe you also struggle with forgiving yourself for the times YOU are a bit of an a**hole. (Who, ME?)
At the time, I kind of got it…in theory. But now, I GET IT.
I write for a “mom blog,” where I basically wax philosophical about anything from tampons to tax returns. I am not pretending to end world hunger; my intention is only to share honest moments from my life that might connect with other women. I do try to speak to a universal theme or learning experience, even if only in the context of head lice or projectile vomit. I am amazed that people (besides my mom) care enough to read, much less have strong feelings about it.
But as it turns out, I have a hater. Not just a one-timer – a reoccurring, heckler-hater, known only as Mommyofthree. Mommyofthree DOES have strong feelings about my blogs, or, more accurately, about ME. She sees me as a sniffling, whining, selfish twit who “puts her own sanity before her husband and children.” (Isn’t that a good thing?) She encourages me to stop writing my “disgraceful” blog so I can tend to my “disturbed” children.
I am a grown woman. Why should I care what some random stranger says?
But I do care. Reading her scathing comments, I felt wounded and vulnerable. I had nightmares of Mommyofthree trying to stab me with her Martha Stewart scrapbooking scissors. I let myself have these feelings free of judgment, but held myself back from
ripping her a new one acting on them.
Where is the lesson here? What is this a**hole trying to teach me?
Philip explores the possibility that “the a**hole might be triggering something hidden and unresolved within you” in his article That A**hole is Really Your Guru. In order to uncover this truth, ask yourself these questions:
1. What exactly do I hate about this jerk?
I hate that Mommyofthree judged me as selfish and spoiled without really knowing me. She painted a picture of me as a pampered soccer mom, someone who wastes time blogging about trivial things rather than doing something she deems more valuable, like trying to figure out why my kids are so “disturbed.” As a woman, I feel betrayed. I think there should be some sort of blood-sister vow of loyalty between mothers when it comes to judging someone else’s maternal capabilities. In the blog I am very honest about my insecurities and challenges as a mother, and she kind of kicked me when I was down. It just feels like a low blow.
2. Have I ever done the same thing?
No way, man.
3. Have I ever done, said, or THOUGHT about doing the same thing?
No….I mean, I don’t think so….
4. Ever, EVER??
Well….there was my Facebook status from last week: “I would like to pour Goop down Gwyneth Paltrow’s pants” I posted this as a critique of her blog, Goop. At times I find her posts to be self-centered and elitist: her workouts, her diet, how she only gives her kids organic food…which, now that I think about it… are all things I have probably blogged about (as I attach organic beet juice lollipops to Emma’s Valentines). I attacked someone I have never met behind her back…on FACEBOOK. Talk about a low blow….Oh My God!!! I AM AN A**HOLE TOO!
This realization made me laugh so hard. Suddenly it all seemed so ridiculous. I am condemning Gwyneth for being silly and selfish because I condemn MYSELF for being silly and selfish, which is why Mommyofthree’s accusations pressed my buttons.
What is most interesting to me is that I really feel no judgment toward myself about it. Am I silly, self-absorbed and narcissistic? At times, sure. But I am also kind, loving and honest. The behavior itself is less important than my awareness of its presence or absence.
If I can be grown up enough to get past my wounded ego and preteen victim bullsh*t, I open up all this space to feel gratitude for the a**hole who helped me uncover this block to peace. So thank you, Mommyofthree!
Gwyneth says: “I have seen people write horrible things about me, and for a second I am so wounded. How could people hate me? I am a good person trying to put good things into the world. But anytime you do anything with a degree of sincerity, people make fun of you. Who cares what some lame person says, anyway?”
Amen, Sister. Sorry for being an a**hole.