“I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself”
David Herbert Lawrence
I love the synchronicity of life because it serves as a constant reminder that I am not responding to life, but life is in fact responding to me. Yesterday, on a 6- hour drive home from a work trip, I started thinking about pity. I woke up this morning with memories of my rock bottom moment. Then I log onto fb and I come across a poem about self-pity. And here you are, reading the result of those three events.
I have an abundance of compassion, empathy, shoulders to cry on and ears that are open and waiting. But when people need pity, I come up empty handed. Every. Single. Time. Don Miguel Ruiz explains that, “Love is ruthless; it doesn’t feel sorry for anyone, but it does have compassion. Fear is full of pity, it feels sorry for everyone”. He continues explaining that you feel sorry or have pity for someone when you don’t respect them, when you don’t think they are strong enough to make it. Pity is for people you don’t respect, compassion is for those you have the upmost respect for. It is impossible to treat anyone differently than you treat yourself. Whatever you give to others comes out of the coffers of your soul, that which you have reserved for yourself. The reason I don’t pity others is because I don’t pity myself.
When I was thinking about my rock bottom moment 11 years ago, my last thought about myself was, “damn girl, I’m so proud of you”. I didn’t look back at that moment with pity, I looked back at that moment with sadness, compassion, shame and guilt, appreciation and pride but never pity. In 2007 when I graduated from college at the top of my class, having made the Dean’s list several times and being inducted in a few Honors societies and programs, I had no job prospects. In fact, I had applied and interviewed at thirty, yes 30 accounting firms and got nothing. The car I had, a 1994 Lincoln Continental lovingly called “Pimp Juice” had seen its last days and I had no car. That meant the job I did have I would have to quit because it required the use of a vehicle to fulfill job duties. I graduated and would no longer be living on campus which meant I had nowhere to live. I was jobless, without a car, and homeless. Oh, I also didn’t have money, so I had insufficient funds and overdraft fees because hey, I still had to get my fix of fast and junk food to ease my pain. To add insult to injury I was still dealing with the pain of losing a child and a man who broke every part of my heart when he walked away two years prior. I was that frozen bird that fell dead from the bough. Looking back at myself in that moment, I feel overcome with emotions, but not one of them is pity. I feel a ruthless love and an undying respect for myself that I never knew existed and that is what has saved me. Pity would have ended me, but love lifted me.
I asked my grandmother if I could stay with her and she welcomed me with open arms. I was depressed and ashamed because of my situation and I isolated myself from mostly everyone. Who wants to be around someone with absolutely nothing. There was only so much pizza and chicken wings that made me feel better, and I went to the only thing that has saved my life time and time again since I was 4 years old; books. I would go to the library and get 3 and 4 books at a time and read them in a week. There was one book and ironically, I cannot remember the name of the book or the author’s name, but it was about Black women and self-esteem. In that book I read something that would change my life. The author said that we are taught how to love ourselves by the adults around us when we are young. She posed the question, “who taught you to hate yourself”. Answering that question precipitated this painfully beautiful journey to self-love and self-healing that I’ve been on for 11 years and you read about in this blog. There have been countless tears, poor choices, pain, and shame over the years and it would take pages to describe it all. It hasn’t been easy but never has a tear been shed with pity. Why? Because a wild thing never feels sorry for itself. A wild thing who is born to fly, born to be free, and rife with purpose and beauty will find pity to be useless. A wild thing will however pull on the strength of her ancestors and the promises of God to somehow keep going no matter how lost and confused that wild thing is. Life will knock you down plenty; love will cause you to pick yourself up where pity keeps you down. Forever. What will you choose? Because pity and love cannot coexist.
Kathleen, The Nutritional Truth Teller is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. She is owner of Beauty In A Barbell Nutrition, whose mission is to optimize the physical, mental and spiritual health of the Black Community. She pulls on the ancestral knowledge and wisdom of her ancestors who worked as healers and medicine men and women.