It's their shit, not mine
“It's their shit, not mine.”
That's something I need to recall in moments of reaction.
The only thing I own in times of conflict is my own reaction.
Every single conflict goes this way, and many conflicts would not escalate if each of us could hold this—what's yours is yours, and what's mine is mine.
If I'm in a reaction, it's typically filtered through the baggage I've brought into a situation. Perhaps it reminds me of the way a parent, ex, or random stranger once treated me. In fact, the feeling is identical in my body. (In CPTSD diagnoses, it's called an 'emotional flashback.')
Same charge, different day.
The previous iterations of these familiar feelings are a hall of mirrors or ones own voice echoing through time and space.
I always find myself back in the same fun house.
• • •
I used to think people were more emotionally stable than me, but I now know that isn't true.
Sure, I had potato chip-level fragility when I had to go to a mental hospital in high school, but once I was there, my inner strength immediately buoyed me. It was less challenging to be there than the so-called reality of my daily life.
All that is to say: I was stable; the world around me was not. And still is not.
It seems like most people have no idea what the fuck reality is. Unstable is normal—normal as in the neurosis you find in the average member of society. Those who I once saw as more stable than me, I now see are deeply asleep and would not want to be shaken from their slumber.
Even the “woke” are sleeping. When I meet someone whose awake, it shakes me. Like all things, it's a spectrum.
• • •
I remember meeting this woman at Skid Row. We sat and talked for an hour at my desk in the employment office.
Skid Row is flooded with Christians, especially the kind with white savior complexes. I had grown so used to their rhetoric, trained into them by years of church and seminary.
This woman was not like them. She was a guest at the shelter I worked at, and I while don't remember a single word she said, I can clearly recall the light in her and the fire with which she spoke. I feel it pulling at my heart, even now.
She was awake—at least more so than anyone else I met those 3.5 years. She told me about god in the exact way I've experienced the divine: grace, surrender, fire.
I found myself in community with many devout evangelical Christians around my middle school and high school years, too, due to schooling and family. A church song that always stood out to me was called something like “Refiner's Fire,” a metaphor where god was an artisanal craftsman working with fire to refine his material. (I always imagined metal or glass).
As a result, I had always associated life's struggles as “the fire which refines”—the pain that shapes and elevates us to something closer to perfection or otherworldly transformation.
I remember years ago binge-watching Charmed on Netflix (the OG one, obviously), and one of the main character's partners is an angel who used to be human. He essentially lived his early life training to be an angel.
I saw myself in it. Something clicked. What If I was living my whole life for the purpose of ascending to the rank of angels? For a long time, I studied Buddhism among many other Eastern and Western traditions. Is that not what awakening or “enlightenment” essentially is?
I remember I used to think people who were into angels were so weird and cringe until I became one of them. I have one teacher to thank for changing my mind about that. Now, I think angels are the fucking shit.
There's this woman, Doreen Virtue, who published several books and oracle decks.
I once listened to a talk she gave at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore, an iconic spiritual bookstore in West Hollywood that sadly went out of business and re-emerged years later as an online (and less magical) shop.
She spoke frankly about her relationship with angels.
I never liked oracle decks until I tried Doreen Virtue's. That woman was incredibly connected to high spaces.
She eventually became an evangelical Christian and denounced all her previous work as demonic.
I'm not sure what happened to her, but it's worth noting the artist behind the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, Pamela Coleman Smith, also converted to Catholicism (although not evangelical Protestantism) shortly after completing the RWS tarot—one of the greatest births of light of the 20th century.
Again, I still don't know what that's about, but I'm sensing a pattern here. Maybe it's that people awaken, then go back to sleep.
• • •
Anyway, I'm here today to say that 99% of the world is unstable, and that's an overly generous estimate.
The people who seem the most unstable often have a brilliant light that struggles to exist in this dark world where light is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.
But how does this all relate to reactions? Simply, it's not your shit, it's mine. It's not personal. Their shit is theirs, my shit is mine.
Most people you meet will make their shit about someone else. The inverse applies, too. It's far too easy to make my shit about someone else. But it's not.