Enough With the Sandpaper of Suffering!

Enough With the Sandpaper of Suffering!

I’ve been going through a rough patch lately. My physical and emotional health hasn’t been the best and most days it’s felt like I’m having to push through. I think that’s true for a lot of us — I’ve heard from friends near and far about how burned out we all are and how it’s affecting so many areas of our lives. And while I’m reaching out to my network of healers, friends and family for support, it still sucks to go through a rough patch. 

So, today I want to talk about suffering. Why do we have to suffer? And what can we do about it? 

Let’s look at suffering from a macro, spiritual POV level and then relate it to what we can do on a more micro, daily, human basis. 

Ram Dass has two quotes about suffering that seem at odds with each other at first glance, but taken together are actually one of the great esoteric secrets of enlightenment. Here are the two quotes:

“Suffering is the sandpaper of our incarnation. It does its work of shaping us.”

Ram Dass

“The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.”

Ram Dass

In the first quote, Ram Dass is alluding to the rule of contrast, or the yin and yang. A classic example of this is that in order to understand the concept of darkness, you need to have experienced light. If darkness is the absence of light, then you can’t understand what darkness is without already having experienced what light is, or vice versa. In the same way, you’d find it harder to appreciate and deeply experience joy unless you’ve also experienced suffering. 

Suffering creates gratitude for times of peace and joy.  

One time, I had a particularly hard health challenge where I was basically bedridden for months. When I could finally walk again and first went outside, the sight of the trees, the sky, even the miracle of a sidewalk existing so I could walk on it (with all of the technological history and people needed to create it ) was so awe-inspiring that it brought me to tears of gratitude. I don’t think that without a few months of being inside and immobile, I would have cried at the sight of a sidewalk. The suffering shaped me into someone who appreciated things I hadn’t before. Things that we would take for granted as “normal” become a source of joy after we feel their absence. And the cool thing is, that sticks with you. I don’t cry tears of joy at every tree I see nowadays, but I remember that feeling and I can invoke levels of gratitude for things that I never would have before. That is sandpaper that has shaped me for the better. 

Suffering also helps us develop compassion for those who have gone through similar experiences

Compassion is the root of nonjudgemental love and divine action. If we can have compassion for someone, we can see suffering at the root of their actions rather than judging them for those actions. From this place, we can meet them with our common humanity. We are all learning and remembering what it means to be a spiritual being having a human experience. Who we are in the world (a.k.a. how we love and care in the world) is shaped by our suffering. In a world where our culture, corporations, and even our genes encourage us to try to “otherize” those who are different from us and “find our tribe,” compassion reminds us that all humans, animals and even the planet are all “our tribe.” 

The second quote, “The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering,” is a bit more esoteric and harder to practice in the moment. I’d heard some version of this concept for years before I finally got it on a level that I could use to find peace in times of stress. I’d read the saying “desire is the root of all suffering” in many Buddhist texts and at first I thought it meant desire for material goods, people or situations that we coveted. But it’s not that kind of desire. It’s more like the desire for things to be different than they are in this moment, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant this moment may be. The key is to accept whatever is happening and not desire it to be any other way right now. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t desire things in your life. In fact, I think that intuitive, inspired desire is one of the ways we figure out our life’s purpose. This is why I like this version by Ram Dass. “The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering” means that if we can accept whatever is happening right now and not wish it to be different or better, then our suffering is greatly diminished. 

Let me give you a few examples (like I said, this one is harder to grasp as a practice). When I was going through cancer treatment, I had some of the worst days of my life. My body was so weak and damaged that I almost gave up and died. However, this is also when I first started the practice of giving up resistance to what was happening. When I would get bad news from the doctor I thought to myself “Now, this is happening” and find the calm grace of acceptance even in the face of terrible news. I started using it to mark the good things, too, like when my puppy would curl up next to me in bed I thought, “Now, this is happening.” (Side note: I got this phrase from Jack Black in the movie Anchorman, proving that you never know who your spiritual teachers will be.) As I used this mantra more and more, I started to develop a powerful mindfulness, a part of my body-mind that could observe the situation without judgement and with full acceptance of what was arising. 

Here’s another example. Recently, I started on a new medication that started causing anxiety attacks after a few months of use. It took a while to figure out that it was this particular medication that was the cause, so for months I was having unexplained bouts of severe anxiety attacks for hours at a time. One of the tools I used to get through was mindfulness meditation. I would lay down, close my eyes and do my best to simply observe the anxiety in my body as it was happening. At one point, I felt my consciousness almost split in two. There was the part of me that was anxious, with my heart racing, panicked thoughts, hot and cold chills and the painful feeling of adrenaline pumping through my chest, and then there was another part, a part that transcended that human experience as I had the thought, “this body is experiencing anxiety right now.” That second part of me suddenly felt so peaceful and all-knowing. I found that I could shift my awareness, or almost lean in, to that peaceful, wise part of myself. In that space there was no suffering at all, there was simply the acceptance of what was happening, which somehow dissolved the desire for it to be any other way. In that moment, acceptance was peace. Even in the face of a panic attack. 

Which brings us right back to the first quote — suffering is the sandpaper that shapes us. Without this anxiety, I wouldn’t have been able to deepen my meditation practice and wouldn’t have discovered how deeply I could find peace in acceptance. Those few months of anxiety were the sandpaper that shaped me into someone who practiced mindfulness enough to find peace and calm somewhere that I never thought it could exist, in the midst of a panic attack. 

So while I do not wish suffering on myself, you, or anyone else, I do understand a bit of why it’s part of our incarnated human experience. However, even though I know this as true, I routinely forget it and fall back into the desire for things to be different than they are. But the key is remembering at some point — if it’s 2 seconds or 2 days into the pain — that you can experience the pain without resistance, and therefore without suffering. And to become aware that this pain is shaping you into a more compassionate, loving and understanding person. As you understand pain, you will open your heart to others and take this newfound understanding and compassion with you into the world from this day forward, helping those who could use a bit of it directed their way as they make their way through their own pain and suffering. 

Xo Megan

My NDE (Near Death Experience)

My NDE (Near Death Experience)

Just before I was offered the chance to die, I really had to pee.

I was 5 months into my chemo treatment and I was a wreck, both physically and emotionally. At this point, I was unable to get myself out of bed, I was nauseated all the time, and I couldn’t keep food down. I had no energy to move my muscles and I hurt everywhere, all the time: migraines, body aches, joint pain, nerve damage, and muscle pain. I didn’t know there were so many places where you could feel pain on a human body, to be honest.

In official medical terminology: I was a shitshow. 

I was home alone in bed, trying to rest or meditate or do something, ANYTHING, to distract myself from the pain and nausea. It was at this point, I realized that I had to pee. I then realized there was no one home to help me get to the bathroom and I was too weak to sit up in bed, let alone make it to the bathroom myself. (This was before the days of cell phones, so I couldn’t quickly get hold of anyone, and both my partner and roommate were at work.) This was a new low for me – I hadn’t ever been too weak to sit up in bed before, but 10 rounds of chemo had finally led me to this level of incapacity.

I ran through my choices:

  1. Wet the bed and lay in the mess while I waited for someone to come home to help me clean myself up and change the sheets.
  2. Roll out of bed and try to drag myself along the floor to the bathroom. I thought I could make it, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to get up on the toilet, or have the energy to make it back to the bed once I was done.
  3. Try to wait and hold it until someone came to help me.

None of these sounded very pleasant.

Right at that moment while thinking about which terrible option was the most viable one, I finally lost my shit.

I started to cry — big, heavy wailing moans with tears and snot coming down my face.

“I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t take it, it’s too much.” I thought.

I just wanted it to end. I’d had enough of the pain, the nausea, the fear, and the suffering. Through my tears I felt myself drift off and close my eyes. I started to feel like I was floating.

Then, I heard a voice, crystal clear and with a calm, loving presence I’d never felt before. It said, “It’s okay. You can let go if you need to.” All at once, I knew what it meant. The voice was giving me permission to die at that moment, if I wanted to. It was letting me know my body was weak enough that I could just release this life, let go, and drift off to death.

At the same time, it was showing me what it would be like once I’d let go and died. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I would rejoin a larger awareness, my fellow explorers of this consciousness, in a place of oneness where there were no bodies, no individuality, no time, no pain, and no suffering.

I could sense that I was still crying, but now it was from elation, from experiencing pure freedom, love and oneness. I could feel the web and nodes of connected consciousness that is our true state, our spiritual self. I felt 100 % seen and understood. I cried tears of relief as I finally knew what it was like to return to my spiritual home.

I saw very clearly that when we die, we release from our bodies, almost like taking off a tight shoe, and we return to part of a larger consciousness. It’s the biggest sense of relief I’ve ever felt. This consciousness does not experience time and space like we do. There is a calm tranquility in this state. The best way I can describe it is the serene grace of just “being” with no sense of “doing.” There is an expansiveness and a slowness that’s exquisite.

There’s no sense of worry, no guilt, and no pressure. There’s no sense that I’m not worthy or not good enough or need to do better, because there is no “I” to experience that, only the sense of connectedness and love that is universal consciousness. It’s a sense of being accepted beyond anything that we could experience here on Earth because there is no way to have any experience other than feeling completely enfolded and wrapped by love and connection.

I had no awareness of my body or of the pain and suffering I’d been experiencing only moments before. I knew that if I stayed in this place, I would no longer feel any pain, I would finally be free from the suffering. I saw all of this so clearly, and I knew it was a choice I had to make. “How could I not want to stay?” I thought.

It was so alluring.

I would finally be free.

Suddenly I felt a jolt, I sat bolt upright, and heard my own voice as I screamed “NO!!” at the top of my lungs. I returned to my body with a terrible rush. My heart whomped and raced as a massive burst from my adrenal glands restarted it and returned it to a normal rhythm.

I wasn’t ready to go. It wasn’t my time.

I was still sweaty and filled with adrenaline as I recognized that I had actually sat up in bed– something I hadn’t been able to do a few minutes before. As the adrenaline subsided, I tried to make sense of what I had been shown.

I knew without a doubt that I’d seen what happens when we die. I’d returned to the place where we go between lives.

I don’t know if I can express how peaceful and beautiful it was. I wish I could show you, just for a minute, what it was like because I want you to know where you came from and where you’ll return to. I want you to know how loved you are. I want you to know it feels to be held as one with the larger consciousness that knows you are precious and treasured simply because you are part of existence. It adores you because you are part of it and it is part of you.

You are a sliver of god, of universal consciousness. You are source energy incarnate, here to experience what it’s like to be human for 60 or 80 or 100 years. It’s part of the deal that we forget who we really are, a hologram of universal consciousness that holds all of awareness inside of us.

Never doubt yourself, my friend. Never doubt that you are sacred and phenomenal and connected to all that is. I think we often walk around feeling alone and disconnected and I want you to know that’s not true, it’s an illusion that’s a side effect of incarnation.

I want you to know that all of this is temporary. Incarnating as human is like deciding to take a trip to Machu Picchu – it’s only for a limited amount of time, and you know it will be breathtakingly awesome at some moments, and full of mosquito bites and altitude sickness at others. But despite the challenges you’ll face, you decide to do it anyway, you’re EXCITED to do it, in fact. You want to go to have the experience, and you know that you get to return home when you’re done with the trip.

And what happens when you return to where we all come from? I want you to know there is no judgement and there is no evaluation of whether you were good or bad, whether you did it right or wrong. You came here as an adventurer, an explorer.  When you’re done, you come home to only gratitude, appreciation, and newfound knowledge of experiencing consciousness as only a human can.

So when you look at others today, whether they are friends, strangers or enemies, please know that you are made of the same stuff as they are. We are all here together, exploring this complex, paradoxical and often messy human incarnation experience. And we will return together, to pure love and connectedness, with open arms. So why not start now? Embrace your fellow beings, help them (and yourself) feel a little taste of that connectedness and acceptance that we all long for and in fact, has been there all along.

Xo Megan

What is a sensory profile? And how is it connected to trauma?

What is a sensory profile? And how is it connected to trauma?

I used to work as an occupational therapist for children with autism, ADHD, and other types of neurodivergence. One of the most effective treatment tools we had was the sensory profile because it allowed us to look at how school and home environments conflicted with their brains’ own natural sensory needs.

I think this tool is valuable for all of us. Knowing your sensory profile is immensely helpful, because no matter who you are – neurodivergent or not –  your unique sensory profile affects how you interact with your world on a daily basis. In addition, sensory profiles can change after a period of trauma, and knowing how trauma has affected your profile can help you take better care of yourself.

But, let me backtrack for a minute — what is a sensory profile anyway?  Let’s start with looking at our senses. Each of us has 8 senses (sorry, M. Night Shyamalan) connected to our nervous system:

  • Visual (sight)
  • Auditory (hearing)
  • Olfactory (smell)
  • Gustatory (taste)
  • Tactile (touch)
  • Vestibular (sense of head movement in space)
  • Proprioceptive (sense of body position in space and feedback from joints and muscles)
  • Interoception  (sensations related to the physiological/physical condition of the body like hunger, heart rate, breathing, and more)

Each of us has different likes and dislikes when it comes to each of these senses. For example, some people may love the smell of perfume while others find it overwhelming. Some people may love a big hug and for others that may feel suffocating. Your particular collection of likes and dislikes for each of your sensory systems is your unique “sensory profile.” 

But really, it’s too simplistic to say likes and dislikes. This stuff is so intimately tied to your nervous system it can activate either your “happy place” nervous system (parasympathetic) or your “get me the hell out of here” nervous system (sympathetic).

Imagine an environment in an idyllic location, maybe a beach, the forest, or a busy Parisian cafe. You’re wearing the most comfortable clothing you’ve ever found, you just ate some of your favorite foods, and you feel perfectly satisfied — not hungry but not too full. There’s a smell of something (Is it the ocean? Coffee? Petrichor?) That immediately makes you feel happy. Got a good image of all of this? Fantastic — you’ve just described something that fits your “sensory seeking” profile of things you like to have in your environment.

Now let’s do the opposite. Imagine you’re in an environment that you hate —it’s way too loud, or so quiet that you can’t hear anything but your own spiralling thoughts. It’s so hot that sweat is dripping in your eyes. Your clothing is awful. It’s either too tight or way too baggy and the material is creating the most uncomfortable itching sensation you’ve ever felt on your skin. You haven’t had anything to eat or drink in hours and you’re officially hangry. But also, something smells really gross and you just lost your appetite. Got that image in your mind? That’s a scenario that fits your “sensory aversion” profile, or a group of sensations that you’d try to avoid in the world.

When we find ourselves in a situation that fits with our sensory seeking preferences, our whole nervous system relaxes. That sets off a wave of other chemical and energetic reactions in our body that signals safety, security and happiness. When we find ourselves in a sensory adverse situation, our nervous system gets tense, and releases all sorts of stress chemicals that cause feelings that range from discomfort to panic.

(Side note: the reason that this awareness is so important to the neurodiverse community is that sensations that would only cause a mild nervous system reaction for neurotypical folks can cause a panic reaction in someone with an atypical nervous system. This often includes sights, smells, and sounds that are quite common and would go unnoticed by most of the population.)

So, you can see why knowing your unique sensory profile could help you navigate the world with a happier nervous system by seeking out things that make you calm and avoiding those that cause you distress.

But how does trauma affect your sensory profile? 

Let’s start with a pretty classic example. If you look at someone who has PTSD, let’s say from fighting in a war, they might now have a panicked reaction to an auditory sensation like fireworks or a car backfiring. It’s something that might go unregistered or only cause a mild awareness in people without PTSD, however for someone with PTSD this could cause a full-blown panic attack. Similarly, a woman who has been sexually assaulted may feel panic when she senses someone walking behind her in the supermarket, while for the rest of us we’d just register that there was another human shopping in the same crowded store and our nervous system would interpret it as no big deal.

With complex trauma, it’s more… um, well… complex. If you need a good primer on what Complex PTSD (CPTSD) is, I wrote about it here. Complex trauma happens over the course of years and as a result, our nervous systems, which includes our sensory systems, can slowly change and start to “hardwire” as a response to these small, daily traumatic events. Let me give you a few examples from my own sensory profile.

I have insanely acute hearing. This comes as a result of listening to my abusive mother’s movements around the house. If I heard her come in the front door, move around the house or start talking, I would freeze and listen carefully so that I could ascertain what kind of mood she was in, and therefore what the potential danger level was at that moment. Because of my acute hearing and careful attunement to background noise, I now can’t work in noisy environments. I need absolute silence to work because my sensory systems are hard-wired to listen for danger in any background noise. 

Another example would be my high pain tolerance. (Pain is part of your interception and tactile sensory systems.) I didn’t even realize I had a high pain tolerance until I was in the emergency room one night with what turned out to be a kidney stone. The nurse asked me what my pain level was on a scale of 1-10 and I answered that it was a 7 or 8. My boyfriend then added, “If she says 7 or 8, that’s a 10 on most people’s scale.” That was news to me! Afterwards, I realized that my interoceptors had probably been altered by my traumatic experiences. When I felt pain or felt unwell as a child, there was usually one of two reactions from my mother: either rage that I was bothering her with my needs, or an overly dramatic trip to the doctor where she would be in complete hysterics and insist that I undergo every medical test under the sun, and I would be poked and prodded in myriad painful and uncomfortable ways. So, I learned to keep it to myself if I felt pain. Eventually, my nervous system acclimated to that and turned down my pain receptors.

Even though I’m no longer living in that dysfunctional household, both my auditory and interoceptors were wired in a different way via these experiences in my formative years. They are now part of my unique sensory profile.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Now that you know all this cool, new stuff about your sensory profile, how can you actually use it? Well, there are three main ways:

First, make a list of the things that fall under the “sensory seeking” category for you. What are the things that you love to smell, eat, or hear? What kind of fabrics do you like? Do you like big hugs or light touch? What kinds of art do you like to look at? What’s your favorite natural setting — desert, rolling hills, or dense jungle? Then make yourself a “sensory toolkit” where you can have these things handy if you start to feel stressed.

Second, what are your “sensory aversions”? What are the things that make you feel like you want to crawl out of your skin? What smells, sights, noises or environments make you feel stressed out and exhausted? Make sure that you only get these things in small doses or use strategies to help you tune those out. For example, I use my noise-cancelling headphones with no music on when I’m working in noisy environments. That way, I get my own little cocoon of quiet in the middle of a noisy place.

Thirdly, practice self-compassion. (I mean, my advice when dealing with any kind of trauma fallout is self-compassion, really.) If you get stressed by certain sensory experiences, I want you to practice listening to your inner caregiver. Listen to them tell you how smart and resourceful you were to be able to have a system in place to sense the danger coming. Feel them send you so much love and acceptance for who you are, regardless of what your body and mind may be doing at the moment. Imagine what your ideal parent or caregiver would say or do for you to calm you and help you feel safe and sound in this situation. Know that you deserve all of this love and care and more. 

I’d love to know what you’ll take away from this post! Did you figure out anything about your own sensory profile? I hope this info can help you care for yourself in the most exquisite and loving way — you deserve nothing less, my friend.

Xo Megan

Mother Teresa was an A$$hole

Mother Teresa was an A$$hole

Recently, I’ve noticed a theme coming up in my conversations with friends and clients — we’re all sick of being nice. By being nice, I mean doing the emotional labor to make sure our message is coming through in a pleasant way, while also scanning our conversation partners to make sure they’re not feeling misunderstood, offended, or disempowered. Being nice is a complex dance of thinking of what you want to say + crafting it so that it sounds nice + making sure the other person is feeling okay about what you have to say + readjusting on the fly if they are not okay. It’s a dynamic that takes so much more effort, intuition, and mental energy than just thinking of what you want to say and saying it.

Why is this happening now? My take is that it’s a byproduct of complex trauma from the pandemic. We’ve all had to expend so much more mental energy to get through this (reconfiguring work and childcare, worrying about getting sick, spending 24/7 with our families, etc) while losing access to so many of the things that allow our nervous systems to return to a calm baseline (connections with friends and family, activities outside the home, alone time, etc). Since all of this leaves us with less mental and emotional energy, we’ve been rethinking where we should spend our energy, and where it’s necessary to put up boundaries so we can protect and conserve the energy we do have.

And one of those boundaries seems to be around being nice.

But this can often be hard, especially for women, because there’s a social cost to it, or we feel guilty. And most of us like to make sure people feel heard, validated and understood.

But I think we need to reframe this. For those times when we don’t have the energy to do the extra emotional labor of being nice, I’d like to propose an alternative that’s still in line with the value of helping people (including yourself!) feel heard, validated and understood, but doesn’t take nearly the mental gymnastics of being nice.

You can be kind

What’s the difference? Well, let me present to you — Mother Teresa.

I think we can all agree that Mother Teresa did some amazing things to help the poor. She created hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, and homes for the dying. She spent her life doing her best to help those who otherwise would not have had access to health care, food, and a place to die with dignity.

I remember watching the news when she died in 1997. There was a panel of journalists who were talking about her achievements, and all she did for the poor, when one of them interjected, “But you know, Mother Teresa was, rather famously, an asshole.”  All the other journalists stopped and stared. The first journalist continued, “I mean, she did miraculous things in her lifetime, but she was notoriously difficult. She would fight for what she thought was right, tooth and nail, and she could be quite hard-headed and difficult about it.”

Mother Teresa was kind, but not nice. 

There are other examples of folks who are kind, but not nice. I think Anthony Bourdain and the character of Roy Kent from Ted Lasso also fit the bill. They’re not nice people, and could be described as assholes, but they both have such obviously kind and caring hearts. I think the reason I particularly love the Mother Teresa example is because we don’t have many role models of women who are kind, but not nice.

So when I notice that I need to create a boundary around my emotional labor, when I notice that it would take more energy than I have at the moment to think about what I want to say and figure out how to be “nice” about it rather than just saying it, I find myself repeating this mantra in my head:

“Mother Teresa was an asshole. Mother Teresa was an asshole. Mother Teresa was an asshole.”

And then I just do or say the thing. In the end, it doesn’t matter if I’m nice about it, as long as I know that it comes from a place of kindness or compassion, either for myself or others. Sometimes, there’s backlash and people seem a bit shocked that I’m so straightforward and uncompromising, but after a lifetime of people-pleasing, I’m practicing not caring how other people view me. It’s much more important that I prioritize compassion for myself and others over tone-policing my own words and actions.

I invite you to imagine a life where you are kind but not nice. Where you do and say what you want, when you want, and live from a heart-centred place where you’re free from worrying about anyone else’s opinion of you. Because remember, what other people think of you is none of your business.

Xo Megan

Compassion is the first step

Compassion is the first step

“Before we can be with one another we have to learn to grieve with one another” – Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. At the time, he was speaking about the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but I’ve been thinking about it in terms of the fracturing in our Western society in the last few decades, the widening of the ideological divide and the vilification of those on the other end of the ideological spectrum that’s happening on both sides. 

I’ve realized it’s not productive for me to go down the rabbit hole of thinking about all the ways the people I disagree with are wrong or incorrect. I could list myriad ways that I think pro-lifers are wrong or that gerrymandering is a calculated, racist effort to destroy democratic safeguards. You may or may not agree with me —  I’m sure there are some of you out there who are just as certain of their differing opinions as I am of mine. The problem is, that type of thinking doesn’t get us any closer to understanding each other. In fact, it does the opposite and only makes me feel more entrenched in my “rightness.” 

It’s not productive for me to ask what’s wrong with those who I disagree with, but it is helpful for me to ask what they are grieving. 

What is it that makes them feel sad or outraged? 

What is it that makes them feel misunderstood or dismissed? 

What is it that is changing in their world that they’re not ready for, that feels like it’s being forced upon them with no way to stop it? 

I know for me I feel sad and outraged by watching systems of oppression in action. I feel misunderstood and dismissed by daily misogynistic microaggressions. I am watching the world change from one that respects experts as sources of information to one that respects social media as sources of information and I feel like there’s nothing I can do about it, and that I don’t know how to stop it. 

So you see, I am grieving. This is the substance of my grief. 

And I also know that those with whom I vehemently disagree are grieving, too. They could answer all of those questions in ways that are just as meaningful to them as my answers are to me. 

If we’re going to try to be with one another, if we’re going to try to find a way back to mutual understanding, we have to start with learning about each other’s grief. 

This is the root of compassion. This is the root of understanding. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that I should lose my opinions and give up my ethics. Quite the contrary,  I’m not willing to compromise or acquiesce to things that, in my opinion, are morally wrong. But I am willing to ask of those who disagree with me — 

How are you suffering? 

What would make you feel more understood? 

What are you unhappy with in your life that feels out of your control? 

What are you grieving? 

And I am willing to acknowledge that although I may not agree with the substance of it, their grief is just as valid as mine. I’m not the grief police, I don’t get to decide what’s worthy or not. 

So, before we write someone off as “brainwashed by the other side” let’s understand what they are grieving, and then listen to them from a place of compassion and awareness, because one thing I know is that when people truly see the humanity in another being, they don’t wish that being to suffer, no matter how different they are from you and me. 

Xo Megan