There are few things more difficult than watching someone you care about in pain and being helpless to do anything about it. Compassion is all you can really offer, but there is always a desire to do more. An INFJ is known as the “Protector”. My best friend had a bit of a rough day and I wish there were some way that I could help him not feel pain, disappointment, frustration. As a kid I would pray that God give me the pain of others so that they didn’t have to suffer.
As I’ve gotten older, however, and through my Buddhist studies, I’ve come to realize that pain, disappointment and even loss are opportunities that help us experience greater compassion for others and overall Bodhichitta. They are unpleasant, but often provide us with an impetus to reevaluate our lives. I know this has been true in my life. Many alcoholics talk about “reaching bottom”. These moments of suffering in our lives are sort of like the moment when you reach bottom. Suddenly there is no story to hold on to and nothing to prevent you from seeing your true heart and the true world.
When I was a teenager, I experienced some significant loss. Three of my friends were killed in a car accident on July 5th. It was a devastating experience. I was 15. They were 16, 16 and 17. This was my first experience with death. Three friends. It was horrible. I remember going to the wakes, there were lines and lines of people waiting to pay their respects. Two of the girls had open caskets. I’ll never forget how much sorrow I experienced when I saw Lisa. She was in a green turtleneck dress with short sleeves. She looked peaceful, overall, radiated a bit of cold. But all I really remember were the bruises on her arms and face. They tried to cover them as best they could, but you could see them under the makeup. It was truly a devastating experience. Nikki’s casket was closed due to the severity of her injuries. She was the driver (decapitated). I think knowing the circumstances of their deaths makes it that much harder. It is believed that Lisa and Dawn were not killed instantly.
It was my first experience with mortality and pure suffering in the sense that I knew these people. This experience led to me shutting down from people. It was very hard. None of us knew how to process this and this wasn’t during the time when they would have grief counselors at the school. We just had to learn to deal with it. Unfortunately, two months later my grandmother died and then my cat. It was a lot of death to deal with. Eventually, however, I found my way back to letting people in emotionally; although it took a considerable amount of time.
The first dead body I saw was when I was around 12 years of age. My parents and I were on vacation and a man went into cardiac arrest. His wife came banging on the doors and my parents, both being nurses, immediately went to the dock. He had been sleeping on a boat and arrested. My brother and dad pulled him out and put him on the dock, my parents began CPR. I was in my nightgown and was sent to flag down the ambulance. I remember seeing his big body, completely lifeless and slightly purple. Eventually the EMT’s got there, but unfortunately it was too late.
In college, one of my sorority sisters was killed by a drunk driver. I remember going to her house with some of my sisters and cleaning all the stuff out of her closet…mostly the stuff that we knew her parents didn’t need to see (sex toys and tapes, LOL). It was a very interesting experience, but we wanted to spare her family and it, strangely enough, gave us a great outlet to mourn her exuberance.
These experiences also opened my eyes to the preciousness and brevity of life. My family has always been one to tell each other they love one another as the last thing we say before parting or getting off the phone. Each and every time. I had a boyfriend in college that told me that he thought that I lived in fear of death and that I said “I love you” too often. I found this interesting. Because we truly don’t know when the end will be and it is naive to think that you have all the time in the world. I think it is more accurate to say that I live life more aware of its preciousness.
Anyway… some more insights into why I am who I am.
Be kind to one another.