Callous, Callus, and Me

I firmly believe that people are put into my life for very specific reasons. Some of them are here to help me heal my wounds, others to remind me of them. I know who the re-mind-‘ers are because they rankle like a big, fat sliver under my skin, and they just won’t go away until I deal with the damned wound they keep poking.

It so happens that I also believe that our greatest calling is the thing that we struggle with the most. My biggest struggle is with my inability to love and be compassionate with jackasses. I’m not talking about donkeys; I’m referring to the people who have earned the term that is basically an insult to an animal that behaves so much better than they do.

Not that the animal’s behavior is better, just that it is more understandable. The animal is simply reacting to its environment. The human… oh, wait. The human is, too.

That’s where I get hung up.

I forget, on a very regular basis, that humans only become asses when they are in pain. Having been raised by asses (I had a counselor who referred to my family as wolves, which I also consider a grave insult to that species) it’s very easy for me to forget that people aren’t doing this on purpose. After all, it looks so intentional, and it looks like they are having a great time in their behavior:

  • The door held open until right before you get there, that is then released to slam in your face.
  • The chair you occupied that is taken by another as soon as you vacate the chair to carry something back, rather than them bringing in the extra chair that is only a few feet away.
  • Snide remarks passed off with “just joking!”

Ugh. I’m sure you can add your own examples of painful interactions (comments below!)

It looks like this person is being callous for the fun of it. But, what causes a callus, anyway? Irritation, friction, pressure… a callus forms to protect an area that has been repeatedly wounded. Callous people have been repeatedly wounded; that’s how they get that way.

Dammit. It would be so much easier just to judge this person and write him off as an inconsiderate, selfish, pig-headed ass. Yet, I cannot deny what I know. Under all of that behavior is an unhealed wound.

It’s not my responsibility to heal it. That lies solely with him. It is my responsibility to not add to the issues that cause the wound.


Sometimes I hate choosing to be the mature one.

I’ll whine about it here, so I don’t do it there. Besides, it wouldn’t be very authentic of me to pretend that this stuff doesn’t bother me. Hopefully, between all of us, we can share how we maintain our Sacred Connection (aka, composure, dignity, love) in the face of downright rude behavior (share solutions below, please!!!)

My decision this morning was not an easy one. I chose to forego an outing with a group of people I deeply enjoy so I wouldn’t be in this person’s company. I missed out on having fun with the group, because I knew that one individual would continue to poke at me, and pain would outweigh pleasure.

Unfortunately, I have not mastered the art of being so fully present that I continually see his behavior for what it is, an open wound. I’m working on it, and I know I will get there. For now, I must exercise self-care and absent myself from the situation. I already have a play-date set for myself, and will be taking my kayak out as soon as the tide turns.

Nice analogy, eh? The tide of my emotions and the tide of the ocean will both turn. They always do. “This too shall pass.” I will enjoy my day. And, I’ll share the message I’m getting with you. Wins all the way around.

Well, mostly wins, there is the loss of time with people I love, but it’s a big win for self-care, so I’m counting it as a win. There are far more credits than debits in this situation.

Back to the point that started this whole thing: It is my intention to be so present that I see other people’s behavior as a reflection of their internal state, rather than allowing it to become a cause of mine.

This isn’t about him. If I make it about him, I will end up sitting with my judgment, anger, and pain. That only serves to escalate the situation. It doesn’t help me, him, or anyone else. Besides, sitting in judgment, anger, and pain simply sucks.

I choose to make this about me. When I make it about me, I take back control of my life, my mind, my emotions; I become the Creator instead of the Victim. Time for my favorite question: What am I trying to learn (re-member – put back together again) by inviting this situation into my life?

I’m trying to remember that only hurting people are willing to hurt people. I’m choosing to engage in advanced courses in compassion. I’m mastering the art of presence, of now, of love.

What is it that a particular book of Wisdom says about love? It is patient, kind, keeping no record of wrongs, rejoicing in the right? What do my Standards of Presence say? “I release telling others what they should do, feel, or believe, how they should act, etc.”

(Time-out for another dammit-dammit-dammit tantrum)

Yes, I chose this path. I choose to walk my talk, no matter how faltering my steps. And, when being around someone else makes it impossible, I will engage in radical self-care and be present with myself until I am strong enough to try again.

It’s okay to stumble. It’s just not okay for me to give up. Thanks for walking with me. I love the Rumi quote, “We’re all just walking each other home.” Thanks. I love and appreciate you and the time you spend here with me.


  1. WOW, this is powerful and such a great reminder as you have said. The movie theater of my mind was reeling with the pictures of people whom this reminded me of, and there was little ‘ouch’es’ yet not as many as I thought. Some a brief acknowledgement of the past situation. I’m very grateful for your words and you dear Joanna.

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