Menis Yousry, the most empathetic person I have ever met, showed me something at the heart of me which I have been running from all my life, and so gave me self-respect for the first time. That was in November. Another group did the Foundation earlier this month, and fill Facebook with delight and wonder, and write of the emotional rollercoaster thereafter. I want to create this in my every-day life.
Menis gives complete acceptance and is wonderfully perceptive. He helps us untangle the problems which have been besetting us forever. He helps us forgive our shame and guilt. He leads the group so that we are all supporting the person sharing. This brings us together: it feels a wonderful close bond. Yet I do not foresee forming any lasting friendships with this group, and that is OK: they are far away, and of different backgrounds, and there are lively stimulating human beings nearby.
That line “What do you want the others here not to know about you?” is a way into self-absolving, yet that by itself even in a group of Quakers might just be dangerous and ineffective. I have my shames, still. The ones I brought up then are not shameful for me. Possibly that I do not know them, and will not see them again, helps us into this completely supportive way of being together.
Others besides Menis can create this atmosphere. He does it particularly well. Counselling works, an hour a week, though I like the intensity of five days.
Perhaps I cannot create this in ordinary life. I have retreated for my personal growth for years. It always feels that I see further from the mountain-top, but when I return to the valley I never lose all which I had seen. Each time I retreat, I see more clearly.
I maintain my self-acceptance through affirmations, mirror exercises, and meditation including metta. I have not meditated for some time. I fear it and avoid it, yet when I did so this evening it felt good. It does me good when I do it. But the heart of the Essence experience which I value is the acceptance of others: as a social being, it does me good.
I wondered, when with Community Building in Britain, whether the acceptance of each other depended on being with a group one did not know before, and would not know after. When we sought to do things together, suddenly the disagreements we had, and the judgments on how effectual another was, mattered. I don’t think it an absolute barrier, but when we work together in the long term it is a continual effort to create that acceptance.
I have not seen Terry for nine months. I told him “I have self-respect for the first time” and he said I had always seemed to have self-respect.