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Compassion Day
E. Katherine Eberhard, MSW

This month, love is celebrated on a day named for Saint Valentine who was a Catholic priest and Christian martyr in Rome. We celebrate it on Feb. 14 as a result of his stand on love in AD 269. Nice to be living in AD 2015, where Russell Stover is not arrested and can provide some love at $9.99 per heart box for special, loved people.

We all start out as givers and receivers of love. So far so good, right? But often, as we grow older, one may feel disregarded and feel unvalued in family relationships and interactions. Without a resolution, barriers are created that cause “loved ones” to be emotionally cut off from each other; sometimes even for a lifetime. Typically, the one feeling injured emotionally takes a victim position, but in fact, there are two victims as both hold onto their mutual resentments that are rehearsed in the mind over time. Both, then, blame the other for their unhappiness not realizing the hold that the other has over the capacity for joy in both lives.

The words pardon, overlook, cancel all mean that one can now live in the present moment instead of live in leftovers from past misunderstandings. It would be important to realize that fear and insecurity to get needs met often appears as anger on the outside. To verbalize one’s fears may reveal too much, especially if and when there was a past time that this new fear triggers yet again. Often, the grievance currently is not about the present relationship but rather projected onto that person who, without resources, also reacts from past experience of lack of respect, appreciation and value.

Forgiveness would be indicated on Valentine’s Day for persons now estranged from one another. The freedom and the relief from this mutual isolation could increase ones’ overall capacity for joy. It may even relieve chronic headaches and provide more optimism and less discouragement in the pursuit of goals. Often there is less judgment when one can see that if there is an over- reaction, there is some type of old fear that has entered the room -- and a sense of feeling threatened perceived when none was intended. At this point, if one can disagree without withholding love, more people could participate in the love that was restored . This may not be the person with whom you would like to meet for coffee once a week but still, you have given yourself peace in compassion for yourself and for them. Do they like chocolate?

Lee’s Summit resident, Katherine Eberhard is a semi-retired clinical social worker with 35 plus years of experience in counseling families, children and individuals. She now does in-home counseling and can be reached at ekeberhard37@gmail.com 

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