Compassion needs some distance. In the proximate space of reactivity, the now of the deep hurt that is ever erupting and resonating in random bursts of shame or sadness, of anger and rage, it this place it is impossible to be compassionate. Even those of us who can turn the other cheek, we still need to feel the sting and know the hurt before we can exhale and forgive, before we can feel the deep pain behind the slap, the blow, the sarcasm, the dehumanizing insult.
I can’t feel it at the time unless I am extremely detached from the outcome. When it’s obvious it’s not about me. When I’m defensive, afraid, wincing in anticipation of the slap, I hate you, your slapping hand, your malice and hatred, I hate you for how willing you are to hurt me.
Maybe later, I will understand that your willingness to hurt me is really your need to hurt yourself, to twist something hard and knotted inside you that will make you finally beat that person who betrayed you and slapped you and made you know you were worthless. It can take a very long time. It can take a lifetime, more than a lifetime. It can require many generations for the sting to fade and the love to center. It takes safety or a gift from the universe for that compassion to be safe for we who were slapped and beaten and betrayed by those who were supposed to love us.