Do you know how Rob Ford feels right now?
I sure do.
Maybe you do too.
There’s nothing more heart-scraping than humiliation. There are few experiences more painful than being caught red-handed, except being caught lying about it.
I know that feeling. Chances are, you do too. You know what it’s like to feel insignificant, shamed, and hated. I know it’s hard to talk about, but you don’t have to talk about it. It’s just me and you through a screen. No one can see into your mind.
Perhaps you also know the terror of being vulnerable and exposed in front of people. Perhaps you know the pain of hiding giant parts of yourself because you think they’re wrong and ugly. Perhaps you also know what it’s like to hurt yourself and then lie about it, again and again, even though you know you shouldn’t.
I know that pain. I know what it’s like to be trapped in a messy web of lies, hoping that it’ll get better, but it just gets worse. I know what it’s to go to bed every night and hope to wake up:
- In an alternate reality
- Realizing it was all a dream
I also know what it’s like to wake up every morning realizing that none of those things had happened and start the cycle over again.
Day after day, every time your problems don’t miraculously disappear, it just gets worse.
And you don’t ever tell anyone.
And in that silence, people judge. People see you fumbling in every area of your life, and they just gossip, assume, and hate. You know, deep down, that if they only knew what you were going through, they’d understand.
But they don’t know.
You stay silent and stagnant. You live in unimaginable, silent pain, waking up day after day to the same old reality that keeps getting worse and worse. Until you can’t take it anymore.
Until you have to do something, anything, to escape from the pain.
- Snap at the grocery store clerk
- Throw something
- Drink yourself into a stupor
- Smoke crack
- Hit your wife
- Kill yourself
- Kill someone else
It’s the same pattern with anyone and everyone who ever hurts themselves or others.
When you’re in pain, excruciating pain, there’s only one thing that matters: stop the pain.
If the only way you know how to stop the pain is to drink, you’ll drink. If the only way you know how to stop the pain is to cut yourself, you’ll cut yourself. If the only way you know how to stop the pain is to hurt someone and make them feel pain, you’ll hurt someone.
We’re built to avoid pain and seek pleasure. When we’re hurting and we see no way out, we just go into instinctual survival mode. We’ll do the only thing we know how just to get a moment of peace.
That was me. That’s Rob Ford. That’s hundreds and thousands of people in the Western world who experience mental health problems like anxiety, depression, co-dependency, addiction, anger, eating disorders, violence, etc.
Collectively, we’re in so much pain that we’ll do anything just to numb it, even for a second.
We’ll do anything to feel peace, even crack-induced peace, just for a moment.
We’re in pain.
Rob Ford is in pain. But why?
We’re in pain because we’re hungry.
We have this giant hole inside of us that we try to fill with money, food, knowledge, sex, possessions, and power. We stuff it erratically and compulsively with anything we can get our hands on. We feel better for a second, but then the same, old discomfort returns. The same old emptiness comes back again and again.
Rob Ford has sure been trying to fit a hole inside of him. Look at him. He’s tried to stuff it with food, money, and power. He’s tried alcohol and crack.
But nothing helps. And nothing will ever help, except that one thing.
That hole inside of us is love-sized.
And I don’t mean flowers and candy, sex tips, pre-nuptial agreements kind of “love.” I mean real, genuine unconditional acceptance and appreciation. I mean that feeling within that tells you that you’re powerful, beautiful, and capable.
That’s real love.
Rob Ford, like so many people in Western society, suffers from love deprivation. It’s a sickness where a person has no idea who they are. They have no idea how powerful they are.
People who feel powerful don’t need to hurt others. People who feel powerful don’t need to sneak around doing drugs and drinking themselves into a stupor. They don’t need to lie, cheat, or steal. Only people who feel weak, desperate, and hopeless need to do those things.
Only people who are horribly ashamed of themselves can ever hurt themselves or others.
Understanding that indestructible inner power and having unconditional self-love, that’s exactly why Nelson Mandela could spend 27 years in prison and come out serene. It’s exactly how someone can get beaten, humiliated, insulted, and nailed to a cross without any resentment.
People who realize their own worth, their own power— these people don’t hurt themselves or others.
And they don’t gossip either.
In response to Rob Ford’s self-hating, blind, addicted, and desperate behaviour, the majority of people in Toronto have set to criticizing, hating, laughing, and judging.
If I point a finger at you, then no one has to look at me. Just for a second, if I gossip, I can feel powerful.
Everyone from Rob Ford to the media covering his stories to the activists to the critics on the street—they all feel completely and utterly powerless.
If I hate you, it keeps me from hating myself, even just for a moment.
Rob Ford “needs” criticism about as much as you do.
He doesn’t need to be taught a lesson. He doesn’t need to be criticized. He doesn’t need to be judged. He needs only to be reminded of his power. Not that momentary “better than you” power that fades away, but the real stuff. He needs to remember the indomitable power within that he can use to overcome his addiction, admit his mistakes, and grow as a person.
He’s hurt. He needs love and compassion, just like you do.
Rob Ford needs healing, not jeering. He needs help, not criticism.
We’re so busy making villains out of each other that we forget what we already know: pain makes us irrational.
And many of us are in so much pain because we’re starving for love, for power, for self-knowledge, for magic, for anything that feels like truth.
When I learned to love myself, I no longer needed drugs, grudges, or judgment. I didn’t need to put others down, and I didn’t need to drink my pain away. I realized that everything I judged and hated about others was just a reflection of what I judged and hated in myself.
So do I think that Rob Ford is fit to be the mayor? No. Not at this moment, no. He needs to heal first.
But it’s not really about him. It’s really about us and our society of judgment. Every person who slanders him accidentally and unintentionally reveals his or her own self-hatred. And there’s a lot of self-hating going on.
Surrounded by impossible standards of perfection and no idea how to truly be happy, most people will just pass the buck. I’ll just hate you for a moment so I can stop hating myself.
Every moment spent judging and gossiping is a moment you don’t have to spend hating your thighs, your fear, your life.
Rob Ford doesn’t need your judgment. He needs your compassion. It’s exactly what you’d want in a time of crisis too. You just want to be loved and accepted, flaws and all, especially in your darkest moments. But will you do it for someone else? Can you do it for yourself?
The truth is—how you feel about Rob Ford is a direct reflection of how you feel about the wounded part inside of you that you’re too ashamed to show to anyone.
How you feel about me and my words is how you feel about your own pain, your own imperfection, your own inherent humanity.
So say what you will and do what you please, but don’t forget that everything you say about Rob Ford, about his behaviour, about me, about this article—it’s all a reflection of you more than it is a reflection of reality.
Are you willing to admit your imperfection? Are you willing to embrace it?
I hope so, because you certainly deserve that kind of acceptance, that kind of love.
And so does our mayor.
And so does everyone in our confused, self-judging, suffering corner of the world.