How to Cultivate Compassion

Take a childhood of abandonment and mix that with equal parts of anxiety and panic.
Fold the child within herself and leave her ashamed and confused.
Have her cry every time you leave her, ignoring her pleas and staying out extra late.
Add to that alcoholism and narcissism and beat well into a frothy mess.
Top this off with screams of hatred in the middle of the night, waking the child.
Send your child out into the world fearful and insecure yet expect the best from her.

Take a now, young adult who follows her own path and add self worth.
Stir in copious amounts of sensitivity for those who suffer.
Enlarge her already sweet heart and add two darling girls of her own to love.
Give her a voice.
Give her a stronger voice.
Add courage, strength of survival and allow her to find joy again.
Mix well and let her compassion flow out into the world.

Join us for Poetics where Mish prompts us on writing recipes of life, love, misery, compassion…what have you.

Leave a comment


  1. Beautiful, Gayle. The most compassionate hearts have known great pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bobellal

     /  December 6, 2016

    Yes, pick your mother and grandmother off the floor after too much Seagram’s Seven before Dad gets home from second shift. Still, marked you, didn’t define you. Grew up to be a Tiger, perhaps even one of your Viking blood. And used that pain to overcome all in one’s path. Not easy. But who fooking wants easy?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A good write, Gayle. As we discussed before we have much in common. Glad to see you still writing and putting your passion into it. Hope you are well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Renee. Yes, we do have much in common. I’m doing well and hope you are too. I’m not participating as much as I would like but I’m getting in there when I can. Thanks for coming by! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful how some mature to be the best of best. In Sweden it’s called dandelion child. Like a flower thriving in the worst of situations.


    • It is interesting isn’t it, Bjorn? I love the term “dandelion child”…have never heard of it but love what it represents.


  5. Reading your poem, I collapsed in tears over my computer. How common for so many of us this ‘childhood’, marked by alcoholism, narcissism and a particular insanity. Children were expected to be ‘all right’ after all the neglect and abuse. You claimed your rightful victory, as I and so many others have done the same. That is the saving grace of life if there is any. A powerful and beautiful and insightful poem. Brava!….with love to you and all survivors.


    • Oh Jane, so very sorry for your tears! I too am grateful that you and I rose above our troubled childhoods and the sometimes ongoing “side effects” of those early years. Love and warm hugs returned to you my friend. And thank you dearly…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, darling. What other path did we have open? I think that ‘courage to create’ was so heavy in our souls that it made us rise up out of the misery. Thank you for your amazing and evocative poem. It’s a haunting one, indeed. And the tears were a relief. Bless you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think you may be right about the courage to create…it very well may have saved us both. I’m grateful that your tears were a relief and didn’t add more trauma to your sensitive soul. Blessings returned.

          Liked by 1 person

          • You know what? there is a marvelous book called “The Courage to Create” by an American psychologist, now dead…Dr. Rollo May….that shone light when I was totally beaten down by a narcissistic mother. He was the path out of depression and extreme doubt on my part. I got it on Amazon. I did a three part essay on this, particular to those women (and men) who I knew were also struggling with family, ex husbands, husbands, people in general that were destructive to life. Period. It’s somewhere on my blog but I recommend going to Rollo May’s book. He cuts through the psycho babble to the essence of the issues that surround creativity. I’ve read a lot but his book, simply went deep. I recommend it to everyone, regardless the issues…Our creativity is never totally destroyed….it usually is the salvation of our very lives….of course we overcome (some of us) these terrible issues from childhood, but I never realized the truth of our own creativity in this process. And it takes courage to face these demons that surround us. He was also the very first to recommend No Contact. This is back in 1975….truly revolutionary. (of course many psychologists, therapists claim that technique today, but they don’t own it. He was a path breaker)

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you for the referral of this book, Jane. Way back in the early 70s I also started reading a lot of books that helped bring me to a new way of life, and hope. Most of these were regarding Eastern philosophy and they totally took me from my past reality to a new one. Truly this path saved me like yours did you. I also learned about alcoholism and children of alcoholics and that opened my eyes to understanding more about my father’s issues. He also was manic/depressive or as they’re called today, bipolar. This brought more clarity and understanding to me. I understand having no contact with our abusers, there’s no point in trying to have a healthy relationship with a person who continues to hurt and abuse. I commend you, sister, for taking care of you! xo


  6. Oh Gayle, your recipe hit me in the gut. It takes a lot to overcome ‘a frothy mess’ and
    ‘screams of hatred in the middle of the night’, and so many of us are sent out into the world fearful and insecure. It can go one of two ways: I’ve known people who became abusers and are never happy, while the rest of us have ‘copious amounts of sensitivity for those who suffer’, ‘courage, strength of survival’ and do find joy again.


    • It did take a lot to overcome it and I’m very grateful that I didn’t make the same choices that my parents did in my life. I’m glad you’re one of those too, Kim…thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is so moving and your honesty about your own life too makes this very powerful for me to read. I too have two lovely daughters and friends! Love to you from across the wide waters.


    • Thank you, Georgina. My two daughters were my saving grace as I poured all the love I had into them…so very proud of them. Love back to you across the pond! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You’re a strong woman. Be proud for your courage.


  9. Oh, Gayle. This really choked me up. Just so beautifully done, and so much hope in the second stanza.


  10. So very sad but then, it made you you. I am glad you are one of the people who cannot/willnot use the excuse – but I was abused – you are such a lovely, loving, and tender woman who has raised good kids, you have a great granddaughter – I’m so glad you survived and share your early life with us so honestly.


  11. Glenn Buttkus

     /  December 7, 2016

    Somehow, as poets, what we reveal of ourselves through our poetics is golden–good catharsis, word smithing dipped in pain, truth, & hope; hugs to you.


    • You’re so right, Glenn, so much of my writing has helped me process a lot in my life as I’m sure it does so many others. Writing suits me as a way to work through things and share with others…we certainly are not alone in our struggles. Thank you for your kind words and that hug.


  12. This is a sharing that defies words of reply. Sometimes we forget when we look at others, that their past could be so very different from their today — that they’ve had difficulties some would say are hell on earth and somehow, they’ve come out on the other side.
    Thank you for sharing.


    • And thank you for sharing your thoughts, Lillian. I lived with so much shame for so long while growing up that once I started sharing, it really gave me a new perspective from which to view things. And maybe too, let any others out there who have suffered similarly know that they aren’t alone and that they can thrive.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sounds like my life in the 60s. Parents had different values then. Mine saw drink and the devil as a measure of success in life. I’m glad things changed for both of us.


  14. I have much respect for your honesty and how you’ve taken the pain of your past to create something so moving to read. It reveals your strength and your courage. So glad that you were a fighter, that you found your voice…because I like your voice, Gayle!


    • Thank you very much, Michelle, for your kind and encouraging words for me and especially for liking my voice; it means so much. Sometimes I marvel at how far I’ve come. :~)

      Liked by 1 person

  15. gypsy snow

     /  December 7, 2016

    This is so powerful.

    I’m especially moved by this line: “Send your child out into the world fearful and insecure yet expect the best from her.”


  16. Oh brava, Gayle, brava! Sometimes stregnth and beauty and compassion are learned from the example of what NOT be. I know this girl, now woman, you write of well. She stares back at me in the mirror.


    • So very true, Raivenne, and thank you for those bravas! And I’m very glad that you also persevered and overcame your past. Thank you for sharing.


  17. This really tugged at my heart, Gayle. An effective blend of emotions that weren’t overdone seems to work better for me than those that are too effusive and I think you have accomplished that so well. My heart breaks for little ones who grow up under such circumstances but swells for those who move on with courage. Proud of you.


  18. I know I responded to this but somehow it didn’t ‘take.’ I appreciate your critique and sensitivity in your comment here, Victoria. My heart breaks too for little ones who go through even worse than I did. And thank you for your pride of me…means so very much.


  19. incredible to see how you rose from such a situation, keep shining your light!!



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