The Pebble

Is it Me...
Or is it You...
This nagging pebble
Inside my shoe?

In time, I hope,
I'll get it out;
Right now, I'd rather
Retain the shout.

This scream inside
Whose voice I steal,
What, exactly,
Do I conceal?

It's there, it's there!
I feel, I feel!
Now, the pebble
Is beneath my heel!!

I let it stay,
I squelch the squeal:
Maybe, I fear,
I'll never heal.

Make you wrong
Inside my head.
But, what, exactly
Do I dread?

It can't be me
It must be you,
This fucking pebble
Inside my shoe.

How might I
Transfer the pain
Outside of me
So I might gain

One ounce of peace
From watching you,
With my pebble
In your shoe?

- Rich Raffals, 4/2/00

Please note: This poem is NOT espousing an action.  It is about Awareness of a normal human response to personal pain or discomfort which is not due to another person, but may have been triggered by that person.  The goal is to become Aware of this tendency (these wounds) in oneself, so as to De-fuse it before taking a potentially hurtful action toward the person who, usually quite unintentionally, happened to trigger this response.   (Writing this poem is one of the methods I employed to diffuse this energy...thereby acknowledging it, owning it, looking within myself for the true cause, and giving it expression in a non-vengeful manner.)  Once diffused, a calm, rational, non-blaming request can be made to the other person that they not repeat the behavior which triggered this response in me.  When I find myself with a pebble in my shoe, I try to "step outside my pain" for a moment and *honestly* ask myself:  Did s/he really intend to hurt me in this way?  Usually, my eventual (ie, sometimes it takes me awhile to get there) response toward the other person is Gratitude.  Yes, I would have for a teacher who set up the circumstances for me to discover something about myself which was previously hidden to me, so that I might integrate this new awareness into my consciousness and grow/heal into a person less apt to lash out vindictively at another.

This poem is gratefully dedicated to Michelle Schubnel.