MBT Menu Tabs JavaScript

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Quietly Internalising Truth

I don’t know if it’s because it’s my birthday tomorrow – perhaps 38 is a significant age. I don’t know if it’s just because this past year has been one of intense initiation for me. This first year of mothering has been so strange, wonderful, challenging and beautiful and it has certainly offered me many opportunities for growth and a complete change of perspective despite the many tears and frustrations that have accompanied them. I only know that as I drove back home in my car from having my hair cut for the first time in 18-months(!), I had a quiet epiphany.

Wayne Dyer has been my constant companion in the car in these last few months. I have been saturating myself in his wisdom as if my soul was a desert and at last the rains had come. It’s been a very pleasurable experience and I have come to deeply respect the man and his words. As I drove the last leg of the journey home I was thinking about my ex. Adam. I was mulling over the whole concept that we choose to carry around the baggage of our childhood’s, failed relationships, frustrated dreams and ideals – everything we think has in some way stopped us from achieving everything we feel we are capable of or felt we would be capable of if not for (fill in the blank). Wayne was talking about people carting around a sack full of manure and smearing it on themselves whenever they got the opportunity to tell anyone how they had suffered. This got me to thinking about the way in which we hold on to certain things in our lives. The way we use these things as badges of honour or as a way to prove how interesting we are or to show people how we have suffered. It’s almost as if without the dark clouds we delight in sharing with people, we become less interesting as people. Perhaps, on some unconscious level, we think that our hard experiences have made us interesting and that without them we will be nothing more than average and boring. Anyway, as I was mulling this concept over, I got to thinking about the closure I never got in that relationship and all the baggage I still carry around with me from it. It suddenly dawned on me that I have a choice. I have always had a choice. I have just chosen, until now, to drag that manure behind me as I have continued to go about my life.

The realisation that I had chosen to do so was somewhat of a surprise to me given that I have consciously been trying for many years to finally untie/snap/cut the bonds that tie us to each other and to free my heart to truly love those who share my life with me now. However, in some strange way, I have chosen to hold onto that relationship by telling myself that no closure had been reached and therefore I may never truly close the door on it. But the truth is that I can close that door whenever I want to – I have just never wanted to before now. So – as I thought about my life and the things I have chosen to drag around with me – my less than perfect childhood, my anger at my father and my semi-anger at my mother, my frustration with my siblings, my crappy first boyfriend and yadda yadda yadda – I made the decision to cut the baggage free. To cut myself free.

I sat in my car and mentally saw myself standing on the Isle of Apples (Avalon for those who don’t know) in England – the mists settling on the gently rippling waters – and watched as Adam’s boat slowly faded out of sight. It was the strangest and perhaps gentlest severing of ties I have ever done. I did not choose to see myself on Avalon – dressed as the servants of the Goddess in blue serge with my daughter at my side. I did not choose the manner of the chord cutting – it chose me and I am not yet entirely sure of the significance of that vision. I watched the man with whom I had shared so much of my life and my youth fade into the mists of the land of my birth and I was not sad. I was happy to have freed us both from the bonds that still wove us together so tightly. I offered up a blessing and a prayer for our lives and an enormous amount of gratitude for the bond we shared and the joy we brought into each other’s lives for those 9 years. I know that I have let go of something precious but that it was so very much needed. My heart belongs to another man now and our even more precious daughter. I think that I held on so long because he represented so much that is spiritual and good in the world. He represented so much of my youth and all of the happier moments of that time. It’s obviously not easy to let go of the good stuff but I know that we must do just that in order to be truly free and truly present. I love that he was in my life and that we shared so much together but I am happy that my time with him is past – at least for this incarnation. It’s a massive step forward for me because even though the lovers in us died many, many years ago – the priest and priestess we were for each other, were still tied. Perhaps that is the significance of my final vision – maybe the work we began then is now over. Who really knows.

What I do know is that it started an avalanche of surrender and release in my heart. I could finally see that it is my choice whether to continue to let the lessons of childhood haunt me or help me. It is my choice whether or not to learn the lessons inherent in my experiences or simply hold on to them in order to have an excuse for never truly touching another’s heart and soul and for letting them touch mine. It’s my choice and I chose to let go. I chose to free myself from these bonds too. I forgave my errant father for his brutality and his anger – knowing that he did what he did out of fear and confusion and an inability to do anything else. We can all only do what we are capable of doing in the moments that present themselves to us. He was and is handicapped by his own childhood as I was prepared to let myself be by mine. I let go of his legacy of fear and chose instead to move forward in my life in love and trust. I chose to reclaim the faith that was once mine for the knowing and to wear that as my shield (if shield be needed). I forgave my mother for staying with him and I acknowledged all the good that the bad has held for me. I know that it will be a while before I fully realise the extent of this releasing and these quiet musings that I write.

Amidst the tears that fell behind my dark glasses, I felt a tremendous sense of gratitude for it all. I acknowledged my responsibility in choosing these people for my parents and acknowledged that one some level, I knew the lessons I would be learning. The gratitude was for a blessed life. Mine. I recognised the many, many blessings that have been bestowed upon me despite my less than perfect beginnings. I have known real love and real spiritual connection in my life, many times. I have experienced real fear and anxiety in order to be able to find my faith again and to transmute those experiences into a greater capacity for love and compassion. I have been treasured, loved and spoiled as a child and I have been all of the above as an adult. It’s something I hope to carry on with my children. I know that though I may have believed for a long time that my darkness made me special, I know with a certainty that comes from somewhere inside me that my light makes me even more special because it allows me to be connected. It makes it possible for me to open those doors within me that have been jammed shut with fear and release the vulnerability knowing it will not weaken me or make me a target for more darkness. A light that shines this brightly can only illuminate all that it falls upon. I am not afraid any more.

That is not to say that when this moment is over and I am present to my life and all of its multiple challenges, I won’t slip or even fall again for a time. I am only one foot further along the pathway than I was this morning but it has taken me nearly 38 years to get here and I am grateful that I have been able to take that much needed step. I offered up my heartfelt thanks and I offered up my heartfelt tears because I am blessed and until today I don’t think that I fully realised how much. I sat in my little Holden Astra and surrendered. I let go. I put down my sack of manure and I left it to fertilise the earth. I thought about my husband and my daughter and how very lucky I am to have them both. I thought about how much deeper it was possible for me to go with them both now that I have room in my heart for more. It is when we are so sure of everything that there is no more room for growth. I am at the beginning (isn’t this where we always are really?) and I am open and ready to this new and somewhat unfamiliar state. I am Zen Mind, Beginners Mind – empty but full of promise and I know that whatever is through this gateway I stand poised before, it will only bring me more peace, more happiness and more love, in a way I have always secretly doubted was possible for me.

So – I know that this is not strictly about motherhood but then again it is because I believe that its because of Lily that I have made it this far. And if it is possible for the Divine to make its way through the constipated passages of my heart and mind then it gives me hope that more can be achieved in the next 38 years. Though I seriously hope it doesn’t take me that long to learn the next lesson or two!


Id’s Ridiculous

“Child with a child pretending…” that’s what Joni Mitchell wrote before giving up her daughter for adoption. On days like these I really understand where she was coming from in that song. On days like these I feel as if I’m engaged in some never ending battle with my child but I’m fighting as a child, not as an adult. It is a battle of the Id’s and I think I’m coming off worst.

During my more challenging times with my daughter, Lily, I can hear myself reprimanding her from the wounded child within. I can hear the resentment in my voice, that petulant tone that reminds me of a stroppy toddler plaintively yelling about how life is ‘so unfair!’ And that’s how I feel on days like today. That life is dealing me an unfair blow. That the struggles that I am engaged in are just too much.

Lately I’ve noticed how I am talking to her more and more from this resentful inner child and I’ve been trying to figure out why. Why do I respond to my child as a child? Id meeting Id in head on collision – one of us always coming off worst. There is no give in the Battle of the ids, there is no quarter given for having an off day or for not understanding why you can’t pull Daddy’s screwdriver out of the tool draw and play with it. It’s a take no prisoners kind of deal and I am becoming increasingly convinced that my mothering skills are so crap because I am working from this place of thwarted id – that I am, through mothering, dealing with the unfairness and fear and anger that my own childhood was soaked in. The question then becomes, how do I go beyond these limits? How do I wash myself clean of the past and come to mothering with new eyes, fresh energy and without resentment clouding my judgement and my ability to relate to my daughter in a playful, creative and patient way. How do I call time on the Battle of the Ids?

Honestly, I don’t know. If it was that easy to leave our pasts behind, we’d have all merrily cut the baggage away years ago. God knows it would be lighter and easier to trip the light fantastic without it all banging along in the dust behind us. But I truly believe that our children are our greatest teachers – mini-gurus in disguise as hummus smeared, shitty-nappied whingers who never sleep. And if I come at this baffling mothering thing from that angle, I know that on these days of greatest challenge is the potential for greatest learning, if I can just get over myself enough to let it penetrate. I have truly struggled today, there have been many tears (most of them mine) and there has been much anger and much frustration on both sides. These are the days when I feel that living on the front line in Iraq would be more enjoyable and potentially more rewarding than trying, for the third time in a day, to encourage my thrashing, resistant daughter to sleep. I have seriously considered burning all my books (not just the parenting ones) just to be free from the pressure to read any more of them. To be free to return to a more instinctive state of mothering where I can just take each day as it comes and try to roll with the punches. I know that the weight of my own expectations can be suffocating and the perceived failures all the more crushing because of that. I know that I long to the be this Great Mother, patient, loving, endlessly creative and compassionate and able to lull my child to sleep with loving strokes and soft songs and I know that my precocious, frustrated nature does not sit well on that throne. I often think that I’m just doing this whole mothering thing the wrong way and that I should go to the other side of the fence – to sleep school and putting Lily in her own room instead of cuddling her to sleep and encouraging her to ‘let go of her sad’s and angrys’ before sleep in the style of the Aware Baby. It all seems too much on days like these and I do feel like a child with a child and we are both behaving badly!

I often wonder when I will feel that I have fully inhabited my adult skin and fully taken responsibility for my own life and therefore Lily’s. I wonder if I will ever stop resisting the process, the endless daily process of unravelling the person that we were before children, to become the people we must become to raise our children well. I think they are called ‘Mother’s’ but I could be wrong. I wonder when I will feel that I’m doing even an average job of raising my baby and if I will ever get to the end of a single day of parenting and think, ‘Today was a good day, you did well.’ It hasn’t happened yet.

How do I move from this place of wounded child to a place where I am a whole woman raising an aware baby? How can I patch up the holes in my psyche that were damaged by my own less than perfect childhood and approach Lily’s childhood with a different set of eyes, responses and understandings? She is the most important job I will ever do, so why do I keep trudging through the days hanging out for my vacation?

I’m sure there are mother’s out there to whom this scenario is completely foreign and if that’s you, give me your bloody phone number so I can drop Lily off at your house and go and get my nails done or get my hair cut for the first time in nearly 2 years. However, I’m secretly hoping that I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed with anger and frustration in my daily life with my beautiful, inquisitive and funny child. I’m hoping that this is just part of the mothering journey and not just part of MY journey and that it all does get easier.

Maybe Id’s all part of the journey of mothering and I should be girding my loins for the clash of the Super Ego’s – which according to Jung, should start happening any time now.

God help me.