Friday, July 17, 2009
When I was a teenager I felt I had a pretty good life. I was in a middle class suburban neighborhood, going to a cool school, had cool friends and life looked like it had multiple opportunities open for me. My parents were struggling financially, but we always seemed to have the necessities and they maintained a happy outlook on life, had lots of friends and were pretty good role models.
Then my dad died. I was 16. My two younger sisters were 13 and 12. My mother in her mid-forties was devastated. We had no more financial support. My father did not have health or life insurance. My mother never worked since I was born. She received a small stipend from his time in the military for herself and each of us, not enough to keep the house.
We had to sell and moved to urban Los Angeles. Smelly city, arrogant people, loud noises all night long from sirens either police or paramedics. Mom, while always a yeller, became even more hostile and helpless. She had to go to work with low self-esteem from years of unemployment. Life’s opportunities seemed to disappear for me. I could not wait to get out of her house.
We all made the best of the situation, on the surface. Really it was only the beginning of what I call the most difficult time in my life. I didn’t learn the lessons offered to me then, I was angry, upset, cried a lot and blamed her for everything that happened. It seemed to me that she never helped me get over that time. Of course not, she was not over that time. But why did I constantly blame her? It was wrong and right at the same time. I was very confused.
Fast forward to my own mid-forties. I have chosen to heal my own anger. I am tired of carrying this weight around on my shoulders. It boggles my own mind that I’m still in a love/hate relationship with my mother, even after she died 6 years ago. I cannot seem to let go of all the yelling she did at me. I am faced with understanding what I have denied all these years.
All the wrongs she blamed me for, most of which I did not do. She was looking for a scapegoat and I became the black sheep, the one that must have done all the wrong things. She yelled. She chased me around the house with a black leather belt when she was so angry she could not stand herself, I became the target. She let go of her rage – on me.
In remembering these horrible times, I began to look deeper. I wanted to understand my connection to all this anger. I begin to see that I only wanted my mother to love me and show me she loved me. My father was a master at loving each of us. He was unconditional in all of his actions and words. He was gentle, loving and very supportive of anything we wanted to do. He taught us his favorite things, making pictures either with painting them or using mosaic tiles. He played any musical instrument by ear. He was a great dancer and taught us how to dance. He laughed a lot, had many friends and was pleasing to be around, all the time. The contrast between them always baffled me. As far as I know, neither of them drank or did drugs. Then, why was my mother mostly angry?
My realization came over time. One day I was talking with my daughter on the phone and I realized I said something exactly the way my mother said it. When we got off the phone, I was puzzled. Maybe my own thoughts were imprinted, by my mother. Maybe I was giving my own daughter the same messages my mother gave me. This scared me, I certainly did not want to be my mother, to my daughter. Maybe I did not have any of my own thoughts, maybe my thoughts were mostly hers. The discovery became like unwinding a huge ball of string, one string at a time.
Another time, I was doing errands around the town where I lived. No matter what I did this day, it seemed that I was met with rejection and people uninterested in helping me. When I got home, it came together. I was so used to that energy inside of me, and so ready to release it, that everyone I met that day showed me what it looked like when I was hurt and angry. They rejected me and made me feel like they did not want to be around me. I learned so much from this experience. I healed my own feelings of being rejected by my mother’s actions towards me. I felt she was angry at me. Really she was just angry at her own life.
What if I could have offered her compassion for her anger? I wondered for days about what my life would have been like had I been able at 16 or 17 to give to my mother the love that I wanted. Offer her love and understanding for her losing the love of her life. Offer her compassion for what it cost her. Offer her peace of mind in being able to take care of myself so she did not have to be responsible for me, as much, any more.
What if? I realized that playing the game of ‘what if’ would only serve to punish me more. So, I chose to heal. I healed all the raging thoughts I had about my mother, the hate, the distain, unwarranted punishment I felt from her, the deep hurt. I spent many hours, even days learning to love my own heart. I allowed my heart to feel the deeply denied pain that was buried within me and allowed it to surface to be loved, by me. Taking the feelings moment by moment, into love. The accompanying old thought patterns and changing them, into love. After months I felt I had let her have her own life and I had new choices for mine.
A miracle occurred. All of a sudden I had space within me for my mother’s behaviors and was able to separate her behaviors from her. She loved me, but through the anger I could not see it. This opened me up to another miracle. I had space for myself to change. Rather than being the angry hurt daughter in revenge of her, I saw that I could have been and am choosing in this moment to be, loving toward her regardless of how it looks to me. I imagined the most horrific times with her and changed my responses to them. As she was yelling at me, I said to her “oh, mom, you must be so hurt at what I’ve done”. In an eye opening moment, my mother’s reaction toward me changed. She softened. She came towards me and said, “oh darling, I’m so sorry I’m yelling at you, when I’m just angry at myself.” In that moment, all the years of energy that I held within my body towards her, melted. I was free.
So I pass along to you now. No matter what is happening in your household, when your mother or father are angry at you, realize that underneath they are only angry at themselves and wanting to release the energy from their own body. You happen to be the one standing in front of them and they may be making it sound like you are a problem. You can be of service to them, by keeping your energy in the truth of you truly are – strong, beautiful, intelligent, vital, and alive.
Keep your reactions in your heart, where your love is. Your parents need love. You need love. Your generation is stronger spiritually than the previous generation. You know who you are. You know that your love is strong and available to you and you can offer it to others around you. So offer it to your parents, no matter what is going on. You can say, “I love you”, “I am sorry for your pain, hurt or mistrust.” Watch how they respond to you for understanding them. You can say, “thank you” to them for what they do for you. These small sentences change relationships. These short acknowledgements of people around you, change your world.