“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.”
It is important to know who we are. As funny as life it, we come into life needing our mother in an ongoing interplay to know we exist, we are loved, and who we are. We then spend a large part of our lives separating ourselves from our mothers to see ourselves clearly. We are ever connected to our mothers and yet separate from them. If we get too close, it is uncomfortable, and if we become too distanced, it is uncomfortable.
This year I am entwining stories and patient cases with memories of my father and his impact on my life personally and metaphorically. What comes to mind is the importance of our early years and how they impact us and our development in life. My father was his parent’s only child, and a child of the great Depression. Being born in 1927 he was a c-section baby separated from his mother after his birth from her subsequent illness. His father was frightened and couldn’t be there for him. At first he was held by nurses, and later by a caretaker at home. He never remembers being or feeling close to his mother. In the work of Family Constellations, we call that an interrupted bond. The bond between he and his mother was interrupted, and he was not able to mend his connection to her in life. As a consequence, he never was able to love himself or to fully know himself. In my father’s world, everything revolved around him because as hard as he tried, he wasn’t able to really know or realize his essence. He certainly had glimpses of his essence. But he couldn’t fully know it or sustain it. He was locked in that young place of needing his mother and yearning for her, and yet not wanting or accepting her.
That said, I am working with a young woman who had an opposite experience from my father. She was too close to her mother. She has been merged with her mother. She grew up with a large close family and community, merged with her mother’s feelings, and now is away at school and feeling alone and lonely; maybe for the first time. On the other hand, she has an opportunity to be away from her family and learn who she is separate from her family and her mother’s feelings. She is feeling distanced and lonely and isn’t sure what to do.
When she was a baby, she felt her mother’s fears. Her mom’s sister was the oldest child and developed severe seizures just after birth and became mentally disabled. Mom was born two years later. As mom was carrying her first born, those old fears came back to her and her baby felt them without any words to help her understand her feelings. Now this young woman is away at school and physically far from mom and for the first time is discovering her separate self. This is a wonderful and scary experience. Who is she without mom’s feeling and fears, and is it ok to feel happy and secure? Finding out who she is begins with going to these old places and feeling these old feelings; this time with words and with distance and with the support of all of her and all her inner ages. The process of separation now can unfold one step at a time with awareness.
Who are we? Who are we separate from our mothers and families and yet connected to them? What a great discovery to make, and as we do so, we become who we are and we find out our purpose in life. Here is to a whole, healthy and vital life!
Shift Your Story Shift Your Life: Guided Visualization/Mediation
Take a comfortable seat and feel your feet on the ground. Take a minute to feel grounded. Breathe deeply 2 or 3 times and let an image of you surface to your minds eye. Now let that image go. Let another image of you come to you. With that image, who joins you, or who is behind you, if anyone? Just notice, and let it go. Again, let an image surface….see again who is with you or near you or behind you. Continue this process 2 or 3 more times, and let them go.
Now let an image come to you that is just you. Just notice and see if this image is different from the first image of you that you saw. Breathe you in and become aware of your breath and slowly open your eyes. Write down any thoughts or feelings that come up for you from your experience.
If you feel like sharing your experience, please feel free to.