Monday, August 10, 2015

Our Mother's Child

“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
-Michael J. Fox

We are all our mother’s children. Once in a while one of has a wonderful experience with our mothers. Often, though, this experience with our mothers is a very flawed one. Our birth gives us a chance to grow and to develop our very souls; to become who we truly are. It is not easy. This means to honor our bond with our mother, whatever the bond is and more importantly and with great difficulty, accepting our mothers as they are.

I was working with a woman who is often angry, especially when it comes to spending money that she doesn’t want to spend. This could come as a surprise bill or spending money on a hotel when she could have spent time with her family, at no monetary expense. It felt to me like there was confusion in her relationship with her and her mother and that she had great trouble valuing her, and of course valuing her mother.

We did a constellation with putting out footsteps to represent anger, her, money, and then we added something in the middle that everyone was looking at, not knowing who those footsteps represented. As she stood on the steps in the middle, she wanted to sit down, was very comfortable and was looking outward. She herself, her footsteps were looking at anger, which she confused for the footsteps of money. Money was looking at the steps in the center. As we spoke, she told me that her grandmother had a small inheritance and that she always held it up to her children in a way which felt to them like it could be taken away if they didn’t act a certain way. This inheritance was divided 4 ways. Her mother uses this inheritance to help her with her retirement. Money was not easy for any of them.

As we continued to work, we saw that the steps in the middle represented her mother, and money was really represented by her grandmother. Often this is the case where what starts out as an idea is referenced by a person. 

My client saw that she was confused and didn’t want to look at her mother. So we created a dialogue between GM and M. Mom, in a metaphysical conversation told her mother how it felt for her to have money be held up against her, and for a portion of the money to be given to a non-family member, the 4th person GM entitled money to. She was angry and felt devalued. GM heard her and in this setting, felt like she understood and felt badly about how she did handle her relationship with her daughter and with money. Mom was able to step close to her mother, GM, and this left the center open with a clear space from mom to her daughter. Mom was directly looking at her daughter, and this opened a conversation between daughter and mom. My client began to understand what she was really angry about, not being seen by her mother, and having to carry her mother’s emotional weight. She also saw that part of the emotional weight was her mother’s feelings of not being valued. Anger and money began to make sense to her as she began the slow process of seeing and accepting her mother as she is. This is a slow process, and one that is moving in a direction for healing for her and her relationship with her mom.

My father never did accept his mother as she is as well as his father. His relationship with them was greatly wounded and he was filled with anger towards them. I recently found a letter he wrote to his father when dad was in the navy, 1945. In it, he talks about his love for his father; a love he had forgotten. I will include this letter here.

Dear Dad,

I just wanted to drop you a little Father’s day greeting. I sure wish I could be home to celebrate Your day with you, but of course I can’t. You know, Dad, I have just begun to realize how much you have done for me. It is really a good feeling to know you have led a clean life in all ways. Where I am now I can see many examples of fellows who have not been fortunate as me. I know I will always be that way and the reason I will is you. Dad. Maybe I didn’t realize it then, but every word you said to me sunk in and deep. But it wasn’t only words, it was more than that. Words really mean so little it’s just like I said before – it was you. It’s hard to express how I feel. I only hope you can feel my feelings. I sent some cigarettes. I sure hope they went through as we are not supposed to send them. Please write and tell me whether they did or not. Well, back to washing clothes.

Happy Father’s Day and all my love,
Roy

We are our mother’s children and our father’s children. This bond can be interrupted, and wounded and filled with abuse, anger, and difficulty. The path back to them is by accepting us as we are and allowing us to find our strengths through our winding paths and our weaknesses. The path also acknowledges that we exist because of them, and as we love and accept ourselves, we find a way to accept them as they are. This is much more easily said than done. As we can, we can also live more full, whole, healthy and vital lives.

Small Changes that Promote Big Results:

I have enclosed the letter here from my father to his father above in the body of the blog. Finding this letter was a gift. I was able to read this letter to my father recently before he died, and he was amazed that was him writing the letter to his dad who he remembers as hating. 

If you are able to, find an old picture of your parents, or an old letter they wrote to you, or to each other or to a family member or friend. If you can’t find a letter, an old photo of you and them or of each other will also be helpful. Look at it, read it, and be with the feelings it stirs up in you. Write those feelings down and do this exercise every day for the next two weeks. See how anything changes for you, and/or what you might have learned about yourself from doing this exercise.

Again, I would love to hear how this is for you and what you have gleaned about you from it.