I write about facing emotional pain and the absolute grace that comes from embracing it all. I believe that every single ounce of suffering we experience as humans is sacred and when met and embraced, it leads us into greater expansion, understanding of ourselves and our capacity to love.
I share these words courageously because I do not believe I am alone in the tendency to objectify our children. To use them for our own gain of love and approval from others. This is how we emotionally abuse our children. I hope that my experience can help to wake you up to this tendency you may also be experiencing consciously or subconsciously.
Even if it was beyond painful, waking up for me meant diving down and looking at absolutely every dark and murky strategy I had used to survive and thrive in a world I felt on a subconscious level was threatening. Every aspect of myself that was shameful, ugly, even mean. I had to own my arrogance and selfishness in all my relationships, but especially as a mother. I write it all down here to show you that it is ok to come out now, to be whole. It is ok to stop hiding, to stop working double time in the denying of what you feel, what you believe you need and how you think you need to get it. We can put down the masks that we believe makes us safe. Owning ALL of myself was not what I thought it was. It did not kill me, it did not separate me from my children, it has not destroyed anything real, but only served to bring us closer and modeled raw honesty and radical self love for my children so that they also could step into fully embracing themselves as well.
Love does not exist from the mind. It simply cannot. We have versions of what feels good, what we believe is love….approval, safety, comfort, commonality in relationships, co-dependency is also even considered love. But True Unconditional Love is not found in these kind of relationships. As we live in realties dominated by the thinking mind as our source of identity, it just simply isn’t possible. And we all know this on a deep level and feel separated from love! For most of us, we were brought up in homes where our raw vulnerability was problematic. Our wildness, our feeling selves were not understood to be the most sacred part of us. Our unique essence, our freedom was seen as something to tame for people that were threatened by it – they were parented in the exact same way. Why is freedom threatening? Because freedom is unpredictable, unattached, we can’t constrain and “count” on free people (or so we believe). The mind needs predictability, it needs CONTROL to feel safe. Safety for the mind, as mentioned before, is one aspect of what it believes love is. So we learn to objectify others. Making relationships and key people in our lives objects we rely on for our very survival. We use them to uphold our images of ourselves we portray to the world, the masks we use to smile, hide, be agreeable, appear perfect, to feel “loved” or safe.
For me life has been a frantic search for protection for my vulnerability. I used my career, spirituality, my possessions, my image even my marriage was a cover. My kids were too. If they were beautiful, I was beautiful, if they were funny, smart and entertaining, I was funny, smart and entertaining. I flanked myself with these three shiny people because I believed I wasn’t enough. I saw that their Light attracted so much more LOVE than I had ever felt I had. Finally I had found a way to secure the belonging and approval that I yearned for. I felt complete. But that approval and belonging only hinged on their behavior, their appearance. And it made no room for anything not bright and shiny.
My smallest child came into this world especially bright and shiny. She has been sunshine since the day she arrived. We all basked in her deliciousness…her smiles, her humor, her playfulness, her freedom. As she grew into a toddler, she was the center of attention with others, always adorable with a quick wit that blew people away. As she grew, she took with her the expectation of that cuteness, she learned from her environment that approval and belonging came from her ability to be sunshine. But the toddler cuteness wore off, people became not only disinterested after the initial 30 min performance, but irritated. I started to see my love shield melting. My focus at that point however was not on her. How she felt, what she must have been experiencing, but on my loss. Subconsciously I was enraged and it came out in how I parented. Hate and intolerance for my own child took root in my subconscious mind. Irritation and rejection became my go-to parenting approach in the presence of others. Maybe even behind closed doors as well. She began to feel that rejection and her behavior worsened. She learned that any behavior, even the annoying, irritating, behavior would get her some sort of attention. No matter the consequences. Disconnection was all any of us felt.
My process of transforming this has been gradual. I did not see the whole picture until I had LOVED myself fully. These survival functionings had been subconscious for a reason. I had to say YES to the hate, the arrogance, the narcissism within me, I had to dive deep into understanding where my own dysfunctional behavior came from, and allow that, love that, the sorrow, the rage, the fear within me. My teacher, Ingerid, suggested that I carve out a whole day and just sit down with both of my children and ask them to honestly tell them WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO HAVE ME AS A MOTHER. I did that and I listened without defending, explaining or reasoning myself out of taking responsibility for how I made them feel. To surrender to and hold my children’s vulnerability without being crushed by it was the turning point in our relationship. We began to heal together from there. The culture in our home is one where we now understand that waves of emotion come and go…the whole range of them! And that is ok, it is a sacred part of being human! We can feel anger, even hate, but we talk about it. We make space for those feelings to be held, loved, allowed, transmuted,not bottled up. The bottling up is what cultivates misunderstandings, assumptions and deep feelings of self loathing because if not felt and/or expressed the lies our mind tells us becomes our false reality. If I had not faced the hate for my child I would have continued to belive in that lie and allowed her to believe it as well. Instead, I free fell into hate and found the truth that was always there. That has become my primary reality. The truth is that my love for her, for both of my children is infinite. I wouldn’t even call it love. It feels almost beyond love. It cannot be named, only felt, only celebrated.
How has all of this impacted my child? Hard to say as I am not her. But what I do see is that her behavior has improved at home and at school. She searches less for attention (positive or negative), she seems more settled in herself, more at peace, more flexible, more resilient. She talks to me about how she feels with a raw honesty, even if it pushes her out of her comfort zone. Like last night, she said “I am really embarrassed about this, but I want to tell you anyway…” She feels safe. , That is all I can be for her, a safe space, an open, loving safe space for her to rest, to explore her gorgeous wild, free, vulnerable self. That is the kind of safety that feels like TRUE LOVE to us.
So the things I feared the most to face…hate and fear turned out to be my greatest teachers and sacred aspects of True Love.
After I wrote this this morning, I felt anger. As I got into a hot shower I asked myself “what am I afraid of?” Because anger, for me, is always showing me a fear I don’t want to see. I am afraid of being judged when people read this article the fear said. And then more came…I judge myself. Admitting to feeling hate for our children is one of the biggest taboos of modern motherhood. As I felt that shame, allowed it, loved it as a real, valid, totally ok part of me, I saw the Truth. The fact is I don’t care about what motherhood has been, the parameters of perfection our patriarchal society has put on motherhood, what I have soaked in as real expectations but only limit me. I care only about Truth and Love and being Real. No. Matter. What.
I could not have faced this darkness, I would not have known how, without the support of my amazing teacher, Ingerid Ezhno, who gave me space, with her love, to be courageous and REAL. This is sacred space.