Motherhood seems to be the theme of the week. It all started on Mother’s Day. I decided not to call my mother. It was a deeply considered act on my part. I absolved myself of upholding a tradition that has no meaning for me. This was done not out of spite or resentment, but only because there is nothing to be gained in continuing a tradition for tradition’s sake. It would have been different if I had some attachment to my mother.
I felt no need or obligation to continue playing an old charade. It would have been ingenuine. I have moved on to a new world where old habits and behaviors and meaningless acts are questioned as to value, truth, and importance and dealt with in a compassionate and affectionate manner. And so I allowed myself to have a completely free day. I flowed with the energy, weaving in and out of worlds as the day went on, enjoying every minute of my freedom from old stale duty. I received phone calls myself from my sweet children, but they also know that I have no expectations of them. They don’t have to uphold anything on my account. Our bond however, is real and genuine. In contrast, I have no connection with my own mother. I never did.
I have no memory of my mother as a mother. Any tender mothering she administered was over pretty quickly. After that she became someone I dodged as often as I could and who I dealt with as little as possible. An impeccable petty tyrant, she often loomed as big as the nuns at the Catholic school I went to, as big as the Church itself.
I have distance from that mother now. As I worked through my parental relationships during my recapitulation, there were many things about my parents that I had to confront and consider, but there were also plenty of things about them that I had to own and encounter inside myself as well. I explore this deep inner process in The Edge of the Abyss as I faced the mother—and father—I got and understood how I had become just like them. There was always, however, a part of me that didn’t want to be like them, that struggled to become independent of them and how they lived their lives, to become my own separate being.
I granted myself permission to become a different kind of mother when I had my own children, an openly loving mother. I also granted this new mother to myself as I recapitulated, teaching myself that it’s okay to be expressive and joyous, tender and considerate of myself. I learned how to become my own mother and my own father, a different mother and father from the ones I got, fully present and attentive, connected and available to the evolving being I was. This was how I also learned to love and appreciate the parents I got; how I learned what it meant to have compassion for others.
And so the motherhood theme—perhaps because I rejected the status quo on Sunday, or perhaps because it’s in the energy of the planetary alignment right now—continues to arise. As the week has gone by, I have had to face the motherhood question.
Am I still carrying my mother around inside me? I pose this question to myself as a challenge and I have to be honest: Oh yes! I am not totally free of my mother. It’s not that easy to cast off that which was long ago embedded inside you, especially if it still exists in reality and must constantly be reencountered. I may still have to encounter her inside myself after her passing too, though I work now to free myself of that possibility. I have no intention of dealing with her ghostly enigma. But the truth is that it’s not my mother that I must face. It’s really only the enigma of the mother of my childhood, who’s shadow sometimes falls upon my brave new world. I don’t want her living inside me, in my body or in my thoughts, and so I constantly work at exorcising her tags of energy still embedded in my psyche. I do this not with any hatred, but only because we are done, our work as parent and child was finished long ago. However, the old mother inside me can still draw me into old places. Those times are less and less frequent, but they are still there, waiting for me to lapse. “Don’t leave me,” she pleads, “take me with you!” I notice it especially in my body, in my posture, moments when I feel the weight of that old mother, as if I’m literally carrying her around on my back.
The body is such a bearer of bad habit. It so easily slips into old postures of submission and fear. I notice that I’m not emotionally feeling like my old self when this happens, I remain my new strong self, but some part of me remembers and my muscles slip back so easily into their old molds. I have to constantly be aware of how I sit, walk, and move around in general. I have to constantly readjust myself inside my new body self. “I’m stalking a new self,” I remind myself, as I shrug off the old. “I’m stalking a new me!”
My life in this world has, for the most part, been an introspective one. Deeply introverted, my inner dissociated self was never a stranger, but this body was. I have claimed back my body, but I still have to remain in it. It’s so easy to slip out and go elsewhere. As I worked through my recapitulation, I realized that my greatest challenge in this life is to be fully physically present. I know that now. And so that is the work I do now. On a daily basis I remind myself that I exist in this body. And so, I have to thank my mother for her part in this process of self-discovery. Even though I didn’t call her on Mother’s Day, I am grateful for the mother I got. She has helped me to grow, but it was necessary for me to be totally in my own body, mothering myself as a physical being in a new world, being my own mother on Mother’s Day.
As both a mother and a daughter, I can say that the best Mother’s Day gift anyone can give—or father’s day gift for that matter—is to become totally independent beings all around. Mothers, mother yourselves. Children, mother yourselves. Fathers, father yourselves. Children, father yourselves. Become the parent you never got and love yourselves. In this way, we absolve each other of the hooks and kinks that keep us attached, that keep us all immature adults, that keep us bound by old stale rules that keep us repeating unhealthy dynamics, traditions for tradition’s sake that have no meaning, that keep us big babies.
Traditions must be upheld, it seems, until we no longer need them, until we find ourselves free at last. And so I constantly remind myself that it’s okay to break the rules, to see where I am in my life, how far I’ve really come. Can I pull this off? Is it right and for the right reasons? Just look around and see how many people you know who are already doing it. Are you? Who in your life is daring to break with tradition and not show up at the family gathering? Are they doing it for the right reasons? Not out of resentment, fear, guilt or hatred, but because they’ve truly evolved and moved on? And can we let them go, without resentment too? At other times, it’s vitally important to go beyond personal issues and show up for an occasion, to transcend grudges or disputes and be present for others. Sometimes it’s just important to step into another’s world and flow with what they need. I am, for instance, still very present in my mother’s life. She depends on me. I have deep affection for her, but I need nothing in return.
Just think of those 17-year cicadas waiting for their moment of emergence, their moment of freedom from what their parents did to them! I imagine it feels pretty much like what I felt as I did my recapitulation and came out of the shadow of parental expectation and duty. I had to find my own way in life, in my own way. It’s what we’re all charged with. As you burst through the crust of the old self and feel the sun on your face, for the first time perhaps you realize— like I did, and like those cicadas know—that this is not the end, it’s only the beginning. There is yet another moment of transformation to come: growing your wings. And after that you have to fly! And then where will you go? That next step is always there, just one more step ahead of you.
It’s time to leave the pit and spread new wings of intent, as free mature beings. Imagine the sound that all of us freed human beings would make, our spirits shouting, drowning out the sounds of the cicadas. Now that would be something to hear!
With deep affection,