Monthly Archives: February 2018

Combing Tangles

My Dearest Child,

The roar of the cough had revved for more than a week.

Sleep had become a tale no longer told.

I turned on the highest heat in the shower to fill the room with steam.

I walked you in ever so gently and placed the lavender towel across your shivering body and sat you on the shower chair.

I stood behind you so to block the water from scalding your skin.

I took your massive braid, nearly three feet long, and began the delicate process of returning it from Rastafarian deadlock to Disney Princess locks.

As you breathed in the stream, I had to be mindful of the chemical smell that any detangler might have and realized I did not have the resources I had depended upon in the past to make smooth that which had become gnarled.

The more I unraveled, the less hope for success I felt, and the thought came into my mind that I might not be able to rescue and save your beautiful hair.

I remembered my own matted hair through childhood illness and the only solution being a pair of scissors by my gruff, stoic grandmother’s hands.

I mentioned only once how much easier it would be if your hair were short again, but I felt remorseful as soon as I did. Some thoughts should only be silently witnessed not actively engaged. Too many of our words fly through us perpetuated by generations past, and bypass the customs check of consciousness that would elevate them to a status of evolutionary progress.

If I could rewind that moment, I would choose the kindness of confidence and say, “These tangles are a small price to pay for the joy having long hair brings to you. No challenge is insurmountable. Don’t worry. I’ve got this! Everything is going to be ok.”

My own body was beginning to tremble from weakness. I was not used to standing this long or in steam without needing the shower chair myself. I leaned into the cold tiles of the wall and persisted through the reeds of your glamour, the mythical strength of youth. I was determined that your story be one of gentle love and not resentful impatience.

Each strand I successfully broke free felt like an accomplishment on par with any in my life I have ever worked and sacrificed for. And with each new section of hair combed smooth, my confidence that all others would be achieved as well, grew, and gave me the much needed strength to continue.

Unless and until you have ever tackled tangles like these, you can’t know the struggle and the sagacity of meaning behind something so seemingly shallow. The depth is not the endeavor of what is being saved but rather the endeavor to save that which holds meaning and significance to another, even if it holds none for you.

The sensation that came over me most was one of soft appreciation, gratitude and a tremendous supply of nurturing love.

As mothers, we never know when the last nursing session will be, the last time we spoon feed, the last diaper changed. One day, the mother is no longer needed for such things. It’s a relief at the time because mothers are notoriously exhausted. It’s also deafening to hear the silence of no request.

To no longer be needed as once you were is freedom and enslavement all at once.

When we are free from caring for another, we are enslaved back into the ego of self pursuit and it’s shackles are many. Nothing for the self feels as deeply connected to oneness as when temporarily giving everything completely for the cause, the continuation of life, the tilling of the seeds of kindness to be perpetuated in humanity through a small and tender life form.

Being a mother, the total care-taking of a tiny new born, around the clock, year after year, until that being could largely care for herself, was for me, a brief moment of holding the highest position in the divine order of life in the universe.

And so, this small note, a restful weight of time, of lovingly, patiently combing tangles, was a gift; a post card from the new born stage I will never have the energy to relive again but that I will be ever more changed because I experienced it when I could.

For already, you had began to mother to me, pushing me on difficult days in my wheelchair, as I had pushed my Papa when his health began to decline.

A breathing Möbius strip: that first time, when the child becomes the parent to the parent. One, continuous flow of life into life. From my Papa pushing me in a stroller to me pushing him in a wheelchair, to me pushing you in a stroller, to you pushing me in a wheelchair, the Möbius strip of humanity.

We grow in humility as we accept charity; but so too, we grow in grace when we are still permitted to be charitable ourselves.

It was an honor, to keep standing, to continue being gentle, to make sure you were not too cold, not too warm, that the steam was still helping, that I wasn’t pulling too hard, and —

…to keep wearing my patience as you wore the lavender towel: gently around the shoulders, balancing it with every breath, and never letting it slip too far from grasp.

I kept it to myself that my own mother would never have made such a sacrifice for me, as she delighted in her own exasperation too much.

I kept it to myself that I hoped I was teaching through modeling that my daughter might someday offer her own daughter or herself, the same loving, patience, compassion, and kindness.

It is misguided to believe that when we are kind to another being, we are raising them to be entitled. When we offer kindness, we breed kindness.

I kept every nagging thought to myself. Instead of speaking incessantly about how tangled the hair had become, what a mess it was, how I hoped it would never happen again and what could we do to prevent another such occasion,

I focused on its strength to endure the process of losing its grip, of returning to freedom, of its beauty to flow free once again as if it had never been confined and nearly lost its battle.

And after 40 minutes or maybe an hour, I made smooth that rope of ragged fatigue.

There was no time to luxuriate in watching the comb glide effortlessly through the three feet of wavy, flaxen silk; for the bigger picture, the lungs and cough and steam, had all enjoyed their fill.

I had time only but to braid it once again, strong like a bridge through the rainforest that fairies might use to cross from past to present and back again.

You were clean and warm and dry and I held you in my arms and breathed you in.

There are moments in life we tuck away for safe keeping, this is one of those moments.

When you invent your time machine, my child, which I am certain you already have in some multiverse, I look forward to revisiting the moments when you felt most loved and gently cared for and when I felt I was sewing healing balms of loving patience into the universal mother daughter fabric of time.

Thank you for the gift of being your mother.

You are my greatest blessing.

I love you.

Infinity.

Mommy

Surviving Loss

My Darling Daughter,

When I lost my parents, and my brother and sister died, and my grandparents died, and my aunt and uncle died, and my other siblings, my beloved pets, and my entire family was gone,

I felt lost.

Like a shattered vase on the dry earth, some of my pieces had been pulverized into tiny dust particles beyond repair.

I felt broken.

It was shocking to endure one tragic and unexpected death after the next; culminating in an overwhelming loss and devastating aloneness.

I felt hollow.

Sometimes, we become pieces of the people we love and when we lose them, we feel as if we lose parts of ourself.

I felt abandoned.

I believe there may be no greater purpose in life than to love and be loved; and I love to love. When you lose those you love, the ache to love again can drive the rhythm of your life.

I mourned and I grieved and then I turned to service.

Sometimes the best way to process our own pain is to be of service to another who may be suffering more. It’s a delicate balance, however, because we cannot fill the cup of another if our cup is empty which is why we practice daily self-care and resourcing (meditation, gratitude, diet, exercise, sleep, etc.) to help keep our own cups full.

When you lose your family, there is no immediate place for your surplus of love to flow. But flow it must, into friends, community, and self.

I poured my love into volunteer work with all those who society was rejecting and casting aside at the time: AID4AIDS, foster children, the LGBTQ community, runaway teens, and abused animals. I was vibrating at the frequency of abandonment and was therefore drawn to others who were vibrating at that same frequency.

I was desperate to feel whole again and to find people to love, which made me needy and vulnerable and not at all the woman you now praise for being so strong. In fact, I was very weak with poor boundaries.

I collected new friends in the same way I used to bring home stray animals; I was drawn to anyone wounded who I felt I could save, help, or serve. I pulsed to the rhythm of an empath which turned out to be Morse Code for all sociopaths, histrionics, and narcissists within a five mile radius.

I began building new relationships and tried to replace the family I’d lost with friends who I felt needed me. This led to having more relationships than I could effectively manage with both people who were healthy and good for me and knew wholeness, and those who were not which led to co-dependent relationships that were enmeshed with people who were in pieces. Many of those relationships became toxic, no doubt in part due to my unfair expectations, as well as to the broken people I was drawing to me through trauma bonds.

I stayed in dysfunctional relationships much longer than anyone ever should because I feared the pain of more loss if I were to let them go.

I was trapped in giving mode and gave myself away until I had nothing more to give, until it depleted every resource I had.

I realized that I would be a prisoner to the fear of loss (abandonment) for my entire life if I didn’t find a way to embrace and make peace with it.

When a person stays in toxic relationships for fear of abandonment, they are often treated poorly.

I didn’t realize how low the standards were for the relationship expectations that I set for myself, until you were born and I realized how high my standards for healthy relationship expectations were for you. For some reason, I could see the toxicity from others when it was directed at you but I could not see it for what it was when it was directed at me. From the moment I found out that I was pregnant with you, I began to see the world anew.

When the people I loved were dead or gone, and the toxic replacement relationships I built from a place of desperation, began to crumble away, I was left with parts I had to find a way to make whole again.

The parts of me that had been reduced to dust were suddenly made new and whole, after you were born. As I grew you inside of me, I grew new parts of myself as well, like the Axolotl, a Mexican salamander, that can regenerate almost anything; from their eyes to their spinal cord to event parts of their brain.* I was regenerating my soul and my parts.

There is a line from the song, Bridge Over Troubled Water, that suddenly came to resonate with me. “When everything falls so hard. I will comfort you. I will take your part.”

“Part, ” as in, something separate from the whole. After you came into my life, even song lyrics had new meaning. I heard, “I will take your part” as a form of comfort, with an intent to make whole again.

Even though I had been a nurturer to my family and friends, I didn’t fully know how to care for and nurture myself, mother myself, until I began to care for, nurture, and mother you. Before you came into my life, I looked for mothering from other women. Once your spirit came to me and invited me to be your mother, I began to take care of us both. I honored myself in a way I never had before. I was growing two new beings while pregnant; my whole self, and your whole self.

This is the cyclical power of unconditional love, it supports a reverence for one’s own life. Having reverence for one’s own life, supports unconditional love for all life. To desire pregnancy and share the same body with another living being is profound. To want to hold another’s heart beat within your own womb and have the opportunity to do so, is breathtaking. I wish that every man and woman could have this experience, if even temporarily through a type of holographic simulation, just to experience the profundity of that particular connection to all humanity from the dawn of time. Wonderous.

I want to be careful with my words here, because I support a woman’s right to choose and I believe the world is over populated and choosing to procreate is not a choice that should be made lightly. I don’t want my own words to be used against me in an argument I wouldn’t support. The heart of the matter is recognizing the power of unconditional love through a reverence for life and it can happen to and for anyone regardless if they are a man or a woman, or have or have not carried a fetus in their womb. Making the choice to have an abortion can equally be a choice made in the name of unconditional love and a reverence for life, one’s own life (not to mention the would be life of an unwanted child, many of whom are not adopted, age out of foster care and end up on the streets surviving through a life of crime. Read Freakonomics).

I made a conscious choice to bring you into this world based on many a dialogue I had with your spirit during my dreams. I did not choose pregnancy lightly. I waited nearly two full decades into my marriage. In fact many people, including some of my doctors, felt that I had waited too long. When I did choose motherhood, I chose it completely. You were very wanted and very planned for.

When I was pregnant with you, every drop of food or drink that went into my mouth, was with your best interest at heart. I managed my stress and my sleep with a level of self-care I had never given myself before. In order to protect and revere your life, I had to protect and revere my own.

Once you were born, I wanted to give you as much freedom to spread your wings of individuality and autonomy as possible while still keeping you protected until you were ready to leave the nest. Most of all, I wanted you to know unconditional love from yourself and others.

I knew the best way to teach unconditional love was to live it. I became aware that how I allowed myself to be treated by the toxic relationships in my life, would be the greatest example, a master teaching experience for you, my child, my daughter. I did not want you to allow yourself to be treated poorly by those you love in order to feel a sense of security as I had. Therefore, I could not allow that for myself any longer. My unconditional love for others had to start with myself.

I had to face the fact that my fear of abandonment, that was born of too much familial loss, was likely drawing abandonment to me. That the fear of being abandoned was creating an unattractive and offensive neediness within me that I was projecting to others and thereby drawing to myself.

The only way I knew how to break the spell was to face my fears by using an old mental trick I read about in the 1980s by Dale Carnegie.

I found the book in my Papa’s library, “How To Stop Worrying and Start Living,” which was first published in 1948. It said, (I’m heavily paraphrasing from a memory that’s at least 30 years old) “The trick to overcoming worry is to imagine your greatest fear as a reality and live through that fear in your imagination. Survive it in your mind and you can survive it in reality. Once you release the fear, you will stop worrying about it”

I imagined losing everything I owned,

all material possessions, family photographs,

even my memories.

I imagined losing everyone in my life,

even those nearest and dearest to me that I can’t fathom surviving the loss of.

I imagined being left with nothing and no one,

not a single friend or extended in-law family member,

no home, no belongings, no health,

and nothing to show for my existence:

no trace of my having lived in this world,

not even a faint impression of immortality to leave behind.

I sat with those uncomfortable, enervating, and at times, devastating feelings. I breathed them into my body as new molecules, new muscles, and new blood. I folded those feelings into my being softly, gently, and with great care.

Then, the most peculiar and phenomenal thing happened.

I started to feel a sense of peace and comfort, rising within, like a waterfall, bursting to flow without. It was a cleansing rain.

I began to feel a greater experience of unconditional love from a sense of nothingness than I had ever felt from any group of people, place, or thing. I realized that the sense of “nothingness” I was feeling, was actually a sense of “oneness.”

Suddenly, I felt a deeper connection to all life, and to all people. I came to know on a profound level that we can only attach ourselves to something that is separate from us and that on the most penetrating level, nothing is separate from us.

The paradox is that non-attachment is actually unification. We think non-attachment is an act of separating ourselves from another, but it’s the opposite; it’s a realization that we have never been, nor will we ever truly be, separate.

Attachments are illusions. When we come to realize that we are all one and never as separate or different as we falsely perceive, we can let go of attachment, let go of the fear of death, let go of the threat/jealousy that causes people to abandon others, let go of suffering, let go of everything in our lives needing to be different: our relationships, our health, our financial status, etc. Let go of needing everything to be anything other than what it is in this moment.

When we do the work to make the change and then we let it be, it transforms on it’s own, in it’s own time… effortlessly.

It’s taken me some years to get to the place where I am today: a place of freedom from the fear of being abandoned, and it’s been a miraculous journey.

When we can find a place of peace, no matter how small, in the most frightful of places we fear returning to, we disarm the power that fear holds over us.

I now know that even if I were to lose everyone I love, there is a sacred space in my soul where contentment can be found regardless of my situation or circumstances and therefore, this fear can no longer be used to manipulate me.

When we get to the place in life where the fingers of manipulation are too slippery to grasp our psyche, we see manipulation more clearly and obviously; almost as if it carries a neon sign identifying itself. We are able to shut it down before it even starts.

When we come to know the potential for abuse of any kind, and we have set boundaries around what we will and will not tolerate in life, that awareness alone is a type of protection. Boundaries are how we manage our vulnerabilities. The minute you sense that your boundaries are being crossed, step back and breathe. Return to your center of truth to guide you away from that place of victimization and toward a place of empowerment. Determine if that relationship is toxic and if it is, be brave enough to let it go without hesitation by saying, “I love you unconditionally but I don’t like how this relationship makes me feel; therefore I’m ending it.”

We can still walk through life loving every person we meet unconditionally; with the knowledge that unconditional love does not mean unconditional acceptance of chaos. Unconditional love does not judge people as right or wrong, yet it discerns and asks the question, “Is this person right or wrong for me, at this time?” Unconditional love allows everyone to be who they are, as they are, with the choice to let them be where they are, while you might choose to be… somewhere different, somewhere where they are not.

We need not walk through life with our guard up to feel protected. We do not need to be hyper vigilant to protect ourselves. We can trust that the lesson has been learned and we will not likely step in the same river twice; and if we do, we know we have the option to simply step out again. We are not merely the sum of the poor choices we make. We are also the sum of the good choices we make and the times we choose, yet again.

My current life is full and filled with healthy relationships. My loved ones bring me a great deal of joy. My circle is small but deeply cherished. I have chosen quality over quantity. I no longer place the faith of how long a relationship will last, in whether or not the people in my life will die, change, or betray my trust.

I place my trust in myself and my ability to manage my vulnerabilities through healthy boundaries, staying in touch with my changing needs through breath, and a daily practice of non attachment.

I do not have a need to control any relationship and make it anything other than what it naturally evolves to. When I do feel the pangs of temptation to control I know that means it’s time for me to add space between myself and that person or situation. It’s time for some deep introspection, contemplation, self- compassion and self-care.

I have embraced loss as a form of freedom, as riding the tides of change that are in constant flux in life. Stagnation is unhealthy, is often control; but love, well love is meant to be fluid.

Remember, my dearest daughter, that no loss is a lasting loss because a true loss can only be experienced through separation and how can we ever be separate from that which bonds us all as one? It’s merely a letting go, an allowing of space to grow between you and the person, situation, or feeling. If you practice non attachment, it won’t feel like a loss, as much as it will feel like a return to source, for all parties involved. And that source may be a oneness and a nothingness, simultaneously. Frame it with the perspective that serves you most until you have proof otherwise; this is the power of beliefs.

You will know loss in your life, it’s inevitable. You will also survive it, of this I am certain. I have survived many losses and made whole my broken parts through creation anew. Fear not loss, my dear one. It’s merely a part of the cycle of life. No loss is forgotten, rather it’s sewn into the collective fabric of the universe. When I look at the sky at night, I see each star as a symbol of a soul remembered, still shining, still vibrating a frequency of oneness within, still surviving loss.

Life is for the living! Keep dancing under the night sky of the collective spirit and walking closely with angels in the rain. The love you think you have lost will always be as close as your own breath through mindful awareness beating with your heart, saying, “I’m here when you need me.”

I love you Infinity,

Mommy