Here is a companion to my earlier “Breakthrough” piece. If you have not read that, you can do so here. This has to do with my elderly mother, and my lure forward to heal the past, which aids in better grounding in the present. I feel compelled to write about this because I see denial and avoidance of efforts toward emotional healing almost everywhere I look. There is so much potential.
In “Breakthrough,” I spoke of the moment where all of my studying, everything I had read, experienced, even suffered, was present as wisdom that helped me guide my mother toward her acknowledgement. I’ve been parsing that feeling since; revelling in how present I felt, and how I was (please don’t roll your eyes) essentially being love; I know, but I can find no other explanation for it. From here on in, I will refer to that feeling as “the pinnacle.” For me, there is nothing better. What I have discovered is that this pinnacle feeling has parameters, and wait until you read this because it’s bonkers neato!
After the breakthrough on June 27th, I was feeling really wonderful–until I didn’t. My old familiar darkness crept back in, taking up the positions in the various rooms of my psyche where it enjoyed carte blanche. What the hell was going on? Why was I tanking after such an emotional win? I was puzzled–until I wasn’t!
On July 13, after mom and I had had our ritual dinner here, I took her back up to her apartment, prepped the things I normally prep for her, and turned on the All Star game for her to watch. I was on my way out, when I decided to try another hard thing and tuck back into our breakthrough conversation of June 27th. I asked mom if that conversation had changed anything in the way she thought about things.
“Has it changed your life at all?” I asked.
She thought for a moment, then answered, “Well, I’m not blaming myself so much.” Then she paused again; “It has changed the way I... view the world.” At this point, I was in the zone; I had that pinnacle feeling and was wonderfully aware of it. I kept going. In a gentle effort to get her to think of others, I asked her if it changed anything about how she thought about us three kids. She paused again–as always, I let her take her time.
“Well, I’d like to ask them what it is that I could do for them,” she said.
Here, I delicately reminded her of the role of mother and that, though this is difficult, it is up to the mother to reach out to the children, not the other way around. She is responsible for her part in the relationship with us three, as I am with my two boys. To me, asking, “What can I do for you,” has a whiff of passive-aggressiveness, possibly even guilt dolloped on top; it’s too safe. It’s like a requested hug, instead of one offered without the ask. See the difference? I suggested that she try to come up with organic ways to connect from her side of each relationship. “Was there a moment that she could think of where she might have been more supportive? Was there an event that she could have made more of, or anything where a mother might comment or celebrate?” I explained that it didn’t have to be a big deal(though I have a long list). It could be something as simple as, did someone make a cake that you noticed, or did someone date someone whom you thought was a real dirt bag? “Was there a graduation celebration that you didn’t celebrate? Now is the time to pick up the phone and talk about those events. Tomorrow is another 24 hours later.”
Our discussion ended with mom getting up from her chair, walking over to me, grabbing my arm, and then hugging me, completely unrequested! “I love you very much,” she said.
This was another huge moment, lobbed in by the universe. Here’s the thing though; yes I was in full-on pinnacle. I was where I was meant to be, fully present, and there was this feeling of love–bookmark that–but I was still very glad to leave her apartment. I know, weird, right? In my pinnacleness, I wondered about that. If there was now a great love between me and my mom, why wouldn’t I have felt drawn to stay with her and watch the game? Instead, my gut was giving clear orders to get clear of her. It wasn’t until the next day, while I was putting clean sheets on her bed, that I grokked the reason! It came, clear as hell: this grand, almost overwhelming feeling of love was not for my mother, but instead, was for the little girl inside that was ME! Yes, it was for that delightful little imp hanging around inside my torso, still hopeful, still faithful that the sucking past could be renovated with brighter colours and a mending narrative.
I was bonkers excited to realize this. It made so much sense! You don’t get ice cream on your shirt just when someone says that they’re going to go buy you a cone. They have to deliver! Here, I was assuming that since mom had acknowledged that things were not great during several decades, that our relationship was all sorted, like magic, but that’s not how it works. Yes, I was moved that mom committed to this healing, but love is pretty smart. This powerful love got my attention via some difficult contrast so that I might get curious. To be clear, love of SELF, including the shadow side, is the goal of individuation, and nothing egocentric or selfish. We are all wired to strive toward wholeness; to dismiss this is to deny yourself the full human experience. I had been tending to my ME for years, but here, in full pinnacle mode, ME was jumping up and down, fierce and vibrant, as if she hadn’t had the rug pulled out from under her way back then. There was hope for her!
I am thrilled to have been curious enough to question what I was feeling. I learned that to simply settle yourself in a comfortable framework without any authentic grounding is a sucker’s game. Your YOU requires the truth! What are you really feeling, sensing? I get chills when I think about how close I was to missing this access to an important part of my psyche. There is a great strength that comes with this more defined pinnacle feeling, and I look forward to more of it in my life. To embody that permanently would be euphoric, but that’s nirvana and then you die, right? I am still committed to guiding my mother as she walks this newer path, and feel better able to assist from this more active, aware and evolving pinnacle perspective. The payoff of those epiphany moments, hard won after stepping into the hard thing, are worth it.