Before I begin today’s message, I want to thank all you for your love and caring. Your messages of encouragement and support were so appreciated. Even got flowers–so lovely.
Last week I wrote of how I got back on track with this work after having gone through a 2 week bout of major depression. I shared with you my journey through that dark hell and how, with the help of my guides, and applying the Keys of Compassion (Keys), the tools that they had given me many years ago, I was able to break free. What I didn’t share was the precious gift that came from it; a deep, core healing with my mother.
A little background.
For those who have not read The Formula of Compassion, the 1st Key of Compassion, in which I write about my relationship with my mother, then let me say, it is has been — quite challenging — to put it politely. As a child I was my mother’s weapon of choice in her war with my dad. Being “Daddy’s little girl” my mother seemed to enjoy turning me against him. I suppose it was sweet revenge for the pain he caused her. And I was a willing pawn in their game. Being the only girl in a house full of 5 boys, I desperately needed my mother’s understanding and sheltering. Without it I felt abandoned to fend for myself in a group of siblings who except for one, my brother Keith, were either indifferent or antagonistic. I learned early that in order to survive in my family I had to side with Mom in all her battles whether she was right or not. To do otherwise meant abandonment and terrifying isolation One of the great heartaches of my life was finally having to acknowledge the conditionality of my mother’s love.
In my later years, with the help of Keys, I have been able to see the relationship from a more compassionate perspective. This new perspective has enabled me to release my mom from a lot of the blame I placed on her. Yet there was still something missing. I still felt distant from my mother –and I still felt irritated by her. When I stopped to feel what was underneath the anger, I couldn’t do so for long. I became uncomfortable as I felt the dark and painful stirrings of what felt like a yawning chasm of unfathomable emptiness, loneliness and yearning.
Until the last few years, one could say that I was a positive person. I woke up most every day in a good mood. One could also say, I am a survivor. When adversity strikes, knocking to my feet, I refuse to be held down. Before long I’d pick myself up and keep going. My motto for most of my life has been, I will not let this destroy me. But as those who have followed my work know, that motto has been severely tested of late. Three deaths in 2.5 years, the most recent being a suicide along with other setbacks, had finally triggered a life-threatening bout of major depression. As I spiraled downward into that yawning chasm, I felt overwhelmed by the crippling emptiness, loneliness and pain. In desperation, I reached out to my mother; she was the only one who truly understood the pain of losing Keith. Yet even as I nervously dialed her number I felt sure that she wouldn’t be able to help me. Past experience had taught me that my mother was incapable of dealing with my pain. But hey, when you are desperate you will do just about anything.
Much to my surprise we had a great conversation. After unburdening myself and having a good cry, we began talking about the past. Mom shared details of her marriage for the first time. She talked about what it was like living with my father who we now understand was bi-polar just like his dad and older sister. Mom talked about their early years and about the point in their marriage when she began to suspect something was terribly wrong with my dad.
I saw my father through new eyes. I saw his shame over not being able to control his anger. I felt their pain when he would bury his head in her lap, apologizing for his latest outburst and begging her not to leave. I felt her hopelessness and how trapped she felt. Back then woman didn’t just up and divorce her husband, especially with babies in tow. Trapped in a marriage with a mentally ill husband, drained by the stress and unending needs of 6 kids, feeling alone with no socially acceptable way out, I understood why my mother was angry. She was terrified, living in a hell she could not escape. Now it made sense why she would react as she did. It made sense why, after one of my father’s outbursts, she would vent that anger by turning me against him. There was nowhere else to go. Was it responsible? No. Was it loving? No. It was survival.
Now fully recognizing the truth of my mother’s marriage and the terror, loneliness, and pain she had lived through, I made sure I validated it but repeating back the words she used to describe what she felt. The validation hit home and I felt her shift. In fact, we both shifted. In that moment a bond was formed; one born of acceptance, of knowing from experience the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. For the first time in my life I felt that my mother really recognized and understood me; the pain of that yawning chasm was released. The longing I had felt, the emptiness and isolation were gone. What I needed was my mother’s nurturing love in the form of recognition and understanding. Now I had it, but only was because I was able to give it in return thanks to my walk through the darkness of depression.
Depression is painful, but in its pain a gift awaits if we are willing to embrace it.