A few weeks ago, Jude and Max were spending the night. We’d watched a movie, I’d given them a bath, and we had a dessert––vanilla ice cream, with M&Ms, and a dollop of peanut butter.
My time with the boys always allows me to slow down and appreciate some of the simpler things in life. It’s an opportunity to step out of my busyness and connect with what’s up for me in the moment.
That night after we told stories––making up characters and events, where we were the superheroes staving off the ugly, evil monsters, they drifted off to sleep. I looked over at their sweet faces and felt so much gratitude that my daughter and her husband had given me such a beautiful gift. I wrapped my arms around both of them, expecting to drift off into a peaceful sleep.
I suddenly was seized by the overwhelming desire to have my mother hold me and comfort me. The last few weeks had been challenging professionally and personally, and while I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I was weary. I just wanted to be held. But what make this even more painful was the fact that it was a rare occasion that she did that; in fact, I can only remember one time––the night arrived at her house in New York after leaving my first husband––and my children behind in Indiana. Leaving my children was the hardest decision I had ever made, and at the time it seemed like the only answer, to save all of us from further pain and destruction. At that time, I didn’t have the courage or the skills I now have to address the relationship issues that clouded my family’s happiness. If I had, I would have done things very differently.
I rolled over away from the boys to stifle my sobs in the pillow. I ached with disappointment––disappointment that she never was the loving, affectionate mother I longed for. I ached that my first marriage was not the Cinderella story I had believed in. I ached that my second marriage was just a tad better than the first and that my needs were not met there as well. I ached with disappointment at all the ways my mother and the men in my life had failed me.
I cried myself to sleep––only to wake up and cry myself back to sleep two more times, once waking Max, who cried out for his mommy. Cradling him in my arms and rocking him back to sleep, I thought I’d die from the pain in my heart. I thought after all I’d been through, my heart wouldn’t ache any more….but it was. Luckily, both Max and I drifted back to sleep.
In the dawn’s early light, I woke up crying again. Thankfully, with my thirty-year spiritual practice coupled with training I’d had in recent years with Jack Canfield and Deb Sandella, I knew this was good. I was breaking through something. So even as I sobbed, there was a part of me––my Witness––watching and urging me to go deeper into these feelings, to know that there was a reason and a message behind this pain and these memories. And with the awareness, I received, I knew I would find a way through this and be in peace.
I slipped out of bed and made some coffee, settling onto the sofa for some quiet moments before the boys woke up. And then the wiser part of me awakened, and I acknowledged that this wasn’t about how my mother or the men in my life disappointed me.
I needed to look at how I was disappointing myself.
I knew instantly how:
* I didn’t make room for my own writing.
* I often ate foods that didn’t agree with me.
* I didn’t practice my yoga regularly.
* I didn’t take regular runs.
* I wasn’t out in nature enough.
* I kept myself too busy.
The list went on.
Essentially, I wasn’t attending to my own needs, and if I didn’t, I certainly couldn’t attract men who would. My mom was never good at putting herself first. She was one of my greatest teachers of how not to do things. My job was to make a course correction with my new awareness.
That night was truly one of the darkest nights of my life, and I’m grateful that the boys were with me. Their presence not only sparked this night of self-inquiry, it was comforting as well. They gave me the strength to look at some places inside of me that I had locked away. Another divinely choreographed moment in my life.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like an Mp3 RIM meditation to help you discover how you disappoint yourself and unlock ways that you can become more committed to being your own advocate.