Archives for category: childhood

A mother is someone who dreams great dreams for you, but then she lets you chase the dreams you have for yourself and loves you just the same.

– Unknown

REFLECTIONS

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I wept with joy tinged with sorrow. Joy because love is flourishing once again in my family, and sorrow for those years when love struggled for breath. I am utterly grateful that a human being’s desire to love cannot be contained, confined or entombed. Mine has withstood years of neglect and harsh conditions, but it has prevailed. When given even a modicum of attention, love has bloomed. Of one fact I have become certain, love will find a way.

Love, like this Flower, is Determined

Love, like this Flower, is Determined

Love Will Find a Way to Bloom

When I snapped this photograph several years ago, I was not consciously relating it to my struggle to find love. I do remember irritating the people I was walking with, because I abruptly stopped to capture this image. Unconsciously drawn to it then, only now do I fully grasp its power. Once again, this is synchronicity…being drawn to an external event that is symbolic of an internal, unconscious complex. Transformation occurs in making the relevant connections between an external impulse and one’s internal complex…this is when the ‘aha’ happens…that hard won, but wonderful moment when the light dawns and a new depth of understanding is reached.

 Flower Power – Flower as Guru

1. First, and most importantly, I came to understand that the seed pod contains the plant. Its capacity and ‘desire’ to bloom resides within its tiny cellular structure. Therefore, like the seedpod, I too was born with the capacity to bloom into the woman I was meant to be. When I relied on men to define my life, it was their ideals I tried to give life to, rather than my own. I was left frustrated and unfulfilled and blamed them for not getting it right!

2. Secondly, the seed pod is alone in the dark ground. Other seeds lay near by, but each pod is responsible for its own survival and growth. Alone, it must source nutrients and work hard in creating a path to the sunshine. Analogously, if I am unfulfilled, bored or unloved, it is up to me to create solutions, rather than demand satisfaction from those with whom I share my life.

3. Thirdly, the shadows underlying the little blooms, are shaped like the cross, reminding me that in the life-death-new life cycle of transformation, at times I will feel crucified. It is no one else’s fault if my life is difficult, painful and demanding…life is this for everyone.

MOTHERING  – To Thine Own Self Be True

I’ve just spent the loveliest weekend with my elder daughter. This was our high-water mark after weeks of rebuilding our relationship. We laughed, but mainly  cried over our early days as mom and daughter. As all children are, she was perfect, but I lacked what I’ve come to see as the essential quality of ‘good’ mothering. I now believe that a good mother, first and foremost must have self-knowledge…she must learn to discover her authentic self and then have the courage to live from this place of knowing.

Only now, as I have unearthed my authentic voice which includes my true personality, my dreams, hopes and desires, my talents, my sense of humour and heartfelt emotion… can I really see my daughters. And in finally seeing them as they are, and not through a cloud of what I thought they should be, can I be a loving presence in their lives. Only as I’ve begun to be true to the person I am, can I support them in becoming the young women they desire to be. Initially one may think it selfish to take the time to live as author of one’s own life, but paradoxically, I have discovered that in being true to myself, I am more compassionate, patient and now possess the ability to sacrifice and to listen. This is love.

Going Home

I’ve been away for nearly 2 months. Once I post today’s thoughts, I will begin my drive to British Columbia! Although garden weeds await me, I leave Alberta knowing I have finally found and shared my love.

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A Spiritual Encounter

A Spiritual Encounte 

I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.

Nikos Kazantzakis

REFLECTIONS

Last week’s revelations have altered me forever. I had a cataclysmic shift in perspective, when I finally saw that I, as an Emotionally Eager Woman(EEW) contorted myself in futile attempts to elicit heartfelt reactions from Emotionally Unavailable Men(EUM). Now that’s a sentence! It describes a reality that NO LONGER EXISTS! I am free of this self-destructive, soul-destroying pattern of behaviour. This past week has been delightful and different. Gone is my need to be told I am loveable. Gone is my desire of wanting to be wanted. This lifelong, unconscious, beguiling determiner of my behaviour with men, finally broke through to consciousness! The sonic boom it created seemed as loud as the meteor in Russia. The pain in my heart, broke into tiny pieces, just like the shattered panes of glass in Chelyabinsk. And in time, these shards will be washed away!

I’ve had experiences during the last 7 days that were entirely new to me. I flirted with emotionally available men, rather than waiting to be noticed by EUMs! I taught drama to a delightful Grade 7 class. I committed to visit Vienna(without a man) in celebration of finishing Week 52 of 52 for The Other Woman Blog! I planned a communal food garden with a young couple I befriended in my neighborhood. I smiled at my reflection. 

THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF EXPERIENCING LIGHT IN THE DARK

The purpose of The Other Woman Blog has been to unravel my contained and confined femininity. As I celebrate the sensation of freedom today, I have the strength to examine some of the forces behind the formation of my behaviour with men. I was an obedient daughter, and never openly provoked my father, that is, until I brought home my first serious boyfriend. Up until this obvious act of defiance, I employed passive aggressive tactics to express my rage. With his penchant for violence, I felt I had no other choice. For example, as a teen, I would stack the drying dishes from the evening meal, so precariously, that inevitably, the next morning as my father put them away, they would CRASH BANG to the floor. Hearing him swear from the safety of my bedroom I would laugh to myself, delighting in my ability to enrage him. Every day, I systematically burned the potatoes for the supper meal, knowing how much dad hated the pervasive taste of charcoal. And when I set the table, I gave him the chipped glass, the fork with the bent tine and the plate that swirled when he tried to cut his food. My father remained unaware of the lengths I had gone to elicit a positive, unequivocally joyful response from him…I got great marks, I was polite, and I said ‘no’ to sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. So by 20, I had given up on him and transferred this desperate plea for male attention to my ‘father replacement’.

My Old Boyfriend

My Old Boyfriend

Nothing says you’re a failure as a father more eloquently than when your daughter chooses a much older boyfriend, who bears a striking resemblance to the patriarch! At 20, I chose B as my boyfriend in a misguided belief that a facsimile of father would give me the attention and emotional support I craved. The side ‘benefit’ was the anger and humiliation my father felt over my choice. B was 20 years older than I, which made him 13 years younger than my father. They could trade WW11 stories and gloat over the fact that they still had their hair in middle age. I was incapable of discerning B’s motivations for being with me, as my need for male approval, superseded any logic or good sense. I failed to see how I was hurting myself in this odd relationship. My unfulfilled emotional needs dictated my choices. I’ve come to see that any behaviour that defies logic and common sense, is driven by unconscious need.

One night, after meeting B, my father offered me his first bit of advice…”A man doesn’t have to buy the cow, if he gets the milk for free.”  His comment infuriated me. It was rude on so many levels, that I blurted out “F*** YOU.” Shocked that I would say this to him,  he slapped me with incredible force, across the face. Broken-hearted, I ran from the house, out into the blackness of the summer night, weeping and suicidal. I sat on a swing in a nearby playground, planning my death, when an overwhelming energy pulled my gaze upwards, into the splendour of the sky. Transfixed by what I saw, my pain subsided. The beauty unfolding above my head, was the counterpoint to the strife I had been experiencing with my father. In that moment, in my soul, I found hope and enough strength to walk back into the house, knowing that life’s hardships would always be balanced by its beauty. SORRY, YOUTUBE IS NO LONGER ALLOWING ME TO USE ANY OF THE FOOTAGE FROM THIS AMAZING EXPLOSION! 

40 years ago, this cosmic extravaganza kept me out of the morgue. Its unparalleled magnificence gave me a reason to live, a philosophy of life and a sense of hope. Although Alister Chapman’s YouTube clip is not exactly what I saw, as my event had more pinks and purples, the majesty of the music, echoed my feelings!

WEEK 33 OF 52

SLOGGING AND BLOGGING THROUGH THE MIRE ON MY WAY TO JOY

THE POWER OF 8

Last week’s Blog Post, Week 32 of 52, Ending My Search for Emotionally Unavailable Men, marked the 8 month point in my 12 month journey towards finding The Other Woman within myself.

8 is symbolic of completion to Buddhists and celestial order to the Hindi where  the 8th Chakra is the Chakra of the Soul. To the Christians, 8 is symbolic of rebirth and regeneration. To the Pythagoreans, the number 8 is the symbol of love and friendship and to the Chinese and other Asian cultures, 8 represents the whole, the totality of the Universe. And for the kinaesthetic learners in the group, you will not be able to fold a piece of paper more than 8 times. 8 is infinity – Paradise regained. 8 is a universally recognized power number.

After 8 months of slogging and blogging through the mire of my psyche, my unconscious drives, my memories and my habits I declare a success! For the first time in my conscious life, I feel free of my need to ‘work’ on myself, in hopes of receiving a declaration of sincere, unreserved, unfettered love from the man of my dreams.

Cosmic Infinity

Cosmic Infinity

 

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

Helen Keller 

I felt like dancing in my house this morning so I found a Rock Station and started jumping around to Metallica, a ‘Heavy Thrash Metal’ band. I really missed out as a teenager! Surprisingly, I survived those awkward, angst filled years without Rock ‘n’ Roll. I stayed in the syrupy safe zone of Pop Music, singing along to The Monkeys and The Partridge Family. Remembering Gertrude Stein’s words that say ‘We are always the same age inside,’ I resurrected my teenage soul, and gave it A Whole Lotta Love!

Led Zeppelin vs The Monkeys-can you spot the difference? These are Video Clips from YouTube, so you can play them!

Contrasting the sound, lyrics and sensuality of Led Zeppelin versus The Monkeys, gave me some insight into the 2 extremes of teenage behaviour…sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll or Paul and Polly Perfect. A self-proclaimed nerd, I missed the entire Freedom of Speech Movement of the 60’s, along with the Counterculture Movement against middle class values of the ’70’s. Any veering towards a free thought in our house resulted in a calling in of the troops…I didn’t need the mace and guns of Kent State to tow the family line, we had Mom saying, “Just wait until your Father gets home”…this was not an idle threat.

My Theory on Why So Many Lack a Personal Vision

Children should progress from the total dependence of infancy into heathy independent thinking and feeling adults. Reactions from our parents to our tentative steps towards independence, create either confidence in our ability to be self-determining or shame. 99% of parents whoop it up at a child’s first step, a physical manifestation of independence, but smack that same child a year later when she/he says ‘NO’ or ‘MINE’ …a child’s first efforts at giving independent voice to their feelings. Such a swift and unexpected fall from grace. Throughout the ‘Wonderful Ones’ every smile, step and gesture is met with gushing parental pride…and then the dreaded ‘Terrible Twos’, when the miracle of free thought is so thoroughly unwelcome to parents. It would be the rare parent who proudly phoned Grandma at their child’s first utterance of ‘no!’ Why do we not see our children’s expressions of their wants, needs and desires as the first steps towards manifestation of a personally meaningful life…instead we reward children for being clone-like Mini Mes.

How Defiance During the 2s and Teens Creates a Life Vision

The inherent fire I possessed to define my wants, wishes and needs, separate from my parents’ wants, wishes and needs, was swiftly doused. I was expected to ‘be good’, which meant, do as I was instructed. This resulted in the ‘perfect child’ syndrome. I was voted Best All Around Student in Grade 8, but this award should have been called Most Compliant Student. It would have been NORMAL at 2 and 13 to break a few rules and tick off a few people! Years of making mistakes and learning from these choices would have been essential in establishing MY identity. In not doing this I only developed physically. I was able to physically leave the safety of my parental home, as I had been encouraged to develop a highly functioning body. I was a trained figure skater and swimmer. But I was absolutely incapable of making choices that reflected my own needs, wishes and desires. Naturally, when someone else’s needs, wishes and desires were presented to me, I did what I had always done…I carried out their dreams.

In never feeling free to define my “NO”, my “YES ” meant nothing to me … it had no integrity because it was never my yes…it belonged to my parents…then my friends…then my boyfriends…then my husbands.

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 31 OF 52

CHANGING FROM BEING BLIND TO HAVING MY VISION (with men)

This entire post was triggered by my reaction to loosing weight. When 10 pounds had fallen off, I did the unexpected…I began eating…see previous post. Being thin does not solve problems for me, as I thought when I wrote that post…it causes more. When I am thin, even old and thin, I attract male attention. The beauty of being Zaftig(curvy, voluptuous-one ‘hilarious’ reader asked me to include a glossary of terms for my posts) is that men don’t notice me, so therefore want nothing from me! Throughout my life, this inability to define my needs, wants and desires, left me open to fulfilling the desires of the men I met. I was not conscious of this. If at the tender age of 2, I was discouraged from giving voice to my desires, but instead fulfilled those of my parents, of course I lost the ability to discern whose needs I was meeting. No wonder I am afraid to re-enter the dating world. 

Below are some of the times I have said YES when I really meant NO

1. At 19, I said ‘YES’ to my Austrian boyfriend’s marriage proposal. He was the chef at the Banff Springs Hotel where I worked. I said ‘NO’ by leaving the engagement ring on his table, with an explanatory letter, while he was at work. I then boarded a train, with my packed trunk and escaped back to Winnipeg. He tracked me down 20 years later in Austria. He brought my letter with him, words underlined in red, wanting to hear my explanation face to face.

2. At 20, I said ‘YES’ to my next boyfriend’s wish to co-habitate. I said ‘NO’ by moving back to my parents’ house, on a monthly basis. This continued for 5 years.

3. At 25, I said ‘YES’ to the marriage proposal from my 1st husband. I said ‘NO’ by divorcing in 4 1/2 years.

4. At 32, I said ‘YES’ to my 2nd husband’s marriage proposal. This time my body said ‘NO’ by becoming so ill I had to take a disability leave from my career as a teacher.

So for Week 31 of 52, I will practise saying ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ to men…Consciously alert to the feelings in my gut and heart, I will be true to myself and therefore to them!

My Desires are Worthy!

My Desires are Worthy!

“The garden of leaflessness: who dares to say that it isn’t beautiful?”

Iranian poet Mehdi Akhavān Sāles

REFLECTIONS

This post is dedicated to my nephew!

My love affair with fictional detectives seems to be over. Until very recently, and for decades, I have been mesmerized and transfixed by the antics of detectives. Now, whether reading or viewing, I fall asleep. The ending of any love affair compels one to analyze the arc of its life.

 My enchantment began when I was 7, with ‘The Secret World of Og”. This book launched my fascination(possible compulsion), with detectives and their ability to uncover the truth. I wonder if others know these characters as well as I do… Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, DCI Wexford and Dalgleish, Inspectors Morse, Lewis and Lynley?

This cadre of detectives is brilliant, witty and perspicacious! In their efforts to solve what are known in the publishing world as ‘cozy crimes’, they display an uncompromising morality. Primarily motivated by a commitment to the truth, they use a complex process that combines logic and astute observation with intuition and instinct, while maintaining a sense of humour. My deep devotion to the genre no doubt resided in my need for role models, whose raison d’être, was the truth. I don’t think it was unusual that I focussed on such types, from an early age. Children have an innate sense of justice and  abhor the ‘bill of goods’ parents try to sell them. My parents, like most, justified their harsh punishment and high expectations of us by uttering the usual rhetoric …”We know best.” and “It’s for your own good.” Clearly neither was true, but my opinion wasn’t solicited. And I was far too afraid to be defiant, as the consequences were dire. But one of my brothers, being the precocious middle child, felt compelled to share his unsolicited views, and was cruelly beaten. I still am brought to tears by these memories. Hitting a child is never justifiable.

I have spent my life on a mission to discover the mystery of family love. Just like any eccentric detective, I’ve poked around in the detritus of family life, hoping that through an examination of broken promises, heavy hearts and discarded dreams, I might find the clue to explain the survival of its love. Familial love endures the harshest of realities, even though this love may not be easily expressed. But begin the arduous task of truth seeking, and a spark of love will be ignited into a flame…no different than the power of a tiny ember regenerating the life of a dying log.  The seed for this unassailable truth was planted a year ago when I saw a luminous vision in New Orleans, a city ripe with the imagery of life and death.

Saint Louis Cathedral New Orleans

Saint Louis Cathedral New Orleans

This arresting image, has two notable themes for me.

Firstly, I have come to believe that even in the darkest of nights, there is still the light of the moon to guide my way. I am never entirely alone… symbolized by the statue’s brilliance in the dark.

Secondly, I found Christ’s open arms, mysteriously compelling. Only now do I understand its significance. I have always been an idealist, demanding life and those in it, function at the highest level, in a state of perfection. But Christ’s gesture of surrender, can also be interpreted to mean the necessity of holding both the dark and the light in balance….good and bad, joyful and miserable, love and hate…withstanding the tension created when simultaneously holding both positive and negative emotions for all situations. It may seem trite to say that a family always has both, but to an idealist, it’s a revelation! As much as I wanted my parents to ‘come clean’ and admit their failings, I perpetuated the family myth of perfection, by demanding it of myself, my children, my husband(s) and my friends. 

I’ve come to realize the power of the confessional. In it lies the secret to fanning the flame of love, for oneself and for others. Only through the experience of my confessional, The Other Woman Blog, where I have openly admitted  my frailties, my faults, my dreams and my desires, have I come to accept, as true, that love flourishes between people when we present ourselves as humans, not demigods. I now embrace the sententious moralizing thrown at me over the years…”Life’s not just a bowl of cherries, sometimes you find yourself in the pits.” Life is simultaneously cherries and pits! Love is simultaneously fulfilling and excruciating. Family provides simultaneously the best and the worst of times!

Below is the collage I have been working on for the past week.

Balancing Death and Life

Balancing Death and Life

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 28 OF 52 

CHANGING MY PERCEPTION OF IDEAL FAMILY LOVE

SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT FOR ABOVE THEORY

Studies done by the Psychologist, H.E. Hershfield, counter the long held belief that negative emotions are linked to increased risk for illness, while positive emotion leads to health and longevity. His 10 year study reports that the greater the frequency of people’s mixed emotional experiences over time, the slower their age-related health declined. Every situation has both positive and negative aspects. Identify any situation, extremely positive or negative, and a balancing reality can also be named…the birth of a long awaited child is balanced by sleepless nights…my near death infection was balanced by my move to consciousness…infidelity in my marriage…what I’ve learned will take an entire post!

Choosing to suppress, ignore or deny negative experiences and emotion, rather than express them, acting as though everything is fine, is not only unhealthy, but it limits the flow of love. Like breathing, that is as much an inward motion as an outward expression, love flourishes in our humanity, in our dark characteristics as much as our light, not in an idealized state of perfection.

So for Week 28 of 52, I will embrace the duality of life.

Christ of the Deep - Key Largo

Christ of the Deep – Key Largo

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