A beautiful painting from the “Luminous Hearts” Series by Cindy Parsley
Used here with permission from this generous soul. www.cindyparsley.com
My stepfather’s heart attack almost a year ago brought many blessings to our family, one of which was the opportunity to heal a major heartbreak of my own. For it was his hurting heart that called me back home to heal the relationship with the love of his life—my mom.
For most of my life, I had a rather large boulder lodged between my heart and my mother’s. I remember one rainy afternoon when I was eight years old, I sat next to her with my head resting on her chest, tracing the slightly raised veins on her hands and trying to will into creation a lovestream between us. The anger I felt inside, however, was too big of an obstacle for my grade three self to move on my own.
Why was I so angry at such a young age? Many reasons that anyone would deem justified. I always knew my mother loved me and my sisters, but our home life often did not feel safe. Our father was mentally ill with an explosive temper that resulted in violent episodes, escalating until he attempted suicide when I was 13. In not being able to understand my father’s illness, I directed my anger, masquerading as intense fear, at my mother. I didn’t understand that she was making profound changes on the inside, doing the best she could living with my dad, a man she had known and loved since they were kids. Instead, when she did leave him to save literally her and my sisters’ lives and to create a much more stable, loving home for us, I was enraged she dare go and break up our family.
Over time other boulders would pile on top of the original hurt until the wall became concrete and seemingly impenetrable. I felt as if I had no control over the direction of my relationship with my mom. I didn’t realize, however, that I was in total control. I was too young to know that the brain encodes the energetic fallout of trauma and other emotional upsets in the form of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides in our cellular memory as well as our physical and energetic bodies. Permanently stored until we release and transform them, we live out stories of the past and reignite the accompanying emotions in multiple ways with a cross-section of people.
As an adult, I felt secretly jealous and equally incredulous of the women and men in my life who called their mom their best friend. I had accepted that either my mother or I would die and I would be okay with knowing that nothing could ever be done about our lack of a real relationship. I repeatedly played out one scenario of my sheepish attendance at her funeral. In a capacity-filled church, I imagined myself politely listening to each person relaying story after story about who my mother was while nodding in fake agreement that I knew who and what they were talking about.
Although I never totally ceased communicating with my mom, visits home were short and the conversations never lasted very long, filled with the distractions part and parcel of busy holiday dinners. To fill the void as an adult, I unconsciously looked for maternal love mainly in the female mentors and teachers with whom I would work. Not having examined the reasons for these substitute relationships, sometimes I chose unwisely, re-creating a relationship dynamic I had seen in my childhood. Gratefully, as I became clearer about what was causing these types of relationships, I did seek healthier forms of guidance, severing those toxic connections and drawing to me inner and outer experiences that modelled for me true Mother Love.
A couple of months after meeting my partner Chris in the summer of 2014, he made an observation that caught me off guard. After telling him a well-rehearsed story about my relationship with my mom, he curiously asked me about where I was in forgiving her. He wondered about how I had engaged in so much inner work over the years and yet still could not find it in my heart to forgive her. At first, I was triggered by his question. I had spent many years intensively working through my “stuff,” looking for answers and a peaceful resolution with my past.
At the level of the mind, I understood the need to forgive my mom to bring healing to my life and the chance to speaking authentically to others about forgiveness, but like the doctor who smokes while telling his patients to abstain, I was ignoring the verbal prescriptions I had been dispensing. Unconsciously, I had adopted an attitude of spiritual arrogance that somehow my relationship with my mother could not be healed through Love. Chris’s question created a crack in the wall of the boulders I had piled up. I knew he was right. For the first time, I was willing to stop arguing that Love had limits to what this Force could transform and asked to be shown a way home through the door of forgiveness.
Christmas 2014 arrived. I called my mom to wish her Merry Christmas. Our usually brief conversation effortlessly flowed into an hour of a light-filled, joyful sharing of our lives. We discussed the books she was reading, the two Persian poets who had busted my heart open to love and beauty, her wise insights into some recent life events, my third visit to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City. We listened with intense interest, asking questions of each other’s stories, delighting in the responses and never trying to persuade each other of our own way of thinking. I felt my heart open to her and the energy of love between us rising higher and higher the longer we talked. I hung up the phone believing for the first time in my life I could let my heart truly love my mother.
A couple of months later, my life began to unravel at warp speed. For some time prior to the cataclysmic rearrangement of my life, I saw images in my meditations of a garden in front of an ocean, making me homesick for the West Coast. When I made the decision to move back to BC, I wasn’t sure where I would land. However, several days after I arrived in Vancouver, my stepfather’s heart attack decisively and unquestionably guided me across the Georgia Strait and back home to Victoria. And, in one moment, after a lifetime of holding onto so much anger and judgment, I crossed a threshold into love and absolute forgiveness as I walked into the hospital room and saw my stepfather resting in the hospital bed while my exhausted mother tenderly rubbed his pale hands.
A couple of days later and after hours of sweet conversations and many long hugs, I stood in the living room of my parents’ seaside home, looking out the sliding glass door. There before me was the flower garden in front of the ocean I had been visualizing in my meditations. I was swept away in the realization that a deeply hidden longing had been calling me Home long before the actual events that would eventually transpire in order to take me there.
Some terrible things had happened during my childhood—this is true. Both parents loved us but for a time made decisions that hurt us and themselves. How long though was I willing to punish myself or my mother by not letting go of details that would never be changed? While the anger and fear had served a purpose in my looking for the story where I align myself to Love, I had grown tired of how the same emotions and memories would show up as recurring characters in the new tale I wanted to create. How could I ever truly talk and teach about Love when I was unprepared to allow myself the full experience that Love guarantees when we immerse ourselves in the Ocean?
One year later, almost to the day my mom and I reunited, she is undoubtedly one of my best friends. She and I can talk for hours, feeling so much joy in our sharing and laughter in our equally goofy sense of humor. Moments arise when we do not understand each other or we figure one of us should instruct the other in how to live her life, but the missteps and the perceived differences are easily navigable, especially when we are both willing to keep our hearts open to each other. I have been gifted the opportunity to see how the heart can cut through the false stories and align us to Love no matter how big or small the transgression. What I know for sure is that through the grace of forgiveness and unconditional love, no boulder, no hurt exists that True Love cannot dissolve.
♥“Love Grows from the Heart”
♥The painting (artist unknown) entitled “Love Grows from the Heart” can be found on many sites including https://www.pinterest.com/pin/257338566178038770/