Come meander with me on the pathless path of the Heart
in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Beneath Life's Stories...

My mother and I have had a difficult relationship over the years – two wounded hearts that could never really be open to each other. I keep an emotional distance. I have wished that it could be different. Is this the same as not accepting life as it is I wonder? I have wanted a loving, trusting relationship with my mother, while at the same time guarding myself from her - guarding my heart from further woundings - not wanting to reveal myself, or my Self for that matter. How easily the relationship between a mother and a daughter can contract into woundedness over and over again. And yet – I realize this is just a story.

In my story, I wonder if I have somehow misunderstood her; that somehow it was me that didn’t “get her” – rather than the other way around. I try to see what other people see in her – the kindness, the goodness, the self-sacrificing piety that people revere – even if I know it’s just a front for not feeling good about herself. What I continue to see, however, is the judgmental, critical, not good enough, bitter, nobody else can do it right kind of thinking, and the constant critical commenting about what she likes and doesn’t like about others. And of course people are never who she wants them to be – but these are my stories, my perceptions… It doesn’t hook me like it used to – and yet I remain cautious…

All these stories are bubbling up once again , spending so much time with my mother. I am caught on the story channel. And of course I *recognize* what is happening. I just can’t seem to see through it clearly...

I think to myself that I should be different with her, that I should be able to keep myself open to her, to see her differently, to see the Beingness that she is – to just rest in the Greater Context of Life *with* her, and let all these stories float through, unaffected by it all…

Friday I took my mother to the hairdresser for her weekly hair appointment. As my mother sat in the chair I could hear her gossiping – storytelling. While she was under the hairdryer a woman with her elderly mother came into the shop. The woman recognized my mother and in a *big show* of affection kissed my mother’s hand, as if she were the pope! As she gushed her southern drawl affection all over my mother, they engaged in small talk about the physical problems of their aging bodies. She then asked my mother: “How are you and your daughter getting along?” – not knowing that I was sitting right behind her! :) My mother and I looked at each other, and I laughed, as my mother smiled, pointed at me, and said: She’s right here… Oops –

The woman turned to me with a look of surprise on her face - and an oohhhh, hiiiii sheepish greeting. I just grinned and greeted her back. A few minutes later she got up and started to walk out. On the way by me, she said to me – “You take good care of this sweet woman” – like I was being told. Thank goodness she didn’t wag her finger at me as well. Gee, I thought that’s what I’ve been doing – despite whatever story you may have been told! Evidently my mother has told stories over the years that she’s not being taken care, at least not the way that *she* wants to be taken care of… I have not lived up to my mother’s expectations – but I knew that. I cannot live up to her stories of what she wants me to be. This makes relating difficult and awkward. And yet, that is just another story too. And maybe it’s been difficult for her not having the relationship she would like to have with her daughters.

Interestingly I was able to laugh off the little comment and never mention it to my mother. And even though I tell this story here, I did not feel the need to *engage* in the story, or create another story, or to feel hurt, or wounded by it. I notice that I am beginning to feel a sense of acceptance for the way things are with my mother. In fact I am now finding the stories of life amusing; how we create them and live by them, believing them. And how the mind loves to grab onto the stories, and keep telling them, getting lost again and again in “stories” that I continue to believe, knowing it’s all story!

And I know the “remedy” for getting caught in the stories that bubble up from the depths is to continuously come back to that sense of inner Presence, the spaciousness of Awareness that lies behind them. That is what’s underneath all these stories – the field of Awareness that just IS. When I consciously drop beneath the stories of life, there is only a sense of calm, peace and stillness. Underneath the stories *about* what is happening there is only Life unfolding in this greater context of Awareness – evidently in a series of stories strung together and believed to be real. The challenge, it seems, is to *accept* the way life unfolds without creating a storyboard of scenarios, assumptions, conclusions, judgments and interpretations about what’s happening; without creating an *image* of life in my mind. And so I am beginning to peak through those story bubbles, *seeing* Life from underneath life’s stories.



  1. Boy do I know the mother story! And I think what can I offer that might be helpful? And then I realize that that was a big turning point in the relationship with my mother, when I asked "what can I do to be helpful?". All the stories I told myself about how she didn't appreciate me and was so negative and blah, blah, blah, and finally after working so hard to change the relationship, it was in fact the turning caused by this little question.

    And it wasn't that I all of a sudden became Miss Nice and was eternally helpful to her in just the way she wanted. It allowed me to say the things that needed to be said to my mother, to open up the vast space that stood between us. It was a surprising event after many years of suffering.

    And then after that there was this relaxed connection. If she misbehaved (in my opinion) it no longer hooked me like it used to. I have to say it was all a strange and mysterious event, that even know I don't fully understand in my head, but somehow we made our peace with each other.

    Every situation is different but I think the key ingredient is to keep working away at it with as much honesty as possible.

  2. Thanks ZenDS! - Will send you an email response :)

  3. I love this post- every word of it! Christine I am just now reading this post (it's been a hectic week). My relationship with my mother has been a source of bottomless pain for both of us. I found reading this post to be very healing for me. Thank you!

  4. Thanks Colleen :) It's been hectic here too. A new blog post is brewing, but not enough time to write it :) And haven't been keeping up with other people's posts either...

    Interesting how the mother/daughter relationship for so many of us continues to be wounding despite our awareness... This always amazes me.