A small collection of things that make me go "Grrr!"
This is by no means an exhaustive list.
I’m going to preface this by saying I try not to be a jerk as a general life guideline, and hope not to be one here. But these things make me mad AND break my heart.
When I tell people how I struggle with being the parent that I want to be and they say to me, “Well, they chose you as a mom.”
Is this true on any level that we can possibly know? No. And I’m ok with metaphor as a reasonable way of understanding life, so long as it makes sense to me. But I don’t buy into those metaphoric interpretations too deeply because I know that tomorrow that same metaphor may no longer be a good enough explanation. This idea, though, seems unusually punishing to the kids: like anyone would CHOOSE to be born into a family that has generations’ old history of physical/emotional abuse. Like anyone would choose a parent who can’t connect because of addictions. There are a bazillion things that we would not choose in a parent.
So when people have said this to me (and there have been many), I have this totally deep sense of letdown in my guts. For one thing, I wasn’t heard. I let my anguish out into the world and got an untrue platitude in return. Thanks. For another, I feel like I’m being offered an “out” for my self-judged inexcusable behaviour. Yeah, yeah. I know. I’m my own worst critic. But I have some standard in my mind of what kind of mama I want to be, and it doesn’t involve watching my kids shrink away from me in fear because I’ve just lost it and am shouting my head off at them, again.
No one deserves that shit. No one would choose it, even if you were just referring to some cosmic, karmic level choice that is unknowable anyway down on this plane. Maybe we get the kids that we get because they are here to reteach us how to be a heart-centred human. Or maybe this is the same punishing platitude rearranged – putting this hefty degree of responsibility on the kid to fix the parent. Maybe it’s really just up to us as body-bound humans to do the best we can to be in the life that we have in the situation we are in, and to try not to run rampant over others’ feelings while we are at it.
As a kind of sub-grrr here, I want to bring your attention to “everything happens for a reason.”
I’m a life-meaning-maker. And the thing is that we ALL are. So maybe this should read “we make a meaning and a reason for everything that happens,” which might be more true and is an awful lot more supportive. Because, goddamn, who wants to believe that they are here on earth to have an infinite variety of awful things happen to them and that there’s some cosmic reason that this is so, with the undercurrent of they deserved it because it was meant to happen? I would rather believe that we invest our lives with meaning when we digest what has happened to the degree that we are able and our story emerges from there.
That thing that we do when life is shitty to some degree and we downplay it or discount it entirely because someone, somewhere, has it worse than we do.
Those places where you are having discomfort in your body and your life are your wake up call. Not giving yourself the careful attention that you are crying out for just because someone, somewhere, has it worse is a total cop-out. You have a right to your own care and consideration. Maybe, though, you were taught that somehow you don’t matter enough, or that your needs and life challenges are trivial compared to someone else’s more important struggle. Maybe you need some help seeing that it’s ok to give yourself what you need when you need it, even if it seems like an insignificant issue.
You will always be able to find someone who has it harder than you. Does this mean that you are going to go your whole life diminishing yourself and discounting your needs because of that?
Let’s just give this one up right now and get on with the business of being our best, most humanly flawed selves and helping others where we can.
“Positive thinking,” affirmations and the law of attraction.
Where do I even start?
I work with states of consciousness, manifestation, magic, declaration, trance journeying, and visualization among many other things that I am and believe and do in the world. So it’s not like I don’t think that energy and what you direct your focus on can change your life. I just don’t buy this particular way of doing it as kind, supportive and useful.
I know one person who uses law of attraction thought techniques and seems to rock them. The thing is, that I don’t know what ELSE they are using to drive their life, and I’m unconvinced that these techniques are enough on their own to clean up the accumulated baggage of a lifetime and get on with living a clear, loved life.
So maybe my quibble with the law of attraction stuff is simply one of objective: I want to know my life inside out and be friends with me and feel like I’m on the right path because I know it in my bones and can feel my life flowing through me in all of its complicated deliciousness. And I want to help others to do the same. I don’t want to impose a possibly arbitrary fix on my life and have it come true when there isn’t any reason to believe that it’s the right thing for me on a really deep level.
I know more than one person who has been stymied, blocked and outright hurt by these techniques, or by others’ assumptions about them as a person according to judgments made from a “law of attraction” point of view.
I agree with dreaming and imagining the elements that we would like to invite into our lives. I don’t agree with repeating a positive statement over and over again assuming that that, in and of itself, is enough to shift long-held life blocks. And I sure don’t agree with seeing peoples’ continued struggle to have a life with all of what they need to take care of themselves in abundance as a failure on their part to think the right positive thoughts.
You see, I think that these positive thoughts and affirmations are made by the conscious brain looking around at life and deciding what it is that would fix what is perceived to be wrong. Like, if only I had more money coming in, all would be solved. Or, if only I could find a good partner. Or, if only I could fit into a size 8 jeans again. Whatever. The conscious, egoic brain is often guilty of a failure of imagination and some things are dead easy targets for fixes. The conscious brain isn’t going to look and see that the underlying issue is that no one held space for this person as a child to fully feel their own feelings and now as an adult they have no idea what they really want, and forget about feeling safe enough to ask for it, even if they knew what it was.
About 8 years back, I was getting all panicked and worrying a lot about my daughter being sexually abused. Not because there was in any way a situation where that was even a possibility. No. I was worried because all of a sudden I had a daughter in a world where girls and women of all ages are hurt in diverse and awful ways. I had this small feeling that I might MAKE my daughter be hurt by someone BECAUSE OF my thoughts. Because I wasn’t keeping them positive enough. I had unconsciously bought into the law of attraction in certain small ways. But I have an excellent mentor who said gently, “Fuck that. Just thinking about it and processing it won’t make it a reality.” (I had been watching the news a lot then and there was this insane case in the US where two sisters had been kidnapped as children and held prisoner and abused daily for more than fifteen years. They had just been found and taken out of there. That was a lot to take in and my daughter was 1. I had fear. Of course I had fear! Fuck.) So, thank goodness for that intervention. It allowed me to feel what I needed to feel to the degree that I could and process what I could.
It would be a grievous thing for your child to be hurt and then to believe that your child was hurt because you had a failure of thought control.
Life is complicated, and the things that coalesce to make our belief systems, hence the internal drives of our lives, are complicated too. It takes time, sometimes a lot of time, to unravel the core issues. We can go years without even knowing that something is an issue. I wouldn’t trust my conscious brain on its own with this delicate and important task.
So let’s give ourselves untethered runs in our imaginative lives. Let’s let our guts and our deep dreams have a say in what direction we choose. Let’s let our kind attention pick up subtle cues from the subconscious. And let’s let it take time and let’s be interested in the journey.
You don’t have to be trained in any particular modality to make use of spacious, invitational life creation. You just have to let it be wide and not hold on to any specific outcome. You might be doing it already and not know it.
As a teenager, every single time I blew out the candles or tossed a penny in a fountain or saw a shooting star I said, “I wish that everything would (somehow) turn out alright.” I knew, on some fundamental level, that things were fucked, though I might not have said it that way. The “(somehow)” was in there because I was so deeply sunk into struggle that I couldn’t actually imagine a clear pathway out of the mire or what I might ask for specifically. I had no idea that I was helping myself.
I had gotten myself into a relationship when I was 14 that turned out to be very emotionally abusive.
Around age 16 I started to wake up and look around and notice that I had no close friends left. All of my support people had been pushed away, either by me or by said boyfriend. I lived two separate lives: the one where I spent time with him in person or on the phone, and the one at home/school where I pretended that things were still normal and that I was a good student and a reasonably ok daughter and sister, even if prone to unpredictable rage.
Wishing that things would (somehow) turn out alright helped me make movement towards reclaiming me, my life, my friends and ending that relationship, even though it wasn’t totally over until after graduation. It was a path that I could follow, somehow. I didn’t have an agenda of how it was supposed to look, it just had to get more “alright” than this. It did turn out alright, eventually. Then I could begin the long process of making my life better than alright. Juicy, even. A life that I eat with relish.
What if I had believed that I was in that shitty situation because I had had thoughts that created it? That it was my fault? What if I had believed that it was happening for some cosmic reason and that my repeated diminishment had to happen? I don’t know what if. I just think it’s shitty to blame someone or one’s own self for the shittiness of the situation by making it a failure of positive thinking, for goodness’ sake. It hurts and it’s not true.