This morning finding myself in a calm peaceful state after spending a lovely evening with a close friend, sharing a meal, going through photos of when we were young and then this morning awakening to share breakfast before we bid farewell, I pottered around my house. Tidying up, dusting, sorting things, washing the dishes, slowly mindfully, I sat down and called my Mum.
My Mum does not sleep well. After the traumas of over thirty years and several operations her rhythms have been disrupted, she sleeps maybe only 3 or four hours at a times. When I asked her how she was today, she said to me. “It was the strangest things, after you left yesterday I lay down on the lounge at about 6 pm I woke up and everything was dark, I looked at the clock and it said 10 pm. I was really disoriented.” She apparently then got into bed and slept through the night.
“I don’t know what happened” she said in a mystified voice. “But it was as if something in me collapsed.”
Yesterday during our conversation in which I’d spoken gently of the need to feel emotions, she had started to cry. I think of the many tears my Mum has needed shed. Of how she was alone following my father’s death, how she tried to care for my older sister who by that stage was disabled but managing to live independently. Of her rushed marriage to escape the grief over my father’s loss. And of all the pains that have followed for both daughters with our past narcissistic partners. Of the sadness of being estranged from her son’s family due to my sister in law never forgiving her for a bad boundary violation many, many years ago. Its a massive amount of grief.
As I sat quietly on the lounge following this call these words came into my mind :
Let your pain dissolve in the vast ocean of compassion.
As I contemplate those words I think of how little pain relief medication I have actually needed since my recent operation. I have used my mindfulness practice most of the time to stay with and lean into the grief and pain as I have learned to do through reading Pema Chodron’s books The Places that Scare You, When Things Fall Apart and Taking the Leap.
I have allowed myself to shed tears and have been lucky to have three really wonderful witnesses who could be with me and hold me while I grieved, asking nothing offering nothing but love.
My mother has been in the difficult situation of supporting my other sister following her breast cancer surgery in December last year. My sister is on lithium for Bi Polar Disorder, she is often sending Mum to the doctor for medication when the emotional pain in her body manifests physically. Despite being a very compassionat person, when Mum feels sad or cries my sister doesn’t move towards her to touch or comfort her, but sits and just watches her. My sister does things for my Mum but she also stayed sleeping in my Mother’s bed for over three months while my Mum slept on the fold out in the spare room. My Mum has been making sacrifices for my sister at times which have negated her need for her own comfort, she is 91.
At the moment my sister is overseas at her son’s wedding. Mum is alone and so that is hard, but she is also free to live her life as she needs to. She is back in her own bed.
I see how hard Mum has worked to make up for her emotional absence of years past. I see how my own anger used to flare up (though I no longer yell like I used to). I guess I am also seeing that the wounds of Mum’s past just repeated.
I now see that an open sea of compassion insight and understanding is the only thing that will dissolve the harshness and pain of the past. I recognise it is in that place of healing that I need to centre myself and rest. And maybe when I rest in that place everything softens and that softening is felt by those energetically connected to me.
This morning I have been thinking a lot about Neptune and the sign Pisces. Of the past eclipse which brought all this old pain up from the depths of the ocean, to be felt, acknowledged and healed. Of the issues of perfectionism and striving I have inherited and of the need for self compassion as a softening antidote to these harsh task masters. Of the need I now feel to be in touch with others from the heart, and from the body. And also with myself.
This sea of compassion is perhaps for me a place I can return to when the wound smarts again. It is what has the capacity to soothe me when things hurt. It is a place I can cultivate through practices of gratitude. It is the place where I can come to rest and find peace.