My Mother and I: The gift of challenges in a relationship
Most relationship experts believe that every relationship needs to go through two important stages in order to be complete: Integration or experiencing the Oneness and Differentiation or expressing the duality between us. Finding common ground and finding one's own ground are both equally needed to complete the circle. Eastern mystics believed that this trajectory is inbuilt into the natural unfolding of all relationships and that we come back lifetime after lifetime, picking the parents or the partners who will help us complete this circle.
Understanding relationships from this perspective helps us to make sense of the struggles in long term relationships whether those struggles are between partners in a marriage, a romantic relationship, friendships, siblings, or between a parent and a child.
In the light of this let us now examine a mother-daughter relationship. While some of us start by believing we are one with our mothers, others grow up believing we are complete opposites. As we grow up and go through the various stages of our own lives, sooner or later, through the challenges presented in the relationship, life invites us to complete the circle. For those who shared an identity with their mothers, it is time to claim their own and for those who differed, it is time to get in touch with the deep bond that exists between them nevertheless.
Although this seems simple, because of the depth of emotions involved, this exercise can often be difficult and painful. Yet one who undertakes this journey is transformed by it.
In my own relationship with my mother, I started off by believing I was an extension of her, born to fulfill her unfinished dreams. When I finally woke up in my forties to an awareness of my individuality, it came as somewhat of a shock to me. For a while I was filled with resentment towards my mother until I realized she also viewed herself as an extension of her parents. The concepts of person-hood and a personal free will is a result of an evolving consciousness and not something most people of my mother's time experienced.
Once I accepted this, I began the arduous process of excavating my authentic self and my own internal compass. As I forgave my mother for not teaching me what she did not know, I have begun teaching her what I am discovering. She taught me to give. I am teaching her to receive. She taught me that people matter. I am teaching her that she matters. Although she is open, it is sometimes a struggle to embrace these new ideas at her age. But we are working our way through, one conversation at a time. Daughter to mother, woman to woman. She birthed my body and now I want to play mid-wife to birthing her personal self, thus completing this circle.
Happy Mother's Day to all of the women who are helping raising our children either by birth, friendship or sisterhood. Each of you with your particular style or imprint are making a difference in the world and helping them to complete the circle of life.