Last night, Alexis (my eldest daughter) and I got in a tiff. She commented that she had picked up an application form for a very important singing competition and never filled it out. My question "why not?" was the starting point of an extremely heated discussion about how I'm trying to tell her how to live her life.
In the end, however, I realized that our argument was not about what was said. My participation was based on my fears. My trepidations. My anxiety around disagreement.
My father was an angry man. Arguments in our house were fierce, loud and scary. My mother would cry, my father would yell and my sister and I would hide in our bedroom. I would hold her and whisper stories in her ear while outside our room WW3 unfolded.
One of my biggest fears around anger is that if I get angry, I'll be just like my dad -- I'll never stop being angry. Rather than staying connected to the conversation that is, I disconnect from the moment and scurry back to the past of what was. I let go of my truth and cower beneath my childhood fears. In my childish mind, Disagreement does not equal rejection becomes a lie. To that five year old inside me, Disagreement is synonymous with rejection -- one or both of my parents would inevitably threaten to leave during the course of every argument. To run away and leave us all alone.
As I open up to my truth, to my accountability for myself, I continue to unearth childhood drama's and fears. As I unearth them, it is my responsibility to throw them into the junkyard where discarded memories that cause me pain, disrupt my peace of mind and disavow my truth today are laid to rest. There was a time when my 'know it all' mind would say, "Louise, you should be over that by now. Drop it!" What I've come to realize with my 'knowing mind' is that getting 'over it' is not the purpose of remembering. Letting it rest in peace so that I can move with grace and ease beyond it, is.
Memory can be an angst riddled space where forgotten landmines threaten the harmony of each moment. I can't walk away from my memory. I can't forget it. It's with me, it's a part of me -- and memory has a wonderful purpose of keeping me connected to the world today. It is the warp and weave that has created my beautiful life today. I can however, disable memory's power to blow up my happiness today. I can step on memories that do not lie quietly in the past and blow them up! I can take away their power to trip me up with their annoying insistence that they are right to keep me trapped in fear by stepping into my truth -- I am a fearless woman living the life of her dreams when I leap into the moment free and clear of memory's thrall. The past is just the past. Nothing other than a memory -- and I fearlessly choose how memory claims my right to think and act and be clear today. I choose how I remember the past and I choose how I react to memory's call. When memory doesn't serve me well, I choose to claim my right to lovingly face myself in the mirror today and say -- The past does not create my life today. I do.
The memory of my parent's fights is not my truth today. When Alexis and I found that point of disagreement last night, I scurried into my self-defeating game of acting arrogant and superior. I hid behind my judgements, attempted to get her before she got me and acted out one of my core tapes -- I'm not good enough. My monkey mind leaped into the opportunity to disembowel my peace of mind as I blindly turned my back on what I know to be true and tumbled into fear.
The argument lasted about half an hour. At one point Alexis started laughing. "We're arguing about a two second conversation mum. It's not worth it." I tried hard to resist her laughter. I fought hard to keep myself from moving from my self-righteous perch into loving acceptance of our human state, and in the end, I surrendered.
She's right. A two second comment was disrupting my enjoyment of having spent an evening with her and her sister at a performance of Mama Mia! I was holding myself pinioned to pain rather than giving into the joy of my daughter's sharing of her dreams and aspirations, and her fears, about her future.
I don't know what is best for her future. I don't know what she should, could, will do. At one point, after the heat had flared out and we had settled back into harmonious conversation, she mentioned she wasn't sure what she should do with her talent, was it what she wanted to do in life? I commented that she might think about working with the talent she knows she's got rather than go searching for new ones. "Good point," she said.
And we continued to laugh and chatter about her dreams, her fears and my insistence that she live life my way.
She never will -- live it my way. She can't. My way is only suitable for my life. She has to find her own way, her own path, her own dreams. As I watch her stand at the edge, her wings vibrating, stretching, aching to expand, a part of me wants to sneak up behind her and shove her off the cliff. I know she'll soar. But my knowing makes no difference in her life. She has to find her own courage to leap. To let go of gravity and fly free of that place where fear keeps her tethered to the voice inside her that whispers with its irritating litany of self-doubt and hesitation.
Like me, she must learn to fly free of that scrambles around inside her head threatening to hold her back lest she fall. She must learn to leap in the right now before her as she builds her wings inflight.
Last night my fear of being hurt by anger held me back from lovingly hearing my daughter share her dreams and trepidations. Today, I'm flying free of my fear of anger as I lovingly embrace my truth and step free of yesterday. Anger doesn't cause arguments. Not listening with an open heart and mind does. Listening with one ear cocked on yesterday's voices and one foot dragging through the dirt of the past does.
Last night, I stepped back from my truth today and trapped myself momentarily in the murky waters of memory. Last night I escaped into self-defeating games that limit my ability to be present. In love, I surrender and accept myself, exactly the way I am. I am not the hammer pounding truth into my daughter's mind so that she conforms to 'my way'. I am the mother lovingly giving my child room to grow into her beauty, her song, her fearless anthem of joy -- her way.