When my daughters were small I worried about what kind of mother would I be. I didn't have a strong role model. My mother and I have a very tenuous relationship, fraught with angry words and bitterness, tears and sadness. I wanted a better relationship with my daughters and decided when the girls were about 2 and 3 that I'd better do whatever it takes to heal my relationship with my mother if I was going to build a better pathway to the future.
One weekend, while in Vancouver on business, I went over to the island where my parents lived so that I could ask my mother to tell me her life story. I believed that if I could learn more about my mother, I would be able to understand better, and thus, to create bridges of communication between us.
Hearing my mother's story, I understood her sadness. It wasn't about me. I didn't cause it. Some of it was inherent in her nature. The rest was situational and beyond the scope of her coping mechanisms. She never got the help she needed to fall in love with her beauty, and instead, fell into the despair of believing she could never be enough to be loved for who she is.
In understanding my mother's sadness, I learned to accept her the way she is -- and to let go of my yearning for the mother of my dreams. Unfortunately, I too didn't have the tools to repair what was broken between my mother and me, and while I love my mother, I continued to keep my walls up to protect myself from harm.
Yesterday, at Givers 2, the final weekend of the Choices experience, I met the mother of my dreams in the arms of another woman. I don't know this woman's story. She was in another group, in fact, Alexis, my eldest daughter was her coach. Alexis is a woman of her word and thus, she did not 'tell-on' the stories of her group. My interactions with Marie, the mother who embraced me, were limited to conversations in and around the training room. Brief though they were, her warm and loving spirit, her gentle heart, so like my mother's, touched me every time I was in her presence.
And that is the absolute beauty of the Choices journey. People connect on cellular levels far beneath the surface skin. In that rarefied environment, the protective shield that has encrusted itself around our hearts through years of struggling through life, softens. It becomes pliable, porous, cracked. We cry and our tears seep into the cracks, watering the dream we've always carried of being loved for who we are. With every tear, our beauty blossoms and we become open to love and loving.
When I am in the Choices room, I know my heart is safe. I carry no fear of exposing myself to ridicule because, well, to borrow the words from a popular song by John Paul Young, Love is in the air, everywhere I look around.
And yesterday, a mother's love came home to rest easily upon my heart.
Marie had no idea of the gift she was giving me. She did not know her warm and tender embrace would break down my fear that my mother would never see me for who I am today. As I stood with Marie's arms holding me, her hands rubbing my back, I cried. Hers were warm and loving hands. A mother's hands. The hands I've always yearned for.
It wasn't until much later that the truth hit me. Marie gave me the gift of feeling supported, loved, cared for by my mother. It isn't something my mother ever did. Her tears and sadness permeated most of our lives together. She didn't willfully withhold her love -- she just never had the tools, or knowledge to step free of her sadness into joy.
In Marie's embrace, I was held by the mother of my dreams. She gave the gift of love mother's throughout time have given -- not just to their own children but to children everywhere.
My mother's hands are crippled, distorted by arthritis. She may never be able to rub my back, but I can still rub hers. As I become the mother of my dreams, as I celebrate my daughters lives, I look back and reach out for the woman who nurtured the seed of love that became the miracle of me. My mother. In that reaching out I connect the circle of love that has long been broken because, in my yearning for the mother of my dreams, I continually criticized her for not being who I wanted her to be and protected myself from loving her for who she is.
It's never too late to change. I have held back from being present in my mother's life for fear she will hurt me. My fear has limited my growth, inhibited my joy of celebrating each moment where I turn up as who I am today, and let go of my fear that who I am is never enough. Truth is, I do enough. Give enough. I am enough.
My heart is loving. It is something my mother taught me and continues to teach me today through her awesome ability to love those around her. She's still sad. Still uses medications to ease her pain. Her pain is great.
Fear is the opportunity to be courageous. I can't change the past with my mother, but I can give her the gift Marie so lovingly shared with me yesterday. A tender embrace that eases her pain and opens her heart to being loved, exactly the way she is without fear that she will never be enough. I can give her my mother's love.
The question is: Where do you withhold being your loving self for fear you are never enough? Are you willing to love yourself enough to let go of fear?