Monday, October 28, 2013

mirror mirror ...

"There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.

And when she was good,

She was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid!"
- The Real Mother Goose (1916)

When I was little, my mother often would repeat the above rhyme to me.  In my memory, she never gave commentary, never explained the why of the when behind her recitation. Having been a curly-headed child, my sense then - and now - was that she was issuing some kind of warning, a foghorn cry that I was venturing dangerously close to banks of horrid-being, horrid behavior.

I'd ask her about this now, but I know time has erased any memory of difficulties.  She always tells me I was an easy child; I was labeled sensitive and shy and never ventured outside of the lines. But this memory of horrid and my immense fear of being labeled as such, it a tender spot I guard to this day.  Which means when I have a bout of fierceness - okay, an acting out if-you-will -  a wondering and worrying "was I just horrid?" quickly bubbles up within me, obscuring the situation and my feelings within it.

This past week ... or is it two?  or three? has been immensely tough.  I feel like I am lurching through my days, never finding a rhythm, creating collateral damage to emotional shins and elbows, hearts and spirits.  I've said before that parenting is like standing before a fun-house mirror: all of my disfigurements distorted to freakish levels.  My stubbornness is reflected back to me in an equally mulish daughter; temper, verbal acrobats, defensiveness, emotional hyperbole echoed tit-for-tat in a rendition of Dueling Banjos from the movie Deliverance.  And that trip down the river did not go well!

Being difficult ... that was to be avoided at all costs.  What I have on my hands is a double whammy of difficult and I am gutted by my reactions, emotions and triggers. 

It all boils down to expectations - what we each want from the other - and a mutual decision to not cooperate or even consider the other person's perspective.  Each of us was consumed by our own piece within the performance, riffing and reacting to the other.  If I wasn't in the middle of this jerky tango, it would be funny.  But I am impaled upon the prongs of horrid:  being demanding in some way,  challenging others to meet those demands and standing firmly by my line in the sandI am the adult here and trying my best to understand that role, which is hard when my inner little girl has her curls all knotted, tangled and sore.

I want to do the right thing, I want to be a good parent for my child.  I also want to be a good daughter and feel I am floundering on that level as well.  Of course, I know all of this would sort itself out if I first could remember to be good to myself.  

Walking the dog, I ran into a neighbor and ended up crying to her, "I feel like I am letting everyone down!"  She comforted me with the truth that we all experience this confusion in our roles, confusion in motives and responses.  When I am caring for my mother, I want her to comfort me but right now, our roles are reversed.  When I am standing firm with my girl, I want to be heard, acknowledged and reassured.  But that is not my daughter's burden. 

What I seek is some certainty that all will work itself out.  But I know certainty is more mythical than a unicorn.  I am slowing learning that the unraveling of my internal knots of confusion along with my tangled curls and moments of horrid, is a learn-as-I-go process. I forever will be untangling the threads of my personality: daughter, mother, wife, friend, child, maiden and crone.  Yes, there is a Queen somewhere in there and I need to find her, wipe off the mud and dirt of neglect and find an inner sovereignty. 

While certainty is not an option, trust is.  Trust in myself and in my girl.  And hefty dose of faith in something larger than myself ...  Love? Spiritual evolution? The power of dragons to heal and fly on?

I also must make my peace with knowing I am a work in progress and who I am is not a static entity or experience.  I want to be learning, evolving, growing.  I never want to be set in stone. That means even in the challenging moments with my girl, with my mother, and with myself and I can choose to open to vulnerability, allowing myself to be sad or scared or lonely which are my flip sides to horrid - and hopefully learn  from those encounters. 

This is what I have to say to you. In the first stage of the journey you learned to replace harmful beliefs with helpful ones. It was such a relief to let go of negativity that it became a temptation to stay there - to make your home in those newly acquired positive thoughts. But a positive self image is still a mask. The next stage of your journey is becoming comfortable with the unknown. It involves being clear and courageous enough to rest in bare awareness without having to create another identity, without needing to tack yet another belief to the end of "I am."

Experience the expansion, the spaciousness that comes from resting in the truth of unknowing. It isn't comfortable, at least not now, but it is powerful and inherently creative. It's what your soul longs for. Use the sense of vertigo to leave behind the know, and let go of the need to tether your soul to anything solid or definable. Let yourself go, over and over, until it is second nature to be weightless.
-Danna Faulds, From Root to Bloom

This is what I seek: "being comfortable in the unknown" and resting in "bare awareness" while letting go of  the tendency to label or judge or measure my experience as right or wrong, horrid or good.  Rather, I want to move towards healing, unity, understanding and compassion for myself and for those around me.  There is no right or wrong way, except perhaps to say the true way is to listen to my heart, honor and receive its guidance.  And then to listen and understand with my heart the actions, words and intentions of those around me. 

That I have such challenging days is a reminder that my girl and I are all shifting and changing.  It is not a sign that things are wrong - which is my initial reaction - but that things just are the way they are  and I can adjust and grow, or I can stay trapped in a net of expectations. 

I am looking in the mirror for clues to my transformation ... 


  1. oh, sweet sister! i hear you!!

    we are blessed with two warrior-girls...who delight and frustrate in equal measure. i wish i had some secret recipe to give you...but i do believe we make it up as we go along....

    and yes...the hardest of parts is the resting in non-judgment of our own selves...i default to assuming i'm horrid as well...and my sensitive girl does the same so we often end up in a hot-mess of self-blame and recrimination whilst in the heat of our battles....and all the while there's this voice in my head saying "oh, but you are fucking this up big-time".....and of course that makes it worse. ;)

    breathing deeply with you...and reaching out across the miles with love and pots of tea...and nutella sandwiches, hold the bread.


  2. How kind of you to have nurtured me through a rough spot in the road when you, yourself, were driving one as well. Untether your soul, sister, let her fly. It's all good, it's all learning to be. And come back to practice self care deeply. We love you so.

  3. "I found god in myself and i loved her, i loved her fiercely" Ntozake Shange

  4. "I also must make my peace with knowing I am a work in progress"
    this a beautifully vulnerable and honest post
    thank you for having the courage to go there and share your heart
    it is such a ebb and flow
    but more than ever I see you going through a time of refinement...a time of burning away of residue of yesterday that is interfering in your the shift of perspective would be this is a good time, a difficult challenging time, but one that when walked through with surrender and openness will bring great and freeing results....
    I have hopped over from "learning as I go" because I missed this post (have not been in the blog world as much as I used to be these days) I look forward to reading where you are now....

    love and light