Thursday, 23 February 2012

Miracle Number Three

It is said that events happen in ‘threes.’  Apparently even miracles adhere to this formula, for I am aware of a trio of them surrounding my mother’s death.

The first miracle I wrote about in the post ‘Everyday Magic.’  (The story’s too long to re-tell so click here to have a look.) Now you know - the “friend” I wrote about who was struggling with cancer was actually my mom.  I kept her identity hidden because she wished it that way.  She feared the judgment of others and felt embarrassed by her cancer diagnosis.  Her secret was a real challenge for me, but with respect to our differences I had to accept that she valued privacy more than she wanted support.

Mom passed away at the end of October (2011), but two weeks before she died the second miracle happened – word got out.   Suddenly the very friends whose judgment she feared turned up in droves to be with her.  Her room was filled not only with flowers, but with laughter, singing, and love.  Yet despite this miraculous turn of events, she refused to discuss the possibility of dying, even up to the bitter end.  Thus there was much left unsaid between us.  In fact, I might never have known what her illness was all about if the third miracle had not occurred.

Soon after her passing I got busy helping my dad de-clutter the house.  While clearing out an old bookcase I discovered years worth of old New Age Journal magazines.  Mom and I had shared a love of all things alternative, and that magazine was one of our favorites before it went out of print.  So, for sentimental reasons, I rescued a few from the recycling bin and tucked them into my suitcase.

One morning, a couple of weeks later, I was back at home and struggling to come to terms with her passing.  As I sat down to a cup of tea the stack of magazines caught my eye.  I picked up the first one and opened it at random.  The article I’d turned to was called, When a Mother Dies by Andrea Cagan.  I froze – amazed by the coincidence but also a bit scared about what I might read.  It was the true story of a woman dying from an abdominal cancer (just like mom) whose husband tells the author, “Control…it was always about control.”  That was my mom to a “T.”  The hair stood up on my arms.  I kept reading and choked up as the author described how, at the end of her life, the dying woman  “…had been demonstrating how to receive as she accepted all that her family, her friends, and even I, a complete stranger, were offering to her.  She took all of it.  I imagine how hard it must have been for her at first, and yet how beautiful it must have finally become, to be able to fully receive.”   That did it.  Out came the tears.  I felt certain that mom was telling me about her own death, and I was so relieved that she indeed “got it” before she died – she allowed people to love her. 

The author concluded that we can all “…choose to do this now, and not wait until [we] have no more choices and no more time.”  I believe that that was mom’s real message.   Drop the judgment.  Drop the control.  Let love in. 

I can’t imagine what it took for mom to orchestrate getting that one magazine (out of hundreds) into my hands and open to the right page, but I’m so grateful for miracle number three.   Thank you, mom.  I’ll do my best to live by that advice.

Friday, 10 February 2012

To Snooze or not to Snooze: That is the Question

I can’t go one more minute without writing this.  Unwashed dishes in the sink be damned.  Messy desk "that needs to be clean before I can be creative” be damned.  And above all, my fear that this is not a neatly folded idea that I am about to present be damned!  Sometimes you just know that you can’t hit the snooze button again.  No.  Today I am awake. 

This morning I was writing my “morning pages” - three pages of long-hand, free flowing words which are meant to be the equivalent of sweeping the crumbs from the nooks and crannies of the psyche each day - when I came across this quote in the margins of my journal:  

As frightening and abusive as life with a crazy-maker is, 
we find it far less threatening than the challenge of a creative life of our own.”  

That sucker hit me between the eyes. Ouch.

My personal definition of crazy-makers is this:  Any person or situation which has enabled me to NOT live up to my green and juicy potential, but which I have instead put up with (no…FED) for the sake of an easier, albeit disempowered, and sanitised life.

This type of realisation is not for the faint hearted.  Why on earth have I done this?  The answer, as ever, is found in the shadow.  Befriending one’s shadow - the original “dark side” - is a seemingly endless process, but a worthy one.  For with each shamed, neglected and split-off piece of me (as embodied by the crazy-makers) that I bring back into the light of awareness, I become just a little bit more of whom I was born to be - I wake up to my own potential wholeness.

One of my most poignant wake up calls was back in 2004 when my kids were small and my marriage was faltering.  Although it was convenient for me to blame my unhappiness on my big-living, hard-drinking, husband, part of me knew that this was a cop out.  I knew I was complicit in our charade, but how?

I found out during my first taste of “shadow work” during a introductory course at Re-Vision, the Centre for Integrative Psychosynthesis, where I eventually trained to be a counsellor.  We were led through a guided meditation where we visited a cabin in the woods of our imagination.  Once there we were instructed to answer a knock at the door and discover a part of our shadow that wanted to be known.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to Dionysus – the god of wine, ritual madness and ecstasy – the “biggest-living, hardest-drinking” archetype of them all!  I told myself that I was NOTHING like my husband, but there was no denying that here he was, Dionysus himself, coming out of MY psyche. 

I left that course resolved to make friends with Dionysus (an ongoing process even still), and to find out what other parts of my shadow were being mirrored by the crazy-makers in my life.  (If I have a religion, that’s it.)  Not the dishes, not the desk, and not anyone “out there” can be blamed for my skating through life.  I am the one who hits the snooze button.  But the very good news is this:  life endlessly re-sets the alarm, and it is our choice to ignore it or get up...each and every day.

Are you awake?