by Kara-Leah Grant
It’s the day after a New Moon in Aries.
This New Moon coincided with a deep emotional process that wiped me out completely yesterday.
Only now is it becoming clear what just happened.
I have just, finally, let go of the belief (that all of us have, until we don’t) that:
“Parents are people who love us unconditionally.”
Actually, the belief is more complex than that.
We not only believe that our parents love us:
We also believe that they are Gods.
This is somehow necessary for our survival – no matter how abusive or neglectful or absent our parents are… as children we deify them. We need to believe in them.
It is a strange psychological phenomenon, and one that can completely hamstring us in life.
Because it prevents us from seeing clearly, and most of all, it prevents us from believing in, and loving, ourselves…
As Buddha is supposed to have said:
“If you meet your parents on the path, kill them”. (Disclaimer: please do not take that literally. It’s a metaphor!)
I believed, really, truly, madly believed that my parents were there to LOVE ME. SEE ME. HEAR ME. SUPPORT ME.
This isn’t true.
They birthed me. They raised me, in a manner. Clothed me, fed me, sheltered me, loved me as best they could, and offered the best support they could for how to navigate through life.
Problem is, that parental love and support is always filtered through their beliefs, and triggers, and traumas and ego defenses.
As a child I necessarily (and subconsciously) believed, as we all do, that they were perfected beings. Self-realised. That they were able to parent me perfectly and love me perfectly and see me perfectly. Like Gods and Goddesses.
I wanted to hold on to that idea.
I wanted to feel loved and seen and heard and supported.
So I only showed as much of myself as I thought would be loved.
The rest of me, I keep stuffed in the closet.
Out of fear.
That if I was to come out of the closet and SPEAK UP as I am.
That I would be too much to handle.
That I would be rejected.
That I would be told that I was too this and too that and should just do this and do that.
But something happened – something has been happening. Ever since Ben and I lead our first retreat Heart of Freedom Retreat in May 2016, and ever since we came together as partners after that retreat… we’ve been stepping into a new way of relating to each other.
We’ve slowly but surely been bringing every single aspect of ourselves out of the closet for the other to see.
We ‘ve been practicing holding space and loving all those shadow aspects as they’ve snuck out of the closet.
It has been the most powerful experience of my life.
The growth and change in me in the last ten months has been extraordinary, and I see it in the work I’m able to now do on retreat.
Every time I dare to own one of my shadows, every time I am able to love unconditionally one of Ben’s shadows, my ability to stay in unconditional love and power with other people’s shadows grows.
And now, all this growth, all this sharing, all this love and all these shadows have led me to a place where I can’t hide in my other relationships anymore.
A few months ago, after spending six weeks with Ben in Croatia peeling away layer after layer after layer… I went to spend five days with family.
I realised, immediately, that there were only two ways to be in this situation.
- I could be the way I am with Ben, naming any shadow that surfaces, sharing my internal world, sharing my feelings, standing up for things that matter to me.
- Or I could shapeshift and slip below the surface and just be a shadow of myself so that I didn’t trigger (upset) the people around me.
I chose #2. It felt like the most compassionate and wisest choice I could make in this situation. I may be on a path of unconditional love and uncompromising truth, but it doesn’t mean that other members of my family are.
So I kept my mouth shut, as much as possible. And was very discerning when I did open it, mindful to always come from compassion, even though I felt like raging Kali-style much of the time.
But then a few weeks ago, an email came through from a well-meaning, caring and supportive family member, wanting to help me as I hunted for a campervan.
That email triggered the hell out of me.
I sat with it. I shared it with my siblings, who are also walking this path to some extent.
And then I replied, sharing how I felt and how I’d been triggered.
Foreign language to my family member. They have no context or understanding of what the hell I’m talking about. Triggered? Who’s holding a gun?
A few weeks later, another email arrived. I’m triggered again. It’s my stuff. Why does this fuck me off so much? What’s going on inside of me?
I find myself standing in the kitchen leaning against the bench clutching the phone in one hand and frantically one-finger typing out a response. I’m like a woman possessed. I HAVE to share how I’m feeling. I have to share my inner world with this person.
I hit send.
Later, the response comes through. It’s only a couple of lines, and doesn’t address anything that I’ve shared about what I’m experiencing. Instead, this family member has shut down and pulled back.
“I was only trying to help.”
He doesn’t get it at all. Doesn’t get me. Is too wrapped up in his own experience, in what he was doing, in his perspective.
Worst fear realised. If I share ME, I’ll be rejected.
It hurts. And when I call Ben an hour later, I’m a heaving, snotty sobbing mess. He holds space for me, listens to me, allows me to be where I am, allows me to share what I’m feeling. Validates my experience.
“It just feels like if I’m me – if I share my inner world – it’s too much and he pulls away and shuts down. So if I want to keep him close, I have to shut myself down and play a particular role.”
When the response to my heart-felt aching cry to be heard is “I was only trying to help” the subtle undying implication is that there is something wrong with me because I didn’t receive the message the way it was intended.
There’s something wrong with me.
And so it’s up to me to alter myself so I can receive the message in the way it’s intended.
This is Old Paradigm Relating. This requires that we fit into the families that we’re born into, the societies that we grow up in, the world we inherit.
That. We. Fit. In.
But what if our family, and society itself, is profoundly unhealthy? What if us, being us as we are, is what’s required to create a shift that can heal the disease which grips our world?
As a child.. growing up… feeling unseen and unheard… All I ever wanted was to be accepted for who I was. Isn’t that what any of us want? Total acceptance? Or in another word, unconditional love?
Why did I expect to be loved unconditionally?
What memory, what understanding, what knowingness of unconditional love did I come into this world with?
Because there must have been something. I must have known, somehow, what unconditional love WAS to desire it.
Otherwise, where would this drive to experience this particular kind of love have come from?
My parents did love me, in the way that they could, as best they could. They still do love me. But I confuse them. My Mum, bless her, even said as much recently.
“I don’t really understand what it is that you’re doing, or what this is all about.”
Until that moment, I hadn’t really clued in… I hadn’t realised that Mum didn’t get what I’m on about all the time, when I talk about the unconscious, and the psyche, and the patterns… I thought everybody got it. I thought everybody saw what I saw, felt what I felt, knew what I knew.
What a folly that is.
After that first email exchange, standing in the kitchen talking to Ben I felt the truth of this experience.
Of the choice I made as a very young child to shut away my inner world in order to keep my family close. To try and fit into their world view and perspective so that there was some kind of relationship between me and them.
I sobbed it out on the phone to Ben that night.
The next day, the email exchanges between this person and I continued. I continued to respond honestly about my internal experience. And something magical happened.
When his first reply came through, in the morning, I read it. And read it again. And again, I felt like I was unseen and unheard. INVISIBLE.
I felt angry and frustrated and like I just wanted to scream into the wind. So I imagined myself doing this – leaning forward into a howling gale at the top of a cliff and screaming. Screaming and SCREAMING and SCREAMING!
Invisible and unheard, so FUCKING SCREAM BECAUSE NO ONE HEARS ME ANYWAY.
It felt good.
Then I replied. And shared that with this person – how I felt, what I felt like doing.
As I wrote I realised I no longer cared what he thought of me, although I care about him. I made it clear this was all about me, and nothing to do with him.
Whether or not he understood that, wasn’t up to me.
As I wrote, I could feel total love – unconditional love – welling up for this family member. The anger I was feeling, the frustration… it wasn’t really directed at him. It wasn’t about him. It was just emotion coming through me.
I felt the emotion move through me, while the unconditional love held it all.
Then it struck me. All this time I had been afraid that if I opened up and was honest that I would be rejected – that love would be denied me. Yet how can I be denied that which I AM?
I AM love. It is not something that is showered upon me, or given to me, or separate from me, or outside of me.
It is ME, and I am it.
In opening up to the full spectrum of emotional landscape within me and sharing how I felt with the Other, I was also allowing Love to move through me.
There was that love I was afraid to lose by opening up.
Not something that my parents could give me.
Something that I could only give myself.
By opening myself.
And I could only do that by letting go of who I wanted my parents to be in relationship to me. By accepting them as they are.
My parents are dead.
And in their wake stand two beautiful people, doing the best they can, to love me in their imperfect way.
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