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Transforming the Trauma of Mama Drama

01/25/2011 3:45 PM | Dr. Vicki High (Administrator)

My mom has been the greatest lesson of my life. We learn from and teach each other. How I see myself. How I select mates. How I feel about the world around me. These are all patterns from my parenting that influence my life consciously if I am aware or unconsciously if I’m not. As an observer of people, I love seeing the patterns behind the decisions we make in life and amazingly, we have the power to change them if we become aware of their power and influence over us.

As difficult as it was, my mom and I broke the patterns. Sometimes the discussions were really volatile and sometimes the lessons were tender and loving. When I was able to step back and view the situation without being immersed in the wave of emotion that occasionally threatened to drown us, I could see the ties from our patterns to patterns of generations before us. As we broke those patterns, we actually changed the patterns of our ancestors – the unconscious binding into outdated ways of living – the threads that kept us tied to old ideas and beliefs.

My mom is a great dancer and her favorite dance is the North Texas Push. It’s such a great metaphor for our relationship. We dance together and then we “push” each other apart, still bound at the hands. It is a direct and intent push with the emotion of “get away from me” while still being connected. No matter how hard we push, we can’t stay apart. Sometimes one partner throws the other partner to the ground and then pushes her through the legs and back again. Then that partner jumps back to her feet after being on the ground. There is a moment when the two dancers move together beautifully, complimenting each other’s moves and steps. Then one partner throws the other up in the air – is it flying or is it throwing the other away? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Maybe that part of the dance helps us realize at that moment, we are at the pentacle and can see forever. Maybe in the human dimension we are angry enough to toss the relationship away, but can’t because of the great love we share!

In the trauma of our mama drama, we have shared secrets that no one else knows about what’s happened in our lives. By being truthful, sometimes painfully so, we have grown as mother and daughter. We’ve changed the dance and added some unique steps of our own. We’ve learned more about the many faces of love that masquerade behind the masks of frustration, fear, anger and shame. What great love abounds between the mother who dreams and the child growing in her womb!  What does the future hold for each of them? The dreams sometime collide with reality. It takes courage to grab life and demand how you want to live and live fully present in ‘now’ without being constantly reminded of past failures!

For the daughter – for me?  I dance. Sometimes when the emotion combusts, it becomes more like a tango with such passionate, angry movements. The bottom line is this - rather than argue or fight – sometimes it’s okay to say, “Mom, this is just the way we dance.” Somewhere in the last few years, I’ve grown to judge her actions less and love her more. For years, I wanted to change her, empower her, make her into what I wanted. Who wouldn’t balk at this controlling behavior?  This amazing woman has scars from life and so do I. When we are in sync, it’s beautiful and when we step on each other’s toes, it hurts. It’s not a broken leg. It’s not a dislocated hip or even a terminal illness. It is simply a bruised toe and heals rather quickly. Amputation would be a little overkill on how to handle the pain!

For you see, my mother is my greatest gift in life. She is after all, the one who introduced me to Scarlett O’Hara as together the three of us, mom, my sister and I, sat in the theatre forgoing refreshments so what little money we had went towards Mom’s admission for the shared experience.  She sees the worst in me and the best. She is sometimes hard on me because she is truly harder on herself. She sees me as a reflection of the dreams she had – being on stage in front of an audience and wowing them. She sees me as the entrepreneurial success that she never acknowledged she was in her heart of hearts. She sees herself in me with the search for the love of her life and feeling worthy of finding happiness. She sees the youth that is waning as I approach and embrace middle age, which makes her 21 years older than that. Somewhere amidst the marks of age on her face, she remains youthful!  The child that laughs and jokes is still present. Sometimes I wonder if that started as a coping mechanism to cover up the loss of her own mother, and I marvel at her ability to mother in spite of not having one to teach her how.  If so, I realize what a smart woman/child she was to grieve through laughter.

 I wonder when I became the serious child that tried to parent rather than laugh with her. I see her within me - that child within that is a reflection of her. Her gift of love and laughter bring the vibrant colors to my life and I realize she is the greatest example of who I can be – joy-filled, loving, generous, kind and stubborn as a mule. The important things that every woman needs to embrace in order to be fully female. Sometimes I regret the time it took to learn how marvelous she truly is and each moment becomes an opportunity to treasure her presence in my life with every breath. 

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