This is the story of a young girl who was raised in a highly critical environment where she was constantly told what was wrong with her and what she couldn’t do. She survived by developing her not inconsiderable intellect, so her academic nature bloomed and developed, but unfortunately her heart and soul did not mature. She nursed the dream of one day becoming a mother herself where she would nurture her offspring, and to this end she married (the wrong guy, but the first job offer to come along) and eventually had two lovely children whom she raised with all the knowledge she had, along with heaping helpings of love and nurture. Of course, she made lots of mistakes, but then all parents do. And of course, her children had their own agendas–none of us comes into this world as a blank slate, and their own work to do, but nevertheless when both children became adults they had to make heart-wrenching breaks. She has learned that this is very common in close-knit families when the children reach adulthood and need to individuate and find themselves, but at the times of the breaks she was only horribly wounded because she still hadn’t grown up emotionally–emotionally she was still very much a little girl herself.
And this little girl was convinced that if she just had a “normal” family, whatever that was, she would finally be happy. In the meantime, she moved herself to a lovely island, a small liberal rural community and here she began at long last to grow and mature as a full person, to get out of her head and to start listening to her heart, to discover who she really is. No longer was she striving to be what others wanted or what she thought others wanted. Instead, she was finally giving herself permission just to be who she is, whatever that might mean.
The son was married and once he was “settled” in his own situation, he decided to start writing his mother. This pleased the girl who was now starting to mature and find herself as an adult on more than just the intellectual plane. The son and his wife had a beautiful daughter and the girl thought, “Ah, now my dreams of family and being together may finally come to pass.” You can see she still has a lot of growing up to do! She does now get visits twice/year from her son, his wife, and the lovely granddaughter, which she really appreciates. But for awhile, part of her felt the world was not just as the wife’s parents spent lots more time with the granddaughter, doing all the things the girl had always dreamed of doing.
But finally, the light bulbs started going off! The little girl took some major leaps in her emotional and spiritual development (high time, you say and I’d agree!). She had learned lots about herself, including her fundamental nature as an individualist, an artist, and an introvert. She’d learned that there was nothing wrong with her–she is just fine just the way she is–not perfect, but then no one is and those who strive for perfection are only doomed to failure. She also started looking at her life-long dreams only to realize that if she actually got what she had always thought she wanted, she wouldn’t be able to handle it and it wouldn’t suit her now at all.
Of course, she still has a strong family sense and a very strong maternal/grandmotherly drive! But those need to be put into an appropriate context for her nature and her health. She realizes now that the granddaughter is extremely fortunate to have the wife’s parents to do what she herself always thought she’d do, but which in reality, wouldn’t work for her, at least at this point in time. Meanwhile, receiving her son’s monthly letters, which have grown in depth and details, is an incredible gift which she treasures beyond price. She is also able to get some “real time” moments with them through her son’s Twitter posts, which she hopes he is ok with her following (she would stop if he asks). And while she would rather have more visits, say quarterly, still, an afternoon visit with lunch and time to play with the granddaughter is just perfect–enough but not too much contact, and she is now able to respect both her needs and theirs in this regard.
The girl (dare we call her a woman now? I think so) still misses her daughter horribly and wishes that she could have some sort of direct contact with her. She does write her daughter every month now and sends the letters and small gifts through another person, and she has recently found a brochure describing an orchestra that her daughter has founded, is the artistic director of, and the conductor for, and having this information and knowing where her daughter is located has helped enormously. She even has a current photo, and for now the woman is content. Again, she would love to have more of a relationship, but she is realizing here as well as with her son and his family, the relationships that would suit her best are not the same as what her friends have with their families. And why should they be? She is unique (as are we all), and so what works for her wouldn’t for work for someone else, and vice versa.
The woman is maturing emotionally and spiritually as well, following her own path, exploring yoga and Daoism, staying true to herself. Her maternal and grandmotherly drives are nourished with her quilting, her tutoring, and her scholarship fund. As an introvert, she watches carefully how much time she spends with others, realizing that even a few hours can drain her energy levels, and she is being much more respectful of her body’s needs. In addition, her medical condition (Hashimoto’s Thyroid Auto-Immune Disease) causes her energy levels as well as her mood levels to fluctuate radically, and so she has learned to respect this and to “go with the flow,” without pushing herself.
The woman finally realizes that it pays to take a good look at what she thinks she needs to be happy and to evaluate that frequently, checking in with who she really is and what her heart says. She is learning to listen to her heart, to take the time to check in with her feelings, to see what is working for her (which is now really a lot!) and what might not be working (actually very little), and above all to honor her instincts. That little girl will always be a part of her, and she has learned to listen to that little girl and not abandon herself. The woman still has a lot of maturing to do, but then isn’t that called life? She knows that she alone has to find her own path and as Joseph Campbell has said so eloquently, to Follow Her Bliss! As she is able to do that, the doors will continue to open! Namaste!