Connection at the core (when family relationships break)

Connection at the core

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post around the idea of “A room of one’s own” — exploring the importance of private space to be able to fully express what comes from within. And while that private space is needed, and it's critical, it doesn't discount the vast importance of family relationships and deep shared connection with those we love.

Right after sending that email, I headed off on a working vacation to my brother’s place, intending to help my mom move in to her new setup on my brother’s property.

Since mother’s day of this year, my relationship with my mom has taken a pretty much miraculous turn towards connection that seemed impossible for many years.

I've observed that family relationships are so often strained or broken as we’re making big life shifts on a journey of evolving, so I’m hoping my experience with some of that coming back can feel encouraging if you've experienced that too.

We broke around religion and lifestyle choices when I was 18 years old — and our disconnection grew, the farther I stepped away from her belief system and perspective of right and wrong.

She couldn’t support me while I acted in ways she disapproved of, and she wasn’t able or willing to allow and respect my choices as an adult.

When I chose divorce in 2016, her stance was very clear. And very disapproving. Both my parents viewed it as their duty to re-convert me to their religion, seeing me as someone who’d strayed, very far, from “the truth”. At that time I was deep in an unwinding healing journey, and I asked them point blank if they could have an agenda-free relationship with me. Their honest answer was no.

I needed a break.

I took a long one, and during that time, in late 2018, my dad died.

It could have been heartrending and guilt-inducing due to my choice to cut off relationship, but my conscience was clear. I grieved my dad with my family from a perspective of understanding that his attempts to convert me were out of love, and that despite our theological differences, we both came from an authentic place of deep caring about communion with God/source. And that I had truly needed my own healing space, not mixed in with dealing with their attempts to win me back to their view of things.

I remember walking with my mom after the funeral service and attempting to have some real talk. Her idea was we could talk about dogs and cooking.

I didn’t want to talk about dogs and cooking.

Deep in my core, there was a feeling of underlying connection with my mother that’s been there as long as I can remember. It’s much deeper than any differences over beliefs or disappointments over not feeling accepted or even unconditionally loved. It’s a knowing, and it's almost as if when I look at her, under all her habits of long-winded chatter and protective behavior, I see love. But I see it in a unique flavor that’s hers.

And it’s mine.

It feels like when I gaze at her soul I’m gazing at my own.

I’m sure people that study this kind of stuff would have lots of great names for it. Maybe sometime I’ll have a well thought out explanation, but for now I don’t feel like I need that.

Suffice it to say, there’s a deep sense of soul connection, and that never went away, not at all, even when on the outer surfaces of our life there was an almost complete rift.

It’s as if there’s an underlying wholeness, and a small cut above that could never touch what’s real and true about our core connection.

In the years since that day, we’ve talked sporadically, sometimes meaningfully. But the depths of what felt broken between us we didn’t dare touch. Instead we talked about human love, relationships, and probably, yeah, some about cooking.

But our talk after mother’s day was different.

It was our most real connection yet, and I shared my heartbreak about our disconnection. Around and around we went, and then came to this point, a pivotal question.

Could she trust God with me, and not make my choices her responsibility?

According to her deeply held beliefs, and mine too, trust is key.

For her, trusting God with her daughter would be a huge leap of trust, since she sees me not accepting her belief system, which in her mind means I’m damned to eternity in hell.

It’s a big ask.

It doesn’t take much trust at all for me to be unconcerned about my mom's eternal future or even choices in this lifetime, because my perspective is that all is well, life is unfolding, and we’re here to experience in any ways we choose, coming to express more and more what love is.

But for her that’s a massive leap of trust, and I see her making it, bit by bit, here and there. It’s something she can do, without leaving her entire belief system she's built her life upon.

Trust is something that has the power to restore relationships, even between a staunch Christian who spent her entire adult life studying the Bible and teaching it to others — and a daughter whose choice to leave religion and life message to bring people to their own innate inner knowing veers very far (on the surface) from that Christian heritage.

Trust is what we both share.

But the need for trust in source/being around the life choices of any human, who you care about deeply, is just as critical.

I see it with my clients who each have their own inner direction. As a coach and teacher, I’m looking to create a path that makes it easier for them to leap ahead of what it’s taken me years to come to. But I’m not looking to replace their inner guidance with my own instruction.

When I start to make their journey my responsibility, I feel that faltering. I let go and allow their journey to be what it needs to be, and encourage them to hear that for themselves, and I feel the health and the resonance in that.

On this trip with my mom, building on the mother’s day experience and both of our willingness to explore our relationship much deeper, we had talk after talk around the deepest layers of our relating, unpacking a lifetime of our perspectives on this mother/daughter dynamic, even as we unpacked and organized her household items in her new home.

When I finished helping her organize her new living space, I drove away, headed for back for my home.

Still in town, I stopped for gas, but when checking my oil, the hood of the car came crashing down, hitting my head, massively bruising my hand.

In shock, I called my brother for support, and he took me to the emergency room. (No broken bones and almost healed a week later!)

Perhaps our reconnection wasn’t complete. I spent another night at my brother’s, and that evening, I peered beyond my own perspective.

Whereas for years I’d held out that I need my mom to hear me but all she does is try to convince me. Since she talks so much, I’d stopped listening. I felt I’d heard her perspective a thousand times and not once had she heard mine. So it should be my turn.

That evening, though, I tried to see from her perspective. It’s a bit easier with my own daughter heading fast towards her teenage years, starting to request (aka demand) her own independence.

I saw how the concern of a mother for her child, even when grown, is natural, and how f’ing hard it is for a mom to just accept whatever that one does that she knows is bad for them.

We didn’t try to really solve it, but I felt like bringing that dynamic to light, no hiding, just this is what’s really going on here, no fault, just what is, bringing that to awareness, that enables the healing.

A few days earlier I sat with my daughter and niece in that same corner of my brother’s living room after they’d had a cousinly disagreement. I invited them to pretend and imagine putting on each other’s shoes, and really feeling what the other felt in the situation. They could imagine it. And they felt it. But afterwards, they went right back to their own dogmatic positions.

However, later in the day, they were playing together happily.

For me, I know another layer has dropped away in demanding approval from my mom. I see her love even more. I feel it. There’s a solidness of our connection, and I know that these external conditions that the minds may see as unsolvable problems don’t come close to touching the core of love that's in both our hearts. No misunderstanding, no disapproval, no demand for being accepted can ever touch the realness that’s there in the depth of our relating.


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!