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What a great question! On one hand, we wish to protect our delicate heart, and on the other, we wish to connect to others who sometimes get under our skin. So, what do we do?
There are a couple things to resolve before the real practice. The first is that a healthy mind doesn’t do those things, and so your mom has some ick in there. You know how it feels when your mom is saying things to you? She lives in that mind, imagine how painful it becomes!
Instead of looking at it as “my mom does such and such to me”, you might be of a view that can say “look at how my mom’s actions and words hurt both of us.” When we express boundaries to people who expect us to suffer for them, they sometimes send out hooks that dig into our mind. “Goodbye mom” is met with “if you loved me, you wouldn’t hang up” or “I don’t like it when you say those things to me” is met with “you’re just ignorant of what its really like in the world” and so on. The trick is not in trying to control what they say, but in dealing with the agitation in our mind that grabs us as we hear the words.
The practice which can help silence the agitation which comes up as you connect with your mom is called Metta or loving-kindness practice. After a meditative exercise (such as breathing, yoga, etc) picture something or someone which inspires warmth of heart. Kittens, children playing, trusted friends… whatever makes your heart sigh and open. Just imagine them playing or dancing or whatever, and imagine your heart giving them all that warmth. “I see you kittens, and wish the beauty and warmth in my heart would surround you.” When the warmth is vibrant, you can switch the picture to your mom as a child, playing with a doll or truck or dancing to some music. “I’m so sorry that as you grow up you’ll have such a pained mind, I wish you could dance forever.”
This can erode the habit of becoming agitated with your mom, but helps with agitation in general very well. If and when the agitation arrives, just say to yourself “yep, this is agitation. My mom’s verbal hooks grabbed me again, so now this feeling is here.”
By doing exactly what you are doing already! Asking questions to people I trusted (or complete strangers! 🙂 ) and trying out what they said to do. If it worked, I would abandon the old ways. If the tower is burning, it might be scary to jump, but we jump anyway because the old way is too painful.
For self nurturing, I give my love and attention to my body parts. “Hello left foot, you are a good foot and I love you. Thank you for carrying my weight. Hello right eye, you are a good eye, and I love you. Thank you for your part in helping me see. Hello bottom, I’m sorry for being disappointed in your shape, and I love you. Thank you for protecting my tail bone as I sit.” It is easier to start with physical parts (rather than abstract things like love, curiosity, motivation etc). You deserve love, and you deserve your love!
The problem with Mani/peddi/etc is that a codependent can easily twist it into nurturing others. Ever get angry that he didn’t notice/appreciate your toes after a pedicure? Maybe it was acceptance seeking then? If you saw your toes as amazingly beautiful, and he didn’t, you would only shrug at his inability to see something you know is pretty. From there its pretty easy to move on and look for a connection with someone who sees the same beauty you do.
I wonder, what do you do to nurture yourself? Anything? Do you know what that even means? When I was first recovering from codependency, being alone was scary because I didn’t like myself very much. Heck, I didn’t know myself very much, so how could I like myself!
I think self help books and meetings can certainly help, and reading and going can allow us to find an authentic love for who we are. Its not enough, though, we have to get out of our head and learn that we are lovable.
Consider going somewhere, telling no-one, and explore. A park, Walmart, a library… somewhere no one gave you permission or acceptance. Don’t tell him, or us, or anyone… where you go and what you do or see. It is just for you.
When it is just you, your secret, your connection to the world, what do you see? What do you like?
- This reply was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by Matt.
I’m sorry for your loss, and wish your grief heals well over time. It is important to give our bodies and minds the space they need to process all the information and feelings that arise during such painful times.
In regards to the instant messaging conversation and subsequent fallout, I think you errored in snooping. Kids, and especially boys becoming men have a split between their heart and their mind, where images of masculinity conflict and confuse. This goes away with time and maturity. Said differently, many children break away from parents by feeling and stating that they are “obligated but not inspired” to connect. Add on to that the stress of seeing and feeling grief, and it is no wonder he was venting feelings and thoughts to his friend.
My suggestion is you own up to your mistake and tell him you’re sorry for crossing a boundary. Tell him you respect his feelings and that however he feels, you love him and want him to be happy. Even if its with gritted teeth!
Then let him go! With time, love draws all thing back together. This is a good time for grieving your mom, not for figuring out relationships. The pain of loss will make you selfish, making things about you that are not. This is OK! Its OK to lash out, wail and flail, though it usually heals better when we do it to a pillow or trusted friend rather than our children.
Ask yourself, would it have hurt so much if your response had been “oh, he is feeling drained and icky and said unkind things.” My three year old has told me she doesn’t love me, but when I heard that it only sounded like her in pain, her heart feeling icky. It didn’t have to be about me at all. Were I still grieving the death of my father I would have inappropriately made it about me.
You ask such a great question! How can we love those who do not seem to return our love, and instead, they seem to ignore that we are weeping inside. A fwb relationship is even more painful for a romantic spirit, because we find joy in deeply connecting with one another.
So, your pertinent question of “how do I heal this wound” remains. From my own path of healing, I have found a few ideas that I hope connect with your situation.
First, it doesn’t seem like building a wall will work… rather, the wall is there already and the pain you’re feeling is the chunks of wall melting. Said differently, as you take each step, each breath, you are figuring out what you’re looking for in a relationship. You realized you don’t want an abusive relationship and left. Then, as you began to ache for something more, you connected to your friend in such a way that it provided some relief from your feeling of isolation. However, the man who has your attentions in this moment doesn’t seem to share the same attention on you, and it remains painful.
But where is that pain really coming from? For me, the pain has always seemed to arise from the difference between who he is and who I dream him to be. I’ll explain.
When we love, and especially when we love loving, we can create a fantasy about how good things would be if only. If only he said this, if only he did that… then our connection would be what we want. If he committed to us, we could live out the romantic dream we know in our heart we are capable of sharing.
Then, as the truth of where they are becomes more clear (with time and more connecting) the reality crashes up against the dream and we feel a lot of sorrow, like we are missing out. We begin to imagine ways of changing ourselves, the situation, or him, so that the dream and reality will match. Our yearning heart crashes against the truth of what’s around us, and we suffer from the loss of the dream. Does that sound right?
The solution is actually quite simple, but it is difficult. We have to let go of the dream. In our mind, he is a good fit, if only he were like the image we have in our mind! He walks by us at work, and what do we see? Do we see him or the dream? We feel hurt by his lack of understanding, but how could he understand us when we’re split between reality and dreaming?
Instead, we can grow unconditional love for ourselves and others. As we are looking at people and events, we ask: are we seeing what’s there? Are we really looking at who is there? Do we accept them for who they are and where they are? What is in us that wishes to control them? What is preventing our peace of mind? Then we breathe deep, on the inbreath thinking “I see what is here in me and there in them” and on the outbreath “I wish to let my love flow into the truth of what is here.” After we do that for a few dozen breaths, our pain turns back into love and we release the dream, allowing our heart to accept and open to the reality around us. As we do this, we actually attract the healing we need and become available to partners that do fit the rhythms of our heart.
Pia Mellody wrote a book Facing Codependence which might help also. Often when we have remained in unhealthy relationships, our low self esteem can land us in cycles of control, unequal sharing, and fantasies.