Expansion and retraction. The two essential movements in life. In expansion, I am open, I am interested in the world, I say yes to the world, I am contact oriented. In retraction, I protect myself against the world, I say no, I defend myself, I confront, I reject, my body feels tense.
Our attitude to life is deeply connected to the way we came into this world and how we relate to our mother.
If our mother was absent, either physically or emotionally, or trauma was part of our birth experience or early age, our soul might retract. The person who was supposed to give me unconditional love, nourishment, support, is not fully there. After reaching out several times, I don’t trust her anymore. And I take the internal decision not to trust ever again. The interruption of the flow of life between our mother and ourselves makes us feel DISTANT OR DISCONNECTED.
Sometimes we were deeply hurt by our mother, and we blame her for what she did, judge her for how she was. Then WE REJECT HER with brio, not wanting to be like her and closing our heart. We say no to her, in a clear gesture of exclusion.
“I love my Mum, but I don’t understand why she is so sullen”, “I want her to show more affection”, are legitimate wishes, yet they keep us stuck in our childish illusion that our mother will change. And we might as well wait all our life for her to give us something that she will never be able to give.
A third way we may relate to our mother is CARRYING SOMETHING FOR HER or merging with her own feelings. “I carry your sadness, Mum”. “For you Mum, I will look at the son you lost”. Sometimes we are a parent to our mother: “I take care of you as the mother you lost when you were a child, Mum”. Or “I follow you into death, Mum”. “I will die in your place, Mum”. These are powerful messages that we unconsciously live in our attempt to save our mother and carry her burden.
Our mother is the doorway to our life. She was our first relationship, we received through her our right to existence. Through her and through our father. No one else could have done it in her place, in their places.
Yet, in our emotional relationship with our mother, we often forget this simple fact. We might feel resentment, indifference, rejection, judgment, distance or we might merge with her own feelings and carry something for her. Whatever our attitude is, we feel a heaviness that prevents us from living our true purpose in life. And so, we suffer.
So, what can we do about this? How can we find some peace with the mother (and father) that life chose for us?
In a constellation these three attitudes or movements towards our mother come to light, come to life. After they have been positioned, representatives for the mother and for the child initiate their unique dance. They ignore each other, look away, come close in a defying attitude, feel cold, pull apart or walk towards each other tentatively.
The healing movements will be different in every case. If we feel distant, we might start reaching out, come closer to her and experience a restorative and loving embrace. If we reject her, including our mother’s context might awaken a more compassionate attitude in us, which will bring us closer together. If we are carrying something for her, taking some distance will allow us to see our mother’s destiny as separated from ours. We can then gently bow and honour her fate.
As a child we learnt the steps to create our unique dance with our mother. When we grow up, we have the choice to stop, bring awareness to our dance, and change the rhythm if we want.
What is your dance with Mother like? Slow or formal, distant or passionate? Flamenco, break-dance or waltz? Or maybe a good old rock-an-roll?
Photo: Pep Gasol "Cirque du Soleil"