Discernment

Absolutes are not to be believed
conditions multifarious, fluctuating
consider the messenger
weigh the message

Have faith in outcomes
unknowable, in resources
within, follow progression
not digression

Wisdom knows the way.

(Tuesdays, I borrow from Twitter @Vjknutson. Image my own)

No Expiry Date

Such a gift is youth –
silvers stars and bows,
jingle-jangle wishes…

Seldom opened –
shame and insecurity
casting doubt, despair

Shall we try again,
age and wisdom
steeped in appreciation.

(Written for Willow Poetry’s What Do You See Challenge, the prompt being the featured image.)

 

Call It Wisdom

Get back to work! Bravado punches,
but my pick up is shelved – would love
to wheel out of here and take flight –
and interview skills are ungrounded,
fear I will let fly unfiltered gibberish.

Go for it! Boisterousness cajoles –
but boldness is dangerous, and pushy
only puts up walls; shifting gears might
be an option, but the road ahead’s a steep
decline, and I have to carefully find footing.

You have to try! Good-heartedness offers,
but the path and I are both handicapped,
movement needs support, and my focus
is failing – am more tortoise than hare –
regressing into this pedestrian existence.

You can’t just give up! Impatience scowls,
but not only is the party of energetics with
its social antics out of my reach – nuances
included – but to be honest, I am no longer
interested in being a part. Call it wisdom.

(Image: http://www.astrolog.org)

Distinguishing Past from Present

My father had a habit of tilting his glass in such a way as to indicate that it needed refilling.  He would perform this ritual without saying a word, but the accompanying look would speak volumes:  I am the Master here, and you are to do my bidding.

I hated it, and I fought against him, but the reality was that he did hold all the power.

When my husband was laid up, I took on the role of caregiver.  One morning, he tipped his coffee cup and gave me a look of appeal.  I felt myself cringe.  He is just like my father! my mind screamed.  I felt the weight of years of oppression and depression hovering over me.  Have I married my father?  Is there no hope for me?  Is my joy always to be squashed?

th-1My therapist recommended Perfect Daughters, by Robert Ackerman.  It reveals the struggles, characteristics, and patterns associated with adult daughters of alcoholics.  I learned that women of alcoholic fathers will often enter into relationships where they see an opportunity to heal the original father/daughter rift, and that this attempt is seldom successful.

What I have gleaned from experience is that I often tolerate behaviours for a long time, and that instead of seeing fault in the other, I will be quick to blame myself.  I know that I do not like confrontation, and that I feel like my complaints are trivial in the light of the bigger picture.  I have also learned that I often project unresolved feelings about my father into my current relationships, and  I recognized immediately that the gush of emotion over Ric’s innocent gesture was just that.

Many feelings related to childhood have bubbled up as a result of the stress of the past years.  I have been feeling the despair of never seeing an end to the hurt.  Ric, tired of his predicament became more defiant, pushing his limits, and striving to regain control over his life.  My response was accelerated anxiety and as much as I understand that he is an adult and makes his own choices, I find it hard not to react, spiraling into a dysfunctional dance of feeling like a child again, caught in a cycle of chaotic impossibilities, destined to be crushed.

Then I had a dream.  I don’t remember what it was, but I awoke with sudden understanding.  The panic I had been feeling is a product of my child’s need to finally feel in control.  Somehow, she believes that if she could just control my father /Ric’s behavior, then everything will be okay.  Her desire to control stems from a need to know that there is consistency in life, and that the process can be trusted.  She needs to feel secure and know that she is loved no matter what, not only if she behaves herself, or manages not to upset anyone.

The adult me knows that none of this is possible.  People will always behave and make choices outside of our control.  It is not a reflection of their love for us, but a product of their own inner workings.  Ric’s struggles and his attempts to resolve them are not about me, in reaction to me, or more importantly, because of me.  If his actions have consequences that affect me, then it is up to me to look after myself and make sure I have taken appropriate protective measures.

I am reminded of something one of my university profs once said.  It went something like this:  Where there is power over, love cannot exist.  Where there is power for all, love exists.   My father behaved as if he was the only one with power in the family.  I did not feel loved.  My marriage to Ric is a partnership and a sharing of power.  I feel his love for me.

 

On Wisdom

The difference between knowledge and wisdom is experience.

A young man once asked me if he could shadow me for a summer, so that he could learn from me.  I asked him to tell me about his life.

“It’s good,”  he replied.

“Tell me about a hardship that you have overcome.”

“None that I can think of.  My life has been easy.”

“Are your parents together?”

“Well, no,” he explained.  “They separated when I was fifteen.”

“That must have been hard.”

He shrugged.  “That was about them.  It wasn’t about me.”

He was a nice young man, and I believed him to be very sincere.  “What will you do with your summer, if I say no.?”

“I was thinking I’d try to get a job at a resort up north.”

“That’s what I would recommend!”

His disappointment was visible.  “But I want to help people;  I want to do what you do.”

“Let’s look at this hypothetically.  If someone came to you suffering from deep depression, how would you help them?”

“I would meditate on it and look for answers.”

“I see.  And if none came?”

He had no response.

“Let me explain something,”  I was starting to feel a little bit like David Carradine talking to Grasshopper.  “Much of my ability to help another comes from life experience.  In the case of depression, who do you think would be in a better position, someone who has lived through it and come out the other side, or someone who has meditated on the possibility?”

He didn’t need to answer.

“The best thing you can do for yourself right now is gather experience.  Learn all that you can, too, but when your intellectual knowledge, meets your experienced knowing, then you will be ready.”

“How long will that take.”

I had to suppress a smile.  I was impatient once too.  “That depends on you.  From where I stand, you have a ways to go.”

“Why’s that?”  He looked offended.

“You haven’t even recognized the pain of your parents’ divorce.  How can you help another deal with their wounds, when you haven’t looked at your own?”

“There is time for everything,”  I said more gently.  “Now is a time for gathering.  Go North.  You’ll learn much more there than I can ever teach you now.”