emotional processing Archives - Dr. Mary Pritchard

My Mother, My Mirror

By | Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | No Comments

Woman Cleaning MirrorI had lunch with my mother on Saturday to celebrate her birthday and I found myself scared to go. You see, on our last lunch occasion – to celebrate my birthday – I found myself being criticized and judged for my lifestyle choices. I was blamed for bringing perimenopause upon myself as well as my water line break and troubles with my homeowners association.

 

I know my mother meant well. That in her way, she was expressing concern over what was happening in my life. But as my counselor said, her delivery sucked. Is it any wonder I dreaded this month's lunch?

 

Yet, gone was the criticism this time around. Instead, she talked about the fact that her brother had just died and her sister blamed her for it. That she hadn't had a day off in months and was putting in 10-hour days every day, trying to replenish her savings account and get back in her feet financially.

 

The parallels between her life and mine did not go unnoticed. Her sister blames her for things that aren't her fault just as she blames me for things that are not mine. She is just beginning to pay me back for a loan I gave her last Fall, as I am still paying off my credit card bills for my recent water line break repair.

 

But it's more than that. Last week, I worked with my peer coach and best friend Kami to discover that in the past, I've defined my worth by what I do rather than who I am because: 1) what I do makes me feel significant, and 2) do-ing allows me to escape from any uncomfortable emotions I might feel while be-ing and helps me avoid conflict and confrontation over my feelings. Yet, that's no way to live life.

 

What I finally realized today is that I inherited these tendencies from my parents. My mother is my mirror. And as much as I may wish to clean off the reflective surface and not see her looking back at me, I have some work to do. Because right now, it could have been me having a conversation with my daughter when I'm 68 talking about my 10-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week job. It could have been me blaming someone for something she did not do – or, even worse, blaming myself.

 

And that frightened me. Because I don't want to be suppressing my feelings, placing blame where it does not belong, and working as a coping mechanism when I'm 68. I don't even want to be doing those things at 41. Yet, here I am.

 

The difference is that I see these tendencies in myself, I know where they came from, and I am armed with the skills and knowledge to break old patterns and move forward with my life.

 

So what am I going to do about these lessons?

  • Dive back into self-love, self-care, and self-appreciation. I am so much more than what I can do for people. Sometimes I need a reminder – healer heal thyself and all that. J
  • Dive into my emotions – even, and most especially, the uncomfortable ones. I plan to start with daily emotional check-ins and nightly journaling about what went on that day that brought up an emotion. Our departmental administrative assistant died over the weekend. She was in her 20s. This saddens me and brings up other thoughts about death and dying as I am nearing the 5th anniversary of my father’s death. You can be sure I will be diving into my sadness and grief tonight. I don’t want to keep carrying it around with me; yet, I know I will if I don’t face it head on. That being said, I don’t plan to get swept away by my grief. I know I have the ability and skill set to pull back into third-party/psychologist mode if I find myself entering pity party land!

 

What lessons have you learned from your mother? How have these lessons made a positive impact on your life? What changes will you make so that you don’t repeat her old patterns?

Love is the Answer

By | Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | 2 Comments

belly loveI shared with you last week about my latest cosmic 2×4 in the form of perimenopause. Not to be outdone, the Universe decided to send me another cosmic 2×4 within 24 hours of the first one. A $4000 water line replacement bill for the main water line to my house that sprung a leak.

What’s a girl to do when she gets hit with her two biggest issues (money and fertility) in one fell swoop? Phone her best girlfriend!

After patiently listening to me bitch and moan about my misfortune – why me? Why both of my biggest issues at once? Why now? – my beautiful, wonderful girlfriend gave me the answer.

In her infinite wisdom, she asked, “How did you react when those things happened?”

I immediately went to self-blame, judgment, and criticism. Like an echo in my head, I could hear my ex blaming me for my infertility. Similarly, I replayed every single non-necessary spending decision I made over the past three months: the mini vacations to concerts, the new car, the new clothes. I questioned every single one of them.

“You know it’s not your fault, right?” she said. “You’re not irresponsible with money and the infertility was never your fault.”

I wanted to argue with her. Of course it was my fault. So much for all the therapy to get over those fallacious beliefs…

“Maybe that’s the lesson. Self-acceptance rather than self-blame,” she mused.

Doh!

And because I am nothing if not a slow learner, the Universe sent me two more signs the next day. The first? A bumper sticker on my man’s truck: Love is the Answer. One that I use repeatedly to tease him with every time he gets in a bad mood. Turns out that message was more for me than for him. The second? A meditation. I should know better by now than to meditate when I’m in the middle of being hit with cosmic 2x4s! Yet, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

At Saturday night’s ecstatic dance, the woman who led the group shared a meditation with us that was profound and left me deeply affected. I believe it was taken from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. Her instructions for the meditation went something like this:

Lie down in a comfortable position. Place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly, and say to yourself, “Show me your sorrow.” And let it all come in. Take it into your heart, let it know it’s going to be okay, that it’s over, and it’s safe here. Keep repeating “Show me your sorrow” until there is nothing left to show.

Then move on. “Show me your anger.” Again, open your heart and let it come in. Feel it as though you were back in the moment it first happened. Only this time love it, let it into your heart, let it know it’s over and everything is going to be okay.

After anger has nothing left to show, move on. “Show me your shame.” Invite it in. Everything you’ve ever done or not done, said or left unsaid. Let the shame roll in. Love it, accept it, be one with it.

Repeat the process for any negative emotion, anything that might be holding you back. And if one meditation isn’t enough, take a break and do it again. This is heavy stuff.

I still haven’t finished, but I know that this is something I need to do for me, so that I can move from self-blame to self-acceptance, from self-hatred to self-love.

At the end of the meditation, Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “When all this was finished, I was empty. Nothing was fighting in my mind anymore. I looked into my heart, at my own goodness, and I saw its capacity. I saw that my heart was not even nearly full, not even after having taken in and tended to all these calamitous urchins of sorrow and anger and shame; my heart could easily have received and forgiven even more. Its love was infinite.”

I hope to find this place of emptiness, calmness, clarity. There is no reason to carry the pain or blame around anymore. It’s time to let it go.

What are you willing to love and let go of today?