Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Unexpected Remorse

My relationship with my Mom has changed a lot. I didn't want to cut her off entirely, but at times when I'm processing some of the events from my childhood it makes it hard to be around her. Her health has been poor pretty much my whole life and drives so much of her constant state of anxiety & irritation that I make a conscious decision not to confront her about the past. For the same reason I try to nurture the connection between us, knowing how painful for her it would be if I stopped communicating.

To me it has felt the more compassionate choice for both of us to find a way to be present to her while taking care of my boundaries and needs. When angry, frustrated and hurt I try to do Loving-Kindness practice for myself and not feel too guilty for not seeing or talking to her. Hogen suggested that I ignore her behavior when it is hurtful, not compassionate and really make a point to give attention to her when I recognize behavior I know is healthy.

I have worked to accept that I cannot change my Mom or expect her to learn or change. I do have control over the way I learn from my past and how I choose to react to it. I am the one who is in the present moment and I can respond to that. That is how I face that my Mom has consistently minimized, re-framed, and passed off all responsibility for the actions she chose during my childhood.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday my Mom actually admitted that while she thought sometimes she was making a good decision for me, she knew she wasn't. She also said she knew at times she wasn't doing the right thing. Mom particularly noted that she feels remorse for forcing me to respect my aunt and my grandmother, punishing me when I questioned that respect.

For all the present-moment-wasting times I've played out conversations in my head with her she never once admits responsibility. It is so entirely unexpected. I was honestly stunned and just tried to stay open, neutral and present to her when she was talking. Oh, that and safely navigate the car in ugly, suburban traffic.

CK asked me if I acknowledged her for telling me all this, for taking responsibility. We both went back to Hogen's advice. I said I don't think I did, I was too surprised by it. I'm trying to come up with a way to make sure I do bring some mindful appreciation to her action.

I'm still rather stunned by this. I've played out conversations in my head with my Mom so many times. Conversations with people is one of the things my brain does a great deal of the time when I'm avoiding the present moment.

These imaginary conversations have often been painful, sometimes angry, but never has she taken responsibility. I never practiced my response for that in my head.

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