My mother died one week ago, today. She slipped away in her sleep a few minutes after 3:30 in the afternoon Pacific Time on October 12, 2012. One of her last statements was, “My bags are packed and I am ready to go, but the plane has not come for me, yet.” Not long thereafter, her life of struggle and suffering as well as her life of love and caring ended on this side of the veil. Like all of us, throughout her lifetime, she lived from a mixture of light and dark, of great wisdom and a seeming disconnection from wisdom, of tender sensitivity and apparent insensitivity. At times, she was capable of expressing unconditional love that lifted me up, and at other times it felt as if she could withdraw love with coldness that crushed my heart.
Laura was a real person filled with her soul’s purpose that expressed itself in a life of service, and she also lived a life filled with unhealed childhood wounding that clouded her ability to express that love and purpose, especially in times of trial.
From a place that sees into her soul, into the spark of God that is her essence, a spark that shone out to the world as Laura God Essence, it would be easy to focus on her light and see her only as an angel, a sweet woman who had compassion for anyone, who unconditionally loved everyone, and was unrelentingly committed to the love of her life, my father, despite the fact that he lived from his dark side much of the time. It would be easy because this light is who she was deep inside her, a beautiful part of herself she shared with her family from time to time.
From a place that judges her negative behavior, it would be easy to focus on her dark side and see only what caused pain to me and to others when she chose her attachment to my father over the safety and well being of her children, when she chose her son over her daughters because of her life-time longing for a boy-child, and when her belief in suffering created suffering for those of us who loved and needed her. It would be easy to see her darkness because this, also, is how she lived her life with her family.
The problem in focusing on one perspective over the other is that whatever we hold as true has the feel of dishonesty to it because it does not see the whole truth. No matter how wonderful or how despicable another person is, there is always the other side of that person, which we won’t acknowledge if we look at only one side. It is not unusual for part of us to take one perspective and another part of us to take the other. When we do this, one part usually takes control of the other and refuses to acknowledge the experience of the other part or parts, and an internal split can happen often replicated in external splits with others who take the view we have rejected.
Focusing only on the light side and using lightness to cover over the darkness causes the feelings that emanate from the light to have no deep roots in the heart… and the warmth and love that could come from embracing the light in the other is experienced without authenticity; good feelings are superficial and quickly dissolve leaving us with a sense of emptiness. The focus that refuses to see the dark in another has a side effect of causing a person to be unable to see his or her own darkness. Healing from darkness–whether in ourselves or in another–happens when darkness is recognized, light is invited into what had been hidden in the backrooms and dungeons within, forgiveness is given and received, and love takes root deep in the warmth of the core being. Without healing, we live on the surface of our lives, disconnected from ourselves and from others despite our best intentions to see only love and light.
The problem with focusing on the dark side and refusing to see the light of the other creates fear, bitterness, and anger in the one who chooses this focus and cuts off the ability to see light, not only within the other, but within the self, as well. Disconnection from the light within one’s self severs the experience of warmth and love, and life is experienced as superficial with little or no depth, direction, and sense of purpose. Fear, bitterness, hopelessness, anger, a desire for vengeance and more become deeply rooted in the surface of the self and intensify causing even good experiences to be interpreted from a disconnected, cold, and lonely perspective. The focus that refuses to see the light in another has a side effect of causing blindness to one’s own beauty and light. Healing from the prison of darkness can happen when the desolation of darkness becomes overwhelming and light is invited into the pain of darkness, forgiveness is given and received, and love takes root deep in the warmth of the light-filled core being. Without healing, the one who sees only darkness lives disconnected from the self and from others becoming more and more isolated, hating other people and hating one’s own self.
For many years of my life, my eyes only wanted to see the light in my mother, and for that matter, in everyone, despite the fact that many parts of myself experienced the pain within the darkness to which I had blinded myself. I did not allow myself to know the darkness because of my fear that knowing the darkness would destroy me. Out of a need for survival, my child-self pushed away the memories of what I had experienced from my parents’ dark side, which created a pattern of blindness to darkness that continued into my adult years. The pattern expanded into other relationships; but, as an adult, I was less able to push away the more current memories, especially when other people did not push them away and could reflect what they saw back to me. For so very long, I did not know what to do with dark information that did not fit my focus on the light. Eventually the disharmony of what I wanted to believe and what I began to see, crashed into my world.
Years of introspection to build a world based on truth instead of half-truth allowed me to see what I had not been able to see or know before, and for a while, I could only see the darkness that I had not seen before…both in those who had wounded me in childhood and in my adult years and in myself, as well. My anger and bitterness turned against me in the form of depression and near suicidal feelings.
In the middle of my struggle with the darkness and light in my world and in me, I wrote a poem that took many more years for me to fully understand.
LIGHT AND DARK
The light side chooses not to see
the dark side living here in me
pretending only it exists
it cannot live with opposites.
The dark side will not see the light,
it separates and knows its right
that because it is, it shall be
condemned for all eternity
The light side fears it’s really dark.
The dark side fears to see the spark
that knows the back side of the light
is the dark that gives us sight
and that the back side of the dark
is light that gives to life its spark.
I stand between the dark and light
trying to know which one is right.
Am I light’s spirit, child of God
or child of darkness, finite sod.
I am both and both are me.
Knowing this, shall set me free.
Finally, I discovered the truth of the poem and was able to embrace both the light and darkness in all of us, including my mother, my father, and myself. And I was able to release the need to see only one perspective or the other.
On my birthday, October 14, 2012, I walked into the viewing room at a Seattle funeral home and stood in front of the body that had been the dwelling place of my mother’s spirit for 96 years, 3 months, and 1 day. Memories of times I had experience of her wise, sensitive, sweet, and caring spirit touched my heart, and I felt the warmth and love for the woman who had given me birth so many years before. The gratefulness and love I felt in that moment, and continue to feel now, are deeply rooted in the core of me, and will live in my soul forever because I have not had to deny the times the expression of her spirit was covered by years of wounding in her own childhood that created patterns of self protection, which greatly impacted my life. In her passing, she has given me the most profound birthday gift she could ever give: she is now able to see me for who I truly am and love me for being me in a way that she could not when she was alive. And, a side effect is that I can now give myself permission to see myself with my light and darkness more deeply than I could see it before.
To deny the reality of her damaging patterns would be a disservice to the wholeness of her life and would diminish the beauty and depth of her light. She did not have the benefit of therapy and introspection to help her to see her wholeness, to see both light and dark in herself and in others, to forgive herself and others for the painful impact of darkness, and to know that, like us all, in her core she is a beautiful spark of God, filled with wisdom, sensitivity, compassion, and unconditional love. I was gifted with the opportunity to look deeply inside and to heal through forgiveness, and from my place of wholeness, I can now see her wholeness, no longer pretending there was nothing to forgive or pretending that what she did was unforgivable.
My Mamma is now on the other side of the veil. She is no longer held captive by the patterns of wounding that hurt me and hurt her, as well. She is free to be her Unique God Essence, embraced by and integrated into the unconditional love of The God of the Universe. With a tenderness in my heart and a tear in my eye, I know that the plane my mother was waiting for did come to pick her up and take her into her wholeness, but I suspect she didn’t need to take the bags she had packed along with her.