It seemed so simple. If I acted from a place of love, then it is a response based on love. My core belief was love.
She was screaming at me. Something that seemed so small and innocent to me, if anything at all, triggered her and sent her into a banshee like fury. Her eyes screamed in anger as loud as her five year old voice that was telling me that I did not love her, that she wanted a new family, that she would leave and never come back. This was her third tantrum of the morning and I was tired. So very tired. I let her scream for a bit and gave her space, honestly because by round three I needed space, but knew in my heart that what she wanted was love, attention and coddling. Even if she continually pushed me away, it was what she desired from me. She needed me to be the tree in the storm, rooted and grounded, while she hurled hail, wind and fire at me. She was the song of ice and fire. And it was up to me to emerge standing erect – scorched, leafless and with dangling limbs – but firm, tall and ready to sprout new love buds.
It seemed so simple. Just go to her, put my arms around her. Tell her that I loved her, that I always loved her, even when she was angry. That I was there to listen to her. That we could work together. That it was OK to be angry. It was what I always did and how we worked through her anger.
And I did just that because I loved her and this seemed like a response based on love. It all seemed so simple. But this time, the moment I held her and told her I loved her I realized the truth of my actions. The action was not based on love but on fear.
Growing up fear was used as the foundation of love. Unconditional love was a term used conditionally – I was loved unconditionally as long as I [insert parental want/demand/request here]. Almost every action in my life was done out of fear of something and no matter what choice I made, I was wrong. I was told to live in fear – fear of what others think, fear of what others would do, fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of getting close to anyone, fear of myself, my feelings, my thoughts. At night I would hear wild arguments, slamming doors and objects breaking and I wondered – while they had the ability to do so, before the disease stole their bodies – if my siblings could hear it too. I learned from the moment I was born that love was violent, apologetic, and fearful. Time outside of the house was an escape but the escape was not much better. During the day I was an outcast – a weird looking brown but not black skinned girl whose parents came from a country with strange smelling food, weird clothes and Gods with elephant or many heads trying to fit into a land full of monotheistic white sameness. I did not fit in, did not know the customs and had no one to teach me or accept me for who I was on either side of the cultural fence and it was made known that I did not belong to either society. If only I could go back to my single digit to twenty something self and tell her that the world would eventually worship her heritage. That many of the monotheistic white sameness would claim it as their own forgetting it was that which they rejected, and that those of my heritage would look at me as one that learned how to pave my own way treading both worlds while they lived one way at home and another in a society that forced them to be something they perhaps were not.
I was often alone, during the day and night. I was given rules to operate by. Like always listen to your teachers. Until I was yelled at for listening to my teachers because the rule/thought/idea was not one that was respected at home, but to still always listen to them because the teachers were always right, until they weren’t. I learned that rules were arbitrary and contradictory and not to be explained or understood, just obeyed. But often I was not sure how to obey. Like never get into a car with a stranger. And then I was greeted by a stranger at school who told me to get in the car because my parents sent them to pick me up. Sure it could be possible as my parents were doctors and perhaps had emergencies and couldn’t pick me up. But no one told the school. If I did not get into that car, then I was following the rules my parents and teachers instilled in me, but then if this was truly the friend of my parents, I would be severely punished for disrespecting my elders. I could ask the teachers, but I could get into trouble for bothering the teacher or because I should have known this was my parent’s friend. I was often left alone waiting outside at school, school doors locked, well into the dark, scared and waiting for my parents to pick me up. Sometimes there was a nun (catholic school) annoyed with the lateness of my parents waiting with me. Often they left perhaps knowing my parents would arrive, but leaving me wondering. These were the days we relied on payphones and there were only so many collect calls I could make. Besides if they were on their way, they would not answer a phone at home. Get into the car or wait alone scared in the dark with no way to contact anyone? My underdeveloped elementary brain could not decide what was the right course of action. Did I get into that car? I still do not remember. My life was lived worshiping fear for good reason and I can’t remember the details.
Much of that fear lives to this day but I have finally acknowledged how much of my programming is based on pure survival. I have decided to let go of survival – I’ve made it! – and focus on thrival instead. I have been reprogramming myself and restructuring my thoughts to look at the world with love rather than fear.
I refuse to pass my programmed fears on to future generations, but from the moment she was born, I noticed the imprint of fear on her. She too was scared of the world, new situations, old situations, things she knew, things she did not know, even her own emotions. And with this fear came extreme anger, my anger. She was scared of everything, not because she was taught to be scared, but because my fear was strong enough to create a molecular scar that she inherited. She was truly a mini-me.
Change your core beliefs and you can change your world. I thought that it was that simple to change my core beliefs by watching my thoughts and actions. During that third tantrum, in my minds eye, I acted out of love for my daughter when I went to her and hugged her. But the moment she was in my arms I had the realization that I had not acted out of love but fear of her anger growing stronger. Of her resenting me for not coming to console her right away. Of not being a loving mother. Of not being there for her and leaving her on her own to cope with life as I had been. My own childhood fear and anger were not received, but reprimanded, belittled and downplayed. I was fearful that even though she was pushing the boundaries and I was exhausted, that if I did not go to her I would be closer to what I had learned growing up than where I wanted to be.
Of course going to her and hugging her was the right course of action and I was closer to where I wanted to be than my deeply grooved behavior patterns. But in that moment I learned that I was still operating from a place of fear. My core belief had not changed.
And in today’s world it is not uncommon for parents to believe that they act out of love for the child – don’t step too close to the edge, don’t eat that chip that fell on the floor – but in reality we operate from fear. Fear of germs, fear of danger, fear of society, fear of the uncontrollable. And this country has programmed us to be even more fearful than we need to be. As a mother, you can do no right. Sadly we are taught that when we fear for kids, significant others, friends, etc, it is only then that we love.
We can change thoughts and actions, but until we feel those thoughts and actions in every cell of our being and beyond, our system is still operating on old software and has not been upgraded and rebooted. It simply is not that simple. That won’t stop me though, I will continue to think and act from a place of love, but I will pay closer attention if that love is coming from a place of fear.
We need to be able to rest and acknowledge where we are at. It is OK I was acting out of love based on fear. Now that I am more aware of it I can better dig into that fear. The deeper I dig, more likely I am to find that root cause to change the core belief. And once that root is changed, I can finally be that tree she needs me to be. Strong. Withstanding the force of her blows. And at the same time, as I change my molecular code, I know hers will change as well and there will be less strength required on my part. In the end, it is that simple. It all starts with a simple act of love.