Seniors Making a Difference: A Gift from My Mother

May 6, 2010

For many years there were never any conversations in my dreams. I don’t think I was mute, I just never expressed anything—opinions, feelings, nothing. This is interesting to me because I had already been on a journey of personal growth and self-empowerment for many years but apparently something was missing—I still wasn’t coming to grips with expressing my whole self.

Then I had a significant dream that to this day stands out as the point-of-shift. It seemed like I was running a marathon or the equivalent because there were people on the side-lines cheering me on and encouraging me to run. I should have been elated that I was getting so much support but in fact there was a monster chasing me. At some point I stopped running and told the crowd that I wasn’t going to run any more. Then the monster caught up to me and as I faced him I reached out and took both of his wrists in my hands. I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “I’m not afraid of you, I love you.” At that moment the monster began to cry and I embraced him (I say him because its energy felt masculine). There is such an archetypal flavor to the dream it almost sounds cliché. Certainly I was confronting my dark side and somewhere deep inside I had made the decision that I was now willing to face those hidden aspects of self that are painful to look at. I couldn’t tell you precisely what I needed to face but from that point on my life did begin to change as I started living for myself and stopped trying to fulfill the expectations of others.

For several years after that dream my emotional connection with myself continued to bubble under the surface aspects of my life. From the outside nothing much changed as I continued working in the school system and finished raising two teenagers. On the inside there was a big shift occurring as I began to realize that although I was born to be a teacher, the school system was sucking me dry and I needed to have a plan to  a.) Quit teaching and b.) Move to a more moderate climate. Perhaps choosing to become a Feldenkrais® practitioner wasn’t the most practical plan financially but it was my passion and I felt that if I took the first step the universe would look after the rest.

I didn’t know on that first trip to Boulder that my own journey would include watching my mother slowly lose her grip on independence and her ability to communicate even her most basic needs.  It took the help of a friend for me to realize that my mother was in fact giving me a gift. As I bore witness to my other’s need to work out aspects of her life that weren’t available to her on a conscious level it allowed me to develop patience and compassion. In fact my relationship with my mother deepened during those last years of her life and I was able to accept her in a way that I never thought possible. Looking back I realize that the dream of the monster and the acceptance of my mother’s growing dementia were intimately linked. I embraced the fear of aging and learned that love changes everything. 


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