Cultural differences. Familial differences. How could you ever say a person is wrong in their beliefs, traditions or values? And what do you do if one person in a relationship is satisfied with the chosen boundaries, and another is left feeling unfulfilled, unsupported, traumatised, even.
What do you do?
One mother may birth a child with the expectation that her job is simply to raise a child to adulthood and set her free when she comes of age. The child has been given life. She will be guided. She will be taught to fend for herself. But a mother is a mother, says the mother. Her boundaries are strict, yet fair, and she has no intention to provide for her child beyond basic care, until she dies. She has provided well, therefore, she has loved.
Another mother may birth a child with the expectation that her job has only just begun, and will never end. She is love, and she will give and give and give, in every way, to this child until her final breaths. She will provide the role of parent. She will provide the role of best friend and confidant. Her boundaries are far and wide: anywhere love lives, she and her daughter will wander, together, always. She has provided, therefore, she has loved.
What is a mother?
It is an individual question.
It is an individual answer.
And it is only one of the question answer combinations of life with no black or white answer to relieve us of conflict and struggle.
The rules of life and love.
There are none.
But there are many.
How easy it is to fight for our right to be right.
How difficult it is to find true peace amidst the chaos of life.
The oddities of humanity. The neuroses that so often become us that really have nothing to do with who we are, at all, or what’s best for our health, wellbeing and growth.
Take breakfast, for example.
My body doesn’t know that breakfast is a man-made occasion, and yet, still, I choose to feed it specific foods such as toast, cereal, orange juice or coffee at the very time it expects to find them in my life. The morning.
My body, I’m fairly certain, just needs food. To be nourished. It doesn’t care if what I eat in the morning is not, what I might consider, ‘breakfast food’. Only the odd little whisper of my brain cares about that. Should I listen? Or should I challenge what it has to say?
It’s not just cultural expectations around breakfast that rouse me. For too many years, I allowed the cultural narrative of suppressing emotional vulnerability to rule my choices, and, as a consequence, I lost the ability to live with my heart. Goodness gracious me. My precious life moments. Potential soul singing moments, destroyed because I succumbed to a life story that, ultimately, had nothing to do with the truth of who I am.
I have no regrets. Every wrong turn has brought me to this place of strength, wholeness and home, and I am grateful for the rocky roads I’ve travelled thus far. How could I be anything but grateful for the ways it has all helped to shape and expand my perspective?
I’ve become an expert in solving problems that may or may not occur. It’s both a wonderful and a terrible thing, depending on the perspective you take. Problems do not exist, for instance, until the moment they occur and are perceived, and yet in my world they both exist and are solved in an invisible home of my own mental creation…before they’ve even happened.
Often times, they never do happen.
And yet, because I have perceived them, and mentally lived their many aspects and outcomes, they are as real as the real, real thing.
No wonder my nervous system is a little frazzled.
Apparently this sort of hyper vigilance is a result of early life trauma, and although I had an absolutely beautiful childhood, and was extremely loved and well cared for…I was, for whatever reason, highly sensitive. My teen years were dotted with trauma. My early adult years were flooded with emotion, confusion and anxiety. And all the while, every little eye brow raise came to mean something frightening to me, and so you can imagine the aches felt when I truly was being attacked by life.
Enter problem solving territory. I learnt to recognise and run from the beast before he’d even thought to attack, which I gather is quite a common thing among human folk, actually. Probably more common than most choose to admit.
Obviously, this sort hyper-vigilance has caused quite a few issues in my life, and relationships, so I’m learning to become aware and catch myself in moments where I am constructing a damaging story for myself to pre-live. And yet, I’d also say that having the ability to pre-think situations has added to my spiritual tool kit.
It’s allowed me the extra space needed to find the beauty in even the most disastrous of situations.
It’s acted as a rehearsal period for the painful moments of life, and I’m grateful for this, despite psychologists and spiritual kings out there declaring ‘now’ is best.
Of course now is best.
Now is the only truth.
And yet, while we are human…now is just another dimension of the everything reality is made of.
We will never understand the fullness of the universe.
But we can live bits and pieces of it, and pick up its interesting, thoughtful breadcrumbs along the way.
Life is for living. It’s a lovely sentiment, isn’t it?
Lovely. And vague.
Because what, exactly, is living?
I turned thirty-eight this year, and I’m still fine tuning what living means to me. I imagine I always will be. Ever evolving. Ever learning and growing.
One of the beautiful things I’ve learnt about what living is to me, is that I have these five senses for a reason. For most of my life, I woke of a morning, achieved the mindless list of tasks laid out ahead, went to bed, and repeated the whole thing again the next day.
No wonder my soul was starving.
I’ve started to understand that, to fully live, you need to know yourself and how your senses interact with the world around you. I, for instance, am extremely sensitive and I’ve come to the realisation that because my senses are heightened…I need to be particularly conscious of my environment.
For example: I need to try and keep things tidy, both internally and externally. I feel calm when things are tidy. I feel calm when I am completing one task at a time. Overwhelm, for me, equals poor mental health and activation of either the fight, flight, or freeze response (and, I assure you, none of these survival responses have ever worked out well for me, in the past.)
This time in my life is where I’ve begun to really use my senses to enhance my world and wellbeing. I’ve come to understand that everything we perceive in life has a texture and depth, and I try to utilise this knowledge to better my life, as much as I can.
For some reason, my nervous system tends to do much better when it comes to perceiving softer, lighter more porous textures. Wood grain soothes me. Light, drifting plants soothe me. Soft pinks, mauves, light greys: these are all the colours of me. And yet, for the longest time, I surrounded myself with bright and bold…because the rest of the world did. I hadn’t learned to know myself yet.
I often think back to (and I’ve mentioned this story on here before) the discomfort I used to feel when driving to work with my Dad, listening to the two negative, grumpy radio hosts on the morning show. Every time I heard them speak, I wanted to run. I had no idea why I was feeling this way, at the time, but now I know. It was the density of their energy. The texture. It was not at all light, it was heavy and bold: never have I thrived when surrounded by this kind of dense energy. Never have I been comfortable in my own, unique (big ol’ sensitive muffin) skin.
I can’t avoid density, I know that. Life is full of the dark, the negative, the heavy. But I can try to be mindful of surrounding myself as much as possible with the softness that brings me back to life, so that’s what I try my best to do.
Humans are funny creatures. How our worlds shift and change with time and age.
And though reality often hurts, it is also very beautiful.