I’ve been listening to Pema Chodron again.
She says that in order to know fearlessness, one must really know fear.
It’s at the root of everything. Every exasperated shout, every fit of helpless crying, every over-indulgence, every sabotage is rooted in fear.
I’ve been rather fearful lately I guess, because I’ve been absolutely awful – to myself, to my kids, to Marco. I’d venture that even the universe is a little shocked at my behavior. It’s low.
But before I start beating myself up, I’m going to attempt to look at my actions, my attitudes, my hysterics with a little loving kindness. I’m new to this, so don’t fault me if I end up back at chastisement. I seem to find self-hatred a comfortable place to be.
I’ve been fundamentally lacking in loving-kindness lately. I’ve discovered that I have “Premature Expert Syndrome.” I take once small piece of information and assume I understand much more complicated systems before learning anything more. I’m filled with Idiot Bravado. This leads me to be judgmental, self-righteous, and unkind to other people. I think I know. I’ve seen this quality mirrored back to me in a three year old, and it’s startling. I do that, I think. And I just don’t know anything – not about where you’ve been or why you did something. Who am I to judge?
And I’m even more ruthless to myself. I give myself no room for error.
When I get angry, when I’m totally overwhelmed with three people crying and fighting and hitting and pooping and breaking things…when I reach that snapping point where I start to yell and can feel that vibration of instability at the first sound of a cry…What is the fear there?
I’m afraid of being out of control.
I’m afraid they’re going to grow up to be terrible people.
I’m afraid I might run away or jump off a cliff or start drinking in the mornings.
I’m afraid of the fragility.
At the root is this terrifying fear of being alone. I sometimes think, “Can the person in charge please show up and relieve me?…because I don’t know what I’m doing!” There’s this immense insecurity. Who am I to be the mother here? Shouldn’t someone with more experience have gotten the job? Shouldn’t someone with better qualities? Shouldn’t there be a grown up here? I still feel like that basket-case nine-year-old living with strangers wondering when I my parents are going to show up.
You see – judgment. Where’s the love? The longer I sit with the crappy feelings, the more judgmental I become, rather than more compassionate, rather than more loving, rather than gentler. And I sink deeper rather than taking another step forward.
In yoga the other day, the instructor said, “Wherever you are today is exactly where you are supposed to be.”
I have an expectation that I should now be as wise as Maya Angelou, as calm as Pema Chodron, as accomplished as Oprah, as well-written as Anne Lamott, as patient as Aung San Suu Kyi, as strong as Gloria Steinem, and as kind as Mother Teresa.
But these women were cured with time, steeped in difficulty. They did not come by their greatness lightly. But they had a vision of how things could be different, and they just did it. But at each step, all along the way, they were where they need to be to get to where they were going. But they also didn’t just stay stuck. They kept moving, with great courage.
Maya asked me the other day, “What is courage?”
I said, “Courage is when you do something you need to do even when you are afraid.”
Today I’ll probably be afraid again. I will. But since I’ve come to realize that I’m the grown up here, I’m the mother, I’m the role model, I’m the one in charge…I’m going to try to have some courage. And I’m going to put a big X on my hand to remind myself to accompany my courage with loving-kindness.