My relationship with the entire male species has been fraught with challenges, difficulties and hardship...some of which I created, a lot of which I did not. I am not saying that I don’t have a very large part in it all, but I am also saying that I have been presented in my life with men who have been horrifically abusive, violent and callous. Now, I have chosen several of them. That is on me for sure. But some others were grafted onto my life by forces beyond my control.
For the most part, I have done a good job at ridding myself of those men whose abusive conduct does not comport with my life and spiritual growth. However, I have a couple of dynamics with men that are still playing out in my life and while they are not horrifically abusive anymore, I can still see a level of dysfunction that is no longer comfortable.
Yesterday would be a good example.
My son and I have had a troubled relationship. I won’t go into all of it, but there are lots of reasons for it...some of them his, some of them mine. Needless to say, our relationship has been challenging and often times not good. We struggle in spite of the love we both have for each other. We misunderstand what the other says, means and intends, often. We fall into ruts in our communication and feeling that causes us to both act out in ways that are maladaptive and caustic. In essence, we struggle to find a path that really communicates how much we really love each other. I know that we both do, it is just hard to see it sometimes.
Yesterday was a hard day. He was being kind of an ass and I was over it. Then he started some shit with his sister, his most favorite way to wound us both. It was unnecessary and troubling. Not police involvement troubling, just unsettling and hard.
I started off doing what I always do...getting angry, threatening, lecturing. All completely non-effective in the past, yet I still throw them about like this time they will have some import...some change producing effect. “Perhaps this time...”
What I really do when I do all of the above is show just how powerless I feel. I love these two people more than is safe or sound and I cannot meaningfully effectuate a loving bond between them. I hate that the two people I love most on this earth, often behave in ways toward each other that evinces their disdain, jealousy and spite for each other. To my thinking, I have done everything I can think to do...and yet, here we still are.
Yesterday I spent some time alone, reading. Nothing imparticular. Just something to do quietly while I calmed down and allowed him to do the same. Then I took my shit to where I actively practice my recovery. While I was there, my son came to me and made a frequently denied request, “Can we go to the beach and watch the sunset?”
He asks me this almost every week and usually like ten minutes before the sun sets and we live twenty-eight minutes from the beach. So usually I say no. Or he asks me this after I have just told him about the plans that I have that would totally prohibit us being able to do that.
However last night, I had no plans. There was no reason to say no. So I said yes. We packed up the dogs and some sweatshirts and headed to the beach to watch the day turn to night.
And I learned what I always learn when I get out of my own way...that there is a magnificent beauty that waits for me at the ocean’s edge...always. It is like the waves roll in a new thought, behavior and feeling and pull out with them the old thinking, ideas, feelings and beliefs. I am not sure how or why it happens, I just know that for me, it does.
So we walked the beach, laughing at the crazy dogs, marveling in the beauty of the setting sun. The light felt warm and healing. The day crisp in its repose but fading lightly into darkness’ embrace, down time to birth the coming dawn.
He talked a lot. I did my best to listen. He tends to orbit the same thoughts and ideas repeatedly so I will fully own that I am prone to zoning out. But yesterday I did my best to hear him. To really listen to all he said. I did my best to get out of my own head and into the connection and feeling that was available to me by his presence next to me.
We stopped before we turned around, him standing next to me, closer in every way than we had been a few hours earlier and I realized that perhaps all my relations with the male gender suffer because of my unwillingness to really listen, to appreciate and to value...myself. I felt certain in that moment that my lack of appreciation for him, was actually a lack of understanding of myself. A sincere but potent disconnection from myself in their presence that forever prohibits intimacy, joy, connection and finally, grace.
Where do I go?
I am still unraveling that but last night as I walked with him on the beach, it was clear to me that he was there, vying for attention from my interior thoughts, that place that I retreat to in all male presence. And I saw it. I felt it. I knew that I did it for the first time. And I knew he suffered because of it. And I knew that I wanted to change it. For him and for me, and for the other males in my life. I wanted to clear whatever it was that blocked me from really experiencing them, to stop retreating to that place of disconnection and just allow my self to be present with them, quietly and authentically.
So I did.
I let the barriers down, I let myself be present. I let him come closer to me, well as close as a teenaged boy will come. And we walked, we talked, we laughed and we were there, together on that beach for perhaps the first time ever.
We stood shoulder to shoulder and watch the sun disappear for the day. We witnessed the sun magically light up the sky and shatter pink all over. And I was transformed from the mother I have always been...for me my son set. Set within my mind and spirit in a way I have never allowed before. I think he felt it too. And we both walked off that beach forever changed by the ocean’s tide and the light cast by the setting sun. My son firmly set within my heart and soul, anew.