“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”
Friday, January 30, 2015
Discovering What Really Matters
The story of “Mommy, I hate your eye patch!” (Part 1)
Words of a seven year old; my seven year old, named Elisa Joy.
I can still hear them ring out as loud and clear in my mind as if they had just been spoken yesterday.
These were the words that changed my life; the words of my seven year old daughter speaking in the code of childhood. One had to be able to de-code child-ese to be able to understand them.
They told me she felt abandoned and betrayed by the disproportionate time I spent away from her, handling my cornea transplants (by this time to I was going on #4 in close to as many years), my workaholism driven career – and -- then the hours given over to socializing.
To this day, no other words have ever quite made their way through t0 my heart so pointedly.
I hope the women most sold on Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” book and all Ms. Sandberg promotes with her agendas have someone around like my little Elisa Joy. To remind them of what really matters. And, I hope these women are listening to those little ones and not allowing the surface things in life matter more than the substance.
With things I find in the media and see all around me, I often wonder.
I did listen – with my heart.
But it took a good bit of time before my head had done the interpreting and my behavior had caught up sufficiently. Leaning in (my version, not the Sandberg version) was not something I knew how to do.
I would continue my survivor/addict style for at least another fifteen years, compartmentalizing the Visible me, grossly separated from my Invisible Self, the rich inner me. With no bridge to connect the two and to allow a crossing of the gap between, a gap that was flooded, I would later discover, by a river of unshed tears.
Little Elisa Joy would pay the price as a victim of the mother’s heart she could not seem to reach. It was there alright but she could not touch or feel it. In the meantime, in the deepest throes of my solitude, I ached to give her that which I had no knowing of how to do.
In spite of my limitations as a mother, over the years I became a Master at human relations; my proficiency earning me the acclaim, as a psychotherapist and community development guide, that “If she (meaning me) can’t cure ‘em, nobody can.
Little Elisa Joy, now a grown woman, has never forgiven me.
Certainly a glass ceiling does exist in the business and academic worlds and beyond. I have just been lucky perhaps. I have never personally encountered this. So I may be a bit out of touch with the anguish. However, I too have had my trials by fire making my way in the world, intent as I have been on claiming the whole of my birthright; my inalienable right to be me at my best, accepted and respected for it – and justly compensated.
But the obstacles I have encountered have been, overall, of my own making, I believe. I certainly do see innumerable ways I could have handled things differently and better.
Nonetheless, on the day my daughter spoke those unforgettable words, I had hardly begun the path of my life’s journey that would plunge me, repeatedly, into the heat of transformation – and – which would lift me out of it, again and again, to breathe the rarified, sweet air of purification.
I did not understand the distinctions, yet, between the Dark and the Light. I did not yet understand the inordinate price each of us would pay for that survivor/addict personality I had developed in my own growing up. Nor, did I, yet, realize that those pained words of my child, Elisa Joy, would eventually transform my life, if not hers.
I write this now from a place of emotional overload. I have, long ago, left fueling my life on adrenalin excesses, addicted to excitement and its many ways of playing in one’s life. My writing is of my inner world with its connection to the energies I call the Divine Source and, this week, the demands of the external world claimed me.
All week long I have been wanting to bring my devoted readers another posting, even if a brief one. However, this Saturday’s forthcoming CoffeeHouse Conversation On Race Relations has driven the vehicle that is my body, mind and spirit. The Force within me that powers the beautiful, yet far from perfect life I now live, has been taken with the sweet promise of contributing to the world around me in a meaningful and impactful way.
Thus I find myself after my eight year sabbatical for blindness and recovery (1998 – 2006) drawn into that world where glass ceilings seem to limit, reminding myself of Helen Keller’s words –
Recognizing what really matters most is not always easy.