A baby asked God: “They tell me You are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless? ”
God said, “Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you. ”
The baby said, “who will protect me?”
God said, “your angel will defend you even if it means risking her life.”
The baby said, “God, please tell me my angel’s name.”
God said, “You Will Simply Call Her Mommy.”
This poem from an unknown author was posted on a Facebook page and received the following comment: “I think a lot of people would pick their real angels over their parents because there are a lot of people who had or have deep struggles with family”. Agh!
I know that place. It’s a place of resentment where we are unable to see beyond our dual perception, where we only know to interpret our life in terms of good or bad -whether it’s our circumstances or the people we interact with. But how about transcending the big box we live in and engaging our soul to comprehend the truth that our greatest struggles our are greatest lessons? And that the people that we blame for our suffering came to us as part of a perfect plan that was designed to bring us to awakening?
But we are blinded by our sense of entitlement -often backed by our sense of being “a good person”- that restricts our experiences to resist what brings us pain. And yet that resistance is exactly at the source of our suffering. We wallow in it because it is familiar territory, because it gets us attention, because it is so much easier than to see our responsibility in how we perceive our world and decide to react to it. But what if we decided to accept that there is much that we can learn in that place? What if the people in our lives gifted us with their presence? That we see our experiences with them as painful or joyful are merely labels that we know to use. But if we rise above this view-point, we can begin to remove the curtains and get the full view of what this is all about.
In order to see that, or at least have a sense of it, I’ve first had to come to terms with the very words that were to change my life forever: you are responsible for how you feel, react, think, for where you are and where you’re going –it’s your choice!
And I can see it now, how this is all connected. Jung said that “our psyche is so infinitely intelligent that it attracts us to certain individuals (just as their psyche causes them to be attracted to us) in order that we experience precisely that which we need to grow by virtue of the difficulties we will eventually have with those individuals in the relationship.” [*] When I first read that statement, it hit such a nerve -I still remember the domino-effect of my mind processing it. Suddenly so much made sense to me!
The illusion of duality lies at the core of our suffering, because it doesn’t allow us to experience the power of reverence -of reverence for our selves, for our bodies, for others and for the circumstances of our lives. So let’s learn to say yes to it all -as advocated by Joseph Campbell- because it is all part of the beauty of life. But that is not easy to do, as I know well.
And I’ve had to work very hard to transcend the illusion of my resentment toward my mother. You see I’ve only recently felt that weight slip off me, because I can see more clearly now, with perspective and compassion. And I was only able to do that by arriving at a place of perspective and compassion for myself. I have learned about that incredible life-shape-shifter called the Mirror. I understand fully that I am always looking at a mirror -as opposed to the illusion that I am seeing others and their faults. Getting there hasn’t been easy. And don’t think I don’t fall back into small-mindedness because I do; and if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s to never be over-confident about knowing anything.
I understood pretty quickly that my mother was key in my story. In fact I saw it as soon as I noticed that I was writing “my other” instead of “my mother”, in my journal. That got me to reflect very seriously on how to understand our relationship. Spirituality was also teaching me about how every trial and challenge has a fundamental purpose: to teach me something so that I can grow. But it’s all a very bumpy road and it’s not enough to have a realization. There is some grinding to do. I’ve noticed that. Reading, meditation, studying, therapy, realizations, etc, are all preparation for the real test which comes when you go back into your daily life and face your dragons again and again. And progress is very slow.
And it began when one day, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a vision, where I saw myself in her shoes. That vision propelled me with great force into her experience and her pain. I was truly in shock. At that time I was still whining about all the things she didn’t do -or did do, how she had hurt me. And now I was in her shoes. I saw her losing an 11 year-old son and then having to carry on loving her eight remaining children when her heart was filled with grief. I saw her in the stupor of not understanding a thing, of asking the big questions -especially being a devout Catholic- and not getting anything back. Except the silent pressure that she should carry on with the burden and responsibility of being a mother of so many, of being the dutiful, submissive wife to a hard-working man and the daughter of a God who had taken away her child.
I saw how that fatal day was a turning point in all our lives and how the pain was as deep as the chasm that it created in her marriage. And we talked. We talked a lot. I felt the burden of her loss, which was not only about missing her son, but also about not being able to really mourn him, in order to avoid making my father feel any more guilty because he was the one driving the car that night. I learned about all that she had to put up with in her marriage after that. I saw how she had inherited her catholic resentment towards women and how it affected all of us in our self-esteem and relationships. I saw myself in her. I saw her in me. She became a person -with great battles, with doubts, with ignorance, unprepared and uneducated for so many things that came her way.
Just like me.
I slowly was able to grasp more and more to what extent she was my angel. That realization had hit me a few months earlier. I saw that my mother’s painful experiences were for my own benefit. I saw, ever so clearly, that she was my in-between-lives mirror, showing me all the things I had done and could learn from now -if I decided to do so. I saw, ever so clearly, that she had also been the mirror -all along- for all the mistakes that I could have made but that instead she made just so that I could learn now in my current process. That I know to be true also from what I was shown in my OBEs later on.
But you see realizations don’t suddenly make things right -in my case at least. They just mark the beginning of something. They simply point the finger to where I need to take action and apply effort. Because you need to do the work. That’s how this works for me and like I always say: it’s never a done deal. Because I know that those are the lessons of this lifetime for me.
Everybody thinks an angel is about feeling good. It’s always about the pink flowers and soapy smells. But it’s not. An angel is someone who is there to make sure you learn your big lessons. And big lessons come with a price: pain.
And so in time I came to understand the story of my parents, as I made the effort to be in their shoes, in their psychology -and the psychology of their time. You see, back then there was no therapy, no awareness of “hurting” your kids psychologically -none of that which has become so important to us nowadays. Nowadays we are all so focused on the psychological welfare of our children. But do you really think we’re not disregarding other aspects and making our own mistakes?
My parents were born just before two great wars: the Second World War and the Spanish Civil War. Their families lost everything; they experienced hunger, terror, betrayal -the loss of a future even. And so their focus was on hard work and building a legacy, in the form of a family and security for all of us. And there is no other assessment possible but to recognize that they passed with honors. We never lacked anything, we studied in the best schools, we were able to learn languages, to travel abroad, to discover other cultures. We never had to go through what they went through. Isn’t that what all parents aim for?
And yet since my father died in 2002, as the family started to fall out of balance, all we have been doing is tearing my mother apart with our accusations -each and every one of the eight, ungrateful idiots that we have been- about her failures as a mother. As we each entered our own crises, we inevitably lashed out at her as she was the one still alive – and it’s always all about the mother, right? But the fact is, in the end, all my parents did was what we all do at any given time: the best they could with what they had and knew. And it is what it is.
Our tragedy as their sons and daughters is getting stuck during our processes. But you don’t get to learn the lessons if you remain stuck. You need to transcend all that and get out of the hamster wheel of blaming the other, as I have come to understand. Because the interesting part is exactly that: to transcend the pain and the idea of right and wrong. And all the lessons learned along the way, the person we become while fighting all those dragons, is what we are here for. And awakening is about becoming our own observer in this process, to be able to see beyond the initial small-mindedness of our reactions.
And it’s not that I don’t fall into that trap anymore: I have learned to be aware that I do fall in the traps. Everybody thinks that being spiritual is about not falling for the things of the physical world because of enlightenment, which everyone thinks of as a goal. I think that is the greatest trap of all. Of course we will fall and we better learn to understand that, or else we are in the biggest trap of all. Transcendence, for me, is about being aware of what being in the body means -with all its blessings and restrictions, with all its traps and impulses, with all its lessons. And decide to be a bit better at ever opportunity. And if I came to think that I had no more lessons to learn -I would have to think again.
And pain is a precious source of growth; and suffering the sustainment in time of that pain for as long as we haven’t learned the lessons. Because each pain is a lesson, and suffering is all the time we need to spend in the classroom in order to understand it. And if only we can see things that way -and our hearts be big enough- we can begin to be grateful for the demons in our lives, for they are really our angels at work.
🙂 Marina CB – Always be brave, be free