“I am so angry with God. If there is a God and I meet God in the other world, I will tell him he owes me big time.” The mother said with intensity.
“What do you mean?” The daughter asked her mother.
“I am going to ask God, why he brought me to this world? Why so much misery, suffering – struggle? What have I done to deserve this? “
“I remember one time you shared with me about meeting God in your dream.”
She was joyful and excited “Yes, I did. I heard a voice in my dream saying that this is God you wanted to see. It was a beautiful light and felt warm.”
“You are really blessed to have such a powerful and affirming vision. Yes, my image of God is also a beautiful light of warm energy. I wonder if you asked your question.”
“No I didn’t.” it happened so fast.
“I heard you say many times you have a strong sixth sense. What do think of your life’s purpose?”
“I don’t know. A whole lifetime of struggle. What is the point? I didn’t get to do anything I wanted to do.”
“Would you like to do a review of your life together as if we were watching a video of your life based on what you remember?”
“What is the point? The past is the past. I can’t change it. Now, after living almost 90 years, I feel my life was wasted. Nothing makes me happy. Most of my family and friends have passed away. Those remaining are old, sick and worse off than me. No social life, no one comes to visit. I can’t really go anywhere, air pollution, can’t breathe, heavy traffic; I don’t want to go anywhere.”
The mother was repeating her old tape which the daughter had heard a million times. A tape of complains, focusing on negative and lacks.
The daughter loving her mother was longing to understand her psyche, be able to reach her soul beyond her long story of a lifetime of trauma.
“What do you know or remember about your childhood?” The daughter asked.
“I was only 40 days old when my father passed away in the cold snowy winter.”
“Do you know anything about how he passed?”
“He was a fine man in his early 40’s, father of five children. I don’t know why he died.”
“I heard something about drinking and smoking opium. Do you think perhaps addiction had anything to do with it?”
“Where did you hear that?” She sounded defensive.
“I heard from my oldest aunt who was with her father when he passed away. I think she was 12 years old then.”
“She frequently made up stories to get attention. You can’t trust what she said.”
The daughter was wondering about the dynamics in the family. Her mother as the youngest child suffered the most. Perhaps, unconsciously she was determined to guard her family . Maybe she thought it was her duty, being loyal. The daughter wondered if the mother be willing to pass through her denial if she knew it would bring her a sense of love, safety and freedom.
“My father knew when was going to die. He told my oldest sister the day he died that he would leave at 4 pm and sure enough he died at 4 pm!”
“Yes, I heard that from my aunt too. It seemed that he had strong intuition. Perhaps he gave you the gift of intuition too. Do you know what kind of a person he was?”
“No, I don’t know much, my mother told me he was her second cousin coming from a well off family. He was a kind and generous. In cold season, he would give his coat to the beggars on the street.
Mother seemed to be back in time wondering about her childhood and the father she didn’t know.
“I have always wondered how your young mother in her early 30’s raised five children as a single parent. Do you have any ideas?”
“I loved my mother. She was a strong woman. She raised us with the monthly salary of her husband from the government.”
“It would be difficult for me to imagine her raising five children with a newborn, alone. Did she have any help?”
“She didn’t have any milk for me. I had a nanny who had a baby and fed me too. My nanny was a Kurdish woman. You know Kurds (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Kurdistan) are strong, determined and willful. My family always told me I was like Kurds, stubborn!”
“Yes, I can imagine your mother facing so much stress that her milk dried up. Perhaps she had so much on her mind. I heard your oldest brother was an active boy, maybe a rebel difficult to manage and needed a father at age 11.”
“Our relatives wanted to send the two boys ,my brothers to a private boarding school in Beirut. My mother declined.”
“How about finances?”
“My mother was from a wealthy family. I’ve heard that one of the Qajar kings asked her to be one of his wives!”
The mother always acted like a royalty. She seemed to be a princess misplaced in this family by mistake. She loved beauty, elegance & luxury, dressed sharply with matching accessories. She always looked presentable outside the home. She was an aristocrat at heart.
The mother continued, “My family had many properties and we received monthly salary form the income.”
“Who was in charge of the property after your father passed away?”
“I think an uncle. I heard he took most of the income for himself and his family, including our family’s share.”
The daughter did not wish to trigger any unnecessary painful memories. She was hoping to bring healing to the mother’s trembling, anxious heart by awareness and insight. She would then have a choice to release the painful impact of the traumatic childhood and enjoy her life with a sense of joy and freedom. She became aware of inconsistencies in mom’s story, wondered how reliable her stories are. Were they facing a secret? She wondered. How did the mother provide for five children? Who defended her legal rights if they had property income?
“My mother sent the two boys to military school. Many families did that at the time, you know for boys to learn discipline.”
The daughter was wondering if the mother was unable to parent the active boys. Was the decision financially based? Wondered under what circumstances a parent sends young boys in all-male military boarding school where boys must be obedient at all times.
“Yes, I heard from my uncle he escaped from the school and went home. He became the “man” of the household at young age. How did he treat you?”
“He used to send me to bring water from the house water reservoir at night. I was a young child. It was dark with many steps down. I was frightened. Then he would make scary noises that a monster was coming to get me. I am still afraid of the dark after all these years.”
The mother paused, seemed sad and fearful as she was back in time.
“He was intentionally trying to scare you. What do you make of that?”
“They thought it was funny, laughing.”
“ I wonder if he was doing to you what was done to him. He must have been afraid.”
“Oh no, he was brave. Fearless. He had shotguns. He was a hunter. I was afraid of him.”
“ I wonder if he acted as a fearless person at home, a mask, a persona to cover up his fear. I do remember him hunting deer. I didn’t like seeing the lifeless bodies in the back of his truck. What is brave about hunting defenseless animals?”
For the compliant obedient, fear based child, it is difficult to see the fear behind the mask of the oppressor. A fearless person has no need to frighten others, let alone a young child. A fearful person consciously or unconsciously would be willing to go a long way to cover his own fear, frequently through violence to intimidate others.
“Any significant memories from your childhood?”
“I remember crawling on the balcony. I heard them telling not to go yet I continued crawling. I fell and hit my head on the cold stone.” See, this is the scar on my forehead.
“You remember when you were crawling? Yes, I have noticed the scar before; it is a big.”
The daughter was wondering about the possibilities of brain injury and long term effects. Could it be that some of her mother’s behaviors, confusing to her, be related to an early physical trauma?
“You also have mark near your lips. Do you know how you got that?”
“It is a “salak”, leishmaniosis, don’t remember. I was teased because of it, felt ugly. As a child, I used to look at my face and cover the two scars wondering how I would look without the scars.
The daughter was looking at her mother with much deeper compassion feeling the wounded child within her aging body, all the unhealed traumas of childhood still alive in her soul. A realization emerged. She didn’t like herself, projecting her inner pain to her children.
“So, this brother became like a father to you. I wonder how you felt about him, growing up.”
“I remember I was in 6th grade, had a test in sewing. I needed a couple of coins to buy a piece of fabric to do stitches in class to pass the test. My friend from school came to my home to go together. I asked my brother for a coin. I told him we were late for school. He started making fun of us, teasing us. I begged him. I was going to fail a whole year if I didn’t make it to class on time. I will never forget that as long as I live.”
The daughter could imagine her mother in her school uniform begging, feeling anxious, helpless, powerless, hopeless, and fearful of expressing her repressed anger. A moment of clarity, grounds for her severe depression as long as the daughter remembered.
“Your brother finally gave you the money and you passed the test.”
“He was the one who decided for you to get married at a young age, right?”
“Yes, I was in 6th grade. I was in front of the mirror putting a ribbon in my hair. He saw me and decided it was time for me to get married. I loved school, loved to go to high school, get a degree and become somebody.”
The daughter could feel the longing of the soul of this woman with high hopes and dreams never manifested. An insight; the mother projected her dreams into her daughter. She wondered what was the impact on her, being a child bride and a mother at such tender young age.
“What was the role of your mother about her three daughters and getting married?”
“She gave my oldest sister away to a man she didn’t liked. She was so beautiful. If mother had waited a while she had many suitors. Her husband was a loving and kind man who helped our family a lot. He was like a father to me. I loved him.”
The daughter remembered her grandma who lived to be 90+ years old, very well. She had interesting beliefs, many of which, she didn’t understand. Some were religious based, some seemed to be superstitious. She believed in – the bad eye – and curses. The daughter wondered about the basis of the grandmother’s choice, need for financial support and fear of a curse, and following the traditions.
“My second sister was brave like our mother. She refused to marry the man our brother was forcing her to accept as a husband. She chose her husband later in life. My brother wanted to give me away before I came of age, not become like my sister.”
“How did you feel about getting married?”
“Your father was friend of my second brother. They met in military school and he was coming to our home frequently. I liked him because he was an engineer and helped me with my math homework and brought me all the smacks I liked.”
“He was a good looking man too, handsome in his army uniform.”
She had a smile on her face, “yes, he was handsome. When we were engaged, one time he tried to kiss me, I got frightened and ran away. I told him I was going to tell my mother what you tried to do!”
The daughter imagined the scene in her mind smiling at the innocence of the young girl liking a man for bringing her sour plums, her favorite. Was she aware of his intentions?
“You had a great wedding and your brother paid for it. That was thoughtful of him.”
“Your father was supposed to marry his first cousin . He liked our family, different from his. He didn’t have any savings for a wedding reception and his family was against his decision. So, my brother paid for our wedding.”
“I have seen your wedding photo taken at the photo shop, no smile…”
“It was not customary to smile.”
“You both looked so young and beautiful.”
“It was the first time I had make up on, wearing long dress.”
“How was the first few months of marriage for you?”
“I missed my mother. Whenever I said to your dad, I wanted to go home, he’d say “your home is here now.” I got pregnant and had our son nine months later.”
“How old were you?”
“About 15 years old.”
“I am aware, at the time, it was the tradition for girls to get married young. How was your life as a young mother?”
“The baby cried for nine months. I took him to many doctors yet no one could tell me what was wrong. I thought I didn’t know how to sooth him. Fathers, at the time didn’t help with raising children. It wasn’t customary. He was to go to work early in the morning. I had to hold the baby all night walking to keep him quiet with fear of waking him up. I was exhausted.”
“What was going on with the baby? Was your mother helping?”
“We learned he had a congenital heart problem with the valve when he was exempted from military service. None of the doctors recognized it. The baby cried so hard, he got a hernia.”
“It must have been physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting for you. I can’t imagine the pain for a young mother. I wonder if it made you feel insecure as a wife and as a mother.”
“Yes it did. I felt so tired and frustrated not knowing what to do! To make matters worse, my second brother and his mature wife, older than him, had a son, nine months older than my son. When he went home, his wife would put the baby to sleep, put on a pretty dress and make up – perfume, make a tray of his favorite alcohol and snacks and welcome him home with music. Then a big delicious dinner and going to bed happy. Your father would see and expect the same thing from me while I was dying for an hour of sleep.”
“I wonder if your sister in law did that with intention! You shared with me she left her son when he was only nine months old and they divorced. There is discrepancy with that “show” and reality. I remember that cousin was severely wounded growing up without parental love.”
“Ya, while I was so overwhelmed with the baby alone at home, your father who loved playing cards, would go out frequently to have a good time with his friends. Your brother was about five years old and I was just beginning to breathe again. The only way to be with your father was to learn to play cards and join him and I did.
My mother helped taking care of our son. Then my mother thought it was time for a second child.”
“I wonder if your mother was tired of raising two grandsons. It seems as if the decision was made for you.”
“I was still tired and honestly after all that hardship didn’t want any more children.”
“I can feel the inner pain. I guess according to the cultural norms, the primary role for women is to be homemakers and raise children.”
“You were such a good child. I didn’t even know how you grew up? You didn’t give me any trouble at all.”
The daughter, a complaint child, was thinking to herself, her mother never knew of her inner pain. She thought her mother acted overwhelmed with her own life having no room to hear about any issues of her children. She wondered to herself asking “was that the truth or her distorted perception?.”
In her journey of her self-discovery it was essential for her to find out.
Was she making an assumption?
“Mom, I had a painful childhood.” She shared gently and kindly, no interest in triggering feelings of inadequacy in her mother.
“What? You had a painful childhood?” The mother seemed agitated, angry as if insulted.
“I raised you guys perfectly. Without any help at all. Your father never helped. As a man he didn’t even consider helping me with parenting. We didn’t have any of the comfort you guys had. I ironed all your cloths, even socks. I sew your dresses myself taking models from the European journals. You and your brother were the best dressed children among all our family and friends.”
The old tape had been triggered, storied shared a thousands of times were told again. The daughter gained the insight she was looking for; her mother was a survivor of severe childhood traumas. The unacknowledged, untreated painful traumas seemed to have left a lifetime scar on her psyche. Over the years, the pain had turned into deep frustration, anger, resentment and hatred. The volcano was erupting. Her depth of her defensiveness was louder than any spoken words.
The daughter thought to herself what is the point of this conversation?
How does an adult child respond to a volcano of the hot lava eruption frequently with every word, every thought being a trigger?
There was a moment of clarity. The daughter remembered “Clarity is power!” she was free from self-doubt. She had given her best to the mother. Years of listening to mother’s old stories of her painful childhood traumas had not brought any healing for anyone.
An insight emerged; once can’t help anyone who is not willing to receive. The change can only come from within with intention and readiness for change. How does a loving person let go of a loved one with compassion? She thought to herself. Let go. Let go.
She kneed down, opened her heart and soul and asked for guidance. How could she release her mother with love.
How would she deal with the guilt feeling inside and the ego’s loud voice, “She is your MOTHER. You chose her.”
She was reminded of the story of Saint Francis of Assisi in the quietness of the dark night. St. Francis left his abusive father at young age. He gave the father even his clothing, didn’t want anything from the father. He left to create his own path in life. Many years passed and he became an enlightened man through his life experiences.
One day, a messenger came in a hurry to let him know his father is in his death bed and wants to see him. He immediately got ready to go, paused and asked himself; do I really want to see my father? He experienced an intense internal struggle. He thought to himself, I really don’t wish to see him yet his my father and he is dying. What should I do?
He sat for mediation and asked his higher power for guidance. He sat in silence, cleansing all his thoughts, giving permission for the divine message.
The inner voice came clearly stating, you always have a choice not to be around those who take your energy away regardless of the relationship.
Saint Francis gave thanks and with clear conscious decided to stay home sending loving energy to his father.
The daughter was in peace after over six decades. She was thinking of her sister taking care of their mother.
Acceptance of self and others is a choice, a life altering choice.