Why do we have to lose ourselves when we become caretakers? Mothers? Fathers?
Why can’t we be parents and also fulfill another life purpose?
Why do so many of us feel it’s Us or Them?
Does anybody ‘win’ if we lose ourselves?
Today in our session Paula had to confront me about something I did that reminded her unpleasantly of her mother. “I really struggled to figure out what my boundaries are”.
“Why did you struggle with it?” I wanted to know.
“Because it’s the old thing again. When it comes to my mother I lose myself.”
When Amor was little she decided she would never have children. There was too much to do in this world, too many other people to help. She energetically dedicated herself to that cause for years. Then pregnancy surprised her. Her partner was overjoyed. She went along with it. Her eight year old son is a joy to her now but it’s not easy.
“I’ve completely lost my center! I used to feel a sense of life purpose and be driven and excited. I’ve always had a deep connection to spirituality and my higher self but I’ve totally lost it. I know it’s still there – at least I really hope it is – but I don’t know how to connect with it anymore. I’m supposed to be a mother and wife now, how do you do that?”
For years now she’s felt lost and frustrated. Lately her body has joined in with her soul’s efforts to call her back to her center. She’s always been fit and highly energized but now she’s accumulating physical problems that limit her movement and make darn sure she has to slow down – and be with herself. She’s panicking because she’s forgotten how to do it. And how can she do it and be a wife and mother? If she reconnects with herself and her life purpose won’t that mean she’ll have to leave them?
Sam’s wife complains that he pays more attention to the children than to her. It makes her feel unimportant to him which hooks into her fears that she’s not worth very much. She’s not sure if she wants to stay in the relationship.
Sam loves his wife a LOT. He really, really doesn’t want to lose her. He’s doing everything he can think of to make things better. He thinks it through so much, that his sweet gestures feel more calculated than loving. He wants to get it ‘right’.
We discuss how it was before kids and it turns out she’s missing his genuine and spontaneous self that disappeared once they had children. He has to be a ‘father’ now. “Does being a father mean you can’t be yourself anymore?” I ask Sam. He shrugs his shoulders in reply.
Margarete is in tears, “I feel so bad because when I wake in the morning I feel neutral, but the second I hear my children waking up, this anger takes me over and I think, ‘Oh no! They’re awake’. What kind of thing is that to think about your children? I feel so guilty. I feel the same way about my husband. I love him, and the kids, but if they come near me I almost get panicky that they’re impinging on my space. Then I blame them or I vibrate resentment and anger at them and even though I really try to cover it up, how can they not sense it?” A deep sad sigh, “I’m doing exactly what my mother did – resenting their presence and their demands on me.”
“I can hear how guilty you feel about this, but anger is often the signal from your deepest self that you are in pain of some kind. So let’s try and see what your anger is trying to make you aware of, ok? Why do you think you’re feeling resentful?”
“Because I have so little for me. Well that’s how it feels anyway. And when I do get time for me I feel guilty to really take it for myself, like I’m a bit lost. And I’m so angry about it!”
“What’s the reason you feel bad to take for yourself even when you get time for you?”
“Because I’m supposed to be there for them. That’s my role – and I want to do it. It makes me feel good to love and support and look after them. But then I’m left with this feeling of ‘what about me?’ and I get angry!”
“But what is preventing you from giving to them AND taking for yourself. Making sure you are providing for EVERYONE in the family – including you?”
“I don’t know… it’s like a feeling of me or them. If I take for me they’re excluded, and if it’s about them then it’s not about me.”