I feel the Peace On Earth thing this year. For the most part I'm ditching the news. And the drunken festivities. And the pious rituals. Truth be told, I prefer Christmas in my rear view mirror, with my new goodies on their way home. But since love is one of the reasons for the season, here goes...I feel drawn to this picture of Mary and Child. I used to collect artwork of Mary and the babe, especially in my twenties. I was trying to figure out 'mother love' from these pictures and figure out if I should have a baby of my own. Was she for real? Maybe not. Did mothers really feel that tenderly toward their babies? I didn't see a lot of mothers in Greenwich Village, doting or otherwise, and I wondered if my reaction to kids was normal. Let's just say my first instinct was to hit. I knew any child of mine was better off staying just a spark in my lover's eye.
This has been some year. The Year Of Unraveling. I've just finished an online workshop with an awesome Psychologist, Dr. Jonice Webb. (Her website is www.EmotionalNeglect.com ). Ha! Readers! I have found my tribe! People suffer greatly from this malady (Childhood Emotional Neglect, or CEN). We go through life being troopers. Good people on the surface, but underneath trying frantically to figure how to behave normally, since our 'instincts' are way off. Picture the duck moving placidly along. Well, I have felt this out of sync my whole life.
In this workshop, I saw myself in every single person who participated. Newcomers must feel this way when they walk through the doors of an AA meeting and see others struggling with the same issues that have them by the nuts. You can bet the people who know us well see how out of sync we are. How empty we really feel inside. Or maybe they don't look too closely, and so, think well of us? Because really, how can they see deep inside us and still love us? We hide our true feelings, and try to behave appropriately so as not to hurt people. I mean, that's what we do - hurt people. My mother and father thought so, and this is why they couldn't show affection for me.
For all wondering what the heck I'm writing about, here's a little test. Below are two sets of Relationship Beliefs provided by the good Doctor. Tell me which set you believe.
Relationship Beliefs #1:
• Sharing your feelings with others will make you look weak.
• It’s best not to ﬁght if you want to have a good relationship.
• Sharing your feelings or troubles with another person burdens them.
• Talking about a problem isn’t helpful. Only action solves a problem.
• Sharing your feelings or troubles with another person will chase them away.
• Letting others see your weaknesses puts you at a disadvantage.
• If you let other people see how you feel, they will use it against you.
Relationship Beliefs #2:
• Letting people see your feelings usually makes them like you more. It also fosters intimacy.
• The hallmark of a strong, healthy relationship or friendship is the ability to have a conﬂict, process it together, and work through it together. In fact ﬁghting is often a sign of closeness.
• Sharing your feelings or troubles with the right person at the right time does not burden them. It increases warmth and caring from the other person.
• Talking about a problem with a well-chosen person can help you get perspective, feel less burdened, sort out your feelings and thoughts, and sometimes even provide solutions
• Sharing your feelings or troubles with the right person will make him/her feel closer to you.
• Letting another person see your weakness does not put you at a disadvantage, unless the other person is the type of person to take advantage. Be aware of who you’re letting in. The huge majority of people will not take advantage.
• If you let someone see how you feel, they will know and understand you better, and that’s a good thing. The only exception to this is if they are actively trying to hurt you. Generally if there are people like this in your life, you know who they are. Do not share with them.
You believe the second list? Bravo! You had a great upbringing. And you probably have an easier time making friends. Feelings are the glue that binds two hearts.
All this is to say, with all this introspective work I've been doing, this Christmas season I'm finally feeling how Mother Mary might have felt toward her baby. And how her baby might have felt toward his Mom.
I'm a mess and I love you