Letting Go to Grow
At the beginning of the year we vaguely talked about taking a lot of trips over the summer since both my Hun and I have part-time work schedules. Although we talked about going on a road trip, possibly in an RV, over the summer, we never really made concrete plans. Summer started with a bang with a trip to Hawaii, courtesy of my in-laws, then for the rest of the summer, we were just pooped and stayed home. Then, in a blink of an eye, summer was almost over. Even two weeks before our daughter was going to start school, we vaguely talked about still going on a trip and kind of expected the other to make plans, which we never did. So when there was only a week left, we just decided we were going to wing it and do it anyways- no rental car, no hotel nor campground reservations, and no defined itinerary. We were just going to do the damn thing and see where it takes us.
When we first started our drive, we all had different ideas where we wanted to go. We started heading one way, but less than an hour into the drive, heated discussions erupted and we changed direction. But even though heated discussions bring up yucky feelings, they're always great because they're cathartic. It opens us up to talk about and break down barriers to allow us to get a glimpse of each other's perspectives. Being confined in a car during the long drives gave us an opportunity to voice our truths and forced us to sit in it, even when it became uncomfortable. Once we stopped, our little adventures outside of the car gave us opportunities to actually live them out. And by the end of the trip, by dropping our guards and pretenses, we all found ourselves synced into a flow where we were all free to do our own damn thing, encouraging each other, and having a blast- individually AND together. And we found that when we're truly doing the damn thing and acting from love and not fear, we provide for those around us exactly what is needed, even if it may not be exactly what we thought we wanted.
One of the truths I've been actively exploring is the concept of love. I feel like I've outgrown the coddling-needy kind of love and literally feel suffocated and drowned by it. Love should empower you and others around you to be free, which others might not agree with.
Some might see freedom as dangerous because you're open to unknown forces "out there". And so some might see the willingness to be free and to grant freedom to others as a sign of not caring because of the notion that being responsible for the safety and well-being of others is a burden we have to carry as an expression of love. I've had trouble getting others to realize that this is not the case. And during our trip, I was given opportunities to practice and explore this newer concept of love and nurturing- letting go to grow.
I have to admit, that exploring love from the perspective of a parent has been one of the most difficult things for me. Everybody makes it seem that as a parent, you're supposed to do everything and anything for your children, including dying for them. That's supposed to be true love. I beg to differ.
As a parent holding on to that coddling concept of love and trying to live up to it, I felt like I was set up to fail. There was an episode when my eldest was really young where I inadvertently put him in harm's way. He ended up being okay, but I beat myself up over that incident. The guilt over the thought that I failed him as a mother made me more hypervigilant down the line. I scrutinized all the quantifiers of his success. At that time, that meant his grades, standardized test scores, scores and comments about his behavior in school from his teachers. I thought that I was loving him by being a "good mom" and constantly checking his assignments, work and grades, and managing his time so that he wouldn't fail as a student and that I wouldn't fail as a mom. But in doing all of that for him, it didn't feel loving at all. I became resentful, having to carry the burden of doing all these other things for him and scolding him for not performing well despite my efforts. His self-confidence suffered from the frequent scolding as did our relationship and he never really had the opportunity to truly try to do things his way because we were always hovering over him as parents. Over the last year, I've done a lot of letting go with him and our relationship and his personality around me has brightened so much. And even though his grades aren't perfect, he's been taking initiative in handling and managing the areas of his life that truly matter to him. And he can count every single one of his victories as his own, which makes my mama heart beam.
Being born 9 years after my son, my daughter has had the benefit of us working out some of our parenting kinks with our eldest by the time she was born, so she's been more independent. But on this trip, we had multiple chances to dive deeper(literally) into the concept of letting-go-to-grow kind of parenting and loving.
At one of our stops on our road trip there was a waterfall that people could jump off of. I was surprised when she said that she was willing to jump off the cliff. She was so eager, as long as I jumped with her, so I agreed. To be honest, as soon as I stepped on that ledge, there was a moment of hesitation and fear when I looked down at the water. I looked at Malaea with a little fear in my eyes and was about to tell her that if she didn't want to do it, she didn't have to. But before I could say anything to her, she beat me to the punch and said, "Let's just do it, Mom. Just jump." And so we did.
The fall from the jump was exhilarating. When I hit the water, the icy cold water took my breath away for a second and I quickly swam to the surface to catch my breath. I worried for a second whether Malaea was okay. I was relieved when she popped her head out of the water, proud that she was brave enough to jump and that she was able to swim back up in the cold water (and relieved that I didn't have to dive down to save her). When we both locked eyes, we both exclaimed, "It's soo cold!!" and I told Malaea, "C'mon! Let's get out of here."
I turned around to swim towards the shore and as soon as I did, Malaea locked her arms around my neck. "I can't swim, Mom! I'm frozen!" I was already having a hard time swimming because of the cold and felt myself go down as she put her weight on me to stay afloat. When I got my head back up, I quickly told her to let go of my neck and swim. She said she really couldn't and she looked panicked and said she couldn't swim because the cold water hurt. I was starting to panic too because I wasn't sure if I could keep both of us afloat. I couldn't let Malaea keep clinging to me or else we were both going to drown. I wasn't strong enough to swim for the both of us, even if I wanted to, so I had to get her to swim on her own, which I knew she could do. I was getting so frustrated and panicked that I just wanted to yell and tell her to JUST STOP FUCKING CHOKING ME AND QUIT BEING A BABY AND FUCKING SWIM ALREADY OR ELSE WE'RE BOTH GOING TO FUCKING DROWN! But the fact that I could only get my mouth above the water just long enough to utter one syllable at a time and there were a bunch of people looking down on us from the top of the falls made me think twice. The thought of going viral on social media as the mom who cussed out her kid as she drowned shut that speech down quick. Old thoughts of being a "bad mom" started to come back but I pushed them away. Besides, I don't think such an impassioned speech would've motivated her to swim. In fact, it might've motivated her to cling to my neck just a little bit tighter and push down on me just a little bit harder. LoL.
Since getting mad and frustrated wasn't helping and neither was letting Malaea continue to grab on my neck, I had to switch up my strategy. I told her to let go of my neck and I promised I'd keep holding her hand. We both had a hard time swimming facing forward with just one hand each, so I told Malaea to just turn and float on her back and swim just like she used to when I taught her to swim. I told her to relax and all she'd have to do is float and kick her legs while I held her hand and did the same. That did the trick and swimming became so much easier. I eventually got her to the rocks where she could at least cling to them as she moved herself to the point where she could get herself out of the water.
That whole episode felt like forever, so I'm surprised at how quickly it all seemed to happen when I watch it on video. And the same theme kept repeating itself through the trip.
When we got out of the water, she still had to climb back up to the top of the ledge and she was so frustrated, saying that she couldn't do it the whole time. I reminded her that she just swam all by herself in the icy cold water when she said that she couldn't. And I reminded her that just like swimming, I couldn't climb up the rocks for her. She had to do it herself. But I was going to be right behind her to help her figure out where to put her feet and hands so she can climb up. And she did it. And I did it too.
And even the next day when we had to scramble up a steep part of the trail on the way up from another waterfall, Malaea kept grabbing on to me whenever she would lose her footing. Whenever I would hold my hand out to help steady her, she would completely lean back, as if expecting me to just carry her weight and pull her all the way up. I told her not to do that and not to grab me because we'd both lose our footing and fall and that wouldn't do either one of us any good. I told her that I would go ahead of her to test the trail and I'd tell her where the good spots were to step and grab on to while her daddy brought up the rear. She watched me slip a couple of times and I'd warn her to be careful in those areas and I suggested spots she could hold on to to steady herself. There were a couple of times when we were almost at the top where she kept losing her footing and she'd slide back down the slope on the dirt and rocks. Although it was hard to watch her slide down and get scraped, I couldn't carry her up the trail, even if I wanted to. She just had to tough it out and find it in her to do it herself. I was coaching her from the top while her daddy coached her and caught her whenever she would slide down from the rear. He helped push her up a little bit and when she got high enough for me to reach her, I was able to pull her up. She was in tears, but we told her how proud we were that she managed to climb such a rough section. Her daddy told her how watching her go through that climb felt like he just watched her grow about a year older physically, mentally and emotionally right before his eyes.
As I was reflecting on the events of the trip, I realized how all these situations are all big lessons for us- not just as a parent, but how to approach loving and helping others in general. There are no saviors. We are each responsible for our own salvation, healing, happiness and love. We are all responsible for our own experiences because it's all based on our own choices.
Doing the work for others never truly solves the root of the problem. Not only do you carry an unnecessary burden, but it only perpetuates a belief of powerlessness, helplessness, victimization, futility, and dependence in those you're trying to help. If I swam for my daughter or pulled her all the way up out of those rocks, not only would I have hurt myself, but I would've robbed my daughter of the opportunity to explore her problem solving skills, how resilient she is and how perfectly capable she is if she puts her mind to it. She would've kept believing that she wasn't capable of overcoming obstacles and kept believing that she needed somebody else to do things for her. All I can do in those moments of struggle is to hold space for her, make her feel supported by cheering her on, showing her a possible way out by going through the problem with her or before her, being an example, and by giving her a hand to hold for her to feel safe enough to figure it out on her own.
And going back to my son, this trip was kind of a full circle for him as well. We left him alone at home(by choice and circumstance) while we were gone since he had just started school. It was a huge step in letting go to trust him to take care of himself, manage the details of the first week of school and continue to do his chores and not burn the house down. We gave him the freedom to go out with his friends and have them over but emphasized honesty. We thought he was enjoying the time to himself while we were away. When we came home, he gave his dad a big hug and said he didn't realize how lonely it would be without us. But, again, he was okay, the house was okay, and he even had a little party with his friends when we got home. See? Giving somebody freedom to figure things out doesn't always mean they won't need you anymore and will want to leave you forever. Having and giving freedom can make someone appreciate loved ones even more.
As a parent, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and even as a nurse/healer, it's not my responsibility to save anybody. Even in my job and just general healing I've changed my outlook even from just a year ago. I don't consider it my job to save or heal the world, the Earth or other people. That's why I don't approach my patients or do energy sessions in the sense where my intention and the recipient's intention is for me to heal them or to fix their problem. What I'm here to do is help give you keys to help YOU unlock your own power to find happiness, healing, and love. What I'm here to do is to do my damn thing and shine to help you see that you have it in you to do it too. Whether it's swimming, climbing, adventuring, creating, laughing, fumbling, crying, healing, overcoming obstacles, surrendering, finding freedom, finding and being love- by doing all those things and sharing it with others is how you truly help and heal others on a level far deeper and lasting than just taking on the burden of doing things for others. Care, not carry.
And if I dare venture into religious territory, this is how I feel Jesus truly saved. He was a savior not because he carried the burden of the world. He was a savior because he was a G and showed people exactly what we're capable of if we truly lived in love. He was an example of compassion, healing, finding and being true to himself, overcoming obstacles and living in love even when he was given shit, not in a nice-nice coddling kind of way nor because only he had the power to do so. He went through all of that shit and did the damn thing to show us that if he can do it, we can find it in ourselves to do the damn thing and save ourselves as well.
This is how I feel we're all supposed to save the world- by walking our talk(the talk of our hearts) and healing and saving ourselves and shining and sharing our light so others can do the same. This is the type of nurturing and loving that I'm vibing with. Let go to grow. It might seem like tough love, but it's a deeper, more empowering, set-you-free-to-do-the-damn-thing-so-we-can-all-fly kind of love. And we were all meant to fly, even if it means flopping in order for us to learn. So let's do this!