Yesterday was one of those days. I woke up to a text my sister sent me the day before asking “did I do something wrong that you treat me like I have a disease?”. Way to start my morning. I was fuming at this text as we had this conversation months prior and I told her that I needed my space and needed to not talk with her. Thankfully I was going to a day-long meditation that morning with one of my favorite dharma teachers.
As I drove to the center I was still upset with my sisters message. What’s wrong with her that she’s addressing this again as if this were something new? I decided to call my dad since I wasn’t going to be available all day and knew I was going to be busy the next day. The conversation we had reminded me that I should call him in the evening and not at the beginning of a day. As if I didn’t have enough upheaval to work with during mediation.
All morning and afternoon long I was so uncomfortable in my mediation practice. I kept feeling anxious and sad. I kept re-focusing on my breath, all the while the dialogue of sadness and regret was playing, switching between the background and foreground of my mind. I was sad that I didn’t have the relationship I once had with my family. I was sad that I no longer speak the same language of denial that they do and they have no clue on how to speak mine. I was feeling anxious in my liminal space. As a side note, I’ve been sitting in the chairs lately instead of the cushion and I think this shifts more attention to my thoughts since I’m not preoccupied with physical discomforts such as my feet falling asleep or knee pain.
After meditation I went to my re-parenting group where we read a few paragraphs from the ACA book on re-parenting and did an exercise of our choice based on the reading. I decided to continue with meditating on the topic we discussed.
During this mediation I noticed I still had these overwhelming feelings anger, sadness, irritability. and restlessness. I decided to have a bit of dialogue with my Inner-Self.
Me: What is it that you’re feeling?
Inner Self: Disrespect.
M: Who is it that feeling disrespected?
IS: 5-year old me.
M: Oh, I see. tell me, how were you disrespected? I know you were loved and cared for, I’m not saying bad stuff didn’t happen, but what else happened? What good and not so good things happened?
IS: Well, mom would to wake-up early, make tortillas and give me a warm one while she cooked. She would brush my hair and walk me to school. She would also get mad at me because I would walk with my head down all the time. She would tell me to stop doing that. But she didn’t understand that I felt i had to watch-out where I was walking. Everytime I had an idea or felt something she always told me to “stop it”. Some friends at school would break things I liked or steal them from me.
M: Oh I see. Thank you for telling me. I can see that you felt like you couldn’t trust people with your feelings, like your feelings didn’t matter or were dumb. That must have hurt.
When it came time to share our experiences I started to talk the insight I just had and started to cry. Surprisingly it was the first time I’ve cried in any of my ACA groups. But I feel safe there and, as expected, received nothing but acknowledgment and good feedback.
I cried at the fact that there is a “why bother” aspect to my family. Everytime I speak on my needs or concerns they act like it’s the first time they heard it. never mind I’ve been saying the same ting for years. it’s the overall feeling of having no voice, of not being heard, of being invisible, and of not existing.
I’m slowly learning to have more balance between accepting the healthy and unhealthy aspects of my upbringing. I know my parents did the best they could and could only give me what they knew. But as many parents do, they unknowingly passed on their pain to my brothers and sisters and me.
I also learned that me and my sister trigger each others pain. I know she is hurt by my needing space since she is deeply dependent on having a connection with other people. So am I to a degree, (aren’t we all?) but for her it’s the foundation on which she has based her life. She triggers my inner-critic and hurtful parent and I trigger her sense of worthlessness. When I acknowledged this i realized a part of me wants to not make her “feel bad” anymore, but that is not my job. My job to care for me first. Only in doing this can I begin to learn how to interact with her without reacting (being triggered) and allowing her to be who she is.
I know it sounds cold to say “her pain is not my problem” but only she can work with her pain, that is her journey to take. Only when I can heal will others benefit and I am still in that process. There’s a lot to work with and the best thing she can do for me is give me that space and the best I can do for her is be honest in what I need. I can’t knowingly betray myself to save her feelings. So maybe I just need to be clear and re-state what I need from her.