Several years ago, at a time when I was feeling especially judgmental of my parents and how they raised me and my siblings, I was driving down the road ruminating on their lack of generosity.
Have you had times like this? Times when you found yourself running the same stories through your head, and they all have the same ending: the ending that makes the other person — or yourself — stay in your bad graces?
So on this particular day, I was ruminating on my parents’ lack of generosity while driving down the road and heading to a cabin by the ocean, near where I was raised in Washington State (one of my favorite places in the world), when it occurred to me:
Hey. I’m driving Pop’s car.
A little while later, while still thinking about their lack of generosity, I thought:
It sure was nice of him to have it cleaned for me. Hmmmm… He also gassed it up and had the oil changed just for me.
I’m tearing up as I write this…
And then it hit me like a flash of light in my heart:
I’m heading for the ocean to stay in a cabin that my folks reserved for me because they knew I love it so much. I’m driving my Pop’s car, which he had washed and serviced so I’d be safe. In the back seat is a small cooler of food from my favorite German deli… My Mom had bought it for me because she knew how much I loved their food.
And, the final thing that can make me weep even today:
If they send me away to the ocean during my short visit, I’ll be spending less time with them. Less time in their elder years when time is so very precious, especially time spent with their children.
Oh, my heart opened and I cried and cried during that 2-hour drive to my lovely little cabin on the ocean. Part way there, I called my mother and cried with her over how much I appreciated she and Pop and how much they support me. We both cried happy, being met, being seen tears in that conversation.
That precious moment in time remains one of my most favorite memories — it’s deeply sad and liberating and healing.
The only thing that had changed was my perspective.
Suddenly, I was able to recognize their generosity in ways I hadn’t before. My dear parents hadn’t done anything different from other times in my life, but for the first time I could recognize their actions as generosity, and this allowed me to dive deep into gratitude.
It doesn’t always work this way, does it? And I haven’t figured out a way to force perspective changes.
What I do know is that this moment came to me after a couple of years of a steady Self-Empathy practice and Empathy from friends. Somehow because of all the NVC work I had done (and other spiritual practices), I became open enough to receive my parents in a way I hadn’t before. And the three of us experienced a bit of healing as a result.
This month, let’s tune our focus toward gratitude, healing, and opening to new perspectives. I hope our offerings in Growing Roots will support you in this.
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