Chapter Two – Forgiving Mama
Blame holds hate toward (m)others; forgiving allows the Divine Feminine in us to function to receive our Good.
In 1994 when I wrote Forgiving Is the Only Real Solution to Violence, my sister read through it noticing the stories in which I was forgiving Daddy. She asked when I would write a book about Mama. I said, “Never!” I sit here right now remembering that I never wanted to face the hate I still had toward my mother. It felt so overwhelming. I knew I did not have the skill to deal with it then. And I never expected to have to face it. And when she died some years ago I sighed with relief.
For four years before writing Forgiving Is the Only Real Solution to Violence I had taken vocal training to free my voice to speak and to reclaim expressiveness in my face. This followed many years of forgiving, including issues related to my mother. In the front of the book I had written prominently, “Every choice to blame others, to believe we are guilty when they blame us, or to blame ourselves, is an act of violence to our own soul.”
Earlier this year I read Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book, Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life. He truly spoke to my soul and I was on full receive! He says a writer cannot write a book that has life within it without placing her own love within it. And to do that, she must be free to write both what she loves and what she hates. I have been receiving messages about writing a book that would speak for the Divine Mother for some years now and nothing ever seemed to flow beyond possible titles. Now I knew why my many questions about Mother had not flowed to and through me. I had not been willing to open the door to remaining hate. And that hate would be aimed at my mother for failure to love and protect my soul. It is time, once again, to look at how I am doing violence to my own soul. I write again, and more, to stop violence I still do to my own soul.
Today is Easter. A perfect day to fully understand that hate is where I still see no love for me. And that means that I would be waiting still and holding blame toward another (a mother), expecting that love to come from outside of myself. Spiritual growth requires that we wake up to these places where we hold blame toward another and take responsibility now for loving that aspect of our own Self. This is achieved through forgiving. To forgive is to change our own way of thinking from holding someone else responsible for our not feeling loved, to acknowledging that we are not open to receive from within. It means that we are not using the feminine function, the feminine receptive side of God. We blame and try to get love, or we receive and express love.
I have now been actively involved in personal and spiritual growth for 40 years. Perhaps that is adequate time! I ask myself if spiritual growth is always about forgiving our mothers. Perhaps we are slow to do so because we do not understand the Divine Mother who takes her place like permanent teeth replace baby teeth.
At the level of Divinity, Father and Mother are One as in the familiar white and black yin/yang symbol. They represent the pulse of Life, the receptive and the active, opposite and complementary forces. One cannot exist without the other. I was raised by a Jewish mother and Christian father in a western culture where I heard only about God the Father. Everything about both religions is patriarchal. I heard no mention of any Mother.
What is the Divine Mother? She is the space between (words, musical notes, consonants, etc.). She is the space around or behind the object (photo, painting, visual image, etc.). She is the open door that allows entry (of an idea, to the soul, to a new way of life, etc.). She is the relaxed state that allowsfor contraction (of the heart, the fist, the diaphragm for the next inhale, etc.). She is the release that allows (for rest, for birth, for growth, etc.). She is the embrace that receives (emotions, thoughts, experience, etc.). She is the ebb (that balances the flow, night that balances the day, moon that balances the sun, etc.). She is the energy that unites (people, souls, the soul with the One Holy Soul - Christ, etc.). She is the invisible force we long for (understanding, acceptance, embrace of our Being, etc.). She is the nurturer of our soul allowing (love to feed us, love to embrace us, love to communicate with us, etc.). She is the aspect of us that experiences (touch, touch of the heart, touch of the soul, etc.). She is any virtue that gives nurture (sweetness, softness, and comfort that heals, etc.). She is the destroyer who allows (the womb to open, breakdown of the old to make space for the new, death so there can be rebirth, etc.). She is the pole of Father (receiver of Spirit, birther of Nature, the womb of all that exists, etc.).
This head level understanding is in stark contrast to how I have experienced the Divine Mother. For me, she is a void in consciousness, an energy that seems absent, someone/something no one speaks about, something never named for me, a non-visible and invisible force, someone/something I seek and do not find, a frustration, something I may know intimately and have not properly named, and perhaps the ultimate “one” I blame for all the pain I’ve experienced in life from being a soul ignored and denied.
At age thirty, in my mind, I heard someone call my name. I really heard my name. And I responded with, “I am Nancy, not daughter, mother, wife, nurse, board member.” It was my first waking moment. It was another three years before I was challenged to the limit. My husband had signed up for a group process weekend and the other weekend workshop being offered at the same place was based on the book, “I’m OK You’re OK.” My husband suggested I go. I responded cockily not really aware at the time how frightening it was for me to leave my roles and go to an unknown place as Nancy.
I walked into a large auditorium and the man on stage announced to the crowd that we were there for a weekend of psychotherapy. I was expecting to learn about the I’m OK, You’re OK book that a friend had given me. My mouth dropped.
We were assigned to small groups. The leader began asking me who I was. I named one role after another. With each naming he said, “That is not who you are.” Pretty soon started to go into blackness, and sensing this, he threw a pen at me. Catching it, I came back to the present. At that moment I was aware that I had no sense of Self. I had lived entirely in roles, defined by who I was in relationship to others, or how I was to serve them (sacrifice myself) based on cultural expectations. This was my first introduction to Transactional Analysis.
Since the beginning of my personal growth with Transactional Analysis I have understood the concept of the Critical/Controlling Parent and Adapted Child within. This is in contrast to the Nurturing Parent and Natural Child within. As I grew spiritually, later loving A Course in Miracles as a guide, I understood the Critical and Adapted side as my fear side, the ego and survival child within. I understood the Nurturing and Natural side as my loving side, the Holy Spirit and the Divine Child within. I came to see that while masculine language is used in A Course in Miracles, it also introduced me to the term allowing.
On my fortieth birthday I received a Master’s in Mental Health Nursing. As part of my field work I had set up a program for a local hospital’s home care program in which the focus was on giving care to the caregivers of invalids confined to home. That was a subject I knew a lot about through my own personal experience. I loved the program. Recipients loved the program. They loved me. I had found my place, I thought. Then Hospice and Blue Cross took over the program and said a Social Worker had to fill my position. So I lost what seemed like my perfect job.
For two weeks I was angry and fought against this decision. Then I decided if I were ever going to begin a private counseling practice this was the time. I also contracted that year to do a workshop for a local university which launched a teaching career for me and eventually led to my leading a spiritual community. For more than twenty years I was in demand as a teacher first to guide personal growth and later to guide spiritual growth. Never during this time did I consider the Holy Spirit as feminine, since I had never heard it defined that way. I had woken to see that the word “allow” as the feminine function of God.
Though I did not think of the Holy Spirit as feminine, I had been journaling for years. My practice usually involved using a purple pen for the nurturing voice and a red pen for the child voice. And certainly in loving and nurturing myself I experienced that as receiving from the feminine. Obviously, the problem is far beyond any hate I might hold toward my mother. Not only did I feel a void of love for my soul from my mother, I had not seen or heard any language to use to speak about the Divine Mother, even if I believed there was such a thing.
I recognize now that “writer’s block” for me is nothing more than a signal to me that I am holding blame of another (a mother) who I see as not receiving my words with love. And is it not so obvious that I do that violence to my own soul? Any fear, anger, or hate keeps me anchored in ego and prevents me from bringing my soul energy into my words. Here, I blame others for not receiving me when I am not in receive mode myself. In so doing, I deny myself full communication with the holy, healing, peace, joy, and love. Call it Atonement. So I am ready to love and protect my soul and release any demand on Mama or others in my past to fulfill that function for me. I’m ready and willing to live my full being as the Divine Child of my Divine Mother. And I’m ready and willing to name the holy properly for proper understanding and function.
I feel driven at this point to speak for the Divine Mother. Recently I uncovered a speech that I gave before the community that I led. It was an address speaking as the Divine Mother. I have also had the title for a book I’d like to write, “A Letter to My Children from Mother.” I wanted it to read the same whether read by one of my biological children, or read by any person on Earth. I wanted it to spark the divine child within them.
Typically, energy that wakes comes out angry, fearful, and sad. So I honor what I learned from Stephen Buhner that I, as a writer, cannot write a book that has life within it without placing my own love within it. And to do that, I must be free to write both what I love and what I hate. In other words, I must feel any repressed pain and recognize the violence I do to my own soul to hold onto it. The true meaning of forgiving is that I realize that I did the repressing, and I have the ability to reclaim the Self repressed with it or behind it. I must once again, on this day that we celebrate resurrection, choose to resurrect my own soul.
Speaking of energy waking up angry, I remember well the day my youngest son at age 5 dropped a pair of underpants on the floor and I started yelling at him fiercely. It was so unlike me, and also so obvious that there was something going on with me here. What in the world could have upset me so when a fourth child does something so innocuous? I sat myself down immediately and said, “Nancy, what is going on with you?” I began to cry. I remembered a time when I was 8 years old, my sister 2 years older was about to take a bus trip with Mama to visit relatives in another city. Undoubtedly I fussed at being left out and was told my turn would be next. That time never came.
Now, my younger two adopted sons were being taken on cruises by their deceased mother’s parents at the ages of 5 and 8. By the way, it is not unusual for us to relive an age when one of our children reaches that age. It is one of the blessings of having children for we receive constant reminders to forgive our past. So, realizing that I was upset about not having my turn, I decided that I, too, could take a cruise. I dressed and left immediately to visit a travel agency.
When I walked in, I told the woman there that I wanted to take a cruise. She asked where I wanted to go and I told her I had not decided that. She asked when I wanted to go and I told her I had not decided that. She had mostly determined by this time that I wasn’t really serious about taking a cruise, however I continued the conversation by telling her that the grandparents of two of my children were taking one to Alaska and one through the Panama Canal, so I didn’t want to go either of those places.
She went on to say that things didn’t look safe in the Mediterranean Sea so they were avoiding that area. Then she told me that she had recently been to Tahiti where the American Hawaiian Cruise Line had a new cruise. “That’s it!” I declared with excitement. Tahiti! She gave me a brochure and said she thought I’d better talk it over with my husband. I dutifully said I would. So I left the agency feeling quite satisfied, also knowing full well that I had no idea what or where Tahiti was. I had a plan for me, however. Mama was off the hook.
I was sitting on the living room couch, brochure in hand, when my husband came through the door from work. “I’d like to go to Tahiti,” I said. He responded, “Fine, I’ll go with you.” And I could not have been more surprised. My cabin fee alone was $2500. It was only a matter of days until I received a call from an attorney of one of my clients who had been murdered. She had named me as executrix of her estate, he said. The only thing needed was to sell her home and I would receive $2500 for doing that. Amazed at the seeming coincidence, I happily agreed. I listed her home with a local realtor and it sold immediately to the first young man who saw it.
My husband and I flew to Tahiti meeting my oldest son and lady friend upon arrival. We had invited them to share a bunk in our cabin. We arrived at our hotel in Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, and were given a room number that we could not find. We later found out that it was the honeymoon suite and instead of a number, had a name on the door in some language unfamiliar to us. Luggage for many on the cruise had not made it to this first destination and had not arrived in the three days that preceded the cruise. This was the start of some passengers seriously grumbling.
Aboard ship, the first whiff of breakfast sent my husband to our cabin nauseated. Later I could see him on the deck getting a sausage sandwich. Asked about it, he said that if he was going to vomit, he was going to give himself something to vomit and he wasn’t willing to spend the cruise sick in the cabin. Then came the first tender trip to an island. We waited our turn for a couple hours watching the sea throw the tender around and a crew that didn’t seem to quite know how to handle it. It was stormy, rainy, and a frightening ride to anticipate. In the end, our turn came and both of the young ones boarded and my husband and I happily refused and went back to our cabin. I remained happy with my choice until I saw the gorgeous purple shells that the children had upon their return. I decided at that moment that nothing would keep me from going ashore again. And nothing did. However I never saw any purple shells either.
With my husband’s decision to not be sick in the cabin, and mine to not miss out on purple shells, we were both ready to experience Tahiti as Tahiti. We were wet for a week. It was monsoon season there. And if we weren’t wet from rain, we were wet from sweat or swimming. Also there was only one washer and dryer on the whole ship and the dryer didn’t dry anything no matter how long clothes were left in it to dry. So we were wet! And I observed the beauty of Tahiti and how the people lived with the pure wonder of a child.
The bakers had all jumped ship before taking this particular trip, and the freezer broke mid way someplace. We didn’t even have ice cream at that point. Having never cruised before, I didn’t much know the difference nor have any desire to gorge myself on sweets and gain weight anyway. I loved the constant displays on our ship of tropical fruits from the various islands we visited.
I had an opportunity to snorkel, and then to take an outrigger to an island. Still hoping to find purple shells, I decided to walk around the little island where we landed, hoping to go beyond where other tourists had scoured for shells. About half way around the island I saw a solid black cloud bearing down on me and winds beginning to rip up. I ran like hell across the island to get back to the guide. As I dodged crab holes and did my best to avoid coconuts falling on my head I said to myself, “You are insane! What are you doing running across an island in the South Pacific endangering yourself this way?” I reached safety and it was one of those times when we, along with the other people being drenched in the outrigger, could only laugh hysterically.
None of the boxes in the hold of the ship were marked and the people serving us were frustrated beyond belief in trying to find appropriate supplies. Still, they served us with ultimate kindness. Having made the changes in our own minds to allow us to thoroughly enjoy the trip no matter what, forgiving and giving compassion to the entire crew, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. Others did not, however. They started a petition for a law suit which we did not sign.
A couple weeks after returning home we received a letter stating that the cruise was not up to American Hawaiian standards and would we please accept a cruise back to Tahiti or to Hawaii. They would pay for the cruise and we would pay the airfare. We accepted a cruise back to Tahiti for some months later on. A few months passed and we received another letter, this one stating that they had never worked out the bugs on the Tahiti trip and would we please accept a cruise to Hawaii, they would pay both the cruise and the airfare. Well, now, it didn’t take long for us to make that decision. They even accepted my son bringing his current lady friend.
Now on our way to Hawaii, we flew as far as Chicago and were called over to a desk. The woman there said that our scheduled flight was full and asked if we would accept a $1000 voucher and take a flight scheduled for two hours later. “Of course,” we said. And we found that instead of being on a crowded plane, we both had 5 seats where we could sleep on the trip. After a lovely trip around the Hawaiian Islands, our son had decided to marry this lady friend. We were able to use the voucher to cover all the costs to fly the five of us to our son’s wedding in a distant state.
Now, let’s look at this scene that began with my son dropping his underpants on the floor and my exploding with anger. Most often we have buried scenes from childhood that went unresolved and it takes some current event to bring the feelings back to awareness. This particular scene with its feelings had been repressed for 34 years. In taking awareness to my anger in the scene of origin, I was able to forgive Mama, stop waiting in blame unfulfilled, and take the proper action for myself. The flow of energy that followed brought gift after gift to me in totally unsuspecting ways. And I received all the gifts with gratitude.
Look at the allowing function here. I allowed myself to stop blaming/attacking my son. I allowed myself to turn inward so I could discover the real source of threat. I allowed myself to hear what it was that I was wanting, and further, to allow myself to want it. As a child I was NEVER to say, “I want.” I allowed myself to look ignorant to the travel agent. I allowed myself to consider venturing to an unknown place. I allowed myself to enjoy whatever experience presented itself with wonder and only compassion toward a crew that was working under the worst of conditions. I allowed myself to receive with gratitude the original $2500 from acting as executrix, the trip to Hawaii, and the trip to my son’s wedding. This experience has been my model for remembering the power of forgiving. We block a tremendous amount of good that urges to manifest in our lives in holding blame. We do violence to our own souls.
This allowing function is a Divine Feminine process. Forgiving ends this violence we do to our own soul and that of others. When we forgive, we allowourselves to express virtuously and create only that which is helpful. We will now look at allowing and virtues.