birth and rebirth
I mentioned the other day how I am taking this e-course with Kelly Carlin called Unplugged–which is basically this course on how to stay sane during insane times. Kelly’s the daughter of George Carlin, has a fair degree of experience with loss, has a lot of insight into Buddhist beliefs, and is also a therapist. In short, I adore her and everything she does. Enrolling in this course might be the best decision I’ve made all year.
On our first session, Kelly said something just as an aside that sort of cracked something open in me–and really got the wheels turning. I doubt she even realized how impactful it was, but nevertheless, it was a perspective changer.
She talked about how–when her mother died–something was born inside her–a new branch of life. And it was an odd thing for me because, as grateful as I am for every bit of the learning I’ve gone through–as grateful as I am even for all the shitty things–I never once thought of what happened to me and my family as a birth or rebirth. I only thought of it as loss and death. And that mourning for myself and for what had been was basically part of every single day of my life since that day.
It made me wonder why. When my father died, I was six years old–hardly even a human yet–and definitely not in touch with my emotions. I was a typical child of an alcoholic and–given what I’ve learned about myself in therapy–an abused, neglected child. Despite my parents’ best intentions and genuine love for me. (Even there, I have to protect them).
Because of that, I didn’t really have a normal healing process and–because of that–I now have PTSD. That trauma follows me daily. But as a kid and a young adult, death didn’t haunt me on a daily basis. I was too focused on other things–like getting out of poverty and taking care of my mother. As devastating as it was, and as much as I was–in fact–obsessed with death–it didn’t take over my brain.
But when my mother died, it was like I died. I see it as a before and an after. It was this thing where–no matter what I did–who I was before was lost forever. And for years, I fought that idea–trying so hard to reclaim who I had been–to reclaim the things that now brought me extreme trauma. Fighting my grief and trying to will my way back.
Every so often, I would reclaim things…but I found as much as parts of me still existed…they were not the same.
So, thinking about what was born–instead of what I lost–who I could never be–was a pretty profound thought that has kind of stayed with me.
Yesterday, we had another session, and Kelly brought up the ideas of Bodhicitta and the Bodhisattva–which were both just weird Buddhist buzzwords I never quite understood. But her descriptions of both really resonated with me–and I realized that was what was born in me the day my mother died.
This deeper sense of connection to all beings. This complete inability to be anything other than vulnerable and tender. This commitment to feeling. This mission to reduce suffering by making sense of my own suffering.
A completely new path that was full of attempts to connect. Full of failure. Full of heart. Full of broken everything. But more fulfilling and more sacred. Mine.
I hate that my mother is gone. I hate how she suffered. I hate how I suffered. But I am incredibly grateful for who I’ve become. Even if it meant some parts had to die. I’m so excited about what I’m capable of now–and how much is possible for me now.
I have such an appreciation for the love that brought me into this world and the love that went with my mother when she left it. It inspires me and gives me hope. And I can only wish to share that with others so no one feels alone.
I’m so hard on myself, so often, because of the things that died in me that day. Instead of remembering how much survived and how much more exists now because of that loss.