We’re just past the full (blood) moon in Aries (Edit: I got this wrong; in April it was in Libra), and I was reminded yesterday to sit and meditate (in a group preferably) to discard the old, and welcome new patterns and paths into our lives. As a mum, this can be a tough feat sometimes, especially since I wasn’t able to find one in the evening that wouldn’t take me an hour to get there and back. Instead, I tried to do this with the four-year-old, which is the challenge you would expect: While guided meditation is something I’ve done occasionally with her, she is very voluble and loves describing what she sees as it happens, which, I must say, can be pretty interesting and detailed. And just a tad distracting.
Yet her presence helped me phrase what we were doing in a way she could connect to it, and I realised it was everything I had grappled with as a child. I told her we were now trying to “drop the feelings” we had gotten from these old experiences: Getting mad at the grownups, especially when they were listening (or not) yet didn’t understand. The times when they were not helpful, or in fact hurting, telling us to do things that we didn’t want to do, or to not do things that we really wanted to. Or the times the grownups didn’t believe us (something that happened to me more than I want to recall) even when we were in earnest (sometimes desperate), and utterly truthful.
Oh yes, she could go along with that. She even gave a couple of her own examples, and then asked me what to do with the feelings. “Give it to the candle,” I said.
“But I don’t want the candle to be angry!”
Well, once she was convinced, it was quick. For me, the past few days have dredged up a lot of old stuff. I had a bit of pre-warning, so most of it I was able to view dispassionately, even with all the details coming back: The time in my childhood when we had moved into a new neighbourhood, and how an older girl had for some reason had gotten all the neighbourhood kids to ostracise me by telling them I’d stolen some missing items. The word was so pervasive that even their parents and my own started questioning me. (That girl? I suspected she had some kind of pathological problem. I saw the signs of it a lot during the time we “made up” and played together with the other kids. But still being a kid myself, it’s not something the adults would trust from me.)
So, to put it this way, it was the story of my childhood. All these stories had the same pattern: I was a child, I was not expected to know or figure out the things that I did. (I was once accused by my English teacher that I had “made up” the word “millennium”.) This was something repeated in school, at home, and in the neighbourhood, and was hurtful to someone who was as young, eager-to-please, and well-read as I was. It is no wonder I never learned to trust authority or really, most grownups. Yet it was at odds with my wanting to trust them, with wanting them on my side to confirm my worth.
As I commented on status post from Jeff Brown on Facebook:
The “childhood of negative feedback” spoke to me, and I really believe some cultures are more toxic than others. The Asian “tiger mums” are real and common, and I grew up near these parents who expected children to be academically perfect, and trophies, really. My parents were not like this, but I knew plenty, and never felt adequate for my own parents. […] Here’s my own twist though: There were a great many things I knew that were unusual for a kid, and in hindsight, all of it was right, but I was always forced to concede that I was wrong and that the grownups around me knew better. This warped me severely, and I still do this in adulthood–give others more benefit of the doubt than I do myself. It doesn’t help being Asian and a woman when I still fight for my own views and boundaries today–I’m frequently guilted, chastised or accused of being emotional and argumentative. I still see the programming I got in my childhood being practised on other children and women, and it galls me. Some thing aren’t just a personal battle, they’re cultural. I’m fighting like hell now for my daughter to have a healthy sense of self. I hope more people wise up to the worth of a healthy ego as time passes, because that old baggage just needs to go.
Basically working as a freelancer now, the habit of devaluing myself has been a killer. And as someone taking active interest in activism, feminism and wanting a better society, I’ve been in plenty of verbal conflicts that arise from being vocal with my opinions too. In many ways, I feel like I’ve been fighting society and societal mores forever. (My biggest heroes right now are Vandana Shiva and Naomi Klein, two names I think would draw blanks from most people. Being mainstream has never been a trait of mine.) As for my artmaking, the programming over this from my childhood and my parents have been deep and destructive. So, as much as I’ve appreciated my friends over the years for their encouragement, little of it could reach the deeper scars.
This is the recognition I have now of the old patterns that molded me. Am I ready for something different? I’m trying to be. But I also know I can’t move on without recognising the gifts that were hard won from my past experience:
- Knowing that others can be wrong. I can be wrong too, but I’ll be “more OK” questioning and discerning other people’s opinions as much as I do my own, and not questioning them less than I do my own. I know how I work and form my beliefs. I can’t extend that same knowledge to others.
- Being highly self-critical of my own work has given me a visual objectivity on understanding the making of quality images that does help me produce good work. Sometimes this has been hard to convey to others who don’t the same understanding or vocabulary. But that difficulty to convey what I know does not mean my knowledge has no worth.
- I have worth, I have worth, I have worth. And I should have more faith in myself even if others don’t appear to credit me the knowledge and skills I know I have. (It may be sad that I’ve struggled so much with this and still continue to do so.)
So here then are my new patterns I want, going forward:
- I am here to bust the limiting pre-conceptions that people have of what it possible. This is what I’ve perhaps always been doing, without realising it: Asking for a better world, asking for recognition of my observations and ideas. I may be called upon more to teach, show and share. I may possibly always encounter detractors and resistance. But I also have friends. So many friends now who are a largely differently lot from two years ago! Separate post on this, perhaps.
- My downtime is my self-healing time, not “non-productive” time. It is productive because it prioritises my need for rest, introspection, realisation and development. I will not be a “whole” person without this.
- I may need others, but others also need me. I am here by the grace of God. And we are also all God. The people around me benefit when I realise my own worth, just as I recognise theirs.
- The multiple skills and interests I’ve picked up and developed over my life are a blessing, not a curse. I surprise people constantly with what I know and what I know how to do; it is a wide yet unusual skill set, but it is mine to share. I’m useful in unusual ways and should just “own” this, practise it, and value it accordingly. If ever I am torn deciding what to do and when, I should be guided by what makes me really happy and that I’m doing wholeheartedly, not driven by fear.
- No more fear. All love. Self-love, every choice should be made out of love.
- Compassion for everyone as always, never neglecting compassion for myself, and only claiming the energies and responsibilities that are mine.
- Remembering that I have friends, seen and unseen, at all times. I am surrounded by them. Distance is no object. I can trust them and divine timing.
The world is new and beautiful, and it is into this world and with these new patterns that I step into it.