The Precarious Plight of the Un-Motherly Mother:

In the 1979 film, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Meryl Streep plays a wife and mother who wants out of her marriage badly enough to leave not only her husband but her young child as well. Months later, after the husband has soldiered through the crisis on his own, Streep decides that she misses the child and wants to be with him. Following a fierce custody battle, which she wins, she changes her mind and gives him back.

Upon leaving the theater a woman was heard to remark, loud and clear, “What I want to know is where was his mother???”

Indeed, more mothers than you might think, are just not there in mind, emotion or spirit, and sometimes not even in body. They lack, have never had, and probably never will have, the Mothering Gene, or possess a stunted one at best. If there are studies of this psycho-genetic weakness I haven’t seen them, but there should be. It might save many children of such mothers and even these un-motherly mothers themselves much pain and suffering in their relationships.

I spoke with three people, yesterday alone, about the “Mothering Gene” and the lack thereof in their mothers. All are women over 50 and still feel the deprivation and the loss − still yearn for the closeness they never had. The mother is the core, the soul of the family. When your mother’s heart isn’t in it, you feel it from the beginning and believe there’s something missing within yourself, often for the rest of your life. But, what’s missing has nothing to do with you. And there’s nothing you can do to change who your mother is or was ─ and no need to make yourself “better” to please someone who can never be pleased by anything or anyone beside herself.

I call this the LOMOG (Lack Of the Mothering Gene) Syndrome. A syndrome that manifests differently for sons and daughters. For while daughters blame themselves, and keep trying to prove themselves worthy of their mother’s love, sons can fail to launch, emotionally and otherwise, and behave in some pretty messed up ways.

There are books written by so called experts about parenting, but none of us is truly prepared for motherhood, just as none of us is is prepared for childhood either! It’s all Learn As You Go. And some of us are better at it than others. My sister once told me about a friend of hers whose mother dropped her and her brother off at the neighborhood movie theater on a Saturday afternoon for a double feature. They were eight at the time. When the movie was over the mother didn’t return. Just left them there and disappeared from their lives forever. Although she didn’t physically murder them, what she did was lethal, and left them with the scars of abandonment for the rest of their lives.

Mothers rarely act out like this but on interior levels LOMOGs disappear just as surely, and without a second glance. They birth the child. Meet its practical needs. And that’s it. The child is left to pull itself up by its own bootie straps.

I used to play tennis with a woman who had eight children between the ages of 10 and 30. Mine at the time were 11 and 15. As she kept lobbing the ball at me she praised my mothering skills and told me I should have more kids. Perhaps she knew something I didn’t. Two were all I could handle. But, her 27 year old son, who was my tennis teacher, confided that she was not a particularly giving or loving mother. It seems numbers mean nothing.

If you’re a child of a LOMOG, forget about those accounts receivable (i.e., the resentments you hold and harbor). They can never be paid. The un-motherly mother hasn’t the capacity, the heart, or the psycho-genetic wherewithal to pay them. And by holding onto them they morph into stuff you don’t want or need that hurts mostly you while the LOMOG goes on her way, not even slightly aware that she has missed out on one of life’s most amazing experiences.

Yet it’s hard to detach from the un-motherly mother because the attachment (the loving bond, the closeness) was never truly formed. So how can you let go of something that you never had to begin with? The only way I know of to move on and heal is to embrace yourself, your life, and the people, in it  — to love with an unguarded heart and to appreciate yourself as you are. The following imagery is intended to help you do just that. Use it for 21 days and see what happens.

 Two of you

Close your eyes and breathe out through your mouth one time. Now, imagine there are two of you. And that one of you is sitting on your own lap. And that you are hugging yourself. And you are holding your face in your hands. See how it feels to give yourself all the love and support that you want and need. Then breathe out slowly, and open your eyes knowing that all is well.

* * *

 

Dreams and Schemes: The Power and The Prophecy

A client* who was on vacation emailed me to share the following:

I dream vividly of underhanded ways my company is trying to pick off my best clients.  In my dream I see the subterfuge and I think: time to pack up and leave.  But I wonder, am I being childish by not fighting back? All I can see is me walking away. Leaving the cesspool to the cesspool ants. Why be between the firm and the client when one is uncertain of either’s loyalty or gratitude for the job one does? Maybe the dream is prophetic, maybe it is more about my childish reaction when I am not in control of what I think I control (a profitable and amicable relationship).

Never underestimate your dreams. They mirror what’s going on in your life. And in one way or another, they  speak the truth. Yet, we try to twist them around so they tell us what we want to hear. Listen to your first voice. If the dream says your firm is being underhanded, believe it. We get in trouble when we don’t listen, both in dreams and in waking life.

I once dated a man who seemed attentive, and generous. I told him how lovely he was. He said I was wrong — that he was really “a Shit.” I laughed. I thought he was joking. Early in our relationship I had a dream in which he refused to accept a gift that was tied with string. I chose not to listen to his words or to my dream. Yet both turned out to be true. He was not the person I thought he was, and he wanted no strings attached. None. But he told me the truth, just like my dream, and for this I am grateful. Though not at the time.

My client has had a lengthy relationship with her company, which.has never hesitated to prove its cannibalistic nature. On numerous occasions she has seen how casually it devours its own, and has been arguing with herself for the past few years whether to go or stay. The dream makes no bones about what’s going on. I advise her not to pretend it’s something else.and suggest that she treat it as part of the Game of Life.  No need to make it personal. It’s the way the Game is played, but now it has become more apparent.

I propose to her that since she is currently on vacation, she play the Vacation Game instead. Forget about doing anything. Relax. Enjoy. Don’t try to be in two places, or mindsets, at once.

“You’re with your beloved children. What could be better” I ask. “Suppose your company loved you, but your family did not? How would that feel?” Some of you may see this as a stretch, but I hear about too many familial relationships where this is true for it to have no bearing.

I suggest she “Have faith.” That she love herself.  Her family. Her life. That she accept the Talmud’s advice and be content with her lot.  That “You are You, with or without The Company.  But without yourself you are lost.”

People say dreams reveal secrets. Not quite — they reveal truth. And they are dangerous to ignore. Our happiness gene is empowered by us embracing our dreams. For then we can live according to our blueprint* and thus bring our inner and outer worlds into balance and alignment.

As for “control” ― we control only our beliefs, and by so doing, our choices and actions. So believe in yourself. And choose to be content. The rest is a rat race, a risky and unrewarding illusion.

*This client gave me permission to share her dream. She thought it might “resonate and help someone else.”

* Your Blueprint informs you of the meaning and purpose of your life.

Debunking the Myth Of The Misspent Life

Recently, I received an email from a brilliant and beautiful friend, which read

“Added to my ordinary worrying, I worry that my life has been misspent. Is there a more constructive way to view one’s life?  Can one embrace one’s choices and then move onward?”

She had already answered her own question But since she asked, here’s what I’ve come up with.

Interesting word: “Misspent.

We have all misspent in way or another at various times for various reasons. Why we do it is unimportant. That we have done it, and still do, needs to be acknowledged without being judged. Both noticed and learned from.  I misspent years being unhappy about what I had lost, didn’t have, get, or create.  Now I choose to live my life going vertical, being happy with what I have and what I’m doing right now. And yes, it takes work!

The currency of life is choice. We spend  or misspend it at every moment. Yet while we can still chose, there is still life to live. And some of the misspending can be profitable, even life-saving.

For me this includes having misspent more than a year with a fellow whose outstanding grace was that he looked like Chris Kristofferson in his heyday. Yet, despite his deficits, there was a hidden benefit that would eventually bear fruit. One night after I told him about a friend whose response to having seen another car coming at her, head on, was to duck down and hide out under her steering wheel, he soberly advised me, despite his slightly drunken state, to never stop driving, no matter what. His advice made sense. And I tucked it away for future reference.

A few weeks later a  box spring flew off the roof of a car ahead of me on the Cross Westchester Expressway, hitting my windshield and spinning me around like a top, I held onto the steering wheel, driving, driving, driving, following the boyfriend’s advice, which allowed me to escape completely unscathed. The relationship with the misspent boyfriend (and some really good karma) saved my life.

So here’s the question: was he, or my time with him, truly misspent?  I say no. Painful, even humiliating, but not misspent. Whatever it is that you would rather be doing right now, if it’s something you can do, do it. If not, then embrace what you are doing and set the rest aside till later. Perhaps later is the next life. Who knows?

There is no “ideal” life, and no ideal way to spend it. What looks good, seems great, appears perfect is a mirage in the desert. You get there and it shape-shifts, disappears. Gone! Just like that.

Don’t bother to pursue the ideal. It doesn’t exist. Instead of regretting, learn from your “Misspents.” Be grateful you’re still standing — moving, living,and loving. Yes, you’ve experienced difficulties.  Could you have dealt with them differently? You bet. And at this point. so what.

The thing is: wherever you go there you are. So love yourself. Respect yourself. Have faith in yourself. And stop comparing yourself to anyone else. For therein lies great misery, no sustenance, and no reward

Here’s an imagery exercise to dispense with the ideal and set yourself free. Have some fun doing it. Enjoy. Smile. That’s enough:

Liberation

 Close your eyes, breathe out three times, and imagine looking at a statue of yourself ─ A statue that is perfect, the ideal of who you “should” be.  Walk around this statue. Notice it has all the right dimensions. All the right features. Even the perfect smile. Touch it. Feel it. What is the statue made from? Stone? Bronze? Wood? Glass? Clay?   Talk to the statue and ask it how it feels about itself.  How do you feel about this perfect statue?

Now imagine that inside the statue is a being who is unwillingly confined within this mold and who longs to escape. Prepare to liberate this being. Take a strong object, like a hammer or an ax and shatter the statue. Rejoice as the inner being emerges, as it dances, sings, and flies free of the shackles of this mold. Notice how you feel. Then breathe out and open your eyes

                                                                                              

*Synonyms for Misspent: blown; dissipated; down the drain; imprudent; prodigal, profitless; squandered; thrown away

Defining Moments: Who Are You, What Are You Here For?

I’ve come up with a theory. And this theory suggests that we each have a story. And this story tells us who we are and what we’re here to do and learn and be, and become. And this “Becoming” is embedded in a Defining Moment. And this Moment reveals your blueprint. And this blueprint maps out the meaning and purpose of your life.

Yikes. Breathe out. This sounds more serious than it is. Just suppose that beyond the usual labels  there were a simple way to know who you are and what you are here for. And that this knowing could be revealed to you in an instant, and could connect you with whatever it is that your soul intends you to do and be while you’re here in this world.

Would you be willing to take the leap? And if you did, what difference might this “knowing”  make in your life? Could it provide you with more material wealth, more loving relationships, more of whatever it is that your ego craves, that your heart desires, that your mind thinks is rightfully yours? Or might it lead you somewhere unexplored and as yet unimagined?

This kind of knowing may be way more than you want to deal with. But just for the fun of it, envision an opening in your mind. A place where you get the chance to jump in and say “Yes.” And this chance takes the form of a question. And the question is this:

 What Is Your Defining Moment? 

You know this moment by its gut impact, by its ability to kick-start your molecules of emotion and purpose. And once this moment is consciously recognized and expressed, it calls out your name and affirms your essence, while having encoded within it such clarity that there is room for not one iota of doubt.

Now’s your chance. Do it. Ask the question. See, sense and feel what comes to you. Be open. Watch. Listen. Be present. Relate.

My own Defining Moment arrived in 7th grade music class when my teacher, the beautiful and volatile Mrs. M, began screaming at us and didn’t stop for the next five minutes. Though five minutes doesn’t sound like much, it’s a very long time to scream. Her screaming terrified us, and we all sat there stupefied. Finally she stopped, took a breath, and said “Anyone who doesn’t like what I just did can leave.” No one moved. Except for a girl in the third row, second seat from the left. The girl got up and walked out of the room without a word and was gone. We all remained silent. Even me. Even though I was that girl.

A vendetta followed until a year later, when at graduation I received no recognition for anything I had accomplished the previous eight years. When I made the traditional return visit the next day my home room teacher asked if it had been worth it. I thought for a moment, then said, “Yes.” This action had set me upon the path to freedom. It had defined my nature and my life. I didn’t care about the lost medals.Though I did care that I had disappointed my parents who waited in vain throughout the ceremony for my name to be mentioned for some special honor.

When I share this moment with clients and friends, most say “I’m not like you. I couldn’t do that.” But they miss the point. No one needs to be like me. We each have our own blueprint that calls upon us to be who we are, and to live out our unique purpose in daily life. The universe keeps presenting us with the chance to give it up and bring it home. And until we do, there remains, within us, that space, where “the oak sleeps in the acorn,” waiting for us to stop playing by other peoples’ rules, so we can begin to co-create our own imperfect yet glorious game of life.

If your defining moment passed you by and you would like another go at it, practice the following imagery exercise for the next 21 days and see what happens.

                                              Hands of Time*

Intention: To undo an error. To live in a new way that creates freedom and vivification.

 Close your eyes, breathe out one time, and see before you a golden clock. Imagine where the hands of the clock are now. Imagine turning the hands back through the days, months and years to the moment in time that you want to reverse, correct, and live out in a new way. See this event happening now as it did then . . . Breathe out one time, and imagine yourself doing something new. something previously left undone, and incomplete. See yourself acting with courage and living from truth.

When you are finished, turn the hands of the clock forward to the present time. Then open your eyes and return, knowing how your emotions and physiology have harmonized.

“Hands of Time” was created by Dr. Gerald Epstein.

As Time Goes By

It’s that time of year. The buds are budding, the birds are singing. The sky has reclaimed its luminous blue. And everything old is new again. But not always.

A few nights ago I saw Al Pacino on David Letterman. Good-bye sweet bird of youth. Alfredo James Pacino is turning 73.

So there’s Al, looking at himself in the monitor off to his right, instead of at Dave, and you can’t miss his shock at coming face to face (or screen to screen) with the fact that the old disheveled  guy with the messy hair, the ill fitted white shirt  and the bunched up black jacket, hanging crookedly off his shoulders, is “Me.”

Letterman spends most of the interview trying to lure Pacino away from the monitor back into the conversation. But Al’s cool is cooked ─ he’s up against the passage of time: a reality he seems ill prepared to deal with.

We all go through it, just not so publicly. We encounter that unwieldy, discomforting moment — the one that happens out of the blue while we’re looking in a mirror, or at an old photo, or when people who seem no younger than we get up and give us their seat on the bus. But, unlike Pacino, most of us were never that beautiful, celebrated, talented, rewarded and awarded for how we look and what we do. Perhaps we’re the lucky ones; it comes as less of a shock.

About 30 years ago I saw an interview with the actress Gena Rowlands, now in her eighties. The interviewer asked her how it felt to be a beautiful Hollywood star. “You can’t count on it,” she said. “There’s always someone younger and more beautiful standing right behind you, ready to take your place.” Put simply, be humble. It’s here and gone in a minute.

When I was in my forties. I went shopping at the old Lord and Taylor* in White Plains. It’s not that I wanted to buy anything. It was more like visiting a friendly museum. As I reached for a silk floral skirt and held it against my waist I glanced across the aisle and saw a woman at least ten years older than I holding the same skirt, doing the same thing. The jolt came when I realized I was looking in a mirror. That older woman I was looking at was me, and, like Al, I was not thrilled with what I saw.

Life comes and goes fast. One minute you’re juicy and hot, racy, remarkable, at the head of the pack, even famous. Then it passes. If you’re awake and not too greedy you make the most of it. You have some fun. You know it’s just another part of life’s story, another role you’re playing, and it’s wise not to take it too seriously. There’s always more important stuff going on, both inside and out, and we’d do well to pay attention, be resilient, be grateful, be here. What’s the choice?

The loss of youth is like a wall of water coming at you. Better to flow with it than to try and hold it back. It might even bring you to a better place. Eventually, no matter who you are, what you have accomplished, or how much the world loves you, or doesn’t, time goes by and so do we.

* * *

*The old Lord & Taylor, as opposed to the current one, was calm, quiet, classy. No one spritzed perfume at you as you roamed the aisles in peaceful oblivion.

 Below is some Imagery to facilitate aging easily, with grace.

Go With The Flow

Intention: To flow with life. To stop resisting and enter the moment of Now.

Close your eyes and breathe out one time.

See yourself standing before a body of water and diving into a strong current. Know that by doing this you are letting go of all constraints and fears. Sense and live how by going with the flow, instead of struggling against it, you are carried to new places unheard of in your ordinary life. Notice how you look and feel. Then breathe out and open your eyes.