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Primal Patterns

Yesterday, I walked right up to the edge of a bus I was ready to throw myself under. All metaphorically speaking, of course, but still. The details aren’t necessarily helpful as much as the pattern I recognize.

I have strong integrity, always have, and often have been told it’s to a fault as my expectations exceed human potential. It’s important I do my best in any situation. It’s important to be truthful. It’s so important that when something goes wrong, I’m the first in line with the accusatory finger condemning my actions and defining my punishment.

I almost remember making the decision to become my inner judge. I wanted so much to please my father. He held a steadfast authority over his children, and I knew if I met his expectations, I would be safe, loved and accepted for the good girl I thought I was. I developed an inner eye to monitor when I go off track as I watched and learned how to behave based on his happiness or unhappiness. I figured out how I should feel to meet and exceed his expectations, all in the name of pleasing him. He defined my idea of who I should be and I was determined to feel his love at all costs.

All in the name of safety, belonging and wanting love, I abandoned me and became who I thought I should be.

Through my innocent need to be accepted and loved, a pattern was born, a pattern that has repeated itself throughout my life with relationships. Whether the relationship is romantic, with a boss, a friend, a colleague, it doesn’t matter. I would determine who I want to be accepted by and begin to contort myself into who I determined they wanted to see.

I recognize another relationship I repeat this pattern with, and it’s with myself. I lose perspective so quickly when I suspect I’ve done something wrong and I beat myself up for not being perfect, for fear of being judged, for fear of disappointing someone else. I become the scared little kid in the corner.

As my inner awareness grows, I more easily spot the dynamics from my childhood. When I practice healthy boundaries, self-respect, loving kindness and patience, I become the steadfast authority I look up to. I am in relationship with me and I change the inner dynamics to further my healing.

So yesterday, I watched the bus I almost threw myself under. I reflected on the close call knowing it was a choice I opted not to take. My first rule is to love myself through my foibles. I’m human. I make mistakes. I take responsibility for my actions. I do the best I can just like everyone else. I put down my inner hammer and pick up my cradling arms and hold myself close to my heart.

The bud

stands for all things,

even for those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow

of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;

as Saint Francis

put his hand on the creased forehead

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch

blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow

began remembering all down her thick length,

from the earthen snout all the way

through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine

down through the great broken heart

to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering

from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you ever so much. I found a different life path, also considered myself to be a good child and tried hard to be that. I was the fifth of six children and parents with high expectations. The changing shape for those around me, we fought a lot. Only recently have I learned to pause, to slow it down to think and listen. I thank you for that reminder. I learned to hug myself and love myself from this group. Thank you.

  • The low point for me was my 18th birthday when I attempted to give back all my presents because I wasn’t worthy of them. So I hit bottom early on.

  • Very interesting story. It made me try to think about my own relationship to my parents. I don’t think I ever felt loved as a child because of my abandonment issues around my mother and fear of my father. I don’t think I ever felt loved. I had to do what they told me to do and I never felt good enough. I didn’t fight any of it. No wonder I drank for so long. I’m glad I did learn what love is and I did learn to love myself. I did learn to love my parents and I did feel their love before they died.

  • That poem resonated, the long loveliness of the sow. One doesn’t think of a sow as an object of blessing. Perhaps we don’t think of ourselves as objects of blessings, but we are. And the sow is too.

  • I wrote a poem years ago called The Hairy Beast. I’m the hairy beast that hides in the corner. It’s an incredibly painful poem of how I look at myself. I have yet to share it with anyone. I recently found it and read it, and I trust if it is to be shared, I will do that. It reminded me of that poem about the sow. I used to be called by my siblings a big fat pig. That poem just hit me because I could feel the tenderness of St. Francis with his hand on the brow looking at it with love. It was an incredible experience. Thank you.

  • That was a lovely path that I followed. You talked first of pain and self-incrimination. I’ve done that my whole life trying to be better. Then I ended up with the sow concept, and I did have an incredibly loving set of parents. I was getting these visions and feelings of snuggling up with my dad with his arms around me. And my mom looking at me with pride. As difficult as our relationships could be, I never ever thought that they didn’t love me. And I feel so very, very blessed to have had that. So thank you.

  • I also was fascinated by the sow. I didn’t know exactly what it was. Is it a female cow? The image I had was of a strong grounded animal. That helped me go back into the earth and feel that groundedness and connect to all of Life. We all have that energy. Thank you.

  • All of your reading resonated with me. I guess I felt love but the expectations of not measuring up were always there. The piece of the poem that resonated with me, because of what’s going on right now, was talking about the bud on the tree and how it’s dormant but now it’s coming back. But it has to feel comfortable and I have to accept it coming back. With Covid now, and everything opening up, the invitations are coming in and I found myself not ready to go to a restaurant yet. I think we have to learn to be the open, giving kind of people we want to be. So the bud piece really resonated with me.

  • I was thinking about a job I had for many years. I was open about how ill my family member was, and at times, I’d cry. It became a toxic place and I was made fun of. I learned to protect myself. I started regretting being so open but at the same time, not regretting being honest about a terribly difficult situation. I practiced compassion. You talked about being hard on yourself, not being able to do enough, to learn enough. When I was raising my kids, I knew mothers who did all these things with their kids. I know I did teach my children to love animals and to respect the environment and to be loving.

  • Thank you for sharing your reflections. Thank you for your presence. It takes presence to be vulnerable. It takes vulnerability to be strong. It takes strength to keep going. I learn from what I write, I learn from what I hear and what I speak. It’s all part of the process. It’s all important to do it without judgment, to accept myself where I am, to be kind to myself, and to give myself room to make mistakes, help myself up and keep going. That’s what life is all about. With kindness, I move into the day and breathe in. Thank you all for being here. I hope you all have a kind day with awareness with gentleness for yourself.

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