I came back to consciousness on the floor of the kitchen this morning. I had collapsed there, having had the single most incredible experience of my healing process to date. This morning, I awoke in bed, filled with this feeling of desperation; the desperation of wanting something so badly that you can’t reach. As if you want something more than anything that is not meant to be yours. I went downstairs to my ‘processing’ chair and let myself sink into the feeling. It was instantly disorienting. I felt like I was spinning, like my world was collapsing. From a sensory point of view, it was one of the most all-consuming feelings I’ve had yet doing emotional vipassina practice. It felt like I had been put on a strong perception-altering drug. I surrendered to the feeling completely. I was sucked backwards into myself. I was 4 years old, in the living room of my house, dressed in my white satin leotard onesie, with a silver sequin star on the front and little black ballet slippers. I was holding a baton in my hand that was filled with water and little gold sparkles. I was twirling around and turning upside down and singing. I was reciting the parts that I remembered to a song called “my favorite things” from the sound of music. I knew what I wanted with more clarity than I even know now. I was a performer. I knew that I wanted to be famous and be on people’s television screens and be on stage. At a cellular level, I knew that I was destined to be a star performer. I was so excited about it. I swallowed up the attention that I would get. I loved the feeling of the pressure of having to execute a perfect act. But this day, the reaction that I got from my mother was different. When I tried to get her to watch me, she rolled her eyes, made an exasperated noise and said “Me, me, me, I, I, I”. She put the kitchen towel she was holding down and watched me with an exasperated look as if I couldn’t finish soon enough. That day was the beginning of this pervasive feeling that wanting fame was not ok. That day was the beginning of this pervasive idea that stardom is not meant to be mine (otherwise I’d have been born into a different family) and that I am betraying my mother by even wanting to be a performer, much less by becoming famous.
My mother is the exact opposite of the pageant mothers, who force their daughters to parade around on stage. When I was growing up, it was made extremely clear to me that the quest to be on center stage, is a moral-less pursuit, a desire that only bad, corrupt and surfacey people have. It was clear that I should be ashamed of that side of myself. Because I demonstrated this star personality and drive for stardom, my mother would often call me “GaGa Gabor or Queen Sheeba”. It was not a compliment. She thought both people were essentially a blight on humanity. She would remind me that the world did not revolve around me. Long story short, I was crushed. I felt like something was seriously wrong with me and bad about me because no matter what I did, I could not shake this desire. It was integral to my being. I felt like I was betraying my mother. I tried to find acceptable ways to fulfill this ‘performance’ desire while not making my mother upset. Things like sports and excelling at academics. You’d think that by now, I would have graduated beyond caring what my mother thinks of me, but here I am today, feeling like I am betraying my mother by becoming well known. Feeling like the more famous I get, the worse of a person I am. And low and behold, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the more famous I get, the less contact I have with my mother.
But here’s why this morning was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I stood up to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the process I was doing with my four-year-old self. And my soul was sucked from my body. I was taken to a dark space and there was a being there. It was my grandfather (my Mom’s dad). I found myself feeling afraid of this place and of him. But I surrendered and as if a pearl was inserted through my crown chakra, he placed this round thing into my head and as if I was given a drug, I was transported further back in time. It was like I was a ghost. I was in an odd smelling house, where the air felt much more moist. I was looking at a little girl, who looked a bit like me. She had bangs that were cut in a straight line across her forehead. Her hair was in a little ponytail. She was wearing a little yellow jumper, with shiny clack tap shoes. She was doing a little tap routine for her father (who I instantly recognized as my grandfather). He was whistling and she was dancing to the sound his whistling. She had a large smile on her face. I heard someone yell from the kitchen area. A woman walked out (my grandmother) I could not believe how young she looked. She was wearing an apron and navy blue pumps. She seemed stressed and overburdened. She seemed unpleased at what she saw and withdrew back into the kitchen. I saw my grandfather get up. He seemed so tall as he walked towards the kitchen. I watched this little girl’s face fall. I heard someone call a name from the kitchen. That is when I realized that this little girl was my mother. I was floored. And then as if I was watching a slideshow, I was taken through scene after scene at warp speed of my mother as a child. I saw her being afraid of her father and I saw her trying desperately to “fit in” and try to be the peacemaker of the family. I saw her trips to catholic mass. I watched my grandmother pray with her black bead rosary. I watched her talk to my mother. I saw that the only acceptable currency in my grandmother’s life was service. I could not believe what I saw. The obsessive quest for “goodness” was not my mother’s quest. It was imposed on her. A life of service was the only acceptable life to live. If my mother was going to be loved and approved of by her mother, she would have to give up her desire to be a performer too, in favor of being of service to others. But here she was caught in between two parents, one who believed that pride and arrogance (we can safely insert fame) is a mortal sin. And the other, my grandfather, who was a star performer and who loved being the center of attention.
I am not the first performer in my family. I come from a long line of star personality types. I always thought that my mother was an exception to this rule. She always said ‘It skips a generation’. This is not the case at all. My mother was no exception to the rule. She was put in the same position I was put into when she was a child. For all I know, this aspect of her life, this desire she had when she was young to be a star tap dancer like the old actors that she saw on television and movies in the 50s is so suppressed, she is not even consciously aware of it now. Now, she is convinced that the only acceptable way to get famous is to do something good for the world, namely help people; and that wanting fame for fame’s sake is nothing short of shameful.
I sat with my mother when she was a child, she was playing with a set of Ginny dolls, that came in a round carrying case and I asked her to tell me what she loved and wanted. She was very shy and was not strong willed like me. It seemed like she was staying quiet to try to avoid creating conflict. It was then that a strange thing happened. It was as if something took a hammer to my heart. I felt this internal shattering, but instead of feeling broken or constricted, I felt something inside me expand. I started crying. I cried so hard that it was as if I was shedding a hundred years worth of pain. The sobs penetrated me so deeply that they shook my entire body. I pulled my mother close to me, she felt tiny in my arms. I held her and I cried against her. And I repeated over and over out loud "i'm so sorry". She started crying too. I could not let her go. When the crying subsided, I asked her if she wanted to come with me. I put her on a stage and watched her perform in front of a large group of people. She was very serious during the performance, but seemed so thrilled with herself after she was finished. I talked to her with the express intent of inflating her sense of self worth. I told her it is ok to want to be celebrated and its ok to be famous. Then I asked her if she wanted to make a friend. She nodded at me. So I took her to my mental safe place and told her I’d be back in just a minute.
I came back to my childhood self in the living room at four years old. My four year old self was lying on the carpet on the floor as if crushed with grief. I laid down on the floor face to face with her and petted her face. I asked her “did you see all of that?” She nodded her head. I started crying again. I told her that she is not the only one who wants to perform. I explained to her that her mother is just doing what her mother did to her and for all I know, what her great grandmother did to her mother. I told her over and over “you’re not betraying your mother if you get famous, you’re meant to be famous”. I told her that if she gets famous, she is setting her mother and her grandmother free. All the while, this deep insight was arising with me. Not as a thought but as a feeling; the feeling that this is indeed all part of my destiny. I was ripped free from my constriction by this inner knowing that nothing has gone wrong with me; that part of my role that I agreed to pre-birth is to break this family contract. I was overcome by this feeling that on some deeply suppressed level, for the sake of my mother’s core, I am meant to give my family permission to break the highly catholic spell of the “ moral issue with stardom”. I saw for the first time that my mother did not do this to hurt me; she was trying to prevent me from badness and therefore secure my goodness and ensure that I would be loved. She was also trying to avoid the pain and shadow within her that came up when she watched my desire to be the center of attention, and related to it. Was she trying to suppress that need within me, or was she still trying to suppress that need within her through me? I have the answer to that question after today.
My heart was cracked open to compassion and understanding of my mother this morning. I lifted my childhood self off the carpet and out of curiosity I took her to the dimension within this universal construct where you can see the energetic representation of soul contracts and family contracts. Sure enough, there it was. A large (3 foot by 3 foot) round braided cord like attachment braiding its way through every female member of my mother’s side of the family; a cord that I have named the “selfless service” cord. Part of this cord is the collective resistance to selfishness and therefore being the center of attention. This cord is the one making it not ok for my four-year-old self to be a performer. This cord is the one making me feel like I am betraying my mother instead of setting her free by being famous. I asked my four year old self if she wanted to cut the cord. She smiled. She didn’t feel bad about herself anymore. I got her a pair of enormous scissors; so large she could barely hold them. After three attempts to lift the scissors high enough, she cut the cord. We watched it shrivel and writhe and evaporate off into space. I felt the most immense release and I started crying again.
When the emotion subsided, I took my four-year-old self to the safe place in my mind and united her with my mother’s four-year-old self. The two girls gravitated to each other. Both were shy at first, but they started twirling and laughing and my mother’s childhood self gave my childhood self her coveted shiny tap shoes to try on. She started showing my childhood self some tap-dance moves. I watched them choreograph a performance and I watched them perform it together. I was crying as I watched them. My hands were tingling. I felt dizzy. I felt like a hundred year wound was healing within me and within the universe at large. You know that feeling where you know a shift so large has occurred that you can’t guess what is to follow, but you know it means a change to the entirety of your life? That feeling was pulsing through my core and I kept hearing myself think “this is so big”.
At some point a bit later, I took a deep breath on purpose and I felt sucked within myself again, but this time I regained consciousness and was lying on my kitchen floor with my husband kneeling over me saying my name. My face was wet. It turns out that when I was crying in my out of body experience, I was crying in real time too. I felt like I had been in a high-speed car wreck, but I felt a million times lighter than I had before. I had been relieved of some generational burden. I destroyed a tribal contract this morning. Consciously, my mother will most likely resent me for writing this blog about her. My family and I are not talking right now, in large part because I have decided to be public about every aspect of my life and they do not want to be talked about or written about at all. But my soul knows that on a deeper level, my mother’s life has been altered by this event as well. And even if no great change happens on a physical level between us I know that for the first time in years, we have come closer together and some aspect of our souls has made peace with one another. To me, this is nothing short of magic.
I had no idea upon waking that this would be such a pivotal day in the story of my life. But then again, I guess we never do. Life changing moments creep into our life entirely of their own accord. They turn us upside down without giving us any notice. Sometimes, they traumatize us beyond measure. And sometimes, they are so ineffably wonderful that they put us back together again.