On the Subject of Discovery
Earlier this year I gave my copy of You Can Heal Your Life to a family member. It was a gift from a close friend of mine many years ago. I liked to go through the book every couple of years. I was surprise to find a package a few months after my nieces’ visit to discover the new version of the book, plus two others! I took the book with me on my two weeks break and started to go through the exercises and found to my satisfaction that there wasn’t any residue from many of the topics lousie Hay talks about. However, after considering one question, I fell back upon the sofa, my jaw dropping, and I saw layers and layers of information sliding down in front of me.
With all of the work that I had done. With all of the digging, releasing and forgiveness, the tears, the guilt, the mirror work, I had totally skipped over ‘the step-mother’. Something that would be instantly obvious to me in a student was completely overlooked by my own eyes in my own life.
I was 7 when my step mother came into my life. I had been living alone with my father in Sydney. I mentioned before that my father had strict rules about how were to live our lives. He used to go out at night and I would watch television. I watched the late, the late late and the late late late movie. I developed a deep love for old Hollywood films.
One night, I am not sure why, I called the woman who would one day be my step mother. She asked me where my father was. I said I didn’t know, and that I thought he was with her. I then asked her to please not tell my father that I had called, that he wouldn’t understand. She said she wouldn’t.
I came home from school the next day and my father for the first time that I remember, grabbed me by the hair and dragged me terrified into my bedroom yelling and screaming at me about social workers and homes for abandoned children and why I would call this woman. In that moment, at 7 years old, I made a commitment to myself never to trust that woman again. I judged her as untrustworthy, as weak, and someone who didn’t know the rules. She had lied to me and lies were not allowed in our house. I hated her and it was the start of the 7 years of hate I kept alive in my breast while we lived together.
I want to combine this story with another. The first memory I have. My parents were fighting. I was small. I could hear them. I walked around the hall way and I saw my father on top of my mother, pinning her down. She was shaking her head, her sparrow brown hair flying around her face and my father seemed calm and in control. Look, he said, I am holding her down for her own good. And indeed, that’s what I saw. A crazed woman and a calm and strong father protecting us.
Now, push forward into the future. I am sitting, just a few months ago, on the sofa, my jaw dropped open and images of my judgment of women sliding in front of me like a TV screen… folders of information directly before me and lined up, right at the beginning, was my step mother.
I had always identified with men. I had felt uncomfortable with women and at the age of 30 forced myself to embrace all of the things about women I didn’t like. From high heels to make up and sitting on stools and wearing provocative clothing and buying fashion magazines and noticing handbags. I started to grow my hair and wear padded bras. I wore tight jeans and eye make up. I listened to gossip and tried it out myself. I learned a new set of female rules. I learned about sex and the female body. I explored the nature of images and what worked and didn’t. I learnt about body types and face structure and where to highlight the cheek bones.
And yet, underneath all of these superficial changes, and although it helped a lot, I was in deep fury with women in general. Something about the simplicity of men made me think they were more honest. And yet, as I began to look closely at the information I had in my head, I could see it wasn’t true. Still it persisted. This tightly woven mess of ideas/beliefs couldn’t be lightly unraveled by pulling at one string.
What it needed, and sometimes this is the case, is the brightest light of consciousness you can bring to bear upon the subject and then let it burn up. There may not be any need at all to unravel this one. Just shine the light of awareness on it, and ask yourself quietly, ‘is it true’. And relax and allow, and if it resurfaces, again, ‘is it true’… and even in the darkest moment, it is not true. And you can make a choice. You can continue to hold the patterns of years or you can look at the new form in front of you and see it with clarity. It is what it is, without any chain to events in your past.
So, using myself as an example, every woman I met was not, by default, needy, ignorant, crazy, helpless, untrustworthy, stupid, annoying, embarrassing, exempt from the rules, an invader, unwanted and a disgrace.
If you had asked me in January if I had thought those things about women, I would have been shocked or laughed out loud or curious about where you could get such an idea. But the fact is, sitting on my sofa on June 2012, I was looking back into a pattern that was so subtle a contraction, so soft a shadow I didn’t see it’s beginning or the length and breadth of it as it had run throughout my life.
Every woman I saw was under the umbrella of my first memory of my parents and my deep hatred of my step mother. I am alert and feeling for a contraction and now, when it comes up, I pull myself fully into the present moment and release any woman I may have a block with from the subtle attack of my mind. And let me say that I just didn’t know how deeply this one was ingrained in my psyche. The only way for me to see through this one clearly is to keep it close to me at all times and keep the light of my inner eye steady in its gaze.
And just so you know that the universe is listening, I had two e mails the following week from women I had judged, asking to meet with me during the summer. I had the opportunity to closely notice myself in action, with my new found awareness. I noticed a deep distrust of their motives. I noticed a feeling that warned me about losing my position. And because I could choose, I could answer lightly and force myself into seeing what was really, and not what was a fabrication of my mind.