I started off my therapeutic career working with parents with adolescents who were struggling. I saw the impact of substance abuse, eating disorders, school refusal, violent outbursts, arrests, running away from home, suicide attempts, and self-harm on parents and families. I sat with parents who felt hopeless and scared, but who were also courageous enough to do things differently. Even in the intensity of fearing for their child’s life they chose to do their best to walk a path of love and connection rather than one of punishment, judgment and seeking control.
Now as the parent of teenage daughters I am that parent. And I see for myself how normal it feels to judge myself as a failure when my child is struggling. Being shut out and not knowing the whole truth looks like a failure on my end in an area where I don’t want failure to be an option.
I see that no matter how much I love my child, I do judge behavior and that is felt and taken personally. I recognize there is no such thing as judging the sin and loving the sinner. The opportunity to love it all has never felt so hard.
Someone said to me having a child is like having your heart walking around the world outside of your body. I don’t think there is any other experience in my life where I have felt this vulnerable. I am writing this because I am not alone, and I am sharing this so you know you are not alone.
I see now in my early work with parents I was sharing valuable truths. Pointing them in the direction of the healing power of love and relationship. Asking them to trust the wisdom in their child. Pointing them to their own wisdom and helping them not act from a place of fear. I stand by all of this today. The difference is I am humbled by the gut-wrenching challenge this can be. I have more compassion, understanding, and empathy for the humanness of losing your temper, breaking rapport, resorting to a power struggle, trying to control, being judgmental, threatening, punishing, bribing, manipulating because I am that parent.
I don’t mean to be that parent, but at times I am, and the damage seems so real. The behaviors are scary. It is hard to see resilience. The stakes feel too high. And what is required is always the thing that feels impossible to do.
And even with all of us having innate well-being and resilience not all of us survive our decisions. Death comes early for some. I have sat with those parents and held a loving space for their loss.
Recently I was part of a conversation about free will and how we have choice. On the human level, there are plenty of choices, and on the spiritual level, there is no choice. How to reconcile the two? It is my fault. It isn’t my fault. In the world of form, I could always be better. In the world of formless everything is unfolding as it should. How can both be true at the same time?
Sydney Banks would say we live in two worlds both occurring at the same time both real. This apparent enigma points me in the direction of oneness where seeming opposites co-exist. Where my human frailties exist, and I am perfect exactly as I am. Where terrible things happen yet everything is in divine order. My intellect can’t conceptualize this. I have to drop into the feeling of knowing this is true because my head just runs in circles.
This brings me back to the practical spirituality of the Principles. When I stay with my grounding, I do know that love is the solution. And even my imperfect way of loving is my best so it is good enough. I also know that each of my children are on their own journey of living life and waking up to all of who they are.
I have the blessing of sharing that journey with them and loving them however their journeys look. I get to learn how to love more fully and unconditionally. I get to wake up from my anxious thinking and feel more liberated to trust life, trust what is and know I have the resilience to navigate whatever life serves me whether I like it or not. I don’t get to control the menu, and I get to have the experience of choosing from the menu I’m served.
It is okay for me to be the imperfect mother I am and to love as imperfectly as I do. It is okay for this to be known and seen. My imperfections are only real from one perspective. Just like a rock is only solid from one way of seeing it. A scientist will tell me it is mostly empty space even though it feels real in my hand.
Everything is imperfect and perfect at the same time. Rocks are solid and empty — both are true. I make mistakes as a parent, and I can’t damage my kids. Living in both worlds opens me up to possibilities. It opens me to the miraculous potential in each moment and helps me to settle into what is. — knowing I don’t see the whole picture. My human vantage point is limited. But, I can feel the truth of a larger context in which I am that parent, doing the best I can, with the level of understanding I have, and that is the expression of the oneness of all things. That has to be good enough.
Rohini Ross is excited to present The Soul-Centered Series in Santa Monica starting October 2018. She is passionate about helping people wake up to their true nature. She is a transformative coach and trainer, and author of Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1). She has an international coaching practice helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, watch her Vlogs with her husband, Angus Ross, and subscribe to her weekly blog on her website, rohiniross.com.