"If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us."
~ Herman Hesse
This quote is very apropos for me right now as I am living with a teenager. A teenager whom I love deeply, all the way to the very core of my being and someone who triggers me like nothing or nobody else I know.
On great days this person is wonderful to hang out with and a delight to engage. He is smart, thoughtful and generous. He is a great leader, a deep thinker, an excellent listener and a wonderful conversationalist. On these days I love spending time with him, enjoying the company and the energy it brings to both of us.
On not so great days he becomes everything I hate. He becomes angry, indignant, unmotivated, undisciplined, disrespectful, withdrawn and caustic. On these days it is all I can do to get as far away from him as is humanly possible.
In my more aware moments I am beginning to turn this stuff back on myself. Inquiring within. Sitting here trying to figure out where in me those traits have their roots. Where in me am I angry, indignant, unmotivated, undisciplined, disrespectful, withdrawn and caustic? Where in me are the roots of those hateful characteristics and what (if anything) can I do to address them?
We are all mirrors of each other, both in good and easy times as well as in the challenging and unpleasant times.
When my teenager is feeling good it is easy for me to feel good too. However when he is feeling lonely, lazy, upset, angry or unfulfilled, I too feel the same. We are mirrors of each other and for each other.
I want desperately to break this cycle and live from a place of love and mutual respect. I crave to see the divinity in both him and in me, especially during those times of great challenge.
Even though I know that we are both “works in progress,” the bigger challenge is this: I am the Parent. I am the Guide. I am the Adult. So how in the world do I find the strength to take the high road and lead by example with compassion and loving-kindness when I feel like I am punched in the gut over and over?
Sometimes I feel the trick is not to engage at all, but then I run the risk of acting like a teenager myself by going to my default and running away from the issue at hand, relinquishing both my voice and my power. On the other hand if I engage with him then all the buttons on both sides get pushed, the level of negative vibrations becomes more and more intense and other family members need to intervene for there to be any resemblance of peace.
Even after an intervention I can still feel the underlying tension bubbling along inside both of us like an underground stream continually being fed by thoughts and feelings of heart-ache, anger, disappointment, disgust and mistrust.
If the best way for me to diffuse my own feelings is to go for a walk or spend some time on the mat then that is good, right? I’m not running away when I do that, I’m simply taking care of myself. Taking care of myself the only way I know how by removing myself from the toxic environment. (And in the meantime desperately hoping that something shifts for the better before I get back home.)
Secondary to removing myself from the house and the situation come in healing mantras. I use “Om Namaha Shivaya” to release that which no longer serves and to transform the negative into the positive and have recently added another old standard “Om Shanti Om” for peace and loving-kindness.
Sometimes these tricks and techniques work and sometimes they don’t. What remains always though through the whole experience is a sense of profound loss and deep pain inside my heart.
All I can do at this point is to recognize where I am, forgive myself with compassion and surrender to the belief that: “All is as it should be”, that “All is Well” and that “this too shall pass.” He has his own journey to navigate as I have mine and hopefully somewhere along the way we will become closer and more kind to each other than ever before.
Much much love, Heather.