OR A LESSON ABOUT MOVING OUT OF FIGHT MODE AND GROWING WITH OUR CONFLICTS
The people in our life are here to teach us and grow with us. Especially our children. Especially our partners. Especially those people that really provoke and challenge us. The closer people come to us, the more rewarding and loving it can be – but also the more it can hurt. I’ve chosen to believe that when it hurts, there is a lesson to learn. And as soon as we learn it, the situation shifts, and the pain stops. But sometimes, we fight and suffer a lot before we can reach a new perspective.
This week, my son has really driven me mad and pushed me beyond my limits. He is five years old now, and he has a genetic condition that doesn’t allow him to speak, or only in a very limited way. He is also very sensitive, and picks up on emotions and moods without any filter. Not being able to say what you want or to reason about it must be very frustrating – so we are used to him bursting out in anger. But this week was so full of anger and aggression, and it was directed so directly at me, that all my strategies for “staying calm and loving” failed miserably.
Being in Fight-Mode, Trapped in a War
So I found myself, repeatedly, in a place that felt like a war zone. Physical exhaustion, trying to get control and to get power over the situation, and a deep sense of not being able to bear my son – wanting him to be gone, wanting him to stop. (Even as I’m writing this, it pains me.) Then giving up, feeling a deep sadness, and a sense that I had to fight for my own survival.
Feeling these things towards my child was horrible. How can I, someone who always searches for positivity and love, someone so capable of being positive and transforming negativity, be so hateful towards my own son? How can I not feel the love for him that I know must be somewhere?
Nobody wants to feel these things. It was all I could do to remind myself that I am not a bad mother, that I am human, that most people feel such things sometimes, and that it is not who I am, just something that I experience. It is just something that I have to transform, an illusion I have to identify, and to let go of.
Love and Hate, so Close
There was this moment when I felt the core of the issue in a very clear way: I was in a war between love and hate, and there was no way to move forward. I was so exhausted, I just needed time or space for myself. I needed distance, separation, something to nurture me. (And of course, all I got from my son was rejection, more demands, and no understanding for the fact that I had nothing more to give.)
I realized that hate and aggression come from a deep sense of invasion, and having to fight for one’s own needs, almost like fighting for survival. And I could see that the aggression my son extended towards me, was only an outside reflection of these inner feelings I had. What was first? I don’t know. But it really doesn’t matter.
In that moment, I also knew that my son needed me. That he couldn’t calm down. That he felt the same negative emotions I did, and couldn’t understand them. I knew that he needed love from me, in order to calm down and sleep.
But from where should I take it? The more I calmed myself down and tried to be loving when I really didn’t feel like, the more angry I got, the less I had to give. It was a vicious circle. We both needed to be loved and supported, and neither one could give to the other.
And isn’t that the illusion underneath most conflicts? That we need the other person to give something to us. And we need it so urgently, we are willing to fight for it. We even become violent, manipulative, or aggressive.
How Can I Forgive When I Have Nothing to Give?
It was clear, I had to step out of the fight. I had to stop that inner and outer war. I had to find a way to go beyond this illusion of limited resources and destruction. But I could not forgive myself for feeling the things I felt, for having entered into the aggression. Nor could I forgive my son for always demanding more, and for not seeing and respecting me – or so it felt.
It is hard to forgive oneself. To forgive the other person. To find a common ground. I find it interesting, the understanding that FOR-GIVING has to do with giving something FOR someone, or for a certain purpose. For-giving has to do with giving, giving in a directed way. But how could I give, or what could I give, when I felt so in need of, so empty, so threatened in my very existence?
I realized that what I could give, the only thing, was me, being as I was, my authenticity, and my presence. Saying my truth. Being honest. Being there without pushing the experience away.
So I allowed myself to cry. I allowed myself to feel all these conflicting emotions in me. The hatred, the wish to run away, the despair because I couldn’t handle it any better, the blame because I wasn’t more capable, the anger that this whole situation is so unfair, the sadness about being rejected and disrespected, and about how much we both suffered. I sat down, and cried, and I told my son how I felt – even thought he surely didn’t understand. But he felt it all the same, I am sure. So we ended up, me crying, him calmer, giving up the fight, and entering a sadness about our pain that actually helped us to step out of the fight… and that’s how we calmed down and finally got to rest and sleep, and move towards a new day.
How Can We Heal and Go Beyond?
When we find meaning, we can let go and relax. Seeing the spiritual dimension and how I am challenged to grow is the one source of comfort and positive perspective that always works for me.
So I wonder, what is the lesson I have to learn? What can I only learn with my son? What is this aggression teaching me about life, about myself?
- Love depends on the balance of giving and receiving. It has been days that this happened, and I still don’t have it resolved. But I know, the big lesson is respecting my own needs and anticipating them, and giving myself what I need to be nurtured. It’s a small step from love into hate, and what keeps us from falling into the negative side is a balance between giving and receiving. I have to receive in order to be able to give. And I cannot receive from my son in those situations. In many conflicts, we have to let go of wanting the other person to be a certain way, or to do something a certain way. We want them to fulfill our needs. And the more we demand that, the more we stay in fight mode, the less we get.
- Receiving depends on me. I have learned, that receiving does not depend on the other person to give, but on me to open up to receiving, and to search out situations and support where I receive what I need. So for-giving really has to do with giving to myself, so that then, I can give to others.
- I know I need to move beyond this illusion of scarcity. The idea that there is only so much energy, and it can be used for me, or for him – it is only a mental program, a pattern, a projection. There is no choice to make (him or me?). Because when we nurture ourselves, we nurture the relationship, and the other person.
- The roots of the conflict go much deeper. I also know that the feelings and energies we both experienced do not originate in this specific situation. They may be patterns of emotions that have been experienced by many of my ancestors, and are only repeating. They have been, intermittently, a part of our relationship ever since my son was born – but I didn’t acknowledge them. After all, which mother wants to see, feel and accept that she rejects her child, even just sometimes?
- Connection instead of separation. Above all, and this is a lesson that I find everywhere and all the time: It is not separation or distance, or trying to ignore the horrible things we may feel, that allows us to step out of a conflict and go beyond. It is connection that brings healing and expansion. When we connect with the other person and with what we really feel, it is painful. But when we move through the pain, we can open up, let it in, and feel. That is the true basis of integration. It is what eventually shifts the negative feelings, and brings us only closer to this person we love.
- And last but not least: Love is being present. I love my son because I am willing to experience this pain, willing to stay. Willing to figure it out. And in this presence, we both grow. And that for me, is the beauty of life.
I hope you can find yourself in this process, and in the conclusions. I hope reading this inspires you, and gives you hope. I hope it makes you feel less lonely, accept yourself more, and gives you courage and comfort. I would love to read your thoughts, questions and experiences – so comment, if you like! 😉
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