Perspective is a difficult thing. If we’re tethered to a particular perspective by emotions, it’s almost impossible to see things with an unbiased eye. We can perhaps empathize, yes, but sometimes our own perspective, our own experiences, can anchor us to a skewed perspective. If we are anchored, we are not fully free.
I was once caught in such a perspective. A skewed one, built atop dozens of incidences that were the basis for a conclusion I made at a very young age: Women Aren’t Safe.
I don’t feel it’s necessary explain each of these moments that amounted to my opinion about women. You probably can imagine what they are. Kids can be cruel, particularly girls. That in itself can make women leery of other women, but what cemented it for me was the relationship with my mother, or lack thereof. In my eyes, she had emotionally abandoned me. She wasn’t present. And because of a few specific incidences, I didn’t feel protected or nurtured. I felt rejected, and subsequently, unworthy. A failure. Baggage.
The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers. – Thich Nhat Hanh
It’s no secret that friendships between women are highly complex. This complexity scared the shit out of me. In my teens and twenties, I befriended mostly guys, and was, of course, privy to their immature “guy talk”. I heard them trash women constantly. I looked up to men; they were easy to deal with; black and white. Simple. Safe. So in my most influential years, I had my own gender betraying me, and the other gender validating it.
Over the past fifteen years, things have happened that repaired some of my skewed perspective. Friends happened. Real ones that gave as much as they took, that proved time and time again they were by my side no matter what, that showed me what true friendship really was. I went from shallow, noncommittal (safe) friendships (that I constantly lost), to deep ones whose roots knew no bounds. It was an enlightenment.
And motherhood happened. When I became a mother, my perspective got a swift adjustment resulting in a new found empathy for women. I gained the ability to view my mother’s life – not so much as my mother, but as a woman – with a bit less bias….yet my anger and resentment clung like barnacles, feeding off lingering pain. Lingering beliefs.
I was still anchored; I couldn’t forgive.
Recently- through a series of intertwined, snowballing moments – I was able to finally lift the anchor. Like a puzzle piece snapping into place, I was able to see my mother as if she were a character in a book, viewed aerially, free from bias. I saw her life, her struggles, her pain. And it all became crystal clear:
I couldn’t have done any better. She made mistakes, but she did the best she could under less-than-ideal (let’s be real – SHITTY) circumstances. How can I judge her when I’ve made mistakes under near-perfect circumstances?
The story – or how I experienced it – of what it is to be female transformed into a story of womanhood. Of what we endure, what we sacrifice, what we give. Our successes and failures. Our boundless loyalties. Our compassion. Our chaotically beautiful complexities.
With this new perspective free of anchors, I was able to forgive. Not just her, but also myself.
Compassion, forgiveness, these are the real, ultimate sources of power for peace and success in life. – Dalai Lama
A companion post to this one can be found HERE.