Until the other day, seeing the title in a list of books by David Richo, had forgotten about Coming Home To Where You Are (2008). And although the name hit a deep resonating bell, could not for the life of me recall WHY that book rang so true with me.
Even after coming across my copy & reading 1/3 of the way through, still couldn’t figure out why seeing the title for the first time in three years had stirred me so deeply. Fell asleep last night thinking, “Must have been another book.” Then, early this morning, got to page 77.
This book illuminates & lightens. It shines light into undiscovered or dark corners of my relationships within my family & within myself; it lightened any sense of sadness regret recrimination connected with any of us. In David Richo, in Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle-Melton, Michael Singer, Jen Sincero & so many others, I found others, especially my mother, described in beautiful, tender terms.
It was the commitments at the end of the chapter on Respectful Assertiveness that stopped me cold – I am learning to ask for what I need without demand, manipulation, or expectation. I honor the timing, wishes, and limits of others while protecting my own boundaries. I am open to a radical transformation of myself so that I can be free of malice. I look for ways to be kind for myself while not letting myself get away with anything.
That was published seven years after Mom’s 09/6/01 passing, but it is SO what she learned over her closing four years. Especially the opening words of each commitment – realizing it was okay to DO these things, period.
It was just this morning, just a few moments ago, that it occurred to me why doing these very things were never an issue with her & Dad. With the two of them, asking ~ honoring ~ being open to change ~ looking for ways to be kind to their relationship was as natural as breathing. She never had to strive to do it, it just happened naturally. Once Dad died, so did the ease or even the expectation that doing these things would be acceptable.
Mom’s post-her father’s death & pre-Dad experience was that it was NOT. Her widowed mother – someone my brother describes as an utter Gorgon – expected Mom to completely dance to HER tune. Gran’s middle daughter learned that she was expected to have no needs, to not deserve honor, to accept things as they were, that her mother was the only one worthy of kindness.
When Dad came along, doing the once impossible was an immediate norm. She never had to learn it or get permission to do; from their first serious connection, in a kitchen during a New Year’s Eve party, mutual respect-honoring-transformation-kindness was part of everything they were. When Dad died so young, at 63, so did the comfort, the natural cadence of expectation & fulfillment.
And that drove me crazy. For all of my life, I needed a Mom NEVER stood up for herself with her kids, not even when Dad was alive. Dad stood up for Mom, but she couldn’t. The only time I ever knew my father to seriously lose it with me was a time – I was around 5th grade – when I sassed Mom & refused to apologize; he came after me with a hair brush, ready to tan my hide, Mom beseeching him in the background, “Pete, don’t…” He ultimately did her bidding & didn’t lay a hand on me, but I was verbally scorched & grounded. Dad stood up for Mom, but she couldn’t. Until the closing years of her life.
Reading the commitments on page 77, was filled with such pride that Katharine Reynolds Lockhart was my mother. Because, in her mid-late 80s, she did learn to do all those things. Learned that asking for what she needed was not demanding or manipulative or even expected a YES. That it was honoring the timing, wishes & limits of others AND her own boundaries was an essential part of sound emotional health. That she was capable of radical transformation, setting her free from self-malice. That it was not only okay to be kind to herself, it was a necessary starting point for being kind to others.
Mom learned all those things on her own, once she realized it was okay to see things differently than she always had, something that dawned on her at 87. Never say never!
As I move forward with this work of digesting, synthesizing all I’ve read over the past years, am expecting more & more precious moments thinking of Mom, my sibs, not so much my Dad (didn’t know him all that well) & the glory of tender-hearted relationship).
Good times ahead!