Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tips From My Mom #10

I envy my older brother because he is fortunate to live within a five minute drive from my parents home. They share the day to day happenings without stopping to think when they'll see one another again or counting the days until they must say good-bye.

I live 891 miles from my mom & dad. The time I have with them is limited and special.

It never fails that at some point during every visit my mom and I find ourselves deeply engaged in conversation. At times these talks center around helping one another understand and accept those things about us that are foreign to the other. Experiences, desires, addictions, struggles, conflict, love, religion, memories, attraction, hopes, regret, shame, strength, passion and the essence of who we are is brought to light. She helps me understand myself because I am certainly my mother's son.

Last week the family got together to celebrate my niece Heather's HS graduation. In the midst of all the hubbub I found time to talk with Ma about her innate (or learned) need to try to please everyone. Her tendency to not rock the boat, to be the one who takes the world upon her shoulders, to make life easier for everyone around her, to be accepting and quiet, to give and give even when she has nothing left and how as the years have passed she has found the strength of spirit to stand up for herself.

It is ironic that I have been a force in helping her find her voice. Just as she has at times been shown the joy that comes from being true to yourself through my example, I have been plagued with the same dilemma of wanting to please everyone, to make those I love happy, to be liked and to keep the peace.

But, mom has shown me that it is impossible to be all things to all people without paying a price. Eventually the stress of striving for perfection takes it toll and comes back to bite you in the ass.

In the book Eat, Love, Pray (I only read the Eat section) author Elizabeth Gilbert writes about wanting to get out of her marriage even though it was not particularly unhappy, it was simply not the life she wanted. And how continuing to proceed along the path of marriage, children, play dates, etc would eventually result in cancer or other malady. Our bodies, our minds, know when we are living an unauthentic existence and resist. The rebellion causes disease.

The bright example of my mom in my life is to be true to yourself. To find a happiness that is balanced between giving and holding onto what you most treasure at your core. It is a struggle to remember. It is a struggle to forgive yourself when you hurt others unintentionally. She has found this balance, this healing, this strength, this truth.

I'm working on it.


Joy Keaton said...

Post related: 1. Awww.... Bev. 2. You only read the Eat section? You crack me up!

Non-post related: I love the field of sunflowers!

mum said...

You look a lot like your mom.

I haven't read Gilbert's book but have heard a lot about it. It sounds like good advice but life doesn't always make it easy to follow through on one's preferred options. I guess that's one way to find out how important they are for you or not, yes?

Hope you're enjoying the break from the school life.

Best from Graulhet.

RG said...

Lesson from my mother:

"I didn't raise you to be anybody else but YOU! If you're happy with YOU, that's all that matters."

Justine kicked ass. LOL

Al said...

Gary: I loved reading tip from your mom #10. I can feel the deep love you have for your mom. You are both blessed in many ways.

Gary said...

Joy - Post related: Lauren says the Pray section is a little draggy but Love is worth waiting for.

Non-post realated: Those are Tuscan sunflowers, from Italy (I guess - vague Moonstruck reference, I know you got it).

Mum - We do indeed look alike. It is comforting to look like people you love. It makes it harder to be down on yourself for not looking like Brad Pitt. And Yes, that is one way to find out what is important.

RG - Justine kicked it alright. That is solid advice.

Al - true dat.

Steve said...

I'm not sure how I feel about Elizabeth Gilbert, based solely on what I've read here. I mean, sometimes you DO have to make a change, but sometimes you also have to sacrifice for those you love, right? I think there's a balance. I guess asking yourself to live a completely inauthentic life would be unacceptable, but ditching your marriage even when it's not unhappy doesn't exactly seem like the best answer either. (I guess it really WAS unhappy on some level, though, at least for her.)

Anyway, good post! And yes, I was down your way for the Fourth and I'll give you a holler when I get out that way again! (We still need to get a beer right here on 29th Street one of these nights!)

Gary said...

Steve - You are right sacrifices are certainly made for those you love and I guess she was unhappy with her life and the direction it was going which was separate from how she felt about her husband (that's my read anyway). But given how horrible and nasty her husband was during the divorce it seems she made the right choice for herself. I never understood why people who are not together any longer can treat one another badly. I suppose it comes from being hurt but I've been hurt too and never wanted to get the other person back for it.

Drinks on 29th in September. Pencil me in.

Barbara said...

Your mom sounds much like mine. I'm not sure mine ever wanted to analyze her need to please, just assuming that was her role in life.

I'm glad you and your mom can talk about adult things and especially about feelings. You two sound like best friends. Too bad she lives so far away.

I loved Eat, Pray, Love and I read all three sections! I think the author and her husband were just going through the motions of life, not evening realizing they weren't happy. I really enjoyed her personal odyssey, imagining it took great courage to break with so many things in her past in her quest to discover her true self.

AquaSass said...

Thank you. Thank you for reminding me why I am in this crazy break up. We didnt fight, he doesnt understand, I cant put it into words....but there it is. "Inauthentic life." We were happy, but it didnt feel like I was being true to myself, and so was killing bits of me the farther I got from ME.

HOW did you only read the "eat" section? That was a really beautiful book. Its so rare I read great books, unfortunatly.

So, I stumbled accross you and Im hooked, just by this one post:) So, hello, im Lisa. And Im your new "follower":)

Mom said...

Thank you for the wonderful comments and praise! Thank you for always being there for me. You've helped me more than you'll ever know. You're a fantastic SON and a special friend! Not every parent can say that. Enjoy your trip; have a great time and stay safe! Love you as always Mom xxxooo

Gary said...

Barbara - It is true that mom and I are now best friends. Still, there is nothing like a mother's love, acceptance and pride in our lives is there.

I think you and Lisa (AquaSass) have convinced me to give Pray and Love a shot, although I don't know what I did with the book (although I better find it as my friend Maria lent it to me!).

Lisa - Welcome to FYB! I am so glad you found it and thanks for your comments.

Mom, Joy, dear friends - I'm about to board a plane. You know what that means....

You are loved!

lettuce said...

you know, my mum went through a similar process of growth, finding her voice and speaking out more for herself as she grew older

And interesting to link it in with Gilbert's book, which I just finished reading for my book group. I came away finally ambivalent about it, but enjoyed reading it more than I expected. do read the Pray section at least...

Gary said...

I finished the "Pray" & "Love" sections of the book while I was in Italy and then began reading "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel which is a perfect book to follow Gilbert's. I'll give "Life of Pi" a great big shout out and thumbs up!

Arielle Lee Bair said...

Your mom is wise and so are you.
I live less than 15 minutes from my mom & dad and feel lucky for that every single week. 891 miles seems so far away... I think my mom and I would die if we had that distance! :) We're kind of... dependent upon each other... in a good way. Haha. I do think you're right though, that being farther away makes every moment at home that much more special. It's obvious you have a great family.


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