My parents were here this past week from out of state. They weren't technically here for a visit even though that was a side benefit. My mom was here for surgery to remove a tumor that was found on her parathyroid. She had been suffering for probably over 20 years from this tumor. Doctors had been diagnosing her with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Addison's Disease and more. But finally, the true diagnosis was found when they found the tumor. Not many surgeons do this particular surgery so that is why they were here in the Seattle area.
I bring all this up because as my parents were here, I remembered how much I enjoy their company. I have been in therapy for over three years now and I have been working through a difficult part of my life when I was 11-15 give or take some years. During that time of my life it was also a very difficult time for my mom. As I work on these unresolved emotions I tend to focus on how my mom was during that period and forget how she was before and after. She is a wonderful person, very caring, knowledgeable and a great listener. She has a tender heart and desire to be there for her children. It is just that during this period in time, she couldn't even be there for herself let alone all of us kids.
Having my parents here was a great reminder to me of who they really are, I actually forgot how much my dad loves to tell funny stories and crack jokes to everyone, even strangers. It is important to remember that no matter what other's have done to us in our lives (and here I'm talking about parents in particular) that they are just human beings. One of the books that my therapist gave me to read awhile ago, Addiction to Perfection, by Marion Woodman, had this wonderful quote:
I stress here that this book is not a condemnation of mothers - or fathers. It is about recognizing the enemy and giving it a name in order to deal creatively with it, of course, children have to recognize negative as well as positive feelings toward their parents, but most of us, at some point in analysis, realize that our parents were in a worse situation that we. Many of them knew they were trapped, but they had no means of finding a way out. The sins of one generation are visited on the next; that is the human situation, and to the extent that parents are unconscious, their children suffer. It is the task of mature individuals to differentiate infantile images from the actual parents, to differentiate what was wholesome in their heritage from what was destructive, and to forgive.
In my mind as a child I had determined that my parents were helpless and there was were my co-dependency was born. Maybe for a few years, my mom in particular, really needed help, but I realize now that they were not helpless. When they were here I worried that they could get around Seattle okay, and I really had to push the co-dependency aside and remember who they really are, what they have accomplished in their lives and then let them go on their own. It really was like letting my own children go out into the world. But as they returned successfully from their trip it really was an awakening moment for me. They are not helpless, I don't need to do everything for them, I don't need to do co-dependent things for them.
I remember reading a book (I believe the goal was to think more lovingly about your parents) and it suggested to think of them as really small and visually put them in your heart. My problem was that I had always done that. I needed to do the reverse, I needed to visualize them as the capable adults that they are and remove the image of small and helpless. Having my parents here, going through the traveling back and forth into the craziness of downtown Seattle for tests and then the surgery while I waited here at home helped me to see the capable adults. It was an amazing thing for my mom to have this healing surgery and amazing for me to have this healing moment and to realize I don't need to be co-dependent with them.
Years ago I was reading You Can Heal Yourself by Louise Hays and in there she said that we are all just "victims of victims." I often think of that line as I am working through my past emotions. My mom didn't fall apart on purpose so that I would have all these issues. She had problems of her own that were too great for her and she didn't know how to get help. And me, well, I hid my hurt and emotions deep inside, so much so, that I didn't even recognize they were there. But when they started coming out, I'm so grateful I was guided to the help I needed. I hope as my children are learning along with me, that they too will realize that we are all just victims of victims.