Relationship with Mom

As I suppose happens to many, I struggle in my relationship with some people. I mean really struggle, so I know there is more going on than meets the eye. As a seminary teacher taught me, when a person really triggers you, then the question is, “Gary, I see that you are upset, but why are your sooooo upset?”

I work hard to do a good job as Treasurer at the Sevenoaks Pathwork Center. My reputation in business was being one who could make complex financials understandable, and I love doing this. But not everyone appreciates what I appreciate when things are clear. And some people even dismiss the work that I do as largely inane and irrelevant to the big picture. Of course this triggers me, but why does it sooooo trigger me?

I know many say that our relationship with mom sets up a lot in life, but I did not get the connection to my trigger until last night as I was sitting with my upset after a key meeting with a Sevenoaks leadership team. In the midst of my upset an insight arose. I connected a few more dots in my life.

I recalled an incident with Mom that was an example of what got set up in me as a pattern for life. I was a junior in high school. I was profoundly interested in astronomy and cosmology, but could not really find others with whom to discuss such big ideas. An article in Life magazine came along that laid out a particular view based on relativity. I challenged some of the conclusions in the article by preparing a letter to the editor. My letter was respected enough that, although not published, I got a response that others had also pointed out this argument and hoped that I would find that would answer some of my points. I felt met and engaged by the editors.

But before sending in the article I let Mom read it. When she did she pointed to a glaring grammatical error.  I ended the letter with “whose right” when I meant to say “who’s right.” I was crushed that I had gotten it wrong. But years later I saw that what really hurt was that Mom could not relate to my letter, engage with me about it, appreciate it for what it meant to me, and affirm my interests is math and science. She did not see me.

I am sure that Mom loved me, but I did not feel her warmth and love. I did not have a felt-sense of the experience of love, or so later it would seem this was the case for me. So instead of love, I settled for approval instead. And I set out in life to get approval. Of course this would never satisfy my hunger for love that lay beneath the deeper layer in me seeking approval. But being unconscious about my real need (love) I went after approval with a vengeance.

Or rather, I thoroughly got into what I enjoyed — math, science, elegant financials, photography, recording Pathwork lectures, having a website and blog, etc., but was disappointed, hurt, and sometimes even crushed when someone did not appreciate what I so passionately was into. I would not feel seen or appreciated or approved of.

Here in the Sevenoaks leadership team the not-appreciated piece was my “elegant financial statements.” The person who criticizes them or dismisses them as irrelevant brings up my pain, pain that goes all the way back to Mom and my letter to the editor of Life magazine. This powerful lesson for me last night was made profoundly clear to me in a long example of such matters given in Pathwork Lecture #93 The Link Between the Main Image, Repressed Needs, and Defenses. I have been recording this lecture and this section of the lecture amazed me. This long example given in the lecture, which you can download as Relationship with Mom, seems to lay out my main image and all that it affects.

I am so grateful to have this laid out so clearly. Now it is time to work with it, ponder it, and through this understanding heal an early wound and change my beliefs and way of responding to people whose interests, life views, and values are just not the same as mine.  It is also important to know that I affect people with my patterned behavior and push away the very love for which I long.  A lot to take in as I begin this weekend going over to our Helper Retreat at Sevenoaks.  May this understanding serve me and the people with whom I interact. May I not have to be competent but rather may I be undefended and open to love.