Dec 19 2009
I imagine that many of you will be going home to spend time with your family during the holidays. For some of you that will be bliss, for others, not so much. My father died when I was 17 and my mother passed away a few years ago, but every year prior to that my sister and I and her children would go back to our childhood home in Mystic, Conn. and stay with my mother and brother for a week. I thought of it as going back to the button factory because that’s where all the buttons were installed.
It was my yearly exam where I’d get to put to use all my latest self-help tools. Ram Dass has said that if you think you’re enlightened, just go spend a week with your parents. Nevertheless, I’d always have high hopes and would be well-armed with my latest personal growth books, my meditation tapes, and an “I can do this” attitude. Things would go really well…for the first hour or two, sometimes even a day or two. But then sure enough my mom would criticize or hover and my buttons would be activated, and I’d be lost in the button factory.
One time during one of these visits I awoke in the middle of the night feeling distressed and I had an epiphany. I imagined my family asleep in their rooms and in the quiet space of the night I saw my mother’s critical nature that I judged, and I realized that I have a critical nature. I thought about my brother and how easily offended he was and thought, oh, I am easily offended. I took a good look at my sister’s people pleaser and realized, I’m a people pleaser at times. Everything I judged in them was in me. I had been judging in them what I hadn’t wanted to face in myself. It wasn’t just an intellectual awareness of it, it was a full body, full spirit experience of our interconnectedness. Instead of seeing me versus them, I was seeing me as them, and them as me. I experienced that we were part of the same whole, that we were one. I had to smile to myself when I really got that they were my mirrors. It was a mirror-cle moment.
I realized that the real test isn’t about seeing how long I can go without my buttons being pushed — the real test is being able to face and embrace all of my disowned, projected selves. It’s not about becoming perfect, it’s about becoming whole by loving and accepting all the many me’s that life is reflecting back to me, the meany me’s, the moody me’s, the messy me’s, and even the mighty me’s.
Sometimes in the early morning I’ll look over at my sleeping husband Tom and I’ll think to myself, “Wow, if everyone in my life is my mirror, then Tom is my mirror and I think Tom is wonderful, I think Tom is a beautiful soul. I see the beautiful soul in my family members as well. Since they are my mirrors, I must be a beautiful soul too. To be able to face and embrace THAT is truly the biggest mirror-cle of all.
Do you have beautiful souls in your life? That’s because you are one! Mirrors mirrors all around, reflections of your Self abound!
MIRROR-CLE AT THE BUTTON FACTORY
I’m visiting my family, the button factory it’s called
because that’s where all of my buttons were installed.
My Mom’s buttin’ in and I feel appalled.
I’m buttoning my lip and try to hide that I’m galled.
My brother is so sensitive, so easily offended.
I tiptoe through the minefield, afraid I’ll be upended.
My sister is obsequious, and smiles through gritted teeth,
Hiding all her real feelings that lie underneath.
I’m trying to avoid my buttons being pushed.
I’m wrestling with my feelings and I am bushed.
I’m barely succeeding in holding my tongue,
when snap! I finally lose it and come all undone!
That shakes me awake and I begin to see
that everything I judge in them is also in me!
The button factory is like a house of mirrors
reflecting back to me all my disowned terrors.
As I face and embrace each rejected part
I experience my family with more love and heart.
I can see that we are parts of the same whole.
I can feel that we’re connected, that we are one soul.
Now the years have passed, and so has my mom
I miss the button factory, my childhood home.
But the buttons are still in me, letting me know
I need to love all parts of me, and let my judgments go.