Driving back home on Southern California freeways crowded with tourists taking advantage of the last glorious summer weekend…an ache in my breast, a dark shadow where the sun once shone, an eclipse in my existence…I left my daughter, my sunshine, at the university in San Diego.
How long I’ve prepared for this transition, how many soulful meditations, how many intimate conversations with so many other mothers who have gone through this phase of life. Yet in spite of all my work, during that last kiss goodbye, the cords that bound our hearts pulled so tight to nearly snap.
I released my son into the world four years before, but my daughter filled up the space that he left behind, so much so that now there is a void in my heart, in my home, in my life.
Having counseled my patients, hundreds of them, through life’s transitions, I should know better, I should take my own advice. Haven’t I told them how within the web of life, we float upon the river of consciousness, connected by invisible threads from heart chakra to heart chakra? Attached to everyone, and entangled with all we love, all we hate, all with whom we struggle.
So as a mother of an empty nest, some would advise that I cut the cord for her wellbeing and mine. But that is an old paradigm teaching and an illusion for we can never cut ourselves off from creation. We are all on the web connected together. There is only one of us here. We are all part of the One Consciousness, all cells of the One Being. Every cell in my body knows it is a part of me just like I am a part of the earth and the sun, the plants and the creatures. Research by neuro-biologist, Candace Pert PhD, has shown that even when cells, tissues, or whole organs are removed, that the cells “remember” where they came from responding more like the donor than the transplant recipient. And I am connected to my daughter, imprinted since her birth, no matter how distant she is from me.
I know this to be true, because I can feel her emotion, especially her fear…it has waken me up in the middle of the night when she has most needed me. I trust this connection even more so than my vision. It has served me as a mother and especially as a healer. I feel my patients’ dis-ease in the mirror of my being, but I have learned over the years not to embody their imbalances. Although connected to each and every one, I have learned to disentangle from the drama of being a healer and this is what I teach to my patients.
Imagine your life color as an infinitely strong gossamer thread emerging from your heart chakra to the heart of every other living thing. Each aspect of creation has its own color, born on the rainbow of light; its own vibration, its own sound. Imagine someone you are struggling with—your spouse, your child, your parent, your boss, whoever. What is their color? Imagine their cord and your cord braided together with knots scattered here and there. These knots represent your struggles, your difficulties in the relationship, your entanglements with each other.
Most of the people I counsel—my patients, my family, my friends—complain about the dramatic struggle within their relationships, know that they must make a change, come to me for help…and I tell them to disentangle from that being they are struggling with. We do the visualization together. They see their color, they see the color of the other person, they see themselves tied up in knots, they feel this entanglement literally as an ache in their breast, but when I begin to have them identify the knots in their cords of attachment, while they can name the problems that the knots represent, they have no idea how to untangle themselves. In fact most are afraid, most claim they cannot let go.
Upon the river of consciousness we all float, but entangled with others we struggle for breath, trussed together heart to heart, only one can breathe at a time, while the other holds her breath and prays. Everyone in our lives is a mirror to our souls, each reflecting back what we most need to learn, the judgments we hold of our humanity. What we like in another is what we appreciate in ourselves, what we dislike is what we need to change or accept in us.
How can you see in the mirror if your nose is pressed to the glass? That is why my patients struggle with disentanglement because they cannot see clearly what the lesson is in the struggle with another.
So I help them identify the most recent knot and going back in time a few more knots. Oh, they can name the knots, but not the gifts. What gifts? What could possibly be good about these struggles? Why, I tell them, every struggle is a gift that must be unwrapped. To receive the gift, first you must recognize it as a gift. Not all gifts have lovely exteriors in fact the most precious may be very ugly.
My Nana used to wrap up her garbage. Living in the city, the more compact the trash, the more likely the trash man would take it away, except Nana used to wrap it so nicely that Poppop would find it left on the step. The trash man thought it was a gift, so lovely was the wrapping. You see, you can’t always tell by the wrapping; life’s gifts are rarely wrapped so nicely.
My husband struggled with letting our daughter grow up. Once when he overstepped his parental boundaries, she told him after raising him for eighteen years she was done! He cried, “but I don’t know how to let you go.” She turned him over to me, “Mom, remember those cords of attachment? Dad needs your help.”
So I explained the concept and he amazed me by visualizing their life colors just as I do. He is forest-green, she—golden as sunshine. He could see how they were tied together in a lovely fishtail braid, and he could see the knots, especially how they struggled with her growing independence, but he couldn’t see the gift in lifting her curfew and allowing her some freedom before she took off to college. He could only see the sleeplessness until she arrived home at night, the worry about her making safe decisions. I pointed out that unlike his good friend who had not loosened the reins on his daughter, my husband after weeks of suffering adapted slowly albeit surely, finally falling asleep well before she arrived home. When she is away at college, he will rest, but his poor friend will not.
My husband agreed, but still struggled with receiving the gift of the knot, claiming, “I don’t want to let her go.” Heartbreakingly honest. Fearing to let go, fearing that we may not be able to float on our own in the river of consciousness, not trusting that we are still connected, we struggle and tighten the knots.
I did this same exercise while writing my first book, LoveDance. I wrote from the perspective of the heroine and like most novelists I used those in my life to base my characters. Envisioning how “Mary” would disentangle her cords of attachment to “Teoma”, I realized I must disentangle from my husband. For three days, he refused to go to work, sick to his stomach. I didn’t have a chance, while nursing him, to do the meditation let alone write it. Finally he returned to work and I opened myself to receive the gift of the encounter with my laptop. While writing Mary’s disentanglement from Teoma, I disentangled my violet life cord from my husband’s vibrant green. The knots of our most recent struggles all the way back to those formed when our son was born prematurely. The older knots were so well fermented I could sip the sweet wine of their gifts easily. The more recent knots—like our struggle with our changing roles as parents and the interference writing a book brought to our daily life—were more acrid in their newness, but I took the bitter cup and using the lubrication of love, found the gifts.
Mary and I floated free, breathing easily in the river of consciousness, while Teoma struggled to cling to the bank feeling very much abandoned. The moment I pushed “save”, my husband called. He was having a horrible day and “felt abandoned.” In spite of my reassurance, it took three weeks of repetitive visualizations before he relaxed and I no longer felt the painful ache of his sense of abandonment mirrored in my heart.
Now I did this same visualization with my son, disentangling my violet from his indigo. My knots of expectation in his success in school were more difficult to unravel than the original knot between us representing his difficult birth. All the challenges of his prematurity and his numerous endocrine problems became one of my most profound gifts. He is why I do what I do, why I became an expert in clinical neuro-immune-endocrinology. The more recent knot representing my struggle with allowing him to be on his own, trusting that he would be safe and happy in a world without my constant maternal influence was a bit more difficult. The well hidden gift turned out to be…accepting my transformation as a mother from nurturer-protector to confidante-advisor. In accepting him, I accepted myself. Twenty-four hours after I loosened the last knot between us, my wise son called me from college in San Francisco. “What are you doing down there, Mom? I feel lighter than ever!” I explained the disentanglement and he encouraged me to continue and “let go of us all, even yourself, and see, how enlightened you can be.”
So I did. Each and every significant person in my life, I disentangled from, I felt more and more free and my relationships with each person changed, transformed by love into something finer. I even disentangled from all I believed myself to be—a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a healer, a woman, even from Deborah—and discovered my truth, which is joy.
Since disentangling from our daughter while she was a sophomore in high school, now that the time had come to let her grow up and go away to college, I am handling it better than I did with my son. With him, my body reminded me of the pain of birthing…I suffered from a sciatic condition (just like when I gave birth) that lasted from the moment I helped him fill out his college applications to the day I drove him up to the University of San Francisco. Now with my daughter, the pain is a bittersweet heartache, not physically manifested. The kind of ache that actually feels good, like watching a sad movie and crying your heart out and knowing the joy of being human is to feel passionately.
In fact my ethereal connection with my children has been so acutely enhanced since disentangling from them, that I realize the knots of my entanglements interfered with the clarity of my perceptions. Since letting my daughter grow up, I sleep soundly, only twice bolting out of bed, feeling her panic and calmly contacting her (via the telephone, since telepathy is difficult through the veil of fear) and all was well. I’ve taught her to trust the inner knowing and realize that through trial and error she will learn to ride the wave of our ethereal connection.
Actually when it came time to escort our daughter to college, my husband did pretty well. He cried of course, and while at first resisting disentanglement, he admitted to having worked on it and yes, he felt lighter, less fearful, more willing to let her go and trust she will be well. And we have both begun to receive the gift of her leaving, becoming closer than ever, falling in love all over again—just the two of us.
So how might you release the illusion of your entanglements? Envision your life color, whatever comes to you is fine, then envision the color of the other person. Your red cord and her blue cord are braided nicely for the most part, but knotted in places. Like a precious necklace entangled into the thread of a silk sweater you do not want to break either, but carefully loosen the knots using the lubrication of love. I live near the beach and off the coast, derricks pump oil from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Often I come home with tar stuck to the soles of my feet. Only oil gets it off—like dissolving like. These knots in your cords of attachment seem like tar, but they are gifts of love and only the lubrication of love can dissolve the knots. If you look with eyes of love you can find the gift in each knot. It’s not easy, but after two or three knots, the entangled cords start unraveling, setting you free to float in the river of consciousness. You do not need to share with the person you are releasing what you have done, but your relationship WILL change.
No matter how ugly the wrapping, there is always a gift of love waiting to be discovered. So just let go. Disentangling your cords of attachment will free you to be your truth—the most precious gift of all.