Awakening through Motherhood by Lynnet McKenzie
Throughout my pre-child years, I had become accustomed to people telling me, “You are the sweetest person I know.” Because I was able to walk away from anything that made me uncomfortable or pushed my buttons, it was easy to see any upset as primarily the fault of external stimulus. My unconscious survival mechanism was to pass all my thoughts, feelings, and actions through an “angel” filter before allowing them to enter my conscious mind. I did this so well that I had no idea what lurked beneath my own angelic exterior until I gave birth to my greatest spiritual teacher, my son.
Becoming a single parent to a tirelessly intense child caused me to discover there was a heck of a lot brewing below the surface. My profoundly spirited, highly strong-willed, and ceaselessly creative son tested me far beyond what I had thought were my limits. He persistently illuminated and magnified every emotion I automatically stuffed and every feeling I wanted to escape.
To be clear, I love my son enormously. I appreciate his connection with nature even when I find alligator lizards in my boots and garter snakes in my coat pockets. I love reading to him, painting with him, walking in the woods and playing in the water, going on adventures, listening to him tell stories and sing songs, and providing him daily care and support. If this was all there was to it, I could be Saint Mom.
What blew my Saint Mom dream was his blood-curdling screaming and intense, prolonged emotional outbursts. Beginning in infancy, he literally screamed two to six hours a day, nearly every day, for years. I read every parenting book I could get my hands on and tried every technique that made sense to me. I spoke with numerous child psychologists (most of whom, interestingly, did not have children). I checked for allergies, gave him homeopathic remedies, dietary changes, more sleep, and special supplements. And still he screamed and screamed and screamed for reasons I could not understand. Until one day, after seven years of this stuck pattern, my son began screaming hysterically at my feet over something I cannot even remember. What I do remember is suddenly becoming aware for the first time that there was something screaming inside of me. As I tuned into it, I realized it had been there most of my life and I had never even noticed.
Before this moment, I had no idea how much anger, fear, and pain lurked beneath my surface personality and no idea how ready my apple cart was to topple. In my own little world, with no one pushing my buttons, I felt safe and peaceful. From this perspective, it seemed his relentless screaming and outrageous behaviors were the cause of my internal clash of the titans.
It was a miraculous relief when I finally realized that, for this blood-curdling clash to stop, I needed to face and feel the “monsters” that chased me — the feelings I automatically suppressed and the old wounds that had not healed. In my effort to be my idea of an angel and a saint, I had suppressed everything else so tightly that it became like cement inside my chest. It took the intensity of my son to shake it loose and allow me to see that the monster that haunted me was actually my own face, my own pain, my own walls. Yes, my son’s behavior revealed the suppressed pain, but it was never the cause.
If anyone else had brought these buried monsters to the surface I would have gotten as far away from them as possible. If it would have been a neighbor, I would have moved, a boss, I would have quit, a spouse, I would have gotten divorced. Being a mother was the one thing I would not leave for any reason. His behavior and the dynamic between us put me in a position in which I had to choose to face all this inside myself or have our relationship be hell on earth. My love for him is so fierce that there was only one choice I was willing to make — face the monsters.
And doing this was not easy. At first it seemed impossible. As a child, I had disassociated from my feelings in order to survive. I locked them away in a deep, dark, dungeon. To truly enjoy the relationship with my son, I had to become the hero of my own life and rescue myself. This began when I stopped denying my pain and got honest about my feelings. For me, this path led to many healers, counselors, trainings, shamanic journeys, and self-exploration. Now, after years of persistent work, the journey to connect with my deepest heart takes only one breath, but it still begins with honesty about the things I do not want to face.
Unwittingly, I gave birth to the awakening of my own being when I made the choice to open to all of myself, including the monsters. And — news flash — I am not such an angel after all. Yes, I am deeply loving and often very sweet. But there is a lot more to me than just sweetness. Through the process of opening to all that I am, I discovered I am profoundly spirited, highly stubborn, and ceaselessly creative — a lot like my teacher who screamed me to awakening.
Lynnet McKenzie is a kinesthetic, intuitive healer, body story expert (apprentice), soul listener, veteran massage therapist, writer, and mom. She and her son live in a magical cottage in a secret garden on the Oregon coast. Lynnet is currently launching a new business, Opening to Ecstasy (openingtoecstasy.com).