I had this dream not long ago where I was meeting with my parents in the living room of our house.
They were both alive and elderly, which is my most recent memory of them. My mother was sitting next to a walker, which she used in real life when her health began to fail.
My father was standing next to her, not saying a word. This is probably the best indicator that I was dreaming.
My mother was telling me that she and my father appreciated how I helped take care of my mother and they wanted to give me something.
“We’re going to give you ten dollars,” she said with great emphasis.
I laughed and explained that they didn’t have to give me a reward, that it was my pleasure to help her and that 10 bucks really didn’t go far in today’s economy.
Apparently the stock market meltdown hadn’t occurred in this dream world.
I’m trying to think what happened during the day to spark that dream. One thing in particular was learning this woman I was interested in had a boyfriend.
Even though I laughed off the idea of a reward from my parents in the dream, I think subconsciously I wanted someone to pat me on the back and tell me I was appreciated. So my mind conjured up the image of my mom and dad.
A short time later I came across an old journal of mine from the year 2000. That was the year I took a trip to Seattle and did a kayak tour around the San Juan Islands. That was a fabulous trip and I can’t believe it’s almost eight years now.
But the journal also took me back to the days when my mother was sick and I was struggling for something resembling a career.
One particular entry was quite disturbing. It was dated June 6, 2000—the anniversary of D Day, which, as I noted in the entry, was quite appropriate.
“Can’t stop yelling at my mother,” I wrote. “God please help me; please forgive me…did she ever yell at you—the whole time you were sick or losing those jobs. God, why am I such a shit?”
I don’t recall what happened on this day, but it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse for my behavior and it sickens me to read those words.
I like to look back at the days I helped my mother and imagine myself as some kind of hero, but my own words are there to remind me of how I behaved.
So much of it comes back to self-loathing. I hated myself for stagnating in my parents’ home, for never having the nerve to do something, anything, daring, for not taking any risks.
But instead of facing my problems, I lashed out at the people around me, particularly the person who loved me the most. When the Mills Brothers sang about always hurting the one you love, they knew what they were talking about.
I think part of me actually resented my parents for growing old. It frightened me to see the ones who raised me, who took care of me, become so fragile and so in need of my help.
If I learn nothing else from this experience, I want to at least see that self-hatred only produces more hatred and all that venom eventually spills over and hurts the people around you.
I think about putting this all behind me and living a better life, but the problem is that I only had one elderly mother and she’s gone now. I can’t really make up for my behavior.
Still, I know my mother would want me to be happy.
She was the most forgiving person I’ve never known and while I hate it when people speak on behalf of the dead, I know she wouldn’t want me abusing myself over this.
In that same entry I tell myself to get some help. I’ve been working on that for a while now and I recently took a qigong course at the New York Open Center.
It was only four-weeks long, but I’m so glad I took the course. As usual, signing up involved a few days of me hemming and hawing about whether I should spend the money on this thing before actually hitting the buttons and registering.
Qigong uses simple exercises and meditation to promote good health. (I’m suffering from a cold right now, but then I just started.)
The exercises are simple, but stimulating, and the mediation techniques are very powerful. Unlike some of the other styles of meditation, where you just concentrate on your breathing, qigong meditation is filled with images.
You picture light traveling through your body, or imagine floating beneath a waterfall that showers you with “all the energy of the universe.”
The teacher spoke about how his instructor “composed” a particular meditation exercise and I thought that word really captured the idea behind these meditations. They’re like symphonies for the mind.
In one particular meditation, the teacher tells us to lie down in a field of followers and visualize a special being coming to us.
“It can be a Buddha or a saint,” he says on the DVD.
I’m not a Buddhist, so I expected my special being to take the form of Jesus or St. Martin de Porres, to whom my grandmother regularly prayed.
But instead of Christ or St. Martin, my special being turned out to be my mother. She came to me alive and healthy and smiling so radiantly.
During normal waking hours, I can never think of my mother for any length of time without crying because I miss her so much.
But during this meditation I was able to see her and not breakdown. It’s like she’s really standing in front of me.
I emailed the qigong teacher asking him if it’s unusual to see a deceased loved one during the meditation and he said it was entirely appropriate. I shouldn’t be surprised at seeing her, since my mother is something of a saint to me.
And I don’t feel guilty when I see her. I don’t feel ashamed for snapping at her and being such a self-centered jerk. The meditation is filled with positive energy.
I get to see my mother just about every night, so I guess I got my reward after all. And that’s worth lot more than 10 bucks.