He curled up in my lap with his face in his hands and just wept. He is after all, just three years old. See my son had just bumped his head (not his first time and certainly not his last) and he was in a lot of pain so he cried as I held him.
Just another day in the life of a boy mom if you ask me but this was no ordinary day and what happened next sent me on a spiral of self-discovery.
As I held my son in my arms, I thought to myself “aww, I’m going to cherish these moments when I’m able to be the one who takes away his pain.” And it’s as if the second I said that, I heard the voice of God say “Really? Really Shannon? You’re taking away his pain? Tell me, what exactly are you doing to physically remove the pain?” [The God of my understanding speaks my language sometimes – sarcasm]. And I instantly realized…nothing. I’m doing nothing to take away his pain. I’m simply supporting him while he processes his own pain.
Isn’t that what I should have been doing all along; in all my relationships? And then (because I over-analyze) I kept thinking about what that all meant. Because if, as a small child myself, I cried to my Mom and expected her (the one who was to love and protect me) to take away my pain, wouldn’t that make sense as to why I tried to take away the pain of my addict? And why I felt so defeated when I couldn’t? And why I expected him in return, to be the one to take away my pain?
And then it hit me that this is what Rusell Brand is talking about when he says “You don’t choose between working a program and not working a program. You’re either working a program or you’re being worked by an unconscious program.”
This is my ‘unconscious programming.’ The one that says if you love me, you’ll take away my pain. And the one that says if I love you, I’ll take away your pain.
Hashtag co-dependency!! I can see now, it was never about me taking away your pain. It’s about offering support, love, and encouragement as you process your own pain.
And you know what’s cool about seeing it this way, I can have a deeper understanding and compassion for myself and for others. My mother is certainly not to blame for comforting me when I’m hurt. And it’s not a 3-year-olds fault that he/she would think that their mother is taking away their pain. But it does give me a change in perspective and I can now see how my thinking got a little distorted in that area. I can see where the problem started and I can make the choice to change. I can also have more compassion for others and honor their journey to discovering the same as well.