I think we all are shedding our skin these days. We all are facing a fear, if not all fears, within ourselves. This last month has especially been a roller coaster of changing perspectives, of our darkest fears crashing into our face as possible realities in the universe. And we all are trying to find a way to make a sense, and little by little, to free ourselves from all the norms, patterns and expectations of life.
In my case, today, the biggest reality that I need to make peace with, is my daughter leaving Turkey to purse her education in UK. Everybody is asking me how I came in terms with this decision of sending my 13 years old daughter away and how I am coping up with it? Let me tell you a secret. I am not! I have no will nor desire to be away from her. My perception of life’s game has been based on what the past generations has passed to us. That you get married, have children and you live happily ever after. Yep. That’s how my story started as well.
First wave of reality has come with my perception of marriage. Today, I have a different understanding and acceptance of what marriage is. Today, I love my ex-husband and hold him dear to my heart as one of my best friends. He still is my partner in life but in an evolved form. We do not claim rights on each other, however we do cherish each other’s individuality and dreams. We choose to listen to each other not through our patterns but with an open heart. We know that we are not here to push each other’s buttons anymore but to shed a light in each other’s journey. So, yes, marriage is not something that binds us, but companionship is. I share a life with him like I have never done before. I am grateful for his existence not because he is my husband, but because he is my friend who has and still is contributing to my growth, who knows my essence more than anyone, and that all his words are not directed at me to break me but to make me. His support and love are beyond any defined name or pattern that is attached to that title.
Then came my perception of work. I have learned from early ages that work is something you do to earn money. Our choices of our occupation have been based on our limited perception of our capabilities, of our luck and our state of mind during the university exams, and merely on how we could earn more money to make a living. We believed that if we are at work from 9 to 6, contributing to a system we vaguely believe in, to earn and to spend so that we fit in the society, then we are good. Life is what it should be and what is. I remember an elder telling me in my early years of work life that we do not have to do what we like but we should learn to like what we do. I often found myself wondering about that. Yes, there is an enormous wisdom in finding a meaning in what you are doing and enjoying that. I have done that. Just like the rest of us. But what if we were doing what is not only meaningful to us but also our expression in life? What if we not only like but also love what we do? So, with that wonder in my heart, I embarked on a journey to search for a new meaning for work. It has been hard to let go of my patterns, of what is thought to me to be considered as “work”, of my ego yearning to fit in, to be accepted and seen. And my journey has brought me to my current life (I am not going to say work. I believe my learned meaning of that word does not apply to my current occupation) where I thrive to contribute and create meaningful businesses. Where I am me and its perfectly fine to communicate that. Today, I do not work from 9-6, my work is my life, my words are my tool of expression and everyday holds another possibility. I do not wear a mask, try to fit in, try to make a meaning. Today I am me and I thrive to contribute to a world where I believe is not a utopia but a possibility.
And third wave is today, I believe, with my daughter leaving. My perception of parenthood was that she was going to be born, and I was going to love her like I have never done before, and we were (oh yes, again, hopeless romantic Pollyanna pops up here) going to live happily ever after. I remember uttering big words like “I will not send my daughter abroad before her higher education!” I wanted her to be next to me, to grow with me. May be because deep inside I knew that someday, she will build her own life, and I wanted to be with her as much as possible until then. And if and when the time comes for her to create her own story, I hoped and somehow selfishly foreseen that she would create it not too far away from me, and we would be best friends forever.
First of all, with puberty you learn that, she doesn’t want you as her best friend! She wants to build her own tribe where she defines herself without the possibility of your judgments and your learned and thought patterns. These are the years you realize, she is not yours to claim. She has her own life and its perfectly normal. And one day, no matter how much we dread, we are going to be left alone with ourselves. We will need to claim the rights of our own life once again. Its time when one realizes that we can only envision a life for ourselves and wish and pray for our children’s path. We have no control on anyone’s journey but ours. And the earlier we realize that, the better it is. (again, only for our sake)
When they ask me how I feel, I have mixed feelings;
Mostly nostalgia these days, as the moment of departure is very near. I would have loved to hold her in my arms a little longer. However, they do not want to be held that much anymore – anyway. We have to learn to be present when needed and respect their own space. I have a yearning and nostalgia to live my story with her once again. I miss her babyhood, those days when her life revolved around me. I miss her baby eyes looking at me with wonder, silently asking “What shall we do mom now? How should we enjoy each other’s company?” I long for those days where she and I together was all we both needed and cared for. But then, what is nostalgia if not for not letting go of the past. Today, our new evolved perception of being knows that there is no time and no other reality that the present moment. Then nostalgia is not a tool to use but to observe as a part of this “human journey”.
I feel a little sad, for have chosen to play this game of parenthood in a conventional sense. It’s the biggest love and yet the biggest illusion we choose to live as humans.
In my country, for generations, people had kids yes for love, but more with the hope that they will be taken care for in their older ages. They feared loneliness because they have defined their tribe mostly with their families. And they demanded their attention in return, because they presumed it’s their rightful right – again as a result of learned patterns – and they expected them to keep them company if and when needed.
Today, I know that I am alone, though not lonely. I have a tribe who believes in the world that I believe in and is willing to contribute to that with me. I do not believe in nor desire to retire someday. I wish to create and contribute for the rest of my life. And I have no right to demand my daughter to fill the gaps in my life. She can only be my companion in life and we could only hope to look at each other beyond our patterns with empathy, understanding and love. Today, although very hard, I try to sooth my sadness by witnessing life with a broader understanding. I might have chosen to play that parenthood game, but I also can define a new meaning for that in which she is not responsible for my loneliness. If that would be the case, it would only be my responsibility, not her duty to create a life that I feel fulfilled.
I feel excited for what future holds for her and wish that she would seize every moment of it. And yet again, I also know that she will be restless and will fall and rise in pursue of defining herself, searching for her voice in life. But my belief and hope for the so-called sacrifice I am making is that, she will get out of this middle eastern perception and acceptance of victim mind and create something that is unique and purposeful for herself. That she would surpass the defined cultural boxes and become a global citizen. That she would be happy within her skin, activate her creative bone and make this journey called life worthwhile.
I feel fearful and yet excited for what life has to offer to me as well. At age 43 I am somewhat free (I am not going to use alone, again, because of my learned perception of that word). May be for first time in my life, I will be living and building a life for myself by myself. I do not have much experience about this, it is something yet to be explored. But I am grateful that at a young age I get this opportunity to reincarnate without dying – yet again – and embark to find a new definition of life which is very alien yet exciting and inspiring for me.
With this wonder, I have found a strength in me, of which I never knew that existed, for this decision we have made. Khalil Gibran’s poem is like a mantra to me, a light in my heart;
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of
Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
I do hope that my courage to take a leap of faith in life and making those decisions to re-define the meanings of conventional, learned terms will have a contribution to our relationship, her perception to life and towards herself. I do hope all those I have lovingly communicated to her will serve as a tool for her when and if needed. I hope that we will and can create a relationship of companionship, of enjoying life not through but with each other. I do hope distance is a blessing in disguise and time is just an illusion.
She has been in me and will always be in me – but not necessarily have to be with me. She is a soul searching for meaning, for freedom just like me and I am here to hold her hand, to guide her, to support her, to love her. But her life will be hers, just like mine should have been mine.
We are going through an interesting passageway in the history of humanity. And I guess, just like you, I am getting my share of realizations of life. But may be because I have always been a little rebellious, I am choosing – or hoping to choose– to perceive these challenges as an opportunity. I am choosing to see them not as an obstacle on my way but as a learning for my growth. I am choosing to dive into the terms and find new meanings. I am simply saying “why not” to a different perception and trying to embrace it with grace, acceptance and love. I can’t fight change, nor postpone it. Life is happening in its own pace. However, I can choose to make the best out of it, and may be even, manifest it.
Goodbye my love… know that I am always here. Though you may not be mine to keep, I choose to be yours with an open heart whenever you need me. That is my choice, my love which has no burden on you. You are not responsible for the love I feel for you. I love you, I see the beauty in you. That is solely my choice and my joy.
I only ask you to love yourself regardless of what you wish to be but of what you are today. Love your so-called flaws because they are here to guide you into a bigger version of yourself. Take the challenge of facing your fears, your learned patterns (no matter how much I have tried, I am sure I have imposed upon you many patterns of mine, and I am truly sorry for those moments I fell into the human game and forgot the divine in me) and your limited perception of yourself. Let yourself be free, free of expectations from yourself and from me. Explore life and yourself with wonder and with awe.
And I thank you. Thank you for choosing me to accompany you in this virtual reality. Thank you for teaching me a form of love and acceptance that I might have never imagined. Thank you for your contribution to my growth. Thank you, baby, for simply being you.
And may you go with peace and stay with love. May the creation be gentle and loving to you by bringing beautiful people into your life so that when you fall, and in which you will, from time to time, you will land on a soft blanket of love and reincarnate from your ashes with grace – again and again.
I love you.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.