Perception is projection
Every night, my sons and I spend about 45 minutes sitting and cuddling on my bed talking about everything from how their day went to what’s going on in their wonderful worlds. Last night Taariq told me that one of his friend’s parents are getting divorced and that he reassured his friend that everything will be okay although it might be a tough road to get there. Rayhan on the other hand was quick to jump to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with the father since this is already his second marriage and therefore his second divorce. He said “OMG! AGAIN? There’s definitely something wrong with that man!”
I was taken aback by his quick and harsh judgment as I didn’t’ realize that he viewed divorce as a total failure. In other words, he was trying to say “fine if you fail once, then you can be forgiven, but twice! Then there’s a problem with you and you should be condemned”.
Realizing your true worth
So I asked him to pause and tell me why he said that. His explanation was a clear judgment of the father who must have screwed up in some way, since failing twice is unacceptable. I was stunned and took a deep breath and calmly asked both of them to come near me. I explained to them that life is not linear and clean and neat like people and society and religious organizations like to pretend it is. I told them that life is sometimes messy, unpredictable and painful, and that they will be challenged more and more as they choose to face life in all its complexities.
I gave them my own example and our example as a family. I explained to them how forcing myself to shy away from pain in the past led me to a deep dark place called depression, where death seemed more of a relief than life. Why? Because I was forcing myself to fit in this perfect image of a happy smiley wife while inside I was dying to my true self every single second. I was dying because the mask I had put on to appear happy was suffocating me and that deep inside I was constantly screaming to get out.
I explained to them that my divorce was a way to reclaim my true self and that the person and mother they see in front of them NOW, with all her mess, is a real authentic person who loves them unconditionally with love and light that bursts from the seams. That now I can love them for real, for who they are, because I also know who I am. Without unbecoming the masked prisoner that I was, my love for them would also have been half hidden and conditional.
Finally I told them that no matter what they do, no matter how many mistakes they make or how many failures they go through, I will be there to support them. My love for them will not diminish even if they do not do what I think I want them to do. Our actions are NOT who we are. Our experiences are NOT who we are. The past is NOT who we are. I want them to understand that they don’t have to hide their pain in front of me ever – if they are not fine, say “I’m not fine, I need help, or I just need you to be there in silence next to me”. There is no need to numb our pain with addictions, distractions, predetermined religious rituals or depression. I want to teach my children that to grow, they must unbecome.
Written by Nasseema Taleb