This blog is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Roberta Linnens Koestel. As I write, it is the 14th anniversary of her death.
Many of my clients had parents who were sick and abusive. Consequently they weren’t all taught to be empowered as a human being – to know what choices were available – or even that they had choices. We can’t give something we don’t have, and often our parents were victims as children themselves. But we can learn from what we were given, if we allow ourselves to step outside and become the compassionate observer of our lives.
Often a client will say, “I wish I had another mother or father. Why couldn’t I have a loving family?” We all deserve to have love in our lives. But we also need to accept the hand that is dealt. Many have parents who were very loving, and who taught them valuable lessons. But I would venture to guess that even those people secretly wish one or both of their parents was different in some way. Virtually no one had perfect parents. But our parents are who they are. They’re human with virtues and with frailties, as are we.
OK, here’s where I get “woo woo” on you again, so feel free to quit reading at this point if it makes you uncomfortable. (I hope you will continue though, because I believe what I’m about to say can be helpful. But please know that I am not trying to convince you of anything – just to explain my view point and how it helps me). Many of you know I study the Afterlife extensively, so my beliefs have evolved from this education, and I’ve learned much about how I want to live my life here, today.
I believe I chose my family – contracted with their souls to incarnate together to help each other experience specific characteristics and emotions so that our souls can expand and continue to grow toward enlightenment. For me, when I can look at life in that way, it makes it not quite so personal – I can see it as I see my granddaughter’s problems. I know they’re very important to her at this moment, and I can have compassion for her as I attempt to help. But I (personally) have moved way past the playground woes of a 7 year old. So I can see the whole picture, and the possible outcomes, depending on how she chooses to deal with the issue at hand.
From my understanding, this is how our souls look at this life on earth. As the spirit, we are intricately connected to our everyday dilemmas, yet simultaneously detached enough to learn the lessons presented.
Back to our parents, and more specifically, my mom. As I matured, I began to question my parent’s beliefs, as many of us do. Most of their values (such as family, personal responsibility, compassion for others, a strong work ethic, etc) fit for me. There were others that were more unconscious, but still drove their behaviors, that I silently challenged.
My dad was a farmer, but beneath his rough exterior, he was a shy, kind, gentle man. Mom was also a good person who was active in our small community; but she was more irritable and reactive at times.
One message I got loud and clear from my mother was to not be “melodramatic”, which meant don’t show anger or cry in public. So I learned very early to shut my emotions down, because it’s much easier not to show them if I didn’t feel them. (I was in my 40′s before I actually worked through this one).
My mom also deserves much of the credit for my strong belief in inclusiveness and acceptance of others for who they are. She taught this through her own self-concern. Although she was a generous, considerate woman, there was a pivotal situation in my life when it was clear to me that she was embarrassed, and much more worried about how others were seeing my behavior (and perhaps how she looked as a mother), than about what I might be going through at the time. I remember the exact moment I promised myself that I would always look at the effect a situation was having on another in order to understand how I could be there for them. Not that it isn’t important to express myself if I disagree or can’t understand their feelings, but I make every effort to do that from a non-judgmental place.
Education and perseverance are important values I learned from my mom. She was an excellent example of a strong woman. She taught in a one room schoolhouse before marriage, and when I was in elementary school, she went back to get her degree in education; going on to teach for years. I followed her lead here. Having quit college after my first year to get married and start my family, I went back when my kids were in elementary and Jr. high to finish two degrees.
There are other valuable lessons my mother taught me, but I think the most important was that I could do and be anything I wanted. There were no obstacles, only opportunities.
So as I remember my mother today, I’ve used her as an example. As I’ve learned with clients, when we actually process their childhoods, there are always more positive memories that surface than they originally remembered. It’s just that the hurtful ones leave scars and overshadow the good. Negativity is heavy and sticky.
I believe all parents do the best they can with the resources they have available to them. We all do. When we know better, we do better!
I love you, Mom. And thanks!