As a child, this petite freckle-nosed boy with unevenly cut bangs, cried at the supper table one night because he wanted to move back to his old house. He begged his mom, tears streaming down his face, to be able to do so. His mom, who had recently remarried, moved her children into a new home and now his older brother and he had separate bedrooms. This sensitive boy was crying because he wanted to be near his brother.
His mom tirelessly worked two jobs to provide food, clothing and shelter for her two growing boys. Child support wasn’t enforced back then and his dad chose not to pay the measly court ordered amount of $125 a month for both him and his brother. She was a waitress who had a quick smile and even quicker wit. Customers would come to the restaurant just for her. But each night, after working long shifts, she would go home, put her feet up and spread her tip money out on the kitchen table. She would unerringly count it as each penny was precious and needed. Sometimes the sensitive boy watched her openly and sometimes from a hiding spot.
They were all saving for a trip to Disney World. She would put a few cents in the jar as would the boys. The sensitive child and his brother would do odd jobs so they could put money into the jar. As the vacation fund grew, so did the eight year old’s excitement.
One day, upon returning home from grade school, all the money in the jar was gone. Practicality had taken over and the money was needed for unfrivolous bills. The sensitive boy felt emotionally crushed and burst into tears. Even though it was promised by a mother who was caught between a rock and a hard place, the trip to Disney World never materialized.
Years came and went. Step-fathers came and went and as this sensitive boy grew into adolescence, he began feeling abandoned by those he unconditionally loved. His biological dad was long out of the picture and his step-dads, some of whom disappeared without a word never to be heard from again, left this boy with unanswered questions, confusion and sadness. He learned not to get attached to them because sometimes they didn’t stick around long.
He often felt unseen, invaluable and that he wasn’t good enough, loveable enough. He started feeling as if his jock of an older brother got the lion’s share of his mother’s love and that his older brother could do no wrong in her eyes.
As this adolescent grew into a young adult, he started acting out. He would use his fists to settle arguments…or just because he could. He would physically and verbally spar with his older brother. He would seek out women in order to soothe the deep “I’m unloveable” wound that was growing inside of him. Each time he won a fist fight, obtained a difficult award, broke an athletic record, brought more money in than his brother or conquered an otherwise unconquerable sexual conquest, he would mentally raise his middle finger towards his mom in an “Aha! I’ll show YOU I’m loveable” way.
This wound grew and grew. His mom was busy working to make ends meet and to provide shelter for her boys. But the sensitive boy would inwardly cry when his mother didn’t attend his wrestling tournaments but attended his brother’s sporting events. His heart broke into a thousand pieces when she was unable or unwilling to attend his coveted Senior Parent’s Night for wrestling. He wanted her there so badly. His eyes searched the crowd for her constantly, but she was not there.
This hardened the sensitive boy’s heart. He joined the Army and did two tours overseas. He saw things, and was asked to do things – IN THE NAME OF HIS COUNTRY – that no 18 year old…no person of ANY age…should ever, EVER do.
His work ethic was strong and the Army liked his ‘can do’ attitude. He quickly rose through the military ranks which meant more responsibility and more emotional collateral damage. In the end, this Eagle Scout became an Army Ranger, the elite of the elite.
This boy, the boy who desperately wanted his mother’s approval and love, was working hard (whether he knew it or not) to prove he was loveable and worthy. What he may not have realized is that his mom had taught him the value of hard work and a penny earned. He strove to be the best of the best. He strove to learn something about everything. He was an insatiable reader and often felt he needed to prove himself again and again. Everything he touched he gave his all. If he didn’t know the answer, he’d research it. If he didn’t know how to perform a task, he’d learn with each failure. He excelled.
While he was a rock star at mastering physical tasks, he was often a failure at emotional tasks. “Avoidance” could have been his middle name. Perhaps he was never taught how to talk through conflicts. Perhaps he was taught to use passive-aggressive abuse to his advantage. Perhaps he felt he needed to yell and draw upon anger in order to show his worth.
When it came to matters of the heart, this sweet little boy with the sun-kissed nose often failed. He was afraid to get emotionally close to the opposite sex. He sometimes used women as though they were objects. He often exploited them and once he got what he wanted, he dropped them like a hot potato. He was physically fit, devilishly handsome, had a disarming smile and had learned that flirting and nice words often got him what he wanted. He had found a surrogate way to get (his mother’s) attention and love.
With a failed marriage under his belt, he was serial dating once again. His relationship with both his mother and his brother was rocky at best. His mom said he changed once he came back from the war. His brother said he would always love him but didn’t always like him. He set out to avoid anything emotional at all costs. When things got heavy emotionally in his relationships, he tapped out. He did this until he met a woman who was different from all the rest. This woman saw his childhood pain and his beauty even if he didn’t.
She was tackling her own demons but with his help, she overcame a few of them so she could help him with his. And while she tried and tried to get him to see that he WAS loveable and WAS worthy, he never believed it. Not once. Not in his brain and not in his ravaged heart.
As his relationship grew and thrived with this woman, his relationship with his mother and brother was also back on track. They were all talking again, albeit guardedly but the peace didn’t last long. His brother was the first to excommunicate him. This sensitive boy – now well into his adult years – took that to mean he truly WASN’T worthy. His own brother; one that he idolized and often tried to best academically and physically, the one person who was in the proverbial childhood trenches with him, had effectively passive-aggressively cast him out. There was no talking about it, there was no closure; just a symbolical slamming of a door that left this sensitive boy feeling as if he truly was not loveable.
His on-again/off-again relationship with his mother was shaky. She often overstepped boundaries and imposed her will upon her youngest son. She was stubborn, he was stubborn. She was gregarious, he was gregarious. He was protective, she was protective.
The woman that this sensitive boy married was unsure of her new mother-in-law. She, the mother-in-law, was larger than life, had a HUGE personality and appeared to others as the belle of the ball. But inside, inside of her, something was different; off. The wife sensed it; intuited it. Nobody else saw it, which made her question herself but the wife trusted her gut and was weary. She watched her mother-in-law through spiritually squinted eyes. You see, she, the wife, was protective of her husband, too.
Months passed with colorful commentary and family suppers; then something abruptly changed. First it was his brother, his beloved larger-than-life brother, who had an angry exchange with the sensitive boy and then cut off all ties with him. This left the sensitive boy angry and resentful for he was learning the value of talking through misunderstandings and miscommunications. On the heels of his big brother disowning him, his mother broke off all contact with the sensitive boy and his small family.
He tried and tried to speak with her. He would invite her to his family gatherings, daughter’s birthday parties. He would leave pleading messages with her on her voice mail to call him so they could work through this. He stopped by her home but she wouldn’t answer the door. He felt confused; he didn’t understand what he had done that was so heinous that his mother would treat him, his wife and their toddler daughter this way.
Months passed and he tried to reach out to his mother again. He left her numerous voice mails, each time asking her to tell him what happened so he could work through it. Each plea for a return phone call was left unanswered. As a final ultimatum, he told her this would be his last phone call to her; he would leave her be. He told her again he didn’t know what he had done so he couldn’t fix it. He asked for her to call him so they could resolve this. He received silence.
This sensitive boy who once cried because he missed the safety of sharing a bedroom with his older brother, was learning first hand that passive-aggressive behavior IS abusive. He started on a downward spiral. You see he, once again, believed he was unloveable and so he started to do things to push his wife away. He felt it would be easier if she called it quits, that way he wouldn’t have to emotionally deal with any of this. His wife, his Other, was tenacious and graceful and forgiving in ways she didn’t even know she possessed. He loved her more because of this and possibly hated her a little, too.
She wasn’t going to let him slide. She believed in him. She saw his beauty. She had a (spiritual) job to do and that was to help him heal and grow. She still saw him as larger than life, even when he saw himself as unworthy and unloveable. She had loved him forever; he was her brother in a past life and in that past life he was used to running away from his problems. He was a spoiled rich boy who loved the ladies but would never commit. She was the older sister who had the family’s estate and a reputation to take care of.
She would often watch him though a thick paned glass window galloping away on a beautifully manicured brown steed. He was usually in such a hurry to get to a party or his latest tryst that he would flash her a smile and wave to her as he was attempting to put on his fluttering coattails.
He was rash and impetuous. He did not have the responsibilities she did nor did he want them. She would often simultaneously envy him for his freedom from protocol and from his life station and bemoan his impulsiveness and rakishly flirtatious manner. She knew her rapscallion brother would cause yet another scandal and she, the calm, level-headed one, would be left to clean it up.
Back in the now, life moved on. Unlike the past, the sensitive boy kept a place in his heart open for both his mother and his brother. He outwardly and vocally harbored great animosity for his brother as well, they’re brothers and brothers fight but work things out, right? His mother though, that was a much, much tougher and deeper wound.
One day, his wife intuited that his mother was again sick; the cancer had returned. She told her husband but was quick to say it was only a sense. Weeks turned into months and still he did not hear anything from his mother or about her. Then, one day, his wife happened to be posting a message on her little used personal Facebook page. A post from one of her husband’s beloved cousins popped into view and stated that her aunt had passed. She did not post a name, just that her auntie was no longer in pain. The wife’s eyes widened as if she needed to see the words more clearly. She knew immediately this was the sensitive boy’s mom who had died.
The wife contacted the unloveable boy and told him what she felt. He reached out to his beloved cousin and she opted to lie to him. She told him it was an aunt of her husband’s that died. She later told this boy that she lied at the explicit request of her dying aunt, his mom.
Two days later, when the unloveable boy was out of town, his wife read in the newspaper what she already knew was true in her heart; his mother had died. She was now forced to deliver the news that his trusted cousin had lied to him and that his mother had indeed passed away.
Later that day, the boy’s wife was blindly struck with an intuitive hit that changed her perception of his mother and brother’s behavior. Prior to this, she had been ranting and railing. She had been shaking her fist and loudly swearing at the departed. She had been crying for the hurting child inside of her husband’s chest. But this! Oh my GAWD, THIS! This information was so magnanimous, so amazing, so perception-altering that she could barely contain her excitement and wonderment.
In a world far away but closer than you think, a pact was made. Before any of them were even thoughts on the horizon, a pact was forged where the youngest son begged his older brother to help him overcome avoidance and self-worth issues. The older brother was all game. He was thrilled his little brother had asked him to help with such a monumental task. He felt honored and humbled. Then the little brother turned to his soon-to-be mother. He said to her, “If my brother fails or if I don’t learn to deal with avoidance, I need you to step in. I need you to help me overcome. Will you do this? CAN you do this for me? Please?” The mother, knowing it was her son’s spiritual growth at stake and as her heart burst with unconditional love, unhesitatingly said, “Yes, I will. You can count on me.” Then she questioned him, “Are you sure you want me to do this?” And the little boy quickly answered with a large smile, “YES! Oh yes!”
All the parties involved were overjoyed that the sensitive boy was going to tackle avoidance and be given a chance to believe he was loveable. They all felt as if they’d won the lottery by being able to help him accomplish this. True to the astral pact, brother and mother (and a few others) physically and emotionally played their parts without fault. The parts everyone played were Oscar worthy. Do not doubt that they did so because his (spiritual) life was on the line. There was no room for error and no room for failure on their part. In it to win it.
This sensitive boy who, for his entire lifetime, yearned for his mother’s acceptance, approval and love now feels betrayed by his own family. Not one of them reached out to him. Not one of them told him his mother was ill. Not one of them told him she had died. He doesn’t understand why his mom hated him so much or why she didn’t want to say goodbye. He doesn’t understand the anger coming at him from his cousins or his brother. They say he treated his mother like crap all of her life and this confuses and confounds him. He treated HER like crap?
What did he do that warranted this treatment? What could he possibly have done that has him questioning whether his family will ban him from attending his own mother’s funeral? Why does his mother’s shrinking family not see he is still the sensitive little boy who just wanted his mother’s acceptance and love? Why is HE the bad guy?
It remains to be seen if the sensitive, “unloveable” boy will realize his own beauty, that he IS loveable and worthy and face/overcome his avoidance and self-worth issues. His intuitive wife knows, for she is wise in the ways of Spirit, that there will be more (intense pain) to come if he doesn’t. And so she prays. Hard.