standing between two mirrors

It is that moment again.
Worlds are colliding inside of me.
It is as if history is repeating itself.

Where I was once the child unable to make sense of the parent, I am now the parent, seeing my child be the child I once was, seeing myself feeling like my parent once did, understanding both, the child in me and the child now in front of me, the parent that I am now and the one that raised me …

I see the dichotomy … like a petalled flower, whose petals have to diverge, to unfurl away from each other, and not into each other, even though they remain joined at the stem, that is all there is to keep them together, a sense of belongingness to the same stem, the same plant, but they are each petals in their own might, free to unfurl and reveal how beautiful they are in themselves and also together. One may shrivel faster than the other, each has its own destiny, overlapping, yet distinct … Like family … there’s something that binds us yet we are individual, apart. How can only one exist? They always co-exist in that perennial tension of wanting to be free while also wanting to belong, wanting to be alone yet wanting to be missed.

And I see it all so clearly now. The truth of it all. But if the truth is meant to set one free, why does my heart ache so much with all this knowing, with all this understanding? Why is there grief where I thought I’d find freedom? Or did I, somewhere along the way, mistake freedom for happiness, assume the two somehow went hand in hand when maybe one is really the price we pay for a mere taste of the other?

It is as if I have spent all this time with D, first to understand my own inner child. D was the mirror, whole and pure, reflecting back to me the cracks on my own self, in my own self … me trying to patch myself up, for no child deserves anything less holy or whole or pure than itself.

And now comes the sudden realisation that it is no longer just the two of us. It never was. There is a whole world out there that he is exploring, places that he will go where I dare not trespass, relationships with others that have nothing to do with me whatsoever. And I see my child, so full of love and affection. Hesitant at first, but eager to give and to receive much love and unadulterated joy, one heart to another, eager to delight everyone who comes into his orbit. And I know exactly how he feels, because I was like that once, so very long ago it must have been in another lifetime. Trusting, loving, forgiving, accommodating, deliriously happy in the perfection of happiness when surrounded by people doting on me and whom I adored.

And so I stand on the sidelines, watching him dance his dance, for somebody else, and I don’t know where else to go, what else to do, because I am so happy and yet also so sad, I want to rejoice in his wholeness and ease of being, yet something more cracks within me, and some wretched part of me wants to pass on the cracks, traced through the fault-lines of generations, because it is too much for me to bear alone, too much to see in another what was once cruelly taken away from me, and I can see why my own exuberance was frowned upon, why it caused torment in that other broken soul, and I also see how terribly, terribly wrong that was, but knowing how wrong that was does not bring me any comfort … and so there is this vast chasm between what I instinctively feel and what I really want to feel, this contrast between the insecurity and disapproval and rage that surfaces instantly, a consequence of years of conditioning, a reflection of the insecurity and disapproval and rage of the one that came before me … and the unsullied joy that lies buried beneath it all, the one my child-self felt and relates to the happiness that shines from within D, but which emerges only after the storm subsides, the unbridled pride at the sight of my little one growing independent, blossoming into his own self, especially in his relationship with the world around him.

And this wretched self tells me Look! Look at this mirror of mine wandering away. Why do I bother patching up my fractures anymore? For what am I without my rifts and scars and gashes, why not let the wounds fester and erode away everything that once was, everything that could have been, everything that is still possible, in fact? Pass them on, let someone else carry my burdens for me, the way someone else fractured me year after year with their jagged pieces, the way I have carried another’s burdens for them all along, passed on to them by yet another before them, even without knowing, not that knowing it now lightens the load?

But I will not.
I choose to not do to another what has been done to me.

And therein lies the struggle.
Not in the feelings themselves, but in what I do with them.
Most days I can see it all clearly, and keep apart what I’d like to do to make the pain bearable from what must be done to make sure the pain is not transferred to another.
Quite often, I cry. On KrA’s shoulder.
Rarer still, on days like today, I wait for the storm to pass. It always does.
While something else in me is breached every single time, D comes out on the other side, not bearing any of my scars.

Knowing the truth does not make it any easier to bear. What does help is remembering that each struggle with the layers of myself is helping me change the course of history. The rifts are not going anywhere beyond me. If they have to grow, they will have to do so within me, even if it means that they will eventually shatter me. Maybe, as Rumi said, the gaping hole left in their wake will let the light shine through.