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The Chains Are Mental

Our mother wasn’t a yeller. When we were in trouble growing up, she had a look that was worse than screaming. Her eyes narrowed and her lips tightened and we were left to imagine what she thought of us. This is the same reason the book is always better than the movie: our imaginations are way more intense than reality.




All our mother had to say was: “I’m so disappointed in you.” Ahhhhh! That was the lowest low. She didn’t need to hit us. She didn’t need to explain further. We were like circus elephants who, after being chained tightly as babies, come to understand by adulthood, that they can’t go far from the trainer’s tiny stool. Her opinion owned us.


Sometimes, the chains are mental. They’re understood.


We teach people how to treat us. We teach them with our boundaries and our lack of boundaries. Our No’s and our Yes’s. Our No’s that were really Yes’s and our Yes’s that were really No’s.


After the wind storm last week, the traffic lights were out at the intersection in town. The cars approached, slowed and worked out their own merit system of who would go, who would wait.


I thought of a conversation I had with a friend recently. We were talking about Mother Teresa and how she admitted there were times she couldn’t feel God. It was brutal for her but she still showed up to do the work.


I’ve been having morning meditations that feel like that intersection. The lights aren’t working and the way isn’t clear. Am I meant to stop? Go? Slow down? I’m not able to hear the feedback.


But maybe the silence is the feedback.


Maybe, when the way isn’t being clearly shown to us, we’ve forgotten that we’re elephants. We’ve forgotten our strength and our powerfulness. We’ve bought into the illusion that we have to stand here, next to whatever we perceive owns us in our lives, and wait for permission.


Maybe in those times of no feedback, those times of Mother Teresa-like loneliness, we are meant to flex the muscle of our own knowing and choose the way definitively. With conviction. Even though we’re not feeling our conviction and we’d really like the reassurance of a bright, booming YES feeling in our bellies.


We have to use our muscles in order to grow them. Sometimes we need the lights to go out and the feedback to go slack in order to lean on the wisdom that lies below the surface in each of us. In order to remember who we are.


Till next time, beauties : )


Rooting for you always! Mary


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