I’m so sorry you’re so tired right now.
I’m so sorry you’re feeling so mad and so angry.
I’m so sorry you’re hurting.
I’m so sorry I can’t meet you where you want me to right now.
These are the words that started to pour from my mouth as our daughter, wailed, kicked and screamed. These are the words that started to pour when I found myself exhausted too and feeling unable in the moments to meet her clearly, or how I would have hoped to.
We were both shattered; physically and emotionally. Three days before we had been in London visiting friends. Not any old friends. These were beloved friends whom I have missed everyday since. These were friends whom included our daughter’s dear and darling ‘other half’; not quite inseparable but who shared a bond that left both her mother and I in awe and amazement at their connection, so mature in years for wee young folk, together. This was the person, our daughter’s friend, whom I cried so much for, whom I missed so much, when we first arrived in Devon. I missed seeing her every day, seeing her and my daughter skip with inane Cheshire grins on their face to playgroup each morning. I missed seeing her grow, something I have had the honour to witness since she was tiny. And most simply I missed her loveliness.
And, in the undercurrent of saying goodbye, just six months ago, I grieved something her and her mother represented to me. A deep, deep closeness that our daughter doesn’t share with any other adults other than ourselves. And taking her away from this, like lemon juice on a wound, my mourning of the disengagement and disregard from my family towards both of our beautiful children.
The phrasing had come to me after a session with wonderful Gulara Vincent on The Compassion Key. Earlier in the week I had received my third one with her, she holding me magnificently and indescribably capably as she does, journeying beside me through childhood pain and beaming, ‘I’m sorry’ into every crevice. Simple yet so very powerful, the combination of witnessing my childhood self and, with Gulara’s guidance, the light of compassion kissing, forthright and unapologetically, old wounds, created a magical stirring. And, of course, a healing.
After our daughter had calmed down yesterday, once we had resumed our groove, I could feel my guilt high towards the surface again. It had been surfacing A LOT since returning from our sojourn in London. Inwardly this time, new words started to cascade.
I’m so sorry I took you away from your beloved.
I’m so sorry she’s not in our lives right now.
I’m so sorry I can’t give you more right now.
I’m so sorry I’m struggling to be here for you right now.
I’m so sorry…..
The words kept falling through from back to the front of my mind, giving voice to the belly of guilt that had been rising since our trip.
Later that afternoon, driving alone in the car and hugely overwhelmed by the course of the day, and our week, I found myself with a timely moment to shout and howl, scream and outpour everything that had been building.
I’m so sorry my family have been so rubbish.
I’m so sorry they don’t care about you.
I’m so sorry they haven’t been here for you.
I’m so sorry they don’t love you.
I’m so sorry they don’t see you.
I’m so sorry they’re so locked in their own worlds they don’t want to spend time with you.
I’m so sorry I can’t make this happen for you.
You deserve more than this my child.
You deserve more than this!
I started to tap into a wider context and, as my guilt and sense of wretchedness at taking our daughter away from her friend was on fire, my anger towards my family, I begun to get under the skin of much of what this was about. A chasm had opened and I start to wail from my depths.
I’m so sorry I was hospitalised after you were born.
I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you.
I’m so sorry I couldn’t hold you.
I’m so sorry it wasn’t me looking after you.
I’m so sorry I had to abruptly stop breastfeeding.
I’m so sorry I didn’t trust myself to look after you when I came home.
I’m so sorry I put you into someone else’s arms because I didn’t feel mine were strong enough to hold you.
I’m so sorry I couldn’t resume breastfeeding.
I’m so sorry I couldn’t sleep with you in my arms at night.
I’m so sorry I struggled to be present with you.
I’m so sorry I abandoned you.
I’m so sorry my family didn’t hold me so I could hold you.
I’m so sorry we received so little support.
I’m so sorry no one helped us when the hospital thought you might be delivered at 30 odd weeks.
I’m so sorry I was so scared of losing you whilst you were growing, or as it was believed not, inside me that I found it hard connecting with you.
I’m so sorry no one from my family cares about you.
I’m so sorry they don’t see your shining light.
I’m so sorry.
I’m so, so sorry.
I’m so sorry my darling girl.
You deserved SO much more than this.
I was shocked by the gamut of what arose. My pain, my remorse and my bone-shattering, cell-drenching sadness. All still, despite fours years plus on, bubbling away underneath the surface. These words felt so pertinent, and sadly still so alive, to the deeply painful transition, born from circumstance, into mothering two children. And I knew as I spoke them, they were so pertinent, so relevant to myself as a young needing, and wholly deserving, child.
I was grateful this opportunity had arisen. These simple words, uncovering the mirror, enabling me to unashamedly hear and see my voice. The one that still weaves it’s way through my relationship, and it’s gaps, with our beautiful daughter. And the one I can now offer my wholehearted compassion to and learn greatly from by listening to it. I need to start holding the scared and exhausted mother of one, soon to be two, in my heart and honour her bravery and determination. I want to honour how fiercely she tried her very best for her two young children despite the walls falling down both inside and around her. I know the more warmth and understanding I show her, the more she can grow in where she has felt long stuck and begin to recognise, and shine, in her courage and soft, gentle heart.
I know too the words I spoke are of a greater conversation with the little girl inside of me, who is still calling to be seen and held in loving eyes and arms. And I know compassion, my compassion, is finally finding it’s way home to her beautiful, glorious soul.
To learn more about Gulara Vincent’s incredible work visit: www.gularavincent.com
Image: John William Waterhouse