“We can teach from our experience, but we cannot teach experience.” -Sasha Azevedo
Lately I am learning how to not be a barometer for my children’s experience. I am unwinding the long-growing tentacles that have connected their experience to my own. Instead, I am looking for the teachable moments where I can be helpful, where my own experience can offer something useful. I am looking for the freedom to help without the weight of needing to repair someone.This is a long and slow recovery, which is teaching me the power of compassion over the habit of codependence.
I don’t remember how many years ago some one told me, “Any mother is only as happy as her least happy child.” This seemed to reflect reality with four young children and has continued to be a slippery slope with a gang of teenagers. I am surprised by both how long I willingly fostered this relationship and how freeing it is to let go of it. Years later I can report that it is difficult to be helpful while losing touch with one’s own center. And it is hard to maintain functional relationships when helping is attached to fixing. Also I can tell you that it isn’t just parent /child relationships that suffer from this confusion.
Leaving other people, especially ones that you try to love, the room to grow from their own experience is I think, one of the most selfless forms of caring and probably the only real path to authentic self discovery. The trust that is both required and that grows from this kind of teachable moment is long lasting. The weight of responsibility and the consequences of individual choices rest with the people who make them. I can bear witness, offer support and empathy without needing to fix the problem that isn’t mine anyway.
This is the true teachable moments; when we can both learn the value of our own experience and with compassion, stand by as a witness. I don’t have the stamina to do the fix-it thing now, and I don’t want my interactions with the people I love to be determined by their struggles. The most positive and loving thing I can offer is the freedom for them to learn their own lessons and for me to love them enough not to fix it.