The heart stone

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I have an elderly relative who is feeling very lonely, especially since my mother died. They were roughly the same age and she was her only friend. We don’t live in the same country but now she has a smartphone and uses every opportunity to contact me; I find her extremely irritating because whenever I decide to respond, the conversations I have with her are meaningless and mundane: how are you? Fine, thanks, and you? I’m fine, thanks for asking.

Not every conversation has to be deep and touching obviously, but in this case it seems completely unidirectional: she is happy because she gets to the human contact she craves and I feel used, like I have wasted my time. When I was a child or later a teenager, she never showed the slightest interest in me or had a kind word but now that she is old and lonely, I have suddenly become interesting. When I decide to respond, weakened by this war of attrition of constant messages, I am polite and ask her about her day, her health, the sort of sundry words you have with someone you are not really interested in knowing better.

And yet, I guess I am unkind with her because I never stop and listen to whatever she has to say. I know that she has had a very sad and difficult life, she used to come over to my parents’ house every week to eat and to tell the same stories over and over and over again.

One of my sisters wanted to get pregnant and part of her inner work was to create the family tree. She spoke with this relative and found out very interesting things. In a novel, this would have been no more than one scene, but real life is not as well written.

I’m not a very family-orientated person, I would be just happy if I have a yearly contact with her or other members of the family. Once a year, thank you very much; twice if I’m feeling particularly happy (which doesn’t happen very often) but every day, every week…

I end up reeling with frustration because I don’t have the heart to tell her to leave me alone. It’s no use to tell her that I am not my mother, with her infinite patience, that I will never be a substitute of her. We never speak about her, yet she looms in the back of these conversations that, had she still been alive, we would not be having. In her eyes, my mother could do no wrong, I got tired of listening to her hagiography. A monolith of virtues. A beacon of hope and love in this hard world. Oh, how I wish she was my mother! As her daughter, however, I have a more nuanced vision of her: a person with as many virtues as flaws but I have to keep that narrative to myself because no one wants to listen. I’m disrespectful. I have a heart of stone.

Something broke in her heart, even in her mind, many years ago, that has made her impervious to anything that it’s not her pain. That has also given her a power that she doesn’t know she has: after all she’s been through, after having any possible road closed, she is immune to any kind of curse. And she really only asks for so little.

I asked the cards: Why do I find her so irritating?

IVSTICE – LEIVGEMENT – LE PENDV

You want things on the same level: you give something and you want to receive the same. You think this relationship is more of a punishment and only do so because of what it’s expected of you as a younger member of the family: their call cannot be ignored, even if it makes you feel trapped.

If I try to give this reading a positive spin: give her respect because it’s the right thing to do, you are family because there is a spiritual connection, a karmic lesson.

After looking at these cards, I do feel that I asked the wrong question. The message here is not about generosity or kindness, but of doing the right thing. It’s given me food for thought, and after I replied to one of her messages, I don’t feel as much resentment for doing it than before.

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