I am on my fourth of four week-long retreats for 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this week (Sept 24 – Oct 1, 2014). Read an earlier post elaborating about this retreat here.
On the way up from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, I watched two movies on the bus. They were: Jobs, and Brave. The former inspired me as mentioned in my previous post here. It is the latter movie which made me cry and I like to talk about here.
In Disney Pixar’s Brave, Princess Merida is a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Set in the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland, Merida is determined to defy an age-old custom of marrying a member from one of three sister clans and create her own fate. She turns to an eccentric Witch and is granted an ill-fated wish. In undoing a beastly curse, she discovers the meaning of true bravery.
The Back Story
I grew up alongside my sister who is one year younger. Of all the things we did together as sisters, playing make-believe that we were princesses (inspired by Chinese period dramas and Walt Disney, of course!) was one of our favourite games. Hence, a princess cartoon appealed to me. A princess who was not happy with her lot, desired something different from her parents, and rebelled against what was expected of her is something we can all relate with to some degree.
What I did not expect was how the central theme of the cartoon was about the mother-daughter relationship. This below dialogue truly exemplies the conflict:
Queen Elinor: Merida, all this work, all the time spent preparing you, schooling you, giving you everything we never had. I ask you, what do you expect us to do?
Princess Merida: Call off the gathering. Would that kill them? You’re the queen. You can just tell the lords the princess is not ready for this. In fact, she might not ever be ready for this, so that’s that. Good day to you. We’ll expect your declarations of war in the morning.
Queen Elinor: I understand this must all seem unfair. Even I had reservations when I faced betrothal.
[Fergus looks up]
Queen Elinor: But we can’t just run away from who we are.
Princess Merida: I don’t want my life to be over. I want my freedom!
Queen Elinor: But are you willing to pay the price your freedom will cost?
Princess Merida: I’m not doing any of this to hurt you.
Queen Elinor: If you could just try to see what I do, I do out of love.
Princess Merida: But it’s my life, it’s… I’m just not ready.
Queen Elinor: I think you’d see, if you could just…
Princess Merida: I think I could make you understand if you would just…
Queen Elinor: Listen.
Princess Merida: Listen.
More quotable quotes from the movie are here.
Most parents (dads included) try to give us their all – their absolute best. What happens when their best falls short of our own expectations of them? When occurs when they try, but just don’t get it – and fail to listen time and again? And what happens when we judge them through the lenses of a know-it-all? Sometimes judgment tries to anger, hatred, resentment and unforgiveness. Taking root within us, these emotions continue to taunt us way into our adult years.
Relationship With My Mom
I have had a long and conflicted relationship with my mom. My mom was fortunate to have had secondary education when many of her time did not. Fueled by my parents whose deepest regret was having to drop out of school, I have always loved reading, studying and learning (even though I usually didn’t get good grades). “Go study” was something I heard regularly. My mom’s top desire was for me to have a degree (as do many parents of her time), and I have three today.
She had a good job but was so challenged at work that she was always either tired or in a bad mood. I was terrified of her mood swings – later angry, and resentful of how she never connected with me the way I tried to teach her. She didn’t… and I realise now… didn’t know how to listen to me – to a child who was so wilful and different from her other daughter that she was at wit’s end. I was not a delinquent child but I am told I was quite the terror!
She loves me in her own way, and it took me a long time to accept that all she had to offer was – and had to be – enough. Through deep inner work over the year, my hardened heart began to soften, then later, I trusted myself enough to open this softened heart completely. When that happened, I was finally able to receive the love that had always been there for my taking.
My mom has been battling stage four breast cancer for more than seven years. This is a relapse after being in the clear for 10 years. I was initially shocked, then scared that she was going to suffer, that I can’t take it, and that she was going to die (so why does it matter what I do?) anyway. I distanced myself until I woke up one day (more in this series of videos) and realised this was her journey.
(a) Support and root for her or,
(b) Stand aside and watch her shrivel up and “die” inside while still alive from the lack of basic care, concern and consideration from her own child.
Sure, judge me. Wink. I am not perfect but I am indeed evolving.
With this little back story, perhaps now you understand why Brave hit home:
- I was that little girl who liked all things pink, played princess, and fantasized about happily-ever-afters.
- I challenged societal norms, did not want to conform, and desired a life of passion and gusto.
- I felt suppressed and misunderstood by my parents.
- I took my teenage angst out on the ones closest to me, and behaved wilfully and badly.
- I had cursed and sworn at my parents for cramping my style. (I release them now! More on releasing here.)
- I have returned to love, and am able to more actively express my love and gratitude in various forms with my family now.
On Crying On The Bus
Tears aren’t always a bad thing. I cry. Often. And especially when moved.
This movie I watched in a moving vehicle moved me. It reminded me on the unconditional love of moms all over the world, of my own mom, and of her love for me. In the blink of an eye, my heart cracked open. Tears streamed down my face.
Mom, I love you! My mom inspires me everyday in her will to live. I lay claim to her strength, courage and compassion that runs in my blood. I am grateful she is still alive. She breathes knowing I love her with all my heart back. I think of my parents often, and send them through my intention much love, light and healing.
What about you? How is your relationship with your parents? What touched your heart recently? What might be some of the areas in your life you need to soften your heart so that love can flood right in?
The movie ends with Princess Merida’s voice over with wise words for us all: “Some say fate is beyond our command, but I know better. Our destiny is within us. You just have to be brave enough to see it.”
Then take action.
May you have the courage to look within, the balls to move forward, and the wings to soar above the clouds.
Read my previous post about the first of my 4th week-long retreat here. View my three videos about my relationship with my mom for Mother’s Day here. Also, check out how you can run a self-retreat here! More posts about this week-long retreat coming up. Follow this blog!
Dr. Martha Tara Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching. She is a certified sexologist with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality. She provides sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conducts sexual education workshops and speaks at public events. For more, visit www.ErosCoaching.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.