The Long Tide

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Listening: Contemplations and Stories

For years, I turned the following particular event with my mother over and over in my mind, exploring the origins of our lack of trust in each other. Recently, I found myself talking to a young mother, and it occurred to me that there might be a way for the bond between children and parents to hold strong even when a child is troubled. Had my mother been able to see that my inability to read and write like others might be very difficult for me and empathize with me, had she been able to listen to me, and hear how I felt, I might have been able to see that she was trying to help me. 

Perhaps it is this experience of not being listened to that drew me to cranio-sacral work, where listening is the core activity. Maybe part of my soul wants to provide for others that which I did not receive.

Published in The Sun Magazine, November 2013, Section "Readers Write, Trying again"

“Let's try one more time," my mother said to me. I'd made only a couple of mistakes, she pointed out. Maybe I wouldn't make any this next time. Wouldn't that feel good?

Night after night she and I sat at the long table in our family room with my schoolwork. I couldn’t read or write nearly as well as my fourth-grade classmates. My teacher had told my parents they should just accept that I wasn’t very bright, but my mother didn't believe him. Now she prepared to read to me one more time the short dictation exercise I had brought home from school. 

I looked in dismay at the pieces of paper covered with my handwriting and my mother's corrections in red. "I’ve already written it five times," I said. I assured her I'd do fine at school the next day. Couldn't I just go to listen to the radio? I hated these dictations sessions and hated her for insisting on them.

"You can do better than this if you try hard enough," she said. "I know it." She began to read slowly again, and reluctantly I picked up the pencil and wrote. When we were done, I checked my work and slid the paper across the table to her. She looked at it, and her smile disappeared. I'd made more mistakes than the last time! She said I just hadn't put enough effort into it.

Bur I had put all my effort into it. I threw the pencil across the table and yelled at her and ran off.
It went like this for years. Unable to believe that I was stupid, my mother concluded I was lazy instead. She eventually lost trust in me. 

My dyslexia wasn't diagnosed until I was in sixth grade. A neurologically based difficulty with reading and spelling, the disorder was not well-know in 1962. My mother found a tutor who whelped me to read and write properly despite the aversion I had developed toward schoolwork, but the broken bond with my mother was a disability I would never overcome.”

What are your stories of listening - hearing and being heard? What brings you to cranio-sacral work?

~ Ursula, November 2013

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