The Mamma Bear Comes out of Hibernation: The Feral Drive to Protect Our Young

Photo by Lara Wilson
Photo by Lara Wilson

Perhaps the scene could have played out differently. In the light of infinite possibilities, of course it could have, but it didn’t. It appeared, if you will, almost as thought it were pre-scripted. The right characters were absent. The others, who needed to be there, present. I, unknowingly, had agreed to the role of the lead character, whether it be hero or villain, is a subjective matter.

The setting was a large metal building, devoid of natural air and light, aside from the wafts that make it through the heavy swinging doors when the players and their families enter and exit. Even though it was school vacation week, the place was packed with the energies of competitions.

My daughter was one of the competitors that day, and she stood nervously with 4 of her teammates, wondering if the others would show. Their parents, standing nearby, wondering the same. There was talk of a scrimmage and sharing players, the girls were, after all, playing against their classmates – girls from their school with whom they have played the same sport together, on the same team, in other seasons. But, this was just one half of the scene, and I was not privy to the conversations going on amongst the opposing team before the game.

By the time the whistle blew, my daughter’s team was still short a player, which meant they had to play at a handicap the entire game, requiring them to cover, together, more of the field, and their were no subs to give the girls a break. Although the other team may not have been aware of it, some of the girls were also recovering from illnesses. One from a stomach bug, my daughter, from a cold, a third was in the midst of a respiratory infection nestled inside her chest. At least 3 out of our 5 girls were not at their peak, and I, and other parents were wondering how they would hold up playing soccer for an hour with only one, brief, rest at half-time.

The other team, having known ahead of time that they would be short players, had pulled girls up from younger teams. They had 7. Enough for a full team, plus one to sub in. Seeing this from the side-lines, I thought for sure they would offer my daughter’s team their extra player, or, perhaps play a more relaxed game, a scrimmage, for fun and not points. Maybe 4 V 4. I heard other parents wondering the same. We were, after all, from the same town, our daughters friends and teammates from other seasons.

But, that’s not how the scene played out. We scored the first goal. Our girls were fresh and energized. By half-time the score was 6 points in the other team’s favor, and our substitute coach (our coach having succumbed to the stomach bug his daughter was getting over) was desperately trying to give the girls breaks by rotating them in goal. It was obvious to all observing, that the deficit of players on our team was causing exhaustion and frustration for our girls, who were now moving in slow-motion.

My own daughter, frequently admired for her tenacity and toughness, took a ball to the head and shook it off. Then, at about 10 minutes left of the game, I looked after and saw her limping. Her face was crumpled. Was she crying? That was the moment I entered the stage. The moment the mamma bear inside came out of hibernation. I had simply had enough. My daughter, my girl who was tough as nails, was hurt and no one else seemed to notice. The game kept playing around her.

I entered that scene in a blaze of heat, telling the spectators on my way to my daughter, what I thought of the game being played. Mothers agreed, including those on the other team. Including those who were married to the coaches on the other side. That was, though, before I yelled at their husbands. This bear was not happy. Her cub was hurt.

From the other side of the plexi-glass, I yelled to my daughter, interrupting the play of the game. “Get off the field. Get off the field.” With tears streaming, she limped, unassisted, off the field, while I ran around the perimeter to meet her.

To reach her, I had to pass the coaches from the other team, that was the shortest way to her. I hadn’t considered the barrier I had to cross. It didn’t matter. Or, it did. It seems it was meant to be. Here I was before 2 men, fathers of my daughter’s friends, whom I had nothing against before this game (have nothing against even now, just disappointment), raging my thoughts about their lack of ethics in the game. I won’t share their words, they are not, really, mine to share.

I had to pass into the field, briefly, to reach my daughter on the other side of the barrier. The game played on, my daughter’s side now playing at a 2 player deficiency. I felt like I was in a dream, or a nightmare. Was this for real? Was this really happening in the town I lived in, with people I knew and were friendly with?  Was this what I should be expecting from a children’s sporting event meant for fun? There was no fun being had well before the second half was being played, but the game had continued until the end. I had heard whispers from parents behind me that the points earned were counted toward the final standings. Was this the reason why we were not offered that olive-branch of good sportsmanship. Really!?

My daughter, when I reached her, was sobbing. She was hurt and embarrassed, as I would have been at her age, for her mother’s display. Only, my mother had never played the role of mamma bear. There was that part of me that was not remorseful. It is there still. I was pleased with my strength. Pleased that I had taken the role of fierce defender in a crowd of whispering protestors. I was unsupported, yet I stood my ground. That is not something I have always had the courage to do.

Would I do it all over again. Absolutely. Do I have regrets. Not really. That’s how the scene played out.  I think there was something to be learned by all. Sometimes waves are needed to get the boat to the shore. I’m an idealist. I have a low tolerance for perceived injustice. I believe that true victory is played through the heart, and sometimes the win is worth giving up.

Knowing how the scene would play out, of course I would do it differently. I would have asked, calmly, our fill-in coach and the coaches on the other team to explore other options. A scrimmage instead of a game for points. To share members from the teams. To play for fun and not for the win.

An Ego’s Stream of Consciousness

Sometimes I crave a glorious battle

To rage and wage a war with another

But to what end? To inflict my pain on

the other whom I believe has caused it?

To even a playing field that has been

trampled on one side? Then we can be

equal in vengeance and strife. Equal

players in the game of justice. To achieve

peace inside. Fool, I say, you harbor

malice for no purpose than to starve

love. The light inside dims to hatred

the desire to show another who is

right and who is wrong; who is better

or worse; who deserves glory when

what you really want is more love

Look inside. Shed the armor. Who

are you protecting? Why do you hide?

No one can stop your light from shining

except the darkness of your own demons

Rejection and Resilience

It was my dreams, and later an email from a friend, that reminded me of a legacy of rejections, but it was the great blue heron in its silent flight to water, who reminded me of resilience and strength.

flying great blue heron

As Ted Andrews notes in his book Animal Speakthe heron is a symbol of self-reliance and inner strength. Although the heron has the power of voice, it is known for its quiet, stealth-like nature. Unless it is breeding and tending to its young, the heron is often alone. The choice to spend much of its life in solitude benefits, instead of hinders the heron’s ability to survive and thrive.

In light of recent events, I have been thinking about the concept of rejection. I was, in essence, rejected before my birth. My father had wanted a boy, my mother, no child at all. Yet, I was born a girl of “truth.” I was destined to experience the lessons of resilience and rejection throughout this life.  What started as a birth mark, became legacy of wounds that would cut into my soul, scar-over, and open again, and I would learn how to persevere and survive.

The heron teaches us how to find the truth inside. When I started unraveling my mother’s truth from my own, I experienced the slow, painful, yet freeing release of the bonds I had desperately held throughout childhood.

In her email, my friend wrote about feeling like an orphan with family. It is a concept I have often associated with. When I began to reject to truths I was raised on, I was rejected once more by my mother, and the stepfather who’s truths she has always favored. I have, in essence, become an orphan with living parents. Yet, I have not lost everything. I have, through this process of  rejection and self-discovery, uncovered my truths, and with them, the permission to love and include the people in my life I once rejected.

Last night I had a series of dreams, most of which have by now become the blurred snapshots of scenes. It’s funny how the feelings that are evoked from our dreams linger more strongly sometimes than the images. Like most nights since Easter, I experienced dreams about my childhood family. Last night, I was back at my childhood home, but as an adult, attempting to hide from my angry stepfather. He found me in the garden, where I was emerging from the covers of a bed.

This brief snapshot of the dream that I recall is filled with symbolism. Not only am I still unearthing the fear deeply imbedded in my cells from childhood, my soul is seeking the rebirth of the true self.

My friend and I have been corresponding about rhizomes and the totipotent abilities of plants. Referencing the french philosopher Gilles Deleuze, she wrote, “to our detriment, western society has been too obsessed with the idea of unity, progeny, singularity, seed–the model of the tree.” Instead, it is the metaphor of a rhizome that he applauds, as she wrote, “a tuber who can shoot off brand new shoots in any direction, at any time, and is not “unified” so that several new places of growth can’t always be linked to the same seed. I love this sense of family! I am and I am not my father’s seed. I am so much more and other.”

As am I. I am my mother’s daughter, and my father’s (both of them), but I am not. I am a collection of cells and their memories that have chosen to grow a new form, to break apart once more, and grow again, new and separate. I have retained the memories of the original form(s), yet I am becoming my own, self-reliant self. As my dream reflected, I am still shedding the imprint of fear to emerge new and whole from the garden of self. Fear, I have found, is a hard habit to break.

Later in the night I found myself flying, it seems, as I was level with rooftops, along a street with beautiful buildings. As I passed each structure, my eye examined the intricate details of the designs. Instead of the clutch of fear I had experienced in the previous dream, I was filled with the breath of freedom and bliss. I was the heron studying all the gifts I held inside (and out).




The Forest & the Chickadee

Last night, before I entered fully the realm of dreams, I found myself inside a lush green forest. Before me was a large fallen tree covered with moss, and flitting atop the felled tree was a chickadee. For several moments I watched the chickadee, wondering as I did, what it was trying to show or tell me. The chickadee never took flight, but rather hopped around on the log, pecking at it and then looking in my direction. That was it.

Before I fell into sleep, I remember telling myself that I needed to recall this vision I was given the next morning. I knew there was a message, but, as often happens during these moments before sleep, I was unable fully to decipher it at the time it was occurring. Throughout the morning and into the afternoon I thought often of that chickadee in the forest. It was not the first time I had paid attention to these social birds and their messages, but it was the first time one had visited me before sleep.

Chickadee, the bird of Truth. It was, I knew, no accident that this bird had visited me on the night of such an important date. 12-12-12. Yesterday was not only a day to receive and send out Love, it was a day to face our fears. I saw clearly during mediation that my second and fifth chakras were still holding onto past pain and, as much as I wanted them to spin in their full vibrancy, I knew they were lagging with residual density.

The 2nd and 5th chakras are intimately linked. Together they spin the energies of our creative truths, something important for a writer of truth. This morning I mailed a chapter of my memoir to a publisher. I sent the second chapter, and although I tried to deny it, I felt the tether of fear and guilt. Intellectually it’s easy to explain away our fears, especially when we can see that logically they are unfounded. Inside the forest of the heart though, we find the truth.

I took my dogs for a walk this afternoon, as is my custom. Instead of going into the forest, we walked around the adjoining neighborhoods. The first trigger to meet me came in the form of a large German Shepard, who bounded, seemingly out of no where, towards me and my two dogs. Immediately fear came rushing in (most of my live I have feared  dogs, having two of my own has healed much of this). Thankfully, I recovered quickly from my initial impulse to flee by stepping into my heart-center and sending the energy of love out to the dog. Although he followed us for a little while, he seemed to want to play more than anything else, and I calmly encouraged him to “go home,” until, finally, he did.

Apparently that was just a warm-up. Later in the walk I found myself picking the blown plastic bags and other garbage off the side of the road, as I often do, and stuffing it all into a grocery bag I had found. Since I was also holding a dog leash in each hand, I looked around and contemplated the trash toters lining the road-side. Which one should I put it in? I peered into one with a half-broken lid, and, seeing trash inside, tossed it in. I could hear the engine of the garbage truck in the distance. It would not be there for long. No harm done, or so I thought. No sooner had I tossed the bag in, then the owner of the house came rushing out his front door in a full rage. His words were heated and to the point. He didn’t want my dog waste smelling up his trash can, and I needed to remove it (I won’t repeat his actual words). Again, I felt my heart race in reaction. I was just trying to clean up your neighborhood, I wanted to say. Instead, a jumble of words came out as I tried to explain to this enraged individual that I was not throwing away my dogs’ waste, but the trash I had collected on the side of the road. I needn’t have bothered though, he didn’t want to hear it. Before I could finish, he was back int the house and I was left flustered and feeling like I had just failed a test. I retrieved the bag and went home.

I knew that man’s anger was not about me, that I was just the excuse he was looking for to let of steam. I knew that my actions were well-intended, even if I had made a “mistake” by choosing his trash can, but that awful feeling stayed with me throughout the day.  I grew up with a man not unlike this man, and I was bullied in school. I was used to feeling guilty for doing nothing wrong. I was used to taking un-deserved blame. I was used to being the victim. But, I had hoped I was finally free of it.

We get these triggers in our lives when we need reminders that we still have aspects of ourselves we need to pay attention to and heal. Later, when I was back home and had settled down a bit, I decided to meditate. Entering that heart-centered place of Love, I envisioned a soft pink energy around my neighbor’s home. I felt, with empathy, what it was like to live there, and what it was like to be him. I understood his anger and his fear, I saw how it was linked to mine. I knew we were meant to have this interaction today, and I sent the energy of love and forgiveness to us both.

Sometimes life’s lessons hit us hard and by surprise. One day we’re feeling great, the next defeated by a test. Each test, though, is our opportunity to learn. I knew, as a healer, I could send love to this individual, and I also realized, I needed some healing of my own.

Stepping into Joy

I love Denise Linn and her wisdom. Today these words of hers appeared on my FB wall, “When you step into your joy, you’ll recognize the need to release people that consistently make you feel anything less. Be your own fierce protector.”

The more light we let in, the less room there is for pain. Pockets of dense matter suddenly start breaking away. But, it is not always an easy process. In my last blogs I have  spoken of my struggle to heed the urgings of my guides and their messages that have often come through so strongly in my dreams and meditations. Recognizing that I have immersed myself and my family in an environment that I had tried to believe was premised on love and community, but was really dominated by the undertones of fear, has been difficult, at best.

These last few weeks I have struggled to break free. I have felt anger, sadness, guilt and remorse. I have felt alone, as the resistance extends to my family. But I have also felt the undertones of freedom and my own personal power. I know that sometimes relationships are meant to end, having served out their purposes, it is time to move on. Yet, sometimes we need to be “fierce” in our approach to break free from an environment that we now recognize as abusive. The other people involved will not see themselves in the same way we now perceive them, as they are still living in that place trapped by pain. They will often try to keep your ties firmly knotted, so that you remain in a place of less light. It makes them feel better. It makes their pain bodies feel powerful.

I also know that I have benefitted from these circumstances. Each is a lesson; a chance to grow and move to a place of more light and healing. More light seeps into the pockets of pain, breaking away the dense energy that has been trapped. I am reminded that when we are called to move beyond a place of pain, all parties benefit, even if it is not recognized. The worst thing we can do is to stay in an effort to protect the egos of others. We must have the courage to see beyond to the soul, realizing that when we act from the seat of our heart, we can only help the souls of others.