This is not the cleaver family… Oh yes, we can get petty.
Last night my teenage son asked me to reiki him.
I can count on one hand the amount of times he has made this request. I have offered many times when he is in pain or struggling with something but usually I get a swift and clear “no.” When I get a “yes” it is usually a “yes, but maybe later” and the later never comes. Yesterday evening the timing was rough; I was exhausted, irritable, we had been arguing and were generally discontent. (Actually, I was probably more discontent with him. I tend to hold onto the feelings of Gggrrrrrrrrrr far longer than he does.) I had shit to do. It was inconvenient. It was late. I had clients to respond to. I wasn’t internally at peace. I wanted him to go to bed.
All that aside, I said yes. His asking is such a rare event that it necessitated me to pause, re-organize from the inside, release my irritation and pettiness and recognize the gift of his asking. My burning desire is to to deeply and compassionatly show up for him AND show up for myself. Navigating the two sometimes feels like walking on a tight-rope balanced over a pit of hungry lions. The hungry lions are my expectations of him and myself, my limitations as a single-mama and fallible human being. They feed on my shame, guilt, exhaustion, resentment, self-judgment and inner reproach… (And that’s the short list!) I would love to tell you that we easily navigate this territory and I show up as super-mom all the fucking time. The truth is, I fall short of my own expectations far more often than I rise to the occasion and being human is one of my biggest flaws I have yet to consistently accept.
Reiki is love. Sharing reiki is intimate, unconditional, soft and receptive. Reiki asks me to trust and allow life energy to flow thru me, free from resistance and with the tenderest of full-body presence. It is interesting to note how much harder and more vulnerable it is to share this part of myself with my closest friends and family. Stranger in need of support and some reiki? No problem! Where do I sign up? Someone I really love asking for hands-on-healing attention? Eeeeekkk!!! Aaaggghhh!!! (What if I’m not good enough? What if they don’t feel anything? What if it doesn’t ‘work’? What if they don’t like it? What if they judge me? What if… [insert any number of questions that invalidate my worth and question my lovability and gifts.]) When my loved ones want reiki, I tend to want to wait for the perfect moment when I am just the right balance of calm, grounded, rested, spacious, internally at peace and full from the inside out. In other words, I want to wait until I am perfect. I keep trying for it but the bar keeps getting higher and I haven’t arrived there yet.
Sooooo…. With all that running in the background, I got him on my table, put my hands on him and flowed reiki wherever it wanted to go. I would love to tell you it was magical and we shared this really sweet, connective, transformative moment. In reality I was stilted and awkward. I fumbled around and accidentally flung my tuning forks across the room in a cacophony of clanging mayhem. My stool slid out from under me and I stumbled into the table. He responded by laughing and saying “Wow Mom. That’s relaxing! 😉 Good thing it’s me and I’m not one of your clients!”
I wanted for him to drop in, deeply relax and settle into his body. Instead, he talked the whole time, kept his eyes open, wiggled around and sometimes grabbed my hands and adjusted my touch.
He talked the whole time.
He never got silent.
He shared about his history class and the things he is inspired to learn in his new school. He shared gratitude for some of the boundaries I have had with him that he previously resisted. (“I am sooooo glad you have limited my sugar intake and not let me eat junk food and soda growing up! I just watched Fed Up! and the amount of sugar in those things is horrifying!”) He asked me to watch a documentary with him that he found particularly compelling. As he talked about his day to day experience of middle school, I realized that lately I haven’t made the time and space to really listen. He talked the whole time. I got a chance to really listen.
He kept his eyes open.
Much of the time his eyes were on me. When I let my gaze soften he smiled and looked directly into my eyes. He initiated and maintained eye contact while I was reiki-ing him, belly up on my massage table. He was vulnerable and soft without my having to ask for it. This is a teenage being that has shared with me so many times how ‘intense and piercing’ my direct eye contact is. This is a kid that generally avoids sustained eye gaze – especially with me, especially because I crave it. He kept his eyes open, let them meet mine, and voluntarily chose to rest them there.
He wiggled around and adjusted my touch.
My itty-bitty-shitty-committee tried to hold court in my mind. I had a story running that maybe I was doing it wrong (judging myself) or that he was resistant and un-receptive (judging him.) At some point I realized he was letting me know exactly what he needed and in moving my hands he was asking for just that. He was valuing himself enough to get his needs met and trusting me enough to let me know how to help. This is a person that I deeply love and this person is showing me how to do just that in the way that would support them the most. He gave himself permission to adjust my touch and I got the opportunity to meet his requests. <3
This morning as he was cooking a fried egg inside the cookie-cutter star removed hole in his toast, he leaned over the fry pan and said, “You know Mom, I actually feel better. I tend to dismiss reiki as “woo-woo” but it actually worked. My headache is gone. My back doesn’t hurt anymore. I slept really well and I feel a lot more calm. Thank you. I guess reiki works; it really helped.”
I couldn’t help but smile from the inside out. “You’re welcome baby. I am happy to reiki you as often as you like.” And you know what? I meant it. Even though he talked the whole time, kept his eyes open, wiggled around and sometimes grabbed my hands and adjusted my touch, I really meant it. Maybe there is no perfect magical moment ripe for transcendent connection other than the ordinary opportunities that present themselves in the midst of our daily chaos. Maybe I don’t need to be super-mom or super-human. Maybe being fallible is the best I have to offer and it actually can be enough. Maybe showing up for all of that is exactly what sweet, connective, transformative moments look like for us. <3