My relationship with my mother has always been a challenge. As the only child born to an emotionally brittle mother, I was under persistent pressure to be, in many ways, a “mini me” who validated her life with my own. As I matured and began to express more and more of my individuality, she became increasingly critical and bitter. I gravitated further and further away geographically until finally we were on opposite coasts of the United States. Years of therapy and self-help books taught me to set boundaries and let go of guilt, but maintaining a connection with her was never easy. Our infrequent visits were too often fraught with me eventually losing my temper followed by her heaping tears of guilt upon her ‘uncaring’ and ‘unappreciative’ daughter.
As she became physically frail in her old age, my phone calls and visits became more frequent. By this time I had begun practicing the eight points but I struggled with following Easwaran's advice to draw closer. Her conversations consisted of hours of emotionally charged resentments dating back 70 or 80 years but, in her mind, as outrageous as if they had happened yesterday. She drove away her friends with her negativity and stubbornly refused any type of in home assistance; I was all she had. Somehow I had to find the inner strength to rise to the situation and meditation was not enough; it was going to take all eight points to do it.