In August 2012 Tamar Posner attended a Life Writing course at the Skyros Centre off the coast of Greece. There follows a piece produced as the result of an exercise held on Day 3 of that course.
EXERCISE (based on a Tantric meditation)
Bear in mind that: the sea covers about 70% of the earth’s surface; our bodies are comprised of about 60% water – slightly more in women; the French genderise the sea. Walk as slowly as you can, choose a spot and then walk, still as slowly as possible, into the sea. Let the sea take you: surrender to it, relax, float but do not try to swim; become aware of all sensations – the feel of the sea, the sound of the sea – and let your mind drift; when, after about 20 minutes, you are called out, sit down on the sand and write whatever comes into your head.
One by one delicately touching my toes, counting them in. Oh so gently encircling an ankle in each hand, reaching for my fingertips, pulling me towards her, encouraging me to walk.
But when I was stronger and wanted to walk on my own, her mood changed. White-haired by then, she would rush towards me, angrily knocking me down, anxiously overwhelming me in her embrace. I fought to maintain my balance but that only made her more frantic; I resigned myself.
She softened, stroked my back and whispered in my ear:
“I love you and I’m proud of you. You are a part of me; you always have been and you always will be – but you are you and you need to understand that.”
I allowed myself to feel her supportive presence at my back, let down my guard, relax – and then we crashed, the two of us together washed up on to the shore.
That was when I understood that the dance of the mother-daughter relationship is not a progression from baby steps, through angry teenage strides to the more measured movements of maturity; it is an intricately choreographed work of art in which every step appears not once, but often, and will do so always, and forever.
Tamar Posner is a UKCP registered integrative psychotherapist with a private practice in NW London. She is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire and a trustee of The Minster Centre, London.
Images from the top: Sand Beach Texture by Patrick Hoesly; Hikkaduwa by chericbaker; Lakefront Splash by Chicago Man; Sea Colours by Dyala Photography. All courtasy of Flickr.