Tao Te Ching – Verse 48
In pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added. In the practice of the Tao, every day something is dropped. Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. It can’t be gained by interfering.
(translation by Stephen Mitchell, 1995)
In December 2004 I married a Dane. Our son Zander came along in August 2006 with our daughter Ocean arriving in October 2007. Part of the dream I had back then was that our children would grow up bilingual, Danish would be spoken in our household, I could learn the language from our kids, through osmosis and sheer desire. That's not what happened. As much as I tried, baking black bread, pickling beets and bringing herring in assorted dressings to the table, the culture wasn't mine to deliver. No matter how much I wanted it.
In December 2014 I travelled with our children to Copenhagen on a whirlwind tour of everything Danish before our divorce finalized in June 2015. In my heart I carried the intention to connect with family and to have fun. I was stuck in a weird place of fighting for a marriage that had been dissolving for years and feeling the need to complain about him to his family of origin. I was consumed with a desperate need to prove my worth. I was sad, ashamed of not being more, and guilt ridden with a sense of failure. 'Fun' felt far away. It has taken me years to unravel all the confusion surrounding that trip, as I was feeling "goodbye" in every cell of my being. Back then, I believed I would be nothing without him, that in losing our marriage I, too, would get lost. This gave birth to multiple illusions, one: I was happily married and two: I had been wronged by him. Truth? One: I was unhappily married. Two: I was wronged by me. Self-betrayal is a big pill to swallow. As I gulped, I found power in responsibility, ownership enlivened my being and I was able to set myself free. The wrenching ache that consumed me was in fact the squeezing out of what no longer worked, jibed, aligned with my true nature. Call it perhaps a dropping away, I needed only to release my grip and let go. Yes, it is that simple. Now I feel okay about what happened, I am grateful for our divorce. It was a necessary loss and an amazing gain. My life today is filled with everything I hoped my marriage would deliver. All the nurturing, listening, caring, play, connection, support and comforting is self-generated, I am my primary "go to".
Earlier this year I started to grumble, thinking to myself why didn't my ex-husband do more to grow our kids' Danish side? As I settled in for a familiar ride it occured to me that I was holding onto a specific perspective, looking at my life through a particular lens (what I didn't get) that made me feel small. It was uncomfortable, my whole body started to constrict and my anger began to swell. Then it grew to involve other family members, blame is contagious, and I found myself whining Why didn't anybody do anything? As I started getting swallowed up by habitual thinking, I stopped and decided to put myself in their shoes. I wanted to see this situation from other perspectives. I imagined preoccupation, disinterest, confusion, and good old fashioned ignorance. No harm, no anger, no hate. I do not recall ever having a conversation with anybody about Danish Passports. And here I was, getting all bent out of shape over something that did not materialize on its own nor by someone else's handiwork because I had never actually asked for it. I was smack dab in the center of an unconscious expectation. Oh.
What do I want? What do I yearn for? I want my kids to have Danish passports. I yearn to travel. I picked up my phone and called the Danish Consulate. Thanks to COVID, everything is available online. I made the appointments and filled out the applications. In March 2022 when we arrived to sign and submit our applications in person, I was unable to prove their blood was in fact half Danish. Did you file your divorce in Denmark? Nope. Do you have a copy of father's Birth Certificate or Passport? Nope. Do you have father's cpr-number? Nope. When I emailed these requests directly to father, he wrote back (immediately) explaining he didn't have the paperwork needed and added: "Why the rush? They don't even speak Danish." I was a bubbling combination of "UGH!!??!!" and "Oh well" <sigh>, leaning heavily on the former.
Zander, Ocean and I traveled to Denmark in June 2022. We steeped ourselves in family, sharing stories and hopes for the future. It felt as though not a day had passed since our last visit. Love can do that, stop time. We explored, laughed, played, relaxed, had fun culture diving and imagining more. What if we moved here? Visited every summer? Travelled with extended family on vacations abroad? We walked in the hot summer rain, remembered winter, went swimming in the Atlantic, walked barefoot and ate as though we were on holiday. It was here, that my almost sixteen year old son says to me: "Ma, I want to finish highschool in Denmark".
When we returned home I wrote to Heidi, our contact at the Danish Consulate and asked her to help me find a workaround to getting their Danish passports. If dad couldn't provide the needed documents, could we use another family member to prove their Danish roots? Turns out, all I needed was a marriage and divorce certificate along with two Danish grandparents. We had all four, ready and willing.
What do I want? I want our kids to have confidence in exploring their dreams. I want them to travel, to experience and to feel into the possibilities life can deliver. I want Zander to go to school on Danish soil (if this is what he wants), learn the language, and see what he can create for himself. I understand fear. I listen to many offer concern, worry and opinion: "What if something happens? Isn't he too young? Does he deserve this opportunity? What will it cost you? What if he doesn't like it? Won't you miss him?" I understand. And if I have learned anything, it is this: the more I hold tight, the more we all suffer. If I feed my fears or let them dictate my cations, I end up chained and tethered. No thank you. In my heart I can feel my truth, my bigger influence, my teacher, and it pretty much says: "YES. Let's feel into what is here." This is a place of healthy guidance. I have spent so much of my own life NOT following my heart, talking myself out of what I want so I can meet a greater good, maintain the status quo and keep the emotional peace of all involved. In a word? Pfffft. While I have the chance, I would very much like to support our children in listening to their own hearts.
In doing this, I am finding an ease in momentum. I am living with less strain and struggle. Activating my dreams, making decisions to carry me in the direction I wish to travel, I am able to discard the stuff that weighs me down. I hit bumps on the road, glitches of sorts, and choose to redesign. I am less reactive and a bit more, "Hmmmm. That was unexpected." Zander says: "What's past is past, we can't change it, let's move on." Ocean says: "Ok. That didn't work, we will find another way. Keep your eyes and ears open!" Go Team.
Thanks to our teens I have 'other perspectives' at the ready, which help me notice how limiting my thoughts can get. This usually happens when I am clenched tight, with no room for exhale. I create my own experience. Do I believe the Universe supports me? Can I recognize patterns of behavior that no longer serve? Looking at my choices, my words and my actions delivers important information. What is my intention, my true motivation? Revenge is ugly and stifling. Jealousy/Envy is hurtful and heavy. Fear limits possibility, it negates choice as it forces me into survival. I didn't get the passports in March 2022 because I was self-righteous, angry, operating from an old pain and determined with an "I'll show you attitude." We got the passports five months later when I was inspired by love, fueled directly by a teenager's vision. I didn't force it into being, I asked for assistance and trusted I would find a way. Look out world, here we come.