The Primal Nature of Women As Evidenced in Youth Football

My son, Eli, was a reluctant football player. He loved the camaraderie, and disliked the level of exertion and toughness of the actual “play”. He was one of those big, athletically gifted kids whom the coaches salivated over, then spent the rest of the season trying to instill the “killer instinct” in a kid who was better suited to be the team chaplain.

Whatever Eli lacked along the competitive lines was made up for by an awakening of some latent, primal fierceness in his mother. You have to be a little tough to even sign up for football in Minnesota: us moms, Halloween just around the corner, standing in the slush, bundled in blankets and stuffed in snowmobile suits, with blaze orange knit caps or whatever is in the back of the truck (I once donned a horse blanket), watching our 5th graders battling bravely. I guess you could say it builds character, or something.

One thing it does build, for sure, is the capacity of an introvert to arrive at the game field, set up her folding chair, make sure her toddler is installed on a blanket with some toys, exchange pleasantries with the other Rebels moms, and then undergo a Hulk-like transformation from mild-mannered-mom to bloodthirsty Valkyrie.

That a classical musician, charm school alumna, public servant and veritable church lady could morph into an aggressive, shouting sideline nutcase who would run the length of the field as though carrying the ball herself, really mystified me. Who was this person, anyway? Was it a link back to ancient queens who, like Olympias, the quintessential scheming, over-involved mother of Alexander the Great, would stop at nothing to ruthlessly promote her son’s rise to glory ahead of his rivals’? Is it the nature of mothers to promote our offspring as though the fate of the Empire depended on it?

I always knew I’d do anything to protect my children. I didn’t think that same primal instinct would also extend to promoting them. There was clearly something in me that caused me to act outside my comfort zone without even thinking about it. And to my horror, the behavior didn’t just stop at energetic enthusiasm. I found myself sneering at the opposing moms. I uttered a couple of low-volume vituperatives when the umpire or referee, whichever one does football, made a bad call. I almost made an unladylike gesture, but caught myself before the finger flew. I had the potential to be one of those parents!

This awakening dismayed me as much as it intrigued me. My personal code of conduct had no room for un-sportsman-like behavior, and I pitied, somewhat contemptuously, the aggressive stage mother model. Well, as Walt Kelly, the Pogo comic strip creator so aptly put it, “We have seen the enemy, and he is us!” Intellectually I knew that behaving badly, even bad behavior born of the best intentions and motherly love, wasn’t going to benefit Eli one bit. I liked the thrill of cheering on the team, but didn’t like the confrontational behavior I saw developing in myself. I had to find a way to reconcile the Amazonian warrior queen with Lady Astor.

Learning to appreciate the primal origin of the behavior was Part One. I was still a wonderful person. A wonderful person who loves her boy like crazy, but doesn’t have to GO crazy doing it! The primal instinct of a mother allows us to hear the water boiling in the next room, to know how not to push the swing too high, to respond to the newborn cries that start the milk flowing. This is a wonderful thing. Cherish it and be thankful for it.

The competitive nature of motherhood, properly channeled, is also a good thing. We care if our kids aren’t doing as well as they could and we push them for their own good. We try to position them in places that will benefit them. We look out for unfairness and call it when we see it. The same spark that makes us want to stop the baby crying allows us to advocate for her later. My own mother stepped in when I wasn’t chosen for the concert choir in high school, because she knew I had a great voice and was already taking private voice lessons. She thought the director had not been aware of that. Into the concert choir I went, and majored in vocal performance in college. We do have to choose our battles wisely, though. Sparks can start fires.

So, I learned to love my internal Olympias, without resorting to treason, murder and mayhem as she did. I respect motherhood in a way I never had before, realizing the powerful drive we have to promote our offspring and the responsibility we have to “keep it clean.” My son’s class in pre-school made paper-plate angels one Christmas. The angels were all lined up on a table when I came to pick him up, and I cooed, “Oooooh, look at all the beautiful angels!” My sweet 3-year-old corrected me: “No Mama, dey are Mudders.” This Mudder on the sidelines is determined to be more angelic. Gotta run….I thought I saw a bad call.

Living In A Dysfunctional Family? What Are The Signs?

Parents are the primal unit of a family. However, because of a parent’s lack of emotional maturity, their behaviours can result in the creation of a functional or dysfunctional family unit. Dysfunctional families take many forms. When individuals hear the term dysfunctional they may automatically think domestic violence or sexual abuse or child abuse. However, those are some of the obvious cases. Unfortunately, individuals tend to believe that because their family is not like that then they do not have a dysfunctional family. That however maybe not be the case. Before a family gets to the physical abuse, there has to exist emotional abuse. What some individuals may not be aware of is that emotional abuse within a family unit can exist for years without it becoming physical abuse. Because emotional abuse is not expressed as a physical thing, some individuals may not even realize that they are living within a dysfunctional family. A family may look great on the outside to the seeing eye, but they may really be hiding a cemetery filled with skeletons in their closets.

Family Secrets and Problems:

There are some families that believe it is a betrayal and violation of the trust of the family to discuss family problems with outsiders. Families tend to have that approach because there are things that they want to remain hidden and they are ashamed of it and it is also a sign of control. It is helpful for families to understand that because of their closeness to the individual member who may have the unresolved issue, it is advisable for that member to receive help from a qualified professional on the outside rather than speak to the family. Also the family regardless of their background may not be the healthiest entity to speak with. There are certain problems experienced within the family that needs to be discussed with outsiders in order for there to be not only an objective view, but for the individual to feel comfortable enough to really open up during their sessions.. There is also the factor that based on a family’s views and beliefs, the member that has the issue won’t feel a hundred percent comfortable in discussing their feelings especially if they feel that their issues would challenge the beliefs and views of the family.

Questionable Behaviour Outside of the Marriage:

If you have ever witnessed your father flirting or displaying inappropriate behaviour with someone else and he is still very much married to your mother, you are living in a dysfunctional family. Same goes if the parent is your mother. If you know that your father is having an affair and your mother knows about it and not only does she hate it, she is depressed over it and your father still persists, then you are living in a dysfunctional family. What is even more detrimental is actually seeing either parent having the affair while still married.

Petty Behaviours by a Parent:

We all have our quirks. The things that annoy us may seem silly to others, but nonetheless they annoy us. The things that annoy women may seem silly to men and vice versa. However if your mothers issues are not respected by your father, even if it is not understood and he continually does the very things in the house that your mother hates, you are living in a dysfunctional family where one or both parties are not behaving as adults and setting proper and healthy examples for the children. If your parent was ever trying to compete with you when you were a child or even now as an adult that is another sign of dysfunctional behavior.

Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour with Children:

While this one may be a given, there are some family members who feel that sweeping sexual abuse or sexual inappropriateness towards their child(ren), either by a father, mother, uncle, brother, sister, grandparent, under the rug is the best way to deal with such situations. This is on of the highest forms of dysfunction that a family can exhibit. Sexual abuse of a child will follow that child into Adulthood and it can’t be excused by telling them to get over it because it happened years ago. It is a far reaching dis-ease that if not attended to or be aware of will create repeated dysfunction in an individual’s life.

Healing Your Life:

Growing up in any of the aforementioned environments can be emotional destructive if not dealt with. It is especially hard for the children to know if they should still love or hate their parents. They still love their parents but they hate the pain their parent’s behaviour is causing each other or has caused them. Some children have developed the attitude that their parent’s issues have nothing to do with them so they will still love their parents so they will not get involved. However, that attitude is another symptom of a dysfunctional environment. The unhealthy behaviours of parents do affect the children and sometimes the damage is irreparable. This does not mean that you won’t be able to live a healthy life nor does it mean that you or any of your family members are dysfunctional. What it does mean is the elements that make up the family unit are dysfunctional. Growing up in such an environment will affect you in your adult life. It is commendable if you vow within yourself to not be like your parents and make sure your children do not grow up as you did. However, without a proper understanding of how your family issues have affected you, you will not be able to do things differently without having to shut down your emotions. Unfortunately, most individuals choose to shut down their emotions because they may feel that having or expressing too much emotion will get them in the same situation as their parents. Actually, feeling your emotions and dealing with them as they rise to the surface will help you to become emotionally healthy and thus avoid repeating your childhood when you do begin to have your own family. While some forms of dysfunction can cause serious mental, physical and emotional harm, they may not necessarily be life altering if individuals are willing to do the work required.

At some point in our lives we all desire intimacy. There will come a time when we will seek to share our lives with that special someone. However, because we have lived most of our lives with our emotions on lock down, it will create a paralyzing effect on our lives leaving us fearful of sharing our lives with anyone even with ourselves. This would be unfortunate for us and for others because we would be denying ourselves and others the joy and essence of who we are. To truly find the love we deeply desire, we first have to look back at our childhood and see how the issues within our family dynamic has influenced our lives in the past and present. If we do not come to terms with those issues, not just from our childhood, but also in how they have affected our adult lives, then we won’t be able to live a truly healthy life. Getting to the bottom of our emotions takes hard work. It is not for the faint-hearted. The pain of toxic emotions rising to the surface is enough to knock down a seven hundred pound tiger, but confront them we must if we are striving for emotional health and strength. Working through your emotional baggage will feel as if you are traveling through a deep, dark tunnel. Be patient with yourself. You will be amazed to find that as soon as you work through your emotional pain, chronic illnesses that you have been suffering from for years will slowly disappear. Dis-ease is the guilty element in a majority of the illnesses we suffer from.

Do not be afraid or ashamed to seek help from a mental health therapist. No one has to know your business. Your health is what’s most important to you. For some, main-stream therapy do not work, but alternative therapy such as dancing, painting, volunteer work or other sources of artistic work may be better or a combination of main-stream therapy and alternative therapy. There are those who have a strong religious background and may feel comfortable speaking to their religious leaders. If it works great, but remember the ultimate goal is get you on the path to better emotional health so if something is not working for you, you owe it to yourself to seek other options that may work better for you. It is important to remember that your religious leaders are not trained Psychologist and as a result they may not be able to provide to give you with the appropriate help that you may need for your emotional, mental and physical health. They may only be able to give you spiritual advice, however, in some cases you may need more than that.

As you begin to work on your emotional health it may not be a good idea to be around family or any other individuals who may send you spiraling back down into a place that you are working to get out of. You can step back when you feel you are stronger. It is perfectly okay to step away again if you feel that you are still not strong enough. Take all the time you need to get you on the path you would like to travel. As you travel on your Spiritual journey of healing your past and creating and finding happiness in your present and in your future utilize anything that will get you on the path to emotional health. Whether you decide to share your life with someone special or you decide to have children or just be by yourself, you owe it to yourself to step into your life emotional, physically, mentally healthy and completely whole.


The Love Predator

Every living thing predates, which simply means life eats to stay alive, both materially and, for humans, emotionally. Though some say all life feels.

We have learned only very recently in human history that we are the abusive predator, who predates not just for food, but also for everything in sight, making us the most greedy species. This trait is not entirely villainous. It comes from our favorite talent-making choices-a powerful opportunity we haven’t yet learned very well how to manage.

Our greatest awareness of excessive predation is our abuse of the environment and the resultant extinction of animal species. Many of us feel profoundly worried and ashamed as a result of this new comprehension. Some of us even feel terrified that we’ve already done irreparable damage-global warming-that may eventually extinct our species.

And yet, in spite of learning such hard lessons, curiously we are the least aware of our most heinous form of abuse as a predator-the misuse and abuse of each other. Way out in front, the most dominant event in human history, of all peoples and cultures, and the most prevalent form of our behavior toward each other has been the mass murder of as many people as possible at any given time and technology. In spite of our increasing awareness of such foibles, we continue to act in the arena of violence toward each other as if it is both necessary and inevitable, requiring massive armies, defensive strategies, hugely intimidating military technology and the deadly sting of secrets and secret opps. All of which is perpetually in danger, as it always has been, of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But all of this, no matter how horrendous, is only the tip of the iceberg of human abuse of the procuring act of predation-eating to survive. In dozens of more subtle ways we predate each other emotionally and financially. We have, for instance, made profit the most sought-after aspect of human exchange, by our unfortunate belief in ownership. This assumed to be virtuous necessity is the right of the first procurer to discover a new element or opportunity, to extract tolls from anyone thereafter needing to use it. By virtue of their first-use we’ve granted them title to what for eons included the ownership of other humans. The necessary aspects of ownership can easily be handled in other ways, like a lifetime lease.

To justify this I-can-do-with-it-what-I-want abuse we pretend the finder invented what humans can only discover. Nature has already done all the necessary inventing. All technology, good medicine and creative effort is simply an imitation, at times cleverly rearranged and represented, of nature’s ways, to the extent that we know them. In other words, we all plagiarize nature. It’s the only option available.

With all this on our conscience, there’s still one more aspect of our excessive predation, which might ultimately be our most damaging one. It’s by far the hardest form for us to acknowledge, that we predate each other within the context of love-which unwittingly includes our children. We do so, not knowingly, nor because we are bad people, but because we have no other way of getting what we all need all our lives-to be loved, supported, encouraged and admired as part of giving our lives support and significance.
Though we pretend otherwise, we have not yet effectively arranged for that to take place within society in general. Indeed individuality-what is special within love-is regarded generally with great mistrust as unloving selfishness, kept under wraps by the primal command, above all else, to serve others. When for individuals good comes in a great diversity of forms. And all chicanery hides behind various notions of the general welfare, with the usual assertion, “it’s for your own good”.

Family is still the only place that, at least to a significant extent, we’re treated in that right manner-as special. As we already know, human nature will never thrive-or learn-in any other environment. A hundred years of psychotherapy has taught us that much, at least with respect to children and animals. We have yet to fully realize that adult humans are no different.

But most important, we have still to acknowledge the simple, but painful truth that, in seeking what they need within the same social context, adults will always win a competition with their children, no matter how hard they try to avoid doing it. We didn’t used to care. But nowadays we all try; yet it can’t be done. Needs don’t wait for permission. They automatically demand, and children, equally automatically, step aside-in ways seen by no one at the time.

Many, if not most readers will cry out how wrong this assertion must be! Yet only one piece of evidence is necessary to verify its truthfulness. It’s something we’ve learned only within the last 100 years, that family produces as much harm as good. Family itself, in its traditional form as arbiter and policeman of culture’s habits and biases, is outmoded, in need of significant transformation-an unthinkable thought because it seems so disloyal to the font of our comfort. We hate to think about the big picture of what families have become: a mixed bag. Indeed, at times with genetic help, all psychic dysfunctional symptoms were learned, or genetic vulnerabilities exacerbated and made much worse, within families of origin. From one generation to another we pass along our prejudices and foibles as well as our virtues.

Human prosperity has enabled us to perceive our family origins as the mixed bag they really are, mostly by providing an alternative place of intimate resting and exchange-the workplace, now available, at least in better financial times, to most people. Without another experience-option, independent of our origins, we couldn’t have finally seen the shortcomings of that ancient font of security and wisdom-family, clan and culture, which is at the core of most religions, in the simplest words, ancestor worship. Thus, until very recently in human history, we’ve been unable to look askance at the hand the feeds us.

Perhaps it’s time to consider whether parenting needs to become more professional, in the sense of handling adult and child needs in different contexts. Children used to be reproduced in large numbers to add to the labor force of the family’s livelihood. When large families seriously dilute what one child receives. Siblings, who in big families act as additional caretakers, are very dysfunctional parents; they’re only kids, can’t very easily handle the enormous responsibility of another’s life, and have their own life and its needs to attend.

Nowadays we realize that, if done primarily and fully to the benefit of the child, it takes more than the one or two adults to do the job-particularly if adults are to have ample time to serve the continued evolution of their own lives, hopes and dreams. Over time we’ve added teachers, babysitters, live-in caretakers, etc., which help, but none of which adequately accomplish what the child, or the parents need-very special personal care that integrates all the pieces together. Children don’t do that very well unattended. We’ve added pieces to the child’s life, but children don’t learn in pieces. Only adults can do that.

So what is the primary problem with families, as they are currently structured? What aspect of family damages individual growth and development the most? The answer verifies the innocence to which we can all lay claim. There is no fundamental villainy here. The problem is that family requires adults and children to compete for their need-gratification at the same font. Though we are strongly encouraged to think otherwise, adults need just as much benefit from family as children do-yet they need, in some ways, very different things. What’s more adults need things they can’t get anywhere else, including the workplace, though it’s a useful alternative. Very good parents try and circumvent this inevitable competition by putting their needs aside, when truth is it can’t be done. Needs will find their way out of any carefully constructed love-fortress.

No villain created this problem. We simply haven’t evolved nearly as far as we think we have. We’re still trying to get-it-right the first time, when we don’t yet know what that really means. Though it’s very difficult, even terrifying for some, to look upon ourselves in such tentative, seemingly critical ways. Instead we usually think and operate as if we already know what it means to be human, institutionalizing one mistake after another-and then taking eons to escape our own carefully constructed bad habits-like tyranny.

As an example, that particular perfidy is usually viewed as an oppressive intrusion. When it is most likely that no one imposed it upon us. We cried out for it when first we occupied this planet in tribal, social sedentary ways, terrified of a life that seemed filled with happenstance and the unfathomable, what easily became chaotic and out of control. We demanded the presence of a human god who could mollify and influence the cruel heavenly Gods who dominated and tormented our lives by, for instance, bringing famine or flood. It’s taken us thousands of years to get over this bad habit of wanting Big People to take care of what frightens us-and we still haven’t finished. We continue to elevate some people to a position of superiority, like the rich and famous, and then envy and adore them, the remnants of tyranny, what we now call inequality.

To consider revising the ways family works, in order to make it a more effective provider of what we all need, is part of a bigger picture: to learn to see ourselves as an evolving species, instead of an already-arrived-in-wisdom one. It’s a more frightening, contradictory course to take. But it’s also a more powerful one, to perceive all things from as many perspectives as possible … and never stop doing it. That effort produces a form of balance that is more evolved than balance concepts available in Eastern Oriental philosophy, which resolve negative experience and emotion by learning to live entirely in the positive. When negative and positive elements always coexist simultaneously, the negative to educate us, and the positive to give us rest, reassurance and encouragement.