How I (ac­ci­den­tally) found my part­ner and pur­pose

Lit­tle did I know that for­giv­ing my mother would bring me my part­ner, my life pur­pose, and catal­yse a global quest for true beauty.

Living Now - - Editorial - by Trudy John­ston

For­giv­ing my mother brought me my part­ner, my life pur­pose, and catal­ysed a global quest for true beauty.

Mother’s Day as a child was the one day of the year that filled me with ut­ter dread. I went to St Mon­ica’s Pri­mary and the good Catholics would or­gan­ise a Mother’s Day stall in the hall where you could buy your mother a present. It was a big deal.

Th­ese were the days when warm milk was de­liv­ered daily to the class­room en­trance, every­one in my class re­ceived Holy Communion, and out of 30 kids, there was only one other child who had di­vorced par­ents. I was the only one who was brought up by my dad. Like an adult miss­ing their front teeth, I was so keenly aware that my home didn’t have a mother in it to bake cook­ies, plait my hair, or do tuck shop.lin­ing up for the Mother’s Day stall each year, buy­ing soap or tal­cum pow­der for my grand­mother, de­spite how won­der­ful she was, wasn’t quite the same.


The loss of my mother when I was four marked my life in a very sig­nif­i­cant way. She walked out on our fam­ily on Mother’s Day.

As you can imag­ine, a death might be far eas­ier to ac­cept than a mother walk­ing out on three chil­dren un­der four years of age.

In the mag­ni­tude of sins in the eyes of our so­ci­ety, ma­ter­nal aban­don­ment is right up there. Es­pe­cially when she aban­dons three very small peo­ple.

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing such sig­nif­i­cant aban­don­ment so early in life lead me to over-com­pen­sate with ridicu­lously high stan­dards of achieve­ment and a dragon of per­fec­tion­ism I wres­tle with ev­ery day.

The jour­ney to­wards self-ac­cep­tance and self-worth for me is a life­long one. Some days feel as though I have a sign around my neck scream­ing ‘re­ject and aban­don here’. Other days are sprin­kled with a lot more com­pas­sion and un­der­stand­ing.


When start­ing a re­la­tion­ship in my for­ties with a fel­low yogi who was quite sweet, but much younger than me, I knew that if I didn’t re­visit this in­ter­nal, all-too-fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory in a new way, I’d be lin­ing up again for another round of pain, sor­row, re­jec­tion, and fail­ure. And aban­don­ment.

As I be­came closer with this man, my ter­ror swelled. I knew I needed to se­ri­ously face this in­ner dragon, both for the sake of the re­la­tion­ship and for my health and sense of mean­ing in my life, even though I didn’t know what it was at the time.

Long story short: I started to pray. I made a sim­ple al­tar with a pink can­dle in it. I fig­ured that the colour pink

rep­re­sented love (to me), so I lit a can­dle ev­ery day and just prayed for for­give­ness, com­pas­sion, and un­der­stand­ing. Noth­ing elab­o­rate or fancy.

My paramour was away in the desert for that time pack­ing up his life. In my soli­tude I had the space to let this daily in­tent per­me­ate my aware­ness and my world.

Two months later I was at a Mother’s Day yoga class. At the end of the class we had to send love and grat­i­tude to our moth­ers. That opened the flood­gates and I fin­ished the class with a very soggy yoga mat.


A few hours later I was paint­ing my of­fice and a ques­tion flashed through my mind: I won­der if my daugh­ter would like to meet her ma­ter­nal grand­mother? That evening when I asked her, she told me her part­ner had just asked her the very same thing. For a woman never ever men­tioned, twice in one day seemed to me to be a sign for ac­tion.

Fast-for­ward ten days. Both my daugh­ter and I were in mother’s liv­ing room with my half-brother. Thanks to Un­cle Google, I found her first go.

I ap­proached her with flow­ers and a hug at the door. This melted her de­fen­sive­ness. My spon­ta­neous words; “it’s all right” soft­ened her.

Then she held me tight. I could feel her tiny, spar­row-like body frame. This woman didn’t make sense to me, and I couldn’t con­nect with her as my mother. We only spent an hour to­gether. That was enough. And I’ve seen her prob­a­bly about five times since. It was – and still is – a very strange feel­ing look­ing at her and try­ing to fathom that woman is ac­tu­ally my mother – she gave birth to me.

I don’t have that. Not re­ally a yearn­ing to make up for lost time ei­ther. I don’t have any sense of ‘let's make it all bet­ter’. Even now, years later, I can’t fathom the com­plex­ity of this para­dox, and I’ve given up try­ing. Now my mother and I speak on the phone ev­ery few weeks. I don’t call her Mum. We don’t re­ally have a great deal in com­mon, but it doesn’t mat­ter.

To­day her hap­pi­ness at see­ing me moves me so deeply and gives me much joy. In th­ese mo­ments I am un­able to speak. Last Christ­mas Eve she got dressed up in her finest to meet me for an hour for a cap­puc­cino at Glo­ria Jeans. The spark in her eyes was beau­ti­ful.


Af­ter that evening of our meet­ing my life slowly but surely changed. I looked less for out­side re­as­sur­ance that I’m enough as I am. Even though this feel­ing didn’t en­tirely leave, it was abated.

I sank into that re­la­tion­ship with my younger yogi. We lived in a beau­ti­ful beach­side home where we laughed and healed a lot. I re­built my life – only to break it down 18 months later when this re­la­tion­ship fin­ished and catal­ysed a new path­way of growth.


Now with a strong life di­rec­tion, a man who is my true part­ner so firmly be­side me; my daugh­ter, her part­ner, and three grand­daugh­ters liv­ing a seven-minute drive down the hill, I know none of this would be pos­si­ble had I not taken that crit­i­cal step of for­giv­ing my mother.

For­giv­ing my mother for aban­don­ing me as a small child ul­ti­mately led to start­ing to for­give my­self for ev­ery­thing I de­cided and lived out as a con­se­quence. My life is very much a work in progress and I know that the jour­ney to at­tain­ing true self-worth is a life-long quest.

Whilst the jour­ney to­wards self-worth is a very hum­bling one, I know that com­pas­sion and for­give­ness re­ally do work. I also learned that to for­give is to make a stand for your­self; it’s an act of love for you, not nec­es­sar­ily the other per­son.

For­give­ness cre­ates the door­way to our in­ner trans­for­ma­tion, which ul­ti­mately pro­pels the outer trans­for­ma­tion of our lives. What’s deep­est in our hearts now has the pos­si­bil­ity to re­ally show up. n

Like an adult miss­ing their front teeth, I was so keenly aware that my home didn’t have a mother in it to bake cook­ies, plait my hair, or do tuck shop.

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