Sunday, August 23, 2015

Relationships

“A wise man must remember that while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future.”
                                                                            -Herbert Spencer

There is no greater way I know of to know ourselves than through our relationships. We have relationships with ourselves, with our family members, our friends, our colleagues, and with significant others in our lives. Our future relationships are so influenced by our first ones; our parents and caretakers. What is unresolved in these first primary relationships gets played out within us, and all our other relationships. We may think we have worked everything out and have hashed out their early effects on us, and then something or someone comes along and we become triggered or reactive.

How do we know we are triggered or reactive? We know through a feeling. Suddenly we may feel angry, or we may feel defensive or we may have an uncomfortable or unsettling feeling in our bellies. The question here is that when we are reactive, do we take the time to really notice the feelings that are brought up in us or do we just react instinctively and unknowingly?

Most likely we do a little of both. When we take the time to listen to our inner reactions we then have an opportunity to learn. I was working with a woman a few weeks ago and I was the student. This was a workout class for me and I was describing how the previous week some muscles in my inner thigh reacted from something we had done. My trainer began to feel badly that inadvertently she had requested an exercise that had triggered a painful reaction in my body. As she began to talk about her feeling I realized inwardly and spoke outwardly about how this was a gift to me. I also noticed that she was in fact having her own internal reaction what I had said.  I asked her to please not feel badly as it is really a great opportunity for me to learn more about my body. My saying that did not stop her from feeling bad, but it did speak of a need of mine for her to not feel bad. It also could be an opportunity for her to look at what happened in her that made her feel bad.  I did, on the other hand, receive much-needed information regarding an old injury of mine and I did learn more about how to work with it. In addition, I saw how I was concerned about her feeling badly even though it is out of my control. This is an example of the reactive dynamic on a physical, body level, as well as on an emotional level. t is the same dynamic on every level.

In this example, it is regarded to my relationship with my body and with a teacher as well as my need to control how she is feeling and her distress at possibly contributing to my hurting. What happens when we learn how to work with our reactions with our partners or siblings or parents, etc.? It becomes about listening; truly listening to the other and to us. As we do, we have a door open inside of us to an earlier wound. When someone tells us something or says something that we feel a reaction to, let’s just listen first. What did they say? Can we even repeat it back to them? How do those words make us feel? Are we uncomfortable, angry, sad, happy, what? This becomes a doorway to learn about an inner connection to an earlier hurt that wasn’t resolved. Another way to say this is that we have an opportunity to bring something that was acting in an unconscious way inside of us to the surface where we have greater consciousness. We have a new and deeper awareness of us. As we see ourselves more clearly we can then see the other more clearly. 

As my father is no longer with us, I have some distance from him and my reactions to him and to my sibling’s reactions to him. With this distance, it is easier for me to see not only how things get brought up in me, but how they were brought up in my siblings in dealing with his decline and his passing. He had become a fall risk and in his own difficult way, he was resisting help; whether the help was in the form of a wheelchair or a sling for his injured elbow. Change was always difficult for him and also doing what others ask of him to do as he needed to do it his way all the time. Recently he took a fall and injured his elbow. My sister had to take him to the emergency room for x-rays to rule out a fracture. It turns out it was a dislocation and not a fracture, but required a sling to support his elbow. Most of my siblings were afraid he wouldn’t use the sling and also that he wouldn’t accept the help of a wheelchair. In fact my sister did have to push him into the wheelchair as he wouldn’t walk; he just stood in place. 

In this situation, I found it easier to keep my distance and to realize that his being obstinate in the face of change is his issue and problem. There are people in place at the facility where he lived to help to take care of him. My sister described how badly she felt as she had to push him into his wheelchair and leave him with his feelings. My brother also felt bad. Sometimes it is hard to see when we have such reactions in relationship to another, that we are in fact being triggered from an earlier time in our lives. Can we look into ourselves and see what an appropriate feeling for that situation is, and what might not be, but is instead a doorway to our inner world? That is the task for us all, to know what is an appropriate reaction to this time and place, and what a reaction to another time and place is. When we are reacting or triggered, what is in fact happening is that we are instantly transported to an earlier time and place where something occurred where we have unresolved feelings. Can we go back to that earlier place and shed light on us in that time? An important key to negotiating the terrain of our current relationships rests on us being able to do so. When we take the time to recognize our feelings that are brought out, and they are about us, we connect with us at a deeper level and instead of reacting, we engage with the other.

Recommended Resources: 

A wonderful book I wholeheartedly recommend is called: Getting the Love you Want, by Harville Hendricks.


It wonderfully goes over what we unconsciously being into our relationships as well as beautifully choreographed exercises, metaphorically, to follow to help us along our conscious pathway.


Monday, August 17, 2015

The Long and Winding Road

Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation, it means understanding that something is what it is and that there has got to be a way through it.”
                                                                                                                          -Michael J. Fox

The Long and Winding Road is a Beatles song and also the paths our lives take. Just as in all paths of healing, they are not straight, but they wind around and sometimes we don’t know where they are taking us. What we have with us is our own unique moral compass that leads our way. 

There are so many self-help books and gurus and guides as well as meditation techniques all really there to help us to tune into our own small inner voice. This inner voice is what we call our soul and our true voice. It is who we are connected to and with all that is. I had written before about what I call living in the mean time. This is living day to day not knowing where each day is taking us and knowing in our bones that we are moving towards our goals and dreams. Living in the mean time can be short lived as in towards a change in our lives and not knowing the immediate direction, or it can be of longer duration as in moving towards knowing our life’s purpose or in moving towards loving a parent and ourselves in a very difficult early situation. The truth is, it is possible for us to achieve our goals and to live in our own moral compass; even in finally loving us and accepting us.

What comes to mind here is a personal story regarding my father. As he is no longer with us, I don’t have the access to our weekly breakfasts anymore. What I do have are my memories. I have also written about his early life and many traumatic situations as well as from last week, his long and winding struggle towards himself and his parents. We had discovered an old letter he had written to his father in which he stated how he loves him…and much more. (See last week’s blog) He has no memory of this feeling towards him or this letter. As he is slowly losing his mind to dementia, I didn’t know if, in his own unique path, he would ever find his way to himself or to his parents.
During my last visit, I had also compiled old photographs from his mother’s collection into a couple of CD’s. I read the letter he had written to him as well as showed him and the family all these old pictures. We had hugged and then I left to go home. My sister in Denver and I spoke shortly after this visit and my father, whom I had thought was lost, told her that he had spent his life helping others to find out who they are and that he doesn’t know who he is. He would like to know himself. She told him that she is pretty good at that and would like to help him if he could let her. 

That exchange they had together touched me. Here is a man I thought might not find him in this lifetime, and in his own winding way, might in fact, find his way to him and to his parents in a new and life-affirming way. It doesn’t matter how our road winds and where it goes so much as it matters that we are on our path and our own healing path towards us. 

Shift Your Story, Shift Your Life: Guided Visualization/Meditation

Take a minute and get comfortable with your feet gently planted on the ground in front of you. Take 2 or 3 deep breaths. Each time you breathe in, breath in life and openness, and every time you breathe out, breathe out darkness and blockages. Do this consciously again 2 or 3 times. Now imagine yourself walking down a path. Take your time and let it come to you organically. Begin to see the path in front of you and under your feet. What are you stepping on, rocks, grass, dirt, a path from a garden, what? What is by your side, trees, flowers, mountains, ocean, what? What do you hear and who or what are you aware of? Reach down and touch the sand or flower, or ground. Take in a deep breath and smell the smells around you. Now just notice your surroundings as you continue down your path. Is there something you would like to know, someone you would like to see, someone you would like to talk to gain understanding to an old situation that is unfinished, a question in your life you would like clarity with? Have that question clearly in your mind as you walk your walk and notice all around you. Continue walking and be aware of what you would like. Does someone come to you, or do you hear an answer, or do you feel something change inside of you, does a vision come to you? Notice and take it all in. Feel the air around you and begin to breathe deeply again 2 or 3 deep breaths. Feel your feet beneath you as you are sitting here for this meditation and find your way back to this body. Then open your eyes. Just be with what you got for a few minutes and let it sink in. If nothing happened, that is ok. It will eventually on another visit. 


If any of you would like to share how this experience was for you I would love to hear from you. Or if you would like to share your own winding road I would also like to hear from you. See you next week.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Our Mother's Child

“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
-Michael J. Fox

We are all our mother’s children. Once in a while one of has a wonderful experience with our mothers. Often, though, this experience with our mothers is a very flawed one. Our birth gives us a chance to grow and to develop our very souls; to become who we truly are. It is not easy. This means to honor our bond with our mother, whatever the bond is and more importantly and with great difficulty, accepting our mothers as they are.

I was working with a woman who is often angry, especially when it comes to spending money that she doesn’t want to spend. This could come as a surprise bill or spending money on a hotel when she could have spent time with her family, at no monetary expense. It felt to me like there was confusion in her relationship with her and her mother and that she had great trouble valuing her, and of course valuing her mother.

We did a constellation with putting out footsteps to represent anger, her, money, and then we added something in the middle that everyone was looking at, not knowing who those footsteps represented. As she stood on the steps in the middle, she wanted to sit down, was very comfortable and was looking outward. She herself, her footsteps were looking at anger, which she confused for the footsteps of money. Money was looking at the steps in the center. As we spoke, she told me that her grandmother had a small inheritance and that she always held it up to her children in a way which felt to them like it could be taken away if they didn’t act a certain way. This inheritance was divided 4 ways. Her mother uses this inheritance to help her with her retirement. Money was not easy for any of them.

As we continued to work, we saw that the steps in the middle represented her mother, and money was really represented by her grandmother. Often this is the case where what starts out as an idea is referenced by a person. 

My client saw that she was confused and didn’t want to look at her mother. So we created a dialogue between GM and M. Mom, in a metaphysical conversation told her mother how it felt for her to have money be held up against her, and for a portion of the money to be given to a non-family member, the 4th person GM entitled money to. She was angry and felt devalued. GM heard her and in this setting, felt like she understood and felt badly about how she did handle her relationship with her daughter and with money. Mom was able to step close to her mother, GM, and this left the center open with a clear space from mom to her daughter. Mom was directly looking at her daughter, and this opened a conversation between daughter and mom. My client began to understand what she was really angry about, not being seen by her mother, and having to carry her mother’s emotional weight. She also saw that part of the emotional weight was her mother’s feelings of not being valued. Anger and money began to make sense to her as she began the slow process of seeing and accepting her mother as she is. This is a slow process, and one that is moving in a direction for healing for her and her relationship with her mom.

My father never did accept his mother as she is as well as his father. His relationship with them was greatly wounded and he was filled with anger towards them. I recently found a letter he wrote to his father when dad was in the navy, 1945. In it, he talks about his love for his father; a love he had forgotten. I will include this letter here.

Dear Dad,

I just wanted to drop you a little Father’s day greeting. I sure wish I could be home to celebrate Your day with you, but of course I can’t. You know, Dad, I have just begun to realize how much you have done for me. It is really a good feeling to know you have led a clean life in all ways. Where I am now I can see many examples of fellows who have not been fortunate as me. I know I will always be that way and the reason I will is you. Dad. Maybe I didn’t realize it then, but every word you said to me sunk in and deep. But it wasn’t only words, it was more than that. Words really mean so little it’s just like I said before – it was you. It’s hard to express how I feel. I only hope you can feel my feelings. I sent some cigarettes. I sure hope they went through as we are not supposed to send them. Please write and tell me whether they did or not. Well, back to washing clothes.

Happy Father’s Day and all my love,
Roy

We are our mother’s children and our father’s children. This bond can be interrupted, and wounded and filled with abuse, anger, and difficulty. The path back to them is by accepting us as we are and allowing us to find our strengths through our winding paths and our weaknesses. The path also acknowledges that we exist because of them, and as we love and accept ourselves, we find a way to accept them as they are. This is much more easily said than done. As we can, we can also live more full, whole, healthy and vital lives.

Small Changes that Promote Big Results:

I have enclosed the letter here from my father to his father above in the body of the blog. Finding this letter was a gift. I was able to read this letter to my father recently before he died, and he was amazed that was him writing the letter to his dad who he remembers as hating. 

If you are able to, find an old picture of your parents, or an old letter they wrote to you, or to each other or to a family member or friend. If you can’t find a letter, an old photo of you and them or of each other will also be helpful. Look at it, read it, and be with the feelings it stirs up in you. Write those feelings down and do this exercise every day for the next two weeks. See how anything changes for you, and/or what you might have learned about yourself from doing this exercise.

Again, I would love to hear how this is for you and what you have gleaned about you from it.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Perceptions of Time

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”
                                                                                  -Nathaniel Branden

Have you ever spent time with an elder, an elderly parent, someone with a stroke or other disability? Have you noticed that being with them involves us slowing down to their movements and their rhythms of thought and expression? If so, have you also experienced that when we are present with them in our thoughts and feelings and movements that it also takes us in a different dimension of time where things that used to matter don’t, and other things do?

When events in life slow us down we become more open to feelings, thoughts, and perceptions which we ordinarily only allow in small moments and increments. As we age and find our minds slowing down or becoming less agile, or we are dealing with life changes such as a stroke, things which we were too much in a rush to pay much attention to become more important to us and we have the inward time to expand to them. Our perceptions of the time change and even our priorities change. As a person being with or visiting the elderly, for example, we slow down to keep inward and outward stride with them. It is almost like a time out of time.

As a chiropractic physician and a family systems facilitator, in my work I frequently have the opportunity to experience this “other timely” or this different dimension of time. I match my rhythms to their rhythms, to their breathing, and to their movements. When I don’t, I feel I am rushing them and then I can’t tune into them to help them. An example of this is with a patient of mine who had a serious stroke a few years ago. When I rush his thoughts or his muscles responses, I feel like I have to force things and push things like going upstream in a river. His thoughts can’t follow mine and I can’t follow his, and his over toned and tensed muscles are not able to release and let go. So I pause and I listen to his words and to his muscles. A technique I find is helpful is called fascia release. It is an unwinding technique where I literally hold his leg and let his legs reactions guide me instead of me forcing his thigh muscles. They begin to let go and he gets to experience his muscles releasing and a lot of his pain lessens. He and I become one person together talking to him. This can only happen as I slow down to this other dimension of time where we allow anything to happen.

As my father’s dementia is becoming more severe, being with him is also a slowing down experience. He walks slowly, he has trouble expressing his thoughts, and he is mostly interested in expressing his feelings and how he feels with others and his feelings for me and others he cares about. His feelings are right out in the open. He is not interested in covering up his feelings. He is interested in expression them. The daily rhythms of time are different. He doesn’t look at his clock and we aren’t concerned about or a slave to time in the usual sense we tend to live in our lives. Most of our lives together he was a person who didn’t say how he felt about you. Once when I asked him why he didn’t often compliment me or say he loved me, he answered that he thought I just knew these things and so why should he have to say them out loud?

Now he does say them out loud. He wants to tell those he loves how he feels about them. He is concerned about finding out who he is. He often is in-between two worlds where he sees his father and his mother and then he sees us; those of us still in this world. This happens mostly in the twilight and evening times. As it becomes dark outside, he becomes more lost in his past and in the world of those who past. My brother, who was visiting and was helping to undress him and help him to bed, experienced our father confusing him with his uncle. At that time, my brother was his uncle who he was speaking with. 

In this other dimension of time, relationships become the most important thing to us. Our connections are what are foremost in our minds. Time slows down. As their caretakers, partners, children, siblings, friends, colleagues, we become actively engaged in connecting with them in their thoughts and movements in time. If we can let us let go of our usual perceptions of time and we can allow us to move into this other rhythm, a great richness of being opens up to us. This too is a part of life and one we don’t often allow us. Welcoming this slowness of being is a great learning experience and helps us to feel our own vitality and wholeness. I would love to hear any of your experiences in this kind of perceptions of time!


Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life Guided Visualization


Let’s take a trip together and experience an altered time state of being. Find a comfortable chair and let your feet easily find the floor. Close your eyes and take 3 or 4 deep breaths. Become aware of your deep internal breathing. Imagine yourself being with an elderly person who is living in a slightly altered world of the here and not here. This person could have dementia, Alzheimer’s, be slightly disabled and having to slow down in life, and such as that.  You are in your mind’s eye just with that person; next to them. Smell them, see them, touch them, and tune into that person. You are speaking with him/her and listening. He/she is telling you something. You slightly lean in and listen. As you do so, your breathing slows down and your thoughts slow down to be just with that person. You take in their presence and hear their words at a deep level. All other thoughts leave your mind. You are traveling with them and with their speed of thought and being. You are just there. Feel what that is like for you. Does that feel the same, different, and if different, how? As you listen to their words they leave you with a bit of their wisdom. Take it in and let them know you will remember their words and them. Tune back into your breath and take 2 or 3 deep breaths. Feel yourself in your body and your feet on the ground in front of you. Slowly open your eyes.

This last step is important. Get a piece of paper and write down what they told you or what you learned from them or from this experience.

Again, if you would like to share what you learned, I would love to hear from you.


Monday, July 27, 2015

What Our Faces Reveal

No legacy is so rich as honesty.
                                                                 -William Shakespeare

There are so many ways to look at faces. We can look at the color of our eyes, the shape of our lips, and the length of our noses. We can also look at our coloring, our ethnicity, the shape of our faces, and the pallor of our skin. These are all literal ways to look at each other. The Chinese and Japanese have ways of analyzing our health through the lines on our faces, the marks on our skin, the colorizations in our eyes, and the shape of our lips. There are many other ways to see each other through what our faces reveal. 

Have you noticed that we know when someone is sad without saying or hearing a word? We know through a feeling and what our faces reveal. There might be downturned lips which usually are slightly curved upwards. There might be a sad caste in the eyes. There are ways to know each other at a deeper level through our faces. 

I have written about how my father was a wordsmith and understands people more fully through listening to their words. We can do the same with our faces. Sometimes someone has one eye that looks sad and one that looks more open. We look for the asymmetries in the face and what is incongruent. This could be a lifted eyebrow on one side, or one side of the mouth in a slight smile, and the other side in a firm line.  On another level, we can also see how people respond to us through their faces. So often I hear patients say that they are afraid to say something to someone in their lives because the other person gets angry; but they dont lift their voice. What are they aware of?  They can be aware of a feeling that is exuded, and also a facial expression.

Listening to another is more difficult than it sounds. It involves putting aside everything else in our minds and opening ourselves to another. It involves listening beyond words, and to the feeling that is expressed. As a listener, it involves being aware of us and our inner experience upon hearing what the speaker is saying. How often do we listen and register disgust, anger, happiness, distrust, surprise, or pity, and so on? We are used to looking at others and what their faces reveal, but what do ours reveal? How do we look when we are listening to another? 

As a facilitator in my work of Chiropractic and family systems work it is important that I am aware of what my face is showing. I need to be aware of what I am feeling, and also what I also convey through my facial expressions is very important. In my work I was taught to sit with an open face and not reveal a smile or nod at what the patient is saying. That may be a bit extreme. What is important though is to not lead a person on or give them a reaction, which affects them and their perceptions of their story and words. We can be so influenced by others and their reactions to us. So often we develop feelings about ourselves based on how others react to us and how we perceive their reactions. What do our faces reveal as we respond to others? 

An example of this happened to me. I had been going through some life changes and re-thinking how I wanted to live. Through my course of changes, I was able to witness others reactions. I had temporarily moved to give myself some space to know myself better as I recreated my life. Some folks that knew me, friends and family members, looked at me with pity in their eyes and sadness in their eyes as they reacted to me through their own perceptions of what I was experiencing. They looked at me through the lens of their own past traumas, yet, not consciously knowing that they were in fact projecting their own experiences on me. That was a powerful thing for me to witness. How often do we do this? Do we know how our faces reveal our own past life experiences, and also have the ability to influence others? This influence is difficult because we dont know we are doing this, and the other person doesnt always know what they are seeing in reaction to them most likely doesnt have anything to do with them. These are tacit ways we are influenced by our families and our communities and our culture as we are growing up. These influences are very powerful and affect our own belief systems. We could even call it unconscious brainwashing.

Here I am talking mostly about what our faces reveal in the opposite context of what we usually think about in what our faces reveal. I am talking about what we reveal about us when we listen to others, and the consequences. When we are little and we tell our mothers or fathers about our day, how influenced are we about us and others by the look on their faces? When we talk about our feelings and others look at us with pity, or with disgust, or sadness, or anger, or disbelief, how does that make us feel about ourselves? If we are not conscious of us and we arent able to know ourselves and our feelings very well, the impact of such facial expressions on us can be significant. We may try to please the other based on how we interpret the look on their face. We may begin to think less of us or that we made a mistake by the look on their face. What our faces reveal is a very important thing for us to become aware of for us and for others. Recognizing the power of our facial expressions on others helps us also to understand the ways we were impacted in our lives by our parents, family members, teachers, friends, etc., and also to help us to be aware of what we communicate to others whether we mean to or not.


Small Changes that Promote Big Results:

For this little exercise, you might want to enlist a friend or family member. This involves two people. One of you tells the other a short story; this could be a true story or a made up one. You will tell this story twice. The first time, the other person, the listener, just listens and keeps their face impassive. The second time, the listener lets their faces reveal what they are feeling in the story. For the purposes of this exercise, the listener can exaggerate their expressions. Afterward, both parties talk about what they experienced. This is particularly important for the talker to talk about their experience through the listener. Pay particular attention to how the talker felt and was influenced by the listener; or not. How did it feel to them and how did they respond inwardly when the listener facially revealed their experience in the story.

Next, change roles so both parties are listener and talker.


I would love to hear from you regarding your experience in this exercise.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Alone

Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.
                                                                                   -Abraham Lincoln


How often do we look for opportunities to be alone unless we are completely overwhelmed? It seems that most of us have a great fear of being alone. We stay in stagnant relationships or we make bad choices in roommates or we emotionally blackmail people or children to stay with us. Being alone is a great fear many of us carry. 

If we look at the word, alone, we can see that in taking it apart in two syllables, it is al” “one. We know that in our heads we are really all one, but feeling our oneness and connection while we are by ourselves is another matter altogether. Many times this comes from the impact on us of imperfect parenting experiences. Many of us had aloof, or distant, or depressed, or sad mothers. Many of us were raised by one parent, or an abusive parent or suffered a great loss of a caretaker or parent at a very tender age. At those moments, we felt separate and lonely. As we grow older then, we consciously and unconsciously remember the pain of being and feeling alone. When we were young, our very existence depended on our caretakers. We remember that feeling intimately. To lose a connection with another individual can feel devastating to us, and we may not know exactly why. At those moments of crucial decisions then we frequently choose ones which keep us with poor relationships rather than brave the new world of being with ourselves alone.

A story comes to mind of my father, and also of my nephew as I write about our experiences with our aloneness. Actually, a great place and time to connect with us intimately is when we are alone. It certainly feels like the opposite. I was having breakfast with my nephew and my sister on our Sunday breakfast, keeping up the tradition began by my father. So he is with us at those moments in spirit while not in fact. My nephew was and looked sad. He was distracted and looked everywhere but at me when I was speaking with him. He had brought a toy with him and chose to play with his toy.  He is ten years old and rather than engage with my sister and me he was focusing on his toy. I tried to engage him in discussion but I was working too hard and gave up and my sister and I spoke with each other. When we were through with our meal and sitting together, I told him directly that he looks sad. That got his attention. He said he is fine. I asked him if the prospect of going back to school the next day had anything to do with his mood. He told me yes, he didnt want to go back to school. I asked him why, and he explained to me how he has trouble understanding and gets bored. This led us to a discussion of what we can do to help him through this. He began to smile a little. The words that came to my mind which I spoke to him were ones which I was also telling myself. I told him that when we most need people to help us, in our selfishness, we actually disconnect from the very people who can help us. We make ourselves alone; separate, when we dont have to be. 

How often do we do that? If we honestly look at ourselves, we see that we all at times cut off from others when we most need them. We are unconsciously recreating an early situation in our lives when we were cut off, and we keep repeating that pattern. Silly of us and yet also true. 

With my father, we would meet with him at least once a week on Sundays, especially after my mother died. We kept the Sunday breakfasts alive. Through those times, I saw intimately how lost and alone he was after the death of his wife. The truth is that he was alone most of the time, even before her death. He kept himself separate from the woman he loved the most, and then he felt lost and lonely without her. He was often angry with her and spent the majority of his days at work  through almost of their years together. She kept the household going and he was free to concentrate on his work. He would work at least 12 hours a day, was available by phone to his patients at all times of the day and night, and continued in this vein into his 80s when he couldnt sustain that anymore. Suddenly now when he came home from work, he was alone, no one was there but him. 

He became like a lost little boy. When she was by his side, he seemed like the strong and independent one. Upon her death, it was clear to all of us how lost, alone, and weak he was and had been. He had hidden this part of him and showed it only to his wife. We used to wonder why she most often didnt want to go anywhere without him, or leave him even for an overnight. We, my siblings and I, thought it was her weakness. Now we can see she was taking care of him. He couldnt be alone, and yet he felt so alone. 

In his early life, as I have written about previously, his mother became ill just after his birth and she was often sick in his early years. His father was jealous of him, and was never close to his son. Dad lived in a perpetual state of feeling separate and alone and not good enough. Those early years haunted him his whole life. Even though he dealt with these issues with his patients, in his Mr. Magoo ways, he carried this blind spot within himself.

The more we can look at and feel the effects of our early experiences and accept them and heal from them, the less we feel separate, and the more we can feel our all oneness in life. Being alone can be a very liberating experience. We, in fact, are all alone, and through our full selves lays the path to our growth, health, and vitality. As we can stop repeating those early patterns, we also stop them from repeating for our children. 


Recommended Resources:

There is a book my father wrote called: Mr. Magoo is My Role Model. If you can find it, I recommend reading it. It has some pearls of wisdom he gleaned from his years of life, and also it speaks to our blind spots. He identified with Mr. Magoo, which says a lot. His identity was bound up in his blindnesss. When we do that, it is impossible for us to see those aspects of us which we most need to see for our growth. 


Now take a minute and think about how you feel when you are alone. How is it for you? Do you look for opportunities to not be alone? When you are, what comes up for you? What feelings do you begin to feel which you might want to run from? If you can, write down your findings and have them next to your bed where you can read them upon rising, or before going to bed. If you feel like sharing your experiences, I would love to hear from you.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Secrets

“When in doubt, tell the truth.”
                                                                     -Mark Twain

The summer is heating up and secrets heat up our lives, too. Last week, I wrote about The Good Lie, and secrets are part of the lies; usually of omission. Occasionally, we tell little white lies and at times, they can be appropriate or helpful. I can’t think of a good reason to keep a secret for a long period of time. Yes, at times we need to hold onto an idea or a secret someone told us carry for them. However, to carry a secret to our graves is not a helpful thing to do. In my work as a facilitator I see many ill effects from such secrets. 

There are so many examples of how secrets distort the past and hurt our future. In the Family Constellation work I do, which is a group oriented experiential process where people “stand in for” or represent family members for a member of the group in order to see important dynamics in a person’s life which had not been seen, and so much more (check out Family Constellations on my website, to learn more), we are often surprised by what is revealed. An example which comes to mind involves a client who was feeling very angry with her husband, and anger in general. In her constellation, the energy was revealed that her father had an affair during the war in which a child was born, and her mother knew nothing consciously of the affair or the child. She herself knew nothing of the child until just very recently. In fact, during the movements of the constellation, the representatives and their movements showed that both her father and her mother were “looking” at something in the past. As I began asking her questions about this to find out what she knew, she remembered the man, her half-brother and had previously forgotten about him even until this moment. This secret, the affair, and the child had eaten at her mother and this woman’s relationship with her mother their whole lives. Sometimes during the constellation experience, a secret is revealed, or the fact that there is a great secret, but the actual events had been forgotten. Even in my own life, I have seen how a secret kept regarding the true parent of a child is so hurtful to the family.

We usually keep the secrets to supposedly save another from hurt. Mostly this “saves” the person keeping the secret from hurt or humiliation or embarrassment. In my father’s life and these stories are often revealed over Sunday breakfasts, he tells the story of his father and a great secret. He was a Depression baby and his father wasn’t able to find a job. His mother worked for a few years, and when he was just a young boy, his father went away for a year or two. They lived in Chicago, and his father left supposedly for Detroit for a job. There was lot of speculation around his activities and movements during that time when he was gone, and dad and his mother lived at times with his father’s parents and family, and at times in their own small apartment where dad’s bedroom was a closet. Later there was a discussion between my father and his aunt, his mother’s sister. He was demanding to know what happened in Milwaukee, as he had a feeling there was a great secret which was important to him. His aunt refused to tell him and just said to him that some things are too bad to tell and that the secret would go to the grave with her. And it did. We can speculate, and we do. We guess that he was in jail, that he was involved in some shady activities and such as that. My father has spent the last 18 years of his life atoning for something by being compelled to give all his money to Nigerians, people from Amsterdam, Haitians and so on. He could not keep is money and even lost his house to people who professionally scam elders. Secrets do not bode well.

When we keep secrets we are really trying to protect ourselves from some feeling. Can you think of a time where keeping a secret for a long time, or carrying it your grave was helpful? In my experience, they are a great cause for future suffering of our children and our children’s children. When we own our true selves, the dark sides, and the light sides, we have an opportunity for growth. In doing so, even in feeling guilt, loss, embarrassment, etc., we honor who we are so that we can become more whole, healthy and vital individuals. This is not only for us, but a legacy for our future. 

Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results:

Take a few minutes and look back on your life. Look at yours personally, and the lives of your parents. Have you ever told a lie or kept a secret, for a long time that boded well? Think back on keeping that secret; yours or a family members or a friends….how did it turn out? What were you hiding from in your own secret? Write out what you find. What might your parents have been hiding from? What feelings are involved? How did the secrets affect others? In owning our own actions and thoughts, is where the richness is for our own growth.