“That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and to the inevitability of something.”
- Meredith Monk
“Who am I?” is the question we ask ourselves beginning when we are little beings. From the time we are born, and even before, we are being taught values, beliefs, and what it takes and who it takes to be part of the family we are born into. This indoctrination, including the genetic component which is handed down over generations, infects us and entwines in our being. We then live our lives so enmeshed and entwined in what we are taught and what is handed down that it is difficult to extricate ourselves, with compassion, and find out who our true selves are. Who is our authentic self?
I am presently teaching a class which helps us to do exactly that: lovingly extract our true selves from our enmeshments so that we can appreciate who we are; separate from and yet connected to and with our families. This can be quite difficult to do. In fact, as we were doing some exercises to see what is possible, when I realized many of the members of the class couldn’t go there; to what is possible. They were still too caught up in “what they knew” that they couldn’t allow themselves to go to what “they didn’t know very well.” The fear beneath this is having to let go of something go without knowing what is ahead.
For example, I worked with a woman client who was having great difficulty in letting go of her husband who had died six years ago. She was held in place through guilt. She felt she had a bad marriage with an emotionally abusive man. He had told her, when her mother was dying and she wanted to be there with her mom as she transitioned, that she couldn’t go. And she didn’t go. She is a good girl, doing what she is supposed to do. She learned this from her parents.
When we took a look at her father’s side of the family, her father’s mother had died when he was five or six years old, and then he also lost an older brother who was only eighteen or nineteen when he died in War. She was able to see that her father had lost so much and the trauma was so great that he was probably afraid to do anything against the rules or he would lose someone else or something else important to him. Also, there was a feeling of guilt; that as a small boy if only he was able to do something, or not do something, his mother wouldn’t have died. This guilt and needing to be good were the ways he was able to continue living. As a result of the feelings of guilt and loss, he couldn’t really look at or grieve his mother or his brother.
When we look at my client’s mother’s side of the family, her mother had found out late in life that who she thought was her father really wasn’t. My client’s grandmother had become pregnant by her first love, but then married the man who everyone thought was her daughter’s father. What was revealed was a great yearning in her mother and fear for her biological father. And her biological father was forgotten and not seen. My client had learned very young that she had to be a good girl and believe what other’s told her or something bad would happen.
When we brought together these understandings, my client saw her part in her relationship with her husband, how it was so important that she do what others told her, and that it was easier to blame her husband than to ake responsibility for herself and her life. This was an eye opener for her, and she saw how the “good girl” and “the victim” isn’t who she is. It was who she thought she was. Now a whole new world is open for her to live.
Extricating ourselves from all the beliefs and values we are taught in order to be true to ourselves is extremely important, and also very difficult. Yet, when we can do this, the ties that bind also become the ties that set us free.
Shift your story: Guided Visualization/Meditation
Take a seat where you are comfortable and place your feet gently on the floor where you can ground yourself. Take two or three deep and full breaths. These breaths and the rhythm are uniquely yours and only yours. Let an image come to you of yourself. See yourself and let that image go. Do this two or three times. Then let an image come to you of you and really look at yourself. Pay attention to what you notice, what you don’t, what you are drawn to and what you are drawn away from. See how you feel in your body when you see yourself. Does anything tighten or tense, or conversely, relax? When you look at yourself, who else do you see, if anyone? Then, take your time to become aware of your breath again, your feet on the floor, and slowly open your eyes.
Take only 5 or 10 minutes for this exercise, and repeat it two or three times in a week. Take a couple of minutes to write down your experience of this and of seeing yourself through your own mind’s eye.
To learn more about this experiential process as described above, the Family Constellation work and Body Presencing™, and about classes I teach, go to my web site, www.bodypresencing.com. Scroll down the home page and click one the trees to learn more.