Families can be our biggest source of joy and our biggest source of pain and our biggest source of learning. We are brought up to believe that families take care of each other. This can mean many things. It can mean take we care about each other when we are sick or we need assistance. It can mean we raise our families as a village. It can mean we take physical care of each other as we age. It can mean we support each other financially. The meanings go on. But how often do we really care for each other in terms of caring for what is best for each other and caring for our souls? I know so many individuals who feel that their biological family is not their family in terms of caring for who they are as people. They may be blood relatives and love each other in some ways, but do they really feel seen and cared for? This begs the question; who are family to us?
I work with many patients who don't feel seen, understood or appreciated by members of their family. I was even speaking with a patient just the other day who was expressing how she was hoping to re-connect with her sister during a recent trip as they used to have so much fun together as children. She was so disappointed that she really didn't enjoy being with her. In fact, she even began to feel that how her sister acted was personal towards her. After their trip, she really has no desire to spend much time with her. She is working towards being able to love her but to love her from a distance rather than from being close compadres. Are they family? Yes, and maybe not a chosen family of the soul, but a family member by being born to the same parents and growing up together. There is a lot of power and pull towards our birth families as they really help to shape us as individuals. They also have the rich fodder to help us to learn about ourselves and to help us to grow and become conscious in our lives.
I was speaking with a friend of mine over coffee and I was sharing with her how one of my sisters was thinking about coming into town and hadn't contacted me but had my other sister, and I understood. We have had a difficult history together. She then said something to me, which was a very foreign thought to me. She said it would be a great time to go on a sister vacation together. I told her that is something that I would never have thought of myself. In my blood sisterhood, I don't think any of us would have thought that; to go on a sister vacation together. In my friend's world, that is what sisters do. They enjoy each other and would enjoy going on a vacation together. She has the luxury of loving her birth sister as a soul sister. I say luxury because I know I am not alone in having a different experience.
Birth families hold a lot of power over us for the good and for the painful and challenging. Who are family? On the one hand, they are those to whom we are related by blood and by life. They hold the key to understanding us and how we function and how we think and their belief systems live in us in a powerful way. Does this mean that we choose to be close to them and live with them? Not necessarily. Sometimes it is much better for us to find a way to love them, as they have shaped us, but with a distance. This is especially true with our parents, as we would not be here without them. If we can find gratitude for them and the gifts we have because of them but may decide to make the choice to love them more from afar, we become happier and freer as individuals and can then choose who our soul family is; those who we feel seen by and heard by and appreciated by.
Shift Your Story/Shift Your Life
Do you have a family member or more who you have trouble with and really don't enjoy being with? Or a family member who you feel scapegoated by or have been abused by in some way? Do you feel left out by and unappreciated by a family member? Many times this family member is a parent, but siblings are also very much involved in and with our developing selves. In fact, even those who feel have a difficult relationship within their community can be affected in a challenging way.
If so, take a few minutes, and in your mind's eye, go through an event, a discussion, a situation where you are drawn to or which comes to you regarding a shaping experience in your life. See it from beginning to end. Feel the feelings that were involved. Now, after you have gone through the discussion, event or situation to its end, go back and see the same thing happening, but through eyes of someone watching from a distance. As you go through it from a distance, see how it could be different. What might you say or how might you respond differently? Instead of experiencing it as traumatic, with this distance, see what is possible for you to do and feel instead of how you did at the time. Only you can do this. It doesn't change what happened and how the other person or persons were, but it can change you. Instead of feeling helpless or angry or lost or unloved, maybe you could imagine that the other person or people don't see you but are really blindly talking about their selves. Maybe you are able to express what they can't. Maybe you can see them as lost souls. Maybe you can see their own helplessness and their anger and rage and longing but directed towards you. As you in your mind's eye live through this in a new way, imagine you being able to know that this isn't about you at all and that you are safe. See you accepting them at a distance and beginning to feel self-empowered in a new way. Breathe this new way in. It is yours.
If you find you are not able to do this, then let it go, and maybe come back to it at a time in the future.
Now, see you choosing to be with someone or ones who appreciate you and get you. Feel their eyes upon you, maybe even their arms around you or hand linked with yours. As you do so, imagine walking into the distance with those you consciously choose to be with and follow that stroll. That movement is what is possible for you.