“There’s no vocabulary for love within a family.
Love that’s lived in but not looked at.
Love within the light of which all else is seen.
The love within which all other love finds speech.
This love is silent.”
What I am about to share with you is beyond significant when it comes to getting the change you want.
Many sound personal growth and transformational frameworks focus on aligning your beliefs, thoughts, behaviours, and environments, so you can get the results you want. That is appropriate, and very useful. And it is something I also seek when facilitating change for my clients.
However, sometimes we can experience the finest of these change works, and still find ourselves having inexplicable bouts of anger, depression, guilt, exhaustion, terror and severe heart-break. From losing money, failing professionally, causing turmoil in our relationships, or consistently damaging ourselves (physically and emotionally) in ways that just don’t seem to make sense.
Just what is going on?
I introduce to you Family Constellations work (creation of Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist and family systems therapist) combined with the wisdom of Kaskafayet (an ungoogle-able entity). Appropriate for anybody who has a family :), this body of work makes sense of the myriad of painful things us human beings endure and endear—in order to say I love you to someone else.
As human beings we are a product of the experiences of the many generations that preceded us. As such, their unresolved emotions, beliefs, and behaviours can show up as repeating problems or challenges in our own lives, and the lives of our current family.
It is embedded in our identity. This particular work helps reveal and resolve these shackling experiences that are keeping people stuck in all areas of their life.
This metaphor will help you understand it better …
Imagine watching a Captain and his ship go down. He chooses to go down with his ship because of the 40 year history, love, adventures and stories he has shared with it. To that captain, the ship is his life itself, and without it—there is no life worth living.
His attention is 100% on his ship. Without voicing aloud, he wishes for his hundreds of crew members to take the rafts and to find safety on shore—before the ship is gobbled up by the sea.
But they don’t. The crew stay with him. As the ship is to the captain, the captain is to his crew. So they sink together. They die together. Because that is their expression of love and devotion.
But also very limiting when you consider that almost every single one of us does the same thing, but for our ancestors and family members. If they are poor, starving, struggling, and feeling victimized — we will (other-than-consciously) experience poverty, starvation, struggle and pain in order to demonstrate our love for them. We would rather have the feeling that we belong rather than betray them. There is a saying, that in a family of thieves, the one who doesn’t steal has a guilty conscience.
For a moment, we ought to appreciate how again, the driving force behind the suffering is love, “Because I love you …” The work has a beautiful way of aligning itself with the intended positive outcome presupposition we explored in a previous post (Doing the best you can … always).
So there you are–if you have had a painful thing repeat itself over and over again … it is worth considering, “To whom is this a demonstration of love …?” And if that is so, let’s appreciate that an earlier part of you took on something painful as a way to demonstrate his/her love. Though very loving and beautiful, it is also unworkable. Or as Kaskafayet says …
“Human Suffering = The Terrible Things We Do To Ourselves in An Unworkable Attempt to Say I Love You to Someone Else …”
If you have 8 black balls on a table that represent pain, and 1 white ball decides to turn black in order to make things better, you essentially have 9 counts of pain. Taking on familial Suffering does not lesson it for someone else. It just propogates a pain that has passed its expiry date (Perfect Solution that Has Expired).
For me, I came from a family of immigrants from Malaysia, and before that, from China. All my ancestor’s lives involved incredible amounts of hard work and suffering in order to get anywhere. They built their lives from scratch in multiple countries, as second-rate citizens. As a result, I identified with that, and decided that if I was to belong to my family, I ought to work very hard too.
“Because I love you my fathers … I too will join you in your hardship. I promise … forever.”
That served me greatly in terms of having an admirable work-ethic. It disserved me equally because I simply couldn’t relax. I would often complicate the simplest things in order to stay busy–relationships, professional projects, personal life administration, money etc.
But there are more appropriate ways to demonstrate love of course. Simply, if you love someone, you love someone. It needs no condition. It is a love that does not discriminate. It is a love that does not exclude. It is a love that is all.
So until I bowed to my ancestors and left their suffering with them, I couldn’t just breathe and appreciate doing lots of nothing for once in my life.
To finish, I want to share a metaphorical reflection with you. Its intention is to allow the gifts of our ancestors to rise, and the pain to subside.
(P.S. The next post is called The Art of Personal Change Series; Beyond Guilt & Innocence. It’ll mark a huge inflection point on the trajectory of our exploration.)
Dark lands. Only a cursing howl of the wind can be heard. Turbulent, as the hair on my scalp is twisted in multiple axis.
And despite the strengthening of flesh and the tempering of my emotions—the screams haunt me on a very deep level. They vibrate and pierce. I can feel the fissures develop in my bones. And before too long, those taunts will have the best of me. Yet I can’t let them go. For without their company I would feel alone. At lost and without a home.
As I look on towards the different shades of black, I see scattered across the lands—needles. Splintered embers. They blink at me for moments here and there but not too long. For the howling wind suppresses their expression. The pain of my ancestors scream through the force of the wind. And I have kept that track running for it has become somewhat music to my ears.
But today it changes. As I calm myself to listen to their screams, they yearn for me to set them free and leave my lands. They want to return to the past from which they belong. So respectfully, I bow. I bow to the howls and apologize for having imprisoned them within my reality. And with breaths from the heart, I exhale them towards the starry night.
With every breath that I set free, the wind calms. They are no longer prisoners to my vessel. Nor am I shackled by their burdens. So the embers glow brighter. Something hot is surging. Burning uncontrollably and taking governance over this land.
As I observe the flames burning they are also within me. They are in my cells. These are the gifts of my ancestors and through me they want to be expressed—shining bright and bold. That is their legacy. Not their material constructs. But the constructive talents I have inherited at the cellular.