I had a strange request from a friend who is a psychologist. He asked me to take part in a family constellation session he was conducting for some clients.
“I will pay your airfare and costs,” he said.
“Why me?” I asked. “I am sure you can find others in your town.”
“I thought long and hard about whom to choose as participants,” he replied. “And I would like you to be in the group. Mainly it is because you project your energy, who you are, so fearlessly. Also, you are familiar with therapy, with the rules of the game, so to speak.”
But as I am writing a book for children with special needs (one of the many things that has been in my Inbox for many years) and I need this man’s help, I readily agreed and jumped on the plane. One favour in exchange for another, I thought, but little did I know, I forgot all about my book-to-be and immersed myself in family constellation instead.
If you are new to family constellation, it is basically loving, supportive and insightful therapy sessions where the “Client” starts with outlining the issues blocking his/her growth or happiness. He/she does this in a factual way. No storytelling. We are all so wrapped up in telling people our life stories, because when we are being heard, we feel better – never mind if the story we tell is “truth” or not. Family constellation seeks to peel away these hot air layers to get to the real grit.
So none of the “My parents treated me badly” or “I didn’t have much love when I was growing up”. Rather, a Client’s statement would be something like “I keep on destroying my husband’s love”, “I pull back each time I am close to success” or “I am unable to love my child.”
Family constellation shows us that even people we do not have frequent contact with affect our current framework. Even a father’s relative’s suicide or an ancestor’s murderer. People we have never met, who affected the people in our lives (however tenuous the link) all have a role to play in who we are, how we think, what we feel and why we act in a certain way. Because we are all connected.
A family constellation session is about a Client having brave and honest conversations with ‘Representatives’ of those who affect his/her life. I was a Representative in these intense sessions – Clients were told nothing about the Representatives’ backgrounds at all, and Clients’ choice of Representatives to play the key roles are dictated solely by intuition and some deep inane knowing. In the session, I was chosen to play somebody’s mother (no surprise there), someone’s father’s prosecutor and an unborn child.
I was shocked by the energy and words that flowed from me in my second and third roles, as I have never ever imagined myself in anything close to these roles (even with my writer’s fertile imagination, I never ventured into that territory). It really proves that when we peel away the layers, there is a common level that we all understand and speak to each other on.
I am unable to share the details of the session (it is forbidden), but this is what I have learned:
- We have to be brave to identify the real issues and STOP telling the stories;
- We have to take time out and think about the people who affect us;
- And have a brave and honest conversation with them, however painful;
- Say sorry (mean it), make peace, be brave – there is no victim or perpetrator, and thus we all have to meet at a common ground.
I felt deeply moved by the good work I see happening In front of my eyes, people who leave with better clarity and the healing process that had begun as soon as the conversations began.
My friend encourages me to do work in this field, as I am very passionate about the family. I have been “in the business” for 30 years as a mother, making mistakes and learning about the way human beings work; I am a lifelong yogi and I am familiar with therapy. A lot of my beliefs come together here.
“Put that all into good use,” my friend said. ‘It won’t make you rich, but you will get much happiness from those whom you have set on the path of healing.”
As he tells me and as I have seen in my own life, the good we do for others really does come back to us and our family members.
I will be learning from him in the coming months from a professional perspective, so if you are interested, stay tuned and learn with me. It’s all about having the deepest conversations in your life that need to happen in order for the healing – and new life – to begin ❤
Photo: courtesy Arden Wong