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Catherine and I are hosting a new Meetup group tomorrow and will be introducing constellation work to a new community of people. We have over 25 members, so we are making new contacts. One contact is from a woman seemingly associated with The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. She contacted Catherine last week and wants to come to our Meeting group and learn more.
Now, a few weeks ago, we co-facilitated a constellation workshop in Reno, NV and experienced some amazing movement within all the participants. There was quite a lot of inter generational exploration, which is what this work is about. I have rarely felt this kind of awareness from clients as I did during that weekend.
I want to share my own personal experience of this work.
I have been wanting to call in a constellation for myself to do more work around my ancestors and specifically my current trauma around familial abandonment. I have done constellation work in the past about my relationship with my father and that opened some doors. This time I wanted to look deeper.
Recently, my father turned his back on his family. He sent me a letter after his 82nd birthday in September of last year. In this letter he said, “You asked me how I am feeling. The truth is I am feeling depressed because I am still here, and your mother is gone forever.” My mother passed away 5 years ago this coming July and I was present for her memorial service. It was a gentle time with my father and I spent a week with him. He continued in the letter, “If you want to know what happened to us, I will tell you. As I see it, your mother was holding our family together very well, but when she passed away our family ceased to exist. I don’t have a family anymore, it’s just me now.”
Flash back. I stopped over for a visit with my parents about twenty years ago and found my mother combing over genealogy reports about her and my father’s family. Her information was pages and pages long about her ancestors back many generations. My father’s information was considerably briefer. I recall it being less that a page long. When I asked him about his family he replied, “I have no interest in my ancestors from Germany, they were just poor dirt farmers.”
I knew the back story of his own life. His parents immigrated from Germany before WWII. He was not happy in his home town in Maryland and left his family at 17 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. His father was a domineering man and my father let communication with his parents lapse for decades after. He was stationed at March AFB in California which is where he met my mother. He was just twenty-one when they married. My mother was twenty-eight. My mother kept close ties with her family, but my father rarely spoke of his family when I was growing up.
In 2010, my wife told me she did not want to be married anymore. My youngest daughter wanted to live with me, but her mother was not keen on the idea. I moved away without her, not wanting to live in Montana and wanting to distance myself from my ex-wife. Clearly, I was repeating a pattern of abandonment due to trauma I inherited from my ancestors. This time it was me who was abandoning my family.
Both of my children are now adults in their twenties. My youngest is now married and my oldest is traveling the world. I have been reflecting on my family, the one behind me and the one in front (the big ones and the little ones as represented in constellation work).
My constellation was about abandonment both from my father and mine to my own children. They rarely contact me, and I was concerned that the ancestral trauma, that does not belong to me or to them, was passed along epigenetically. I decided to clear that trauma doing my own work so that neither of my children would experience the level of abandonment that I have experienced and the abandoning I have done.
I called forward my men’s group in Washington State and ten of us showed up, including a dear friend and Rabbi outside our group. Never have I witnessed a constellation with so many men willing to do such deep and profound healing work. The only woman present was Catherine, my facilitator.
My representatives were incredible and the healing I felt, palpable. I witnessed myself interacting with my father and his father and noticed the representation of place within the circle of my father and his father. In came abandonment and the representative of myself was more comfortable straddling in and out of the patriarchal community. Addiction showed up as well along with expectation (something I continually attempt to let go of) because of the closely related disappointment who showed up as well.
Addiction was interesting. How many times have I turned to addictive situations to ease my issue of abandonment. I have been in relationships in my past and when I feel that sense of abandonment, especially with my ex-wife, I turn outside of the relationship to find comfort and acceptance with others in the form of extra-marital affairs (even if only emotional and not physical). I now notice that my addiction to this escape was a set up for my own expectations, fraught with disappointments, repeatedly.
When I found someone new, who was willing to accept me in the moment for what I offered, I would set out to hold on to that feeling forever and shape it into what I wanted it to be only to experience that emotional high come crashing down. And then the withdrawal always set in and I chased the high again only to set up the disappointment from the expectation I invited in. The cycle continued until I finally let go of my own self-anger in June of 2016 so that I could invite self-love in its place.
I left a relationship of 6 years after being asked to leave in 2014 but so wanting that high of some form of acceptance that I was willing to do anything to hold on, so I tried. When I invited in self-love, on that fateful day in June, I was able to set myself free from the bonds of my expectations, disappointments and addictions so that I could open a new door of self-exploration.
I met Catherine once I had FAITH (Forward Action In The Heart, Forward Action In The Head, Forward Action In The Heels) and discovered an acceptance that came without expectation that could lead to disappointment. And now, after my constellation almost two weeks ago, I am clear that my trauma I inherited was from my ancestors on my father’s side and even as I do not know what the physical trauma was, I know I have healed by letting go of expectation, disappointment, and addiction.
Back to how I opened this blog.
So, as I close this chapter of my book and advance to the next, I see how addiction plagues so many people. Catherine and I talked about working with Native Americans when we were in Reno and now this Native American woman is showing up for our Meetup on May 1st. I have a clearer view through writing this blog around what I can now call EDA (expectation, disappointment, and addiction). I am excited to feel these words in my cells and not need to talk about them anymore. My somatic experience is so much more powerful than using words.
This systemic family constellation work is so healing.