Love Triangle

Anonymous (Name is hidden due to confidentiality)

Constellations can be brutally clarifying. There is something to learn from my story.

A few months ago, I found myself in a situation which I don’t wish on anyone. I’ve been married for 20+ years and my marriage is not a very happy one.

My husband is a good, reliable person and we went through heaven and hell together raising two kids. But we never had an emotional connection and I was missing it a lot until I met another man. Oh my God! How wonderful it was to finally have a soulmate! Or at least so it seemed to me. Although we did have discussions about our future together, in reality we continued to have mostly virtual relationship with some in-person meetings for years. Don’t judge me. My own burden of guilt hurts me much more than anything I can hear from others.

Long story short, it became a matter of my sanity to make a decision: should I divorce my husband or should I stop my affair. And I was much closer to first option. Believe me, I spent a good deal of time talking to psychotherapist about this decision, but I was too deep in my delusions to dig out the truth verbally. I decided to try a different approach and do a family constellation.
If you believe in energy and information field, then this is the best way to explain why and how it works.

From a group of people who didn’t know anything about my story I chose representatives for roles of me, my husband and the lover and just watched the story unfold. The first representative in the center of a circle was for myself. I watched her starting to bend over, almost falling to her knees as she started feeling the exact burden of guilt I was talking about. Oh yes, that’s how I felt for years. The second person in the circle represented my husband. He tried to come closer and be with me but I (my representative) acted as if he was repulsive to her. Sad to admit, but it also felt true to me. The third person represented my lover. Everything was very simple and clear with him. He (his representative) never attempted to approach me, be with me or communicate in any other way. He just stood there. When Galina Thomas (the facilitator) who was leading the process asked the guy what does he feel about me, he said: “I am aware of her”. That’s how much of the energy he was really ready to invest in our relationship.

Even more. When Galina asked my representative what did she feel about him, she answered:” I don’t feel him as a real person. More like an idea or ideal.” That was my delusion. I fell in love with the image of a guy, not a real person.

My story is not unique. Many people fall in love with an image of a person rather than a real human. And still, everyone including me has to discover it in their own way. Our minds can be so convincing in keeping us delusional.

Constellation lasts about 45 minutes. The rest was about my relationship with my mom, and her relationship with her mom. Apparently it all played a role in how successful I was in my own family. But I already got the answer I came for. I felt like the truth was unveiled in front of me and I immediately connected with it.

It’s not a happy ending in my family yet. Stopping the affair doesn’t automatically means emotional connection with my husband. The good thing is that I feel free. I didn’t realize fully what a burden I was carrying.

Try family constellations for yourself. It’s OK if you don’t have two men to choose from. I saw people bringing different questions to the group: any relationship problems, addictions, chronic diseases, career failures, change the job or stay and many more. Something which feels like you are stuck there.

How I Came to Love my Mom

Anonymous (Name is hidden due to confidentiality)

mother-daughter-love-sunset-51953As long as I remember, I had difficult relationship with my Mom. She wasn’t a bad mom, she tried her best to be a good mom and that’s why I could never really understand why I had problems with her.

In my twenties I realized that I hated my mother. There was a lot of anguish and shame in this realization. How could I feel this way? One is supposed to love their parents! But here I was, experiencing something so strong, powerful… and negative.

I tried to explain my hate, or lack of love, as that she just didn’t understand me. She would guilt trip me into doing something she wanted me to do but I didn’t. She was somewhat psychologically abusive, but nothing so bad that it would justify my hate. It all was very confusing and puzzling to me.

I spent years trying to reconcile with my mom. I tried working with forgiveness, understanding and digging into my past. I was able to stop blaming her for everything when I began to understand that she was damaged by her own life circumstances and did the best she could.

However, none of this understanding changed my FELLINGS for her. My heart was cold and I couldn’t even imagine hugging her in my imagination, let alone in person. I felt nothing when my mom died many years ago.

On some level, I accepted that there was something wrong WITH ME and I was probably damaged beyond repair.

Then, my relationship with my husband started to deteriorate. He was complaining that he didn’t feel love from me. He saw it as a “big hole” in my heart, like a bottomless abyss. That’s when it hit me that “I didn’t know how to love.”

I started to look around in search of answers or a cure. This is when I heard about family constellations from my friends. I read about it, watched some YouTube videos and then I just knew that I had to try it.

As it often happens in my life, very soon after I heard about family constellations, I discovered a workshop not far away from me. At that time, I was depressed (which back then happened quite consistently with me, every year or so). I was crying for no apparent reason all the way to the workshop – about an hour long drive.

We were sitting in a circle and sharing what we would like to achieve in the workshop. Trying hard to suppress my tears, I mumbled – “I don’t know how to love.” Surprisingly, I was the first one chosen to do my own constellation.

The very first thing out of the facilitator’s mouth was, “You are disconnected from your mother.” Next, he proceeded to ask me whether I was separated from my mom during my childhood. And yes, I had been. At the age of three I spent one or two weeks in the hospital – back then parents were not allowed to visit. Never before I gave any significance to this fact.

He then invited somebody to represent my mom. Standing there and looking at me, she said “I can’t take my eyes off you.” What happened next blew my mind.

The facilitator took me by the hand and led me into my “mom’s” arms. She hold me and I just started sobbing – me, who never cried in front of anybody, was bawling in front of that whole group of strangers!

And here I was, in the arms of my “mom.” It felt so right and good. A 40+ year old wall of pain and defenses began to crumble down. In effect, I was reunited with my mom!

My depression lingered for a while because it took another month after the constellation to process the feelings. As a matter of fact, I cried all the way back from workshop too. But little by little, the darkness that had been filling my heart started to thaw and one day I finally realized – I love my mom!

Now, the picture in my mind is very different from before. I see my mom as young, very beautiful and she’s looking at me with a radiant smile on her face. And she holds me in her arms and I enjoy every moment of that.

And… On another note… As a result of that constellation and the healing of my ability to love, my relationship with my husband completely transformed too.

Once the broken heart mends, love can fill it up once again.

Bruce Springsteen’s memoir and Family Constellations

ConstellationThere was an article in local newspaper yesterday about Bruce Springsteen’s new memoir, “Born to Run.” The article discussed Springsteen’s life-long struggle with depression and the stigma associated with mental illness.

What struck me was his statement that “he was afraid he might reprise his father’s depression.” This is exactly the kind of trans-generational trauma we deal with in Family Constellations all the time.

We’ve seen in this systemic work that it’s not uncommon for children (out of a misguided love and loyalty to parents) to make an unconscious decision such as: “I will not be happier than you, I will suffer just as you have suffered.” In other cases, some children might inherit and carry somebody else’s feelings if those feelings were never openly expressed or acknowledged in the family. I don’t know the details of Bruce’s family history, but exploring it could help bring to light the reasons for his current condition.

It saddens me that Springsteen never tried to address his depression issues through Constellations (it appears that he took anti-depressants to manage it). Maybe if he did, he wouldn’t have had to suffer so much during his life. It also saddens me that so few people know about this work and don’t use it’s healing power. I think the world could be a better place if more people resolved their family traumas and tragedies to clear their own path.

Click here to read more about Systemic Family Constellations.

What to do after your constellation (after-care)

Often we seem to have accurate insights into the causes of the problems that exist in our lives and with our families, while still remaining completely stuck. In a constellation we receive new insights and healing images in a non-verbal way. We absorb them directly through the senses. We see new images of our family. We even feel how these new dynamics feel in our bodies. This goes much deeper than ideas put into words. These experiences can affect our relationship with our family in a way that seems effortless. It has a profound impact that can give our lives new direction. Thoughts are quick. This kind of nourishing process moves slowly but surely through ourselves and our family system.

Don’t worry if your constellation has not reached a full resolution. Constellations are helpful more because of the movement they create rather than because of reaching good resolutions. This can create momentum for healing in real life.

Sometimes verbal processing can keep us stuck at the level of the problem, stopping us from embracing the solution. We can use analysis to distance ourselves from our
direct sensory experience. Imagine enjoying a beautiful sunset. Then imagine analyzing the scientific phenomena that produce such an optical event. While that may be quite useful to do in some ways, it removes us from the direct experience of the sunset. The thinking distracts us from our experience of the colors and shapes. Any experience that is not included in the intellectual discussion disappears from consciousness. For example, in this case, we may forget all about our emotional response to the sunset.

Similarly it is better not to try to analyze our own constellation. Rather it is better to replay it in our mind and especially to remember the healing movements and images, and the feelings that go with them. We can satisfy our intellectual mind by thinking about other peoples’ constellations. With our own, it is better to encourage the experience to go as deep as possible. Immediately after your own constellation, spend some quiet time by yourself to allow this process to begin while the experience is still fresh.

A skilled practitioner may make suggestions that amplify or focus our healing image. This might include focusing on one particular element of the constellation such as feeling our parents physically supporting us from behind. It may also include acts to help us reincorporate a forgotten family member,such as displaying their photo in our home, visiting their grave or doing some other ritual of acknowledgement.

Other than these acts of awareness, we don’t need to do anything specific with the constellation for it to have its effect. This work helps us to become more deeply connected with all the members of our family system, living and dead. The healing effects of the work unfold in their own time when we let go of the need to do something.

As a result of our constellation we come closer to holding all those who belong to our family in conscious love. We respect their fates and their burdens as their own. We can then give up the childlike loyalties where love and belonging meant living out the consequences of another’s life which have only served to entangle us. Unnecessary suffering is therefore replaced with acknowledging what actually is.

When we go home from the workshop we should be careful about telling others our experience. It is extremely difficult to explain constellations to those who have not experienced them. It is normal for many people to be skeptical about something that is so far outside of their normal experience and that is so challenging to our normal way of perceiving the world. Even if they are sympathetic, many people will try to engage you in an analytical conversation which can disconnect you from the healing image of the constellation. So it is better to wait for at least 40 days+ before trying to talk.

Finally whatever occurs in a constellation, usually should not be used as a recipe for your behaviour around the people represented in the constellation. Rather than that, we simply let it work within us and we may find ourselves spontaneously acting in different ways, than has been our usual past patterns. We may find ourselves getting in contact with previously distanced family members. We may find ourselves being more assertive or more conciliatory than before. Whatever the change in behaviour, it is likely that we will feel a greater sense of relaxation and connection. We may even feel more alive.

(Re-printed with permission from Chris Walsh’s website Mindfulness Based Systemic Constellations)