Day 323/366 days Towards Self-Mastery.
"Real life often frays the ties that bind families." Well that would be an understatement from Sarah as inspiration for today!
Family. Love 'em or hate 'em there's no getting away from them. Oh you can travel far and wide and live as far away as you can find a destination on the world map, and there they are. Each time you look in the mirror, they're there. Each time you have a wobbly moment, they're there. Each time you feel alone and in need of support, they're there, in you. Reminding you of how you got to where you are right now. One way or another you can't escape that family in which you were born.
I know this. I've tried this. A very long time was half of my adult life, 26 years that I lived far, far away. And there they were.
I'm not going to tell you all the usual platitudes about family. Some families are extremely difficult and you may never want to connect with them again. I get it. You have to look after yourself and if that's what it takes, then you must do that.
Here I'll share my own experiences. That's all I've got and I hope it's helpful.
At the ripe age of 18 years, I left home and never looked back. Each step was further away. I needed to figure out who I was and find a life of my own. It was extremely difficult most of the time.
When I had my own family, difficult moved to a whole new level. I discovered I had absolutely no support. Now I don't expect that if I had lived close to family that I would have had any more support than I had abroad. But there you have it. Alone and a long way away from my roots.
That coupled with my commitment to continually evolving the boundaries of my capacities lead me to returning home. I needed to come back to where it began. Understanding the whole fiasco was important to me. Figuring out how life works so that I could milk it for all it was worth was always my driving ambition. And that meant I needed to figure out what happened in our family.
Would you like to know how long it took me to figure it out? It took me until last week. That's precisely 3 years plus 6 decades. Last week was the first time I could be in their company, stay connected to who I am, and observe what was happening around me, without being drawn into the field of trauma that underpinned the family dynamics.
And then it felt like I breathed out fully for the first time since I was 6 years old. The realisation that it wasn't me, that there wasn't something wrong with me, that I didn't get it all wrong was an existential relief. A resounding sigh.
And for the very first time since that 6 year old couldn't understand what it was all about, I felt love in my heart for my family. Deep compassion arose in me for those caught in the trauma cycles. Immense grief that I could do nothing about it, that I couldn't rescue them as I had rescued myself.
And the incredible paradox, the unfathomable truth is that as I stayed there in my most authentic self, they too became present, aware, and shifts and changes began to occur.
In all the lonely years that I was away, not only did I turn my back on my family, I also turned it on my ancestors. And yet who am I without any of them? I am they, and they are me. We are inseparable.
Step by step I take simple actions to be kind, relational and accommodating of their ways. It helps that I have as Masters in Psychotherapy to support me to hold the ground steady.
There's no pushing for a resolution, but acceptance of what is, and the commitment to show up authentically in each and every encounter. Always checking in with myself and staying true to my heart.
Boundaries. Having clear expectations of myself and how I want to be in relationships is important as it guides my actions and reactions as I again dig deep into my authenticity, what I know of my true self at this time.
There's little doubt that we all want and need to belong. A shared history is one of our best bets when it comes to belonging in a tribe of people. If we can bridge the divide that life creates in our family we will experience enormous satisfaction and a coming home to ourselves.
And that is one of the key interests that underpins my work. Supporting my clients to come home to themselves.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.