This last weekend I took a quick jaunt to Chicago for a gathering of my extended family. We all experienced the loss of 2 members of the family last year, my mothers younger brothers, my uncles. They were very different from one another, and yet each extremely tender, generous, and loving in their own unique way. I was very close to both of them at different phases of my life. I felt honored to have the time that I did with them in years gone by, regardless of differences, eventually seeking our commonality. Given the circumstances of the last year, this was the first time we were all able to come together to celebrate them.
Like most families, mine has it’s own versions of dysfunction and self-destructive players in this game of life, including myself way back when. (Please read dysfunction as wounding, unconsciousness behaviors, active Shadow, inner child suffering etc. ) My family is polarized in religion, politics, and the newest health concerns, again, not too different than others.
Over the decades I’ve gone through many phases & stages of how I relate to my family of origin. Each phase was the path of my own healing. In the early years of my own alcoholism & dysfunction, I was one of the self-destructive players. In sobriety, I began to separate from my family, got in touch with my anger, co-dependency, lack of self-empowerment, and went through a phase of blaming them for my suffering.
After a few years I began taking responsibility for my own choices, behaviors, and pain. This allowed me to begin my own deep-dive healing of the Inner Child and Shadow. During this time I tried to force everyone into a path of healing, which really were the first stages of waking up. This led me to judgment, seeing their faults, and feeling a sense of superiority.
What I began to witness over the last 2 decades, once I was firmly on a spiritual waking path, is that the more I healed my wounds, the more I could be present with the wounds of my family. That presence is not about saving, changing, or needing them to be different than they are. Instead, I learned to remain in my center, have boundaries, and trust that everyone is on the exact journey they need to be on. Sometimes I can be of service and share my experience, strength, and hope, when I’m asked.
The last time we were all together for a family reunion, was the summer of 2017. We all gathered on the Oregon coast. I had a few moments of overwhelm with some of the drinking and just the chaotic energy of so many people in one place. I took a few moments of reprieve in my room alone or with one other family member, as needed. I had compassion for one of my uncles, who is now passed, onto the next phase of his soul’s journey. When he drank, his tender heart was written all over his face & eyes. This experience of him in the past would evoke frustration in my -which was simply my heart creating protection against the deep pain I felt/saw in him. I loved him deeply and I no longer attempted to save him. It was never my job.
This year, many things had changed. My uncle who was an alcoholic had actually spent his last 2 years sober. He had cirrhosis of the liver and was waiting for a liver transplant. It was a feat none of us ever expected to see! Unfortunately, there were continuous extenuating health circumstances which he wasn’t able to overcome. His older brother also left this earth last year from pancreatic cancer.
While we gathered, so many family pictures covered the table, a box held favorite memories, and family and friends shared funny stories. All amidst the party befitting my family, both in celebration and all the emotions that aren’t easy to navigate.
I was so grateful to witness how all of the Shadow work I’ve done, the Inner Child work, and learning how to be present with the full spectrum of my emotional landscape, has served my relationship to my family.
The level of freedom I now have, from carrying pain that isn’t mine, from judgment, from resentment, or from a need for anyone to be different, has enabled the love that I have for them to increase. I felt so proud to hear of their lives; to see where each of them are as parents, as grandparents, as friends to one another. I was able to really see how genuinely loving, generous, sensitive, funny, successful, each of them are, in exactly their own way. I was free of judgment or the need for anyone to be any different than how they were showing up.
I love my family deeply. I know that now, in a way that I’ve not experienced it in the past.
I’ve always known that my family is incredibly loving, regardless of the drama & suffering. However, it’s through my own healing & falling into love with myself, honoring, witnessing, and healing my own suffering, that I am now free to love them in a much bigger way!
I’m so grateful to have such diversity in my family, to cherish all of the flavors expressing, and to come home to this Love that I trust not only frees me, but also frees all of them, whether with us on this plane or crossed over to the other side.
In Healing Love ~