Relationships

If you’ve ever done any systemic family therapy or family constellations work, you will quickly have realised one thing: there is nothing that has more impact on your physical and mental well-being, nothing that influences your worldview and general way of life more than the relationships you have to the members of your family. 

Of course it’s immediately obvious how an alcoholic father, an emotionally absent mother or a cruel sibling impacts you. It is less obvious – and little acknowledged outside of systemic therapy – how your grandparents, and their siblings, even if you never knew them yourself, or a baby that never was and that you never even knew of, can throw a spanner in the works of your life. 

But they are connected to you, via other family members, through the web of life, if you will call it that, and the quality of that connection  is of the utmost importance to you. 

As I muddledly mentionedin an earlier post, it seems that everyone and everything has a fixed place, is a little pixel in a picture, a voice in an orchestra. Only, the coherence seems to be more that of a knit throw than a woven tapestry, in which a hole, a dropped stitch is not easily mended. 

And still, doing that is the way of healing. 

As one therapist put it: when you see how many of your problems are ultimately caused by the quality (or rather, non-quality) of the relationships you have, it is obvious that the way to healing is through relationship as well. Learning to develop and maintain a healthy relationship is the key to healing. 

This can be a hard lesson to learn. 

In a time where marriages are dissolved more often than not, where families live spread out over a country or a continent, where people go workshop- or therapist-hopping in search of easy or ideally instant gratification and happiness, maintaining a relationship through rough patches is not often seen as positive. (Please note that I’m not talking about abusive or otherwise harmful relationships here!) 

I don’t know whether you’ve ever been in therapy; if so you may remember a time when you felt worse after a session than before, when you simply wanted to throw in the towel and not do that anymore, when staying with the process felt so much harder than you problem you were trying to fix in the first place. For a lot of people, this is the moment they quit. In some cases this is the right decision, either because the therapist is not a good fit or the methods are not, but usually what you feel is simply you coming into contact with that which needs healing. That which was broken. That where you were broken, or hurt. And it is sticking with it through those, exactly those, times that mends the fabric, both with your partner or your birth family or your therapist as your family member by proxy.

And so, see the chance in the situation we are in today. 

I, personally, don’t usually have a rich and varied social life as it is, so I don’t mind not being able to go out and mingle. Being stuck at home with my loved ones (husband and two elementary school aged kids) 24/7 for however much longer, is on another page altogether. I can’t flee. They can’t be encouraged to go and do something somewhere else. I can’t not engage. 

This is the chance to live through what comes hardest to me.

As we can’t flee each other, we can learn again to talk, to be with each other. We can use this time to touch base within ourselves and try to feel what we feel…  and so hopefully take another step into the direction of healing.

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