The Journey (Part 3 - Family Time)
My decision to give up my apartment and take a sabbatical left me homeless as of April 1, 2014. My personal belongings were safely stored with two wonderful friends. In the end, help came from the most unlikely place and I will never forget the help and support I received from those people. It is not that I ever doubted the integrity and loyalty of these two people, but their generosity still surprised me.
It was a stressful time for me and I could not have done it without the support of craniosacral therapy. During those last two months I received 3 craniosacral therapy treatments from Nadine Saxton who has become my mentor and dear friend since I had my first treatment from her in 2011. These treatments were healing on so many levels as they provided insight into the huge step I was about to take and the drama with friends and family that followed the announcement of this decision. In those sessions, Nadine guided me to become present to the body and to listen to the tissue and my own inner wisdom. Each time the tissue confirmed that I was on path and following my inner guidance. My inner wisdom, which would be overshadowed by doubt and worry, would bring me back to a place of trust in a bigger picture taking place and faith in my own ability to see and feel what is right for me no matter what everybody else had to say about it. I would leave the session feeling realigned and balanced and in flow with Nature's gentle energy once again. You can find Nadine Saxton at http://canadiansomaticcenter.com if you are interested to have a craniosacral treatment and experience her gifted hands.
On April 8th, 2014 I arrived in Amsterdam and was welcomed by two excited and emotional parents. It was good to see them again.
I had feelings of trepidation about being with my birth family again for an extended period of time, after 4 years since my last visit and 25 years of having lived abroad. My relationship with my family had become strained over the years because of certain decisions and choices I had made, which they had trouble understanding and accepting. As a result, I would feel judged and unaccepted and would constantly feel that I needed to defend myself, my choices and my way of life. So I would withdraw and disengage from them. I feared that when I would be with them for this long a period, they would collectively try to change me.
Over the years, different conflicts had created strained dynamics in various forms with each one of them. During my Vipassana retreat, I started to begin to understand these dynamics and realize that they were not from the past 10 years, but originated from childhood. Somewhere during those formative years, I must have felt wounded and created mechanisms (ways of being) to protect myself. These mechanisms are complicated and are borne out of erroneous perceptions, or differently said, out of illusions perceived as being real. We think that something is happening out there "to us" and therefore we have to react "to them" in order to protect what is "in here" (in us) where the pain happens.
Over the past 10 years, I have read many spiritual and self-help books, I have consulted with teachers and guides and met my Guru (see "the Journey - part 1"). This work has given me a basic intellectual understanding of the human mind and the human tendency to feel separate. As this understanding became physical and tangible through my life's experiences, I began to see how my protective mechanisms were playing themselves out in my life. I began to see how my way of thinking had slowly changed me and the way I related to myself and the world around me. I intellectually understood my relationships with my family, but there was still so much unresolved wounding there. When I lived in Canada and they were in Holland, it was easy to avoid dealing with it. I created a wall and felt safe.
Because my patterns (as coping mechanisms) with my family had not been experienced in their fullness from this place of understanding, they remained in tact and unresolved. Perhaps it was time to face my wounds and shadows and become free once and for all.
Of course, immersing myself with them so fully and completely was scary. I am sure they all felt some trepidation as well. I did not know how it was all going to unfold and how I was going to feel. All I knew was that I wanted to heal my relationships with them. I wanted to heal my own unconscious patterns and the push/pull that is created through the unconscious illusion of securing love from the outside. I knew that by healing myself, I would heal my relationship with them.
My intention was to bring love, forgiveness and compassion to my relationships with my parents, my sister and my brother and to begin the process of healing myself. I felt confident in the support of my Vipassana meditation practice, which I had just learned. I thought I would use these meditations to reconnect with my heart and bring myself back from judgment and irritation (which are products of the mind) to love, forgiveness and compassion (which live in the heart).
What happened in reality was quite a different story. I have learned that nothing is that simple. That we cannot simply put our minds to it, meditate a lot and change instantly. It is a journey. A slowly letting go of old limiting beliefs. We have built our lives around these beliefs as a way of protecting ourselves and to secure love in order to survive. It is therefore easy to see that this change I wanted to happen is far from simple. To let go of the beliefs of who we think we are feels very scary and means (to our ego) that we may possibly die.
For me, my beliefs were that being with my family was not safe. I also felt that I was constantly judged, because I did not measure up and wasn't enough. This played itself out in a certain behaviour pattern, which needed to change. If I had learned to hide and deny parts of myself in order to be safe from anger and assault in the past, I would need to learn in the present to show people who I am and what I need. I must learn to stay true to myself and set proper boundaries. I must experience my own truth, my own voice, my own power. It is within and not outside.
If I had learned to alienate and dissociate from myself, from people and from life, I would need to learn to stay grounded and present in situations and with people who I deemed "unsafe" or dangerous. I must learn to speak up in the moment to fend off words or actions that are meant to intimidate, silence or subdue me or alternatively remove myself from the situation. I must experience that I matter and am worthy of love... self love!
This you learn through direct experience and not by avoidance. This you learn by seeing your patterns in the moment and realising that they don't work for you anymore. It is realising that the pain caused by these childhood wounds is perpetuated by your own behaviours and patterns of hiding, alienating and dissociating right now! It is the unconscious reaction, which causes the emotion, which causes the pain right now! And underneath all that are our own unconscious thoughts and beliefs that are colouring how we see the world right now!
It is the pain that brings the awareness to the physical form and it is the awareness that brings the insight and wisdom. This wisdom gives us the power to choose. We are no longer driven by unconscious automatic knee jerk reactions originating from our pain bodies. We now have some space in which we can witness and observe, take a step back and see a situation from another point of view. In this space we find new possibilities and new ways of being. Where before there was only one way of reacting, now we have a choice: do we choose to stay true to ourselves or do we deny who we really are? Do we choose to change or continue on a path of self destruction? Do we choose to open to love, forgiveness and compassion or do we choose to stay closed, unhappy and ultimately unfulfilled?
Next: Travelling to India