A New Hope
Seems like the threat of a blog post deadline is a sure way to bring up powerful life issues. Life seems to be taking me right to and through an experience that challenges some very old patterns, requiring me to either fall into familiar though bitter ruts, or to build some new muscles. I have long valued my challenges as teachers. I want to learn and grow, and will warmly welcome the moment when I can look back with objective comprehension. At this point, however, I am faced with the work of it all.
So the issue working me is a situation involving my family of origin. For the past several months I have found myself intensely facing a relationship that I have managed to largely avoid for many years. This is a person that I find I have very little in common with, except for the pretty major fact that we share the same parents and grew up in the same house. In that context we certainly have a great deal in common.
In the past I have turned away; shunned the person, the behavior, the entire situation. I have ignored and back-stabbed; I have gossiped. I have spent hours building a case against their character. Yeah, me. Okay, now I feel like a rat. I feel embarrassed and ashamed. For I claim to stand for justice and peace in the world. I study and seek to practice compassionate and conscious communication, non-violence, and conflict resolution. Yet, in this most basic relationship, I have fallen radically short. And was blind to that.
I am finally on to myself. The cards are on the table and the pattern must change. And “what to do” has become a great un-doing. I am facing this life-long challenging relationship head-on. At another time in my life I would have been resentful of the situation. At another time I would not have had the tools to deal with my own childhood anger and frustration churned up yet again. At another time I would have turned away. But here I am, brave and foolish, strong and vulnerable, bringing my present self to the situation. I am able to soften more quickly and have even more compassion for the instability and illness of this person and the choices they have made. Although I find strong feelings arising from time to time, ripples of my own childhood experiences, I am able to hold those feelings close, honor them, and let them shift into productive response.
Pondering, after all the struggles I have had in this relationship imposed on me at birth, how I have changed. In the latest unfolding I find myself being a mentor to this person, suggesting strategies for parenting, communication and coping with stress.
Even after many years of magical work, of personal transformation and healing, of growing a deeper understanding of myself and developing a strong belief in my power to shape my own life, I still get stuck believing that life just happens to me; that I am pretty much powerless and don’t have much impact on my circumstances.
The turning tide of events around my family member is reminding me of the strength within. When I do the work, the messy and unpleasant real grunt work, the pay-off in personal growth seems endless. In the un-doing of what had been so carefully crafted, the walls and barriers coming down, the layers of protection peeled away, my vulnerability proves to be mettle. I am strong in a new way. My growing muscles are aching with the effort yet promising a new kind of freedom for me, and a new hope for my relationship with my brother.
This post was written by Lucinda Sohn