Where to begin…
So, I had a Family Constellation session last Saturday in Austin, with a group of kooky folks who do this regularly. I wrote about the relatively unfamiliar family therapy method last week, in a description of Family Constellations. This week, I’m sharing my thoughts, after spending a week to digest and process the experience I had last weekend, which has been nothing short of incredible. I have two words to summarize what I took away from the bizarre, exhausting, fully electrifying and curious process:
Hokey, yet Transcendent.
For starters, I have to be honest here, this business was hokey as hell! I did my best to reserve judgment. I was fully receptive and open to whatever I might find in the universe of this ‘New Age-y’ alternative therapy method, because I went into it with genuine intrigue, but no expectations. The research that I’d done prior in my post about the history of the therapy, Family Constellations, had prepared me with a general sense of what to expect. I could never have expected what I encountered there. The skeptical phrase that I found so delightfully humorous when I discovered it on the Wiki page for Family Constellations, ‘Quantum Quackery,’ kept popping up in my head as we were preparing for the sessions. I’d smile at the observation of some transparently pretentious kookiness in the characters surrounding me there, and I’d keep my judgmental and doubtful thoughts to myself. By the end of the day, in spite of my subtly gripping reservations throughout, I was fully convinced of the effectiveness of this kooky, hokey Quantum Quackery therapy. It works.
There were four people present for their individual constellations to be the focus through the day, myself included, among the group of about twelve of us total. I went third. We spent the first hour or so getting familiar with each other in the circle, with a brief introduction, followed by an expression of our intention for the work that day. What did we hope to be able to leave with, by the end of the sessions? My list was long. I wanted abundance of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, opportunity… I don’t even remember what else. Everyone laughed at my impulse to throw everything in there. I even added one after the next person went. I felt a sense of complete trust in this space, among these strangers, by the end of the beginning of the day.
The young woman who volunteered herself to be the first focus constellation demonstration was also a virgin — she’d never done it before and never had any familiarity, or idea of what to expect. Her intention was to feel confident and bold by the end of the day, so she was starting off strong, volunteering herself to go first. She picked me to represent her, so I was the first to stand up and be placed on the floor, led by her instinct. Her twin brother, her father, her grandmother, and her great aunt, and her aunt who drowned tragically in early childhood were the next to join us. Her family had several deaths within a generation of six children that remained unresolved, where four of the children tragically met an early death. Everyone in her family since had been wounded by these losses and were affected in different ways. In this constellation, we saw how they were all holding onto this painful past, and letting it determine their present.
I can’t explain it. There is no explanation for what I was able to feel, as I stood in for this young woman stranger, representing her. I felt her shame, I felt her love, I felt her fear, I felt her comfort. I felt my own feelings too, of questioning doubt and skepticism of this quantum quackery, but I was moved to tears, more than once, during this constellation session. When the stranger representing her twin brother came near me, I felt a closeness and connection to this man that I would feel for a twin. I made a strong effort to filter my thoughts and only respond to the pure feelings, as much as I could, and when I was able to do that, my receptiveness and sensitivity to the strong emotional energy in the room was indescribable. This was inconceivably powerful work. By the end of the session, we all felt a strong release. Something that this family had carried and repressed under years of unexpressed emotional tension came bursting out, at a certain moment in the constellation, with a reconciliation between two family members. The great aunt felt responsible for her niece’s drowning. When that was resolved, it allowed for a huge release. I can’t speak for the young woman about her changed life since, but there was a palpable shift of the energy in the room, which I believe must have been somehow metaphysically symbolic of the energy within her family.
In the next constellation, I stood in again as the focus woman’s daughter, who’d been given up for adoption. There were two potential fathers, and when one man entered the circle, I had a strong reaction to him. When the facilitator asked me to interact with him and describe my feelings, I burst out in a fit of crying, and I hunched over, hiding my face. I couldn’t look at him and I didn’t want him to look at me. This man was a nice guy in real life, who I’d seen before in videos researching constellation work, but as my father in this scenario, I hated him. It was a deep sense of resentment and disappointment that I’ve never felt, even in my own personal relationships. This was her father. After the level of emotional reaction to this representative, we knew who the father was. The woman who shared this personal information for the work was having her own dramatic emotional response to witnessing this process.
I went third. I had a heap of shit to unravel. The baggage that I carried into the room with me that day was way over my head. For the sake of simplicity and for the wisdom of the process, the facilitator latched onto a part of my family history that I never would have associated with my current family tension. Because I’m a female, she was most interested in my maternal lineage, since it’s energetically reflected in my personal manifestation. My mother’s father had emigrated to the United States in mid-century, from Argentina, on an engineering scholarship. He was a mathematician, and a bit of a genius. His lineage in Argentina had emigrated from Syria, a generation prior to him. They had a vineyard and an olive grove, and a store, I think, in Mendoza — the Dabul family. My grandpa Amadeo was an immigrant of immigrants. According to the facilitator, this was huge. My maternal grandfather, his father, my great grandfather, and my mother formed the constellation. Later, my father, my brother and sister, and my daughter joined us. My Syrian great grandfather kept looking out the window, wanting to go back to Syria. I laughed and still do about this guy, because it’s hilarious. He was so attached to his roots that he abandoned when he left Syria, that he was never able to fully invest in his life in Argentina. I still remember stories that my uncle tells about our Yeti and Seti in Argentina, telling stories about ‘the village’ in Syria. My grandpa Amadeo, too, was similarly emotionally tied to his home in Argentina in ways that blocked his full rooting in America. Imagine the effects of such a blockage on his child, my mother? I can’t speak for her, but what I imagine is that her own identity was compromised by her father’s confused and torn identity. She was fully invested in her husband, my father, and her children, but her own complicated and compromised mental health resulted in breakage of the bonds with my dad. My dad simply couldn’t handle her. That’s the simple truth of it. She was too much for him. They loved each other immensely, from the moment they met, and they produced three kids together, but their love wasn’t meant to be lifelong. This resolution was huge, for me.
Witnessing my own constellation was strange. The woman who I chose to represent my mother actually reminded me of my mother, and that was weird. She was able to pick up on energetic emotional tendencies that are uniquely my mom, and I don’t have an explanation for that. I think she was Italian, and my mom has always identified with Italians, because there’s a connection to her Syrian-Argentine heritage. I felt strong affection for this woman that day, because somehow, this kooky quantum quackery work restored that strong affection for my mom. My love has been abundant, and it’s been channelled mostly into my husband and daughter, my family.
I don’t know what my family has felt since my constellation session day, but I know what I’ve felt. I’ve felt liberation. Those sad family stories that I wanted to shed from my current life, and trade for appreciation and love, they’re gone. They’re not mine. They never were. These energies of wounds, and pain, and traumatic memories and experiences are real. They’re ever present. They’re always around us, always presenting the option to take them in and personalize them, weigh down our heads and hearts with their burdens. We don’t have to do that, though. We can separate our lives, ourselves, our identities from these stories. People are not their past.
Para mi abuelo, Amadeo, tengo mucho amor, siempre. No sé por qué. Creo qué esta conmigo, siempre. Lo siento.
My grandfather’s memory left a big wound, unhealed and open, in my mother’s family. I was the only grandchild he ever met. He died of cancer, that took him quick, in a matter of weeks, when I was an infant. The stories of the joy that I gave him when he held me as a baby, on his deathbed, have always warmed my heart. He stays with me. He’s been with me my whole life. I believe he’s been with me in my recovery from my own near death experience, and through to the other side, into my motherhood. This story I choose to keep, and I hold it dear. Mi abuelo Amadeo esta conmigo, siempre.
People are not their past. Our ancestors hold the keys to our future.
Day by day.