Thursday, 18 April 2013
finding my family
When I first started writing about Tarot for self-development, there was a little voice inside of me saying that I didn't have the right to give advice to other people when my life wasn't exactly perfect. I told myself that if people knew I didn't speak to my father and that there was a communication breakdown with his side of the family, they may judge me as someone who was unable to sort out their issues. But that wasn't my genuine belief - it was a part of my shadow aspect getting the better of me. The truth is, some people are more than eager to tear down someone who's trying to help others and put positivity out there. If they can attack by pointing out your flaws, they'll do that. But that doesn't make those people correct in their assumptions. I genuinely believe in my heart that my life has been improved by moving on from the family ties which weren't healthy for me. When people come to me with ongoing family issues, I ask them why they stay and put up with it when they could just move on. It is possible to emancipate yourself from a blood connection if it doesn't make any sense and only causes emotional pain. Why not?
I see people being ruled by what can only be described as genetic accidents. It is a total fluke that your family are who they are. Sure, some of the experiences you've shared with family members will bond you together even if, in essence, you're very different people. But when a family connection brings nothing but strife and your relative is not prepared to meet you halfway and see your point of view, I think it can be liberating to realise that you don't have to stay stuck just because you share the same bloodline. Healing never happens whilst a wound is left open. If you can't reach a consensus with that relative, you can reach healing without it. You do that through accepting that the connection is not as you'd like it to be but that you bless that person on their journey and you permit yourself to continue on yours.You do not get to choose your blood relations, but you can choose how to conduct yourself around them and you can choose to live life on your own terms. You can choose not to be ruled by blood, but to take from it what you can, learn from it and remove yourself from any aspect of it which is ultimately damaging. This is a truly difficult thing to do, particularly considering the enormous emphasis placed on the importance of family by large sections of the media, the self-help world, the religious institutions and so on.
The fact is, my father has very little emotional intelligence. From him, I inherited my keen desire to learn, my great memory and my way with words. But I also inherited rage, pride, vanity and a desire to blame everyone else for my issues. I have been working on those negative traits and figuring out how to deal effectively with them for years and, whilst I was embarking on all that work, my father was working on precisely nothing - preferring to remain closed, self-opinionated and impossible to differ with. We came to a cross roads in our relationship when he did something morally questionable which affected my sister deeply. After years of meeting him more than half way and forgiving him for so much because of the painful past he had endured, I finally stood up to him and said no. I made it clear that I expected him to apologise to my sister and make things right with her. He refused to do that. He allowed his wife to intervene on his behalf to attack my sister and I, which I think is what really put the final nail in the coffin. He wouldn't even come to us openly to speak his piece.
I realised that I needed to release the vision of my father which never existed. The truth is, I was always the adult in our connection. He never took any emotional accountability. I had raised him up to god-like status without realising that I was really just papering over all the cracks in his armour and, when the time came for him to really prove himself, he allowed his pride to take control. My father never once apologised to my sister or me for anything. My mother raised me to get in touch with my soul, to know my centre and to stand in my power. But in doing that, she had made me into someone who could no longer relate to my emotionally distant, manipulative and self-mythologising father who is still licking his childhood wounds, even to this day. I will always be glad that my mother raised me with such a strong connection to myself and an awareness of the spirit which moves through everything. But I suppose eventually I realised I couldn't take my father with me on that journey because he couldn't be strong enough to admit even once that he was wrong or to fight for the love we had for each other.
It is a great loss. Although I feel I've done a great deal of healing and accepted that I never truly belonged in my father's world or the world of his family, I still feel that society is not ready to accept the liberation which can be found in stepping away from a toxic family. A lot of work needs to be done to help people realise that hanging on to a family which harms you is not always the right move. Some gaps can be bridged, but others can't.
Anger is a big part of the process when a family member has wronged you, when you feel alienated or rejected from your family, when you feel like the outsider.. Sometimes you can feel bombarded with images of ideal families in films and books and it's hard not to feel the overwhelming loss of something you never had. Fortunately, these days there are now also a lot of books, films and frank discussions in the media about the beauty of the chosen family - the family you put together yourself which is comprised not of people with a blood connection but of people who deserve your trust, believe in you and relate to you much more than your relatives ever could. The acceptance of the fact that people often find their family outside of blood connection allows people like me to feel less alone. This helps anger to subside. Acceptance of a family breakdown is so tough and the recovery is a long road with plenty of opportunities for self-exploration. If you know that you did everything you could and that the ties still wouldn't bind, don't beat yourself up forever. Move on.