Is it time to do a Family Constellation?

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If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your family.
— Ram Dass

Have you begun to notice patterns in your life and relationships that continue to repeat themselves? 

Have you struggled with low energy, addictive or compulsive behaviours, depression, anxiety, overwhelm or even suicidal thoughts but often been at a loss as to why or felt extreme guilt for feeling that way? 

Have you attracted lost souls or wounded people over and over again? 

Have you often found yourself playing a role within your intimate partnerships that feels unbalanced, like being a parent or care-taker to your partner without realising it? 

Do you have a sense that you’re being held back but you can’t quite feel into or understand why? 

Have you tried to self-actualise before and create your own life, perhaps several times, but wind-up self-sabotaging or feel as though everything turns out with the same messy, heart-breaking ending? 

Have you ever travelled abroad and experienced traumas that you were unable to make sense of? 

Do you have a longing for a deeper connection within your family but feel frequently misunderstood by them? 

It might be time to investigate Family Constellation Therapy.

Constellation work tends to find us when we’re ready for it, and not a moment sooner. My personal journey into this work came after I returned home from a trip abroad and realised I had hit bottom emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. There was no further ground left to open and nothing left to cling to.

I was guided to it after being brave enough to share my story with a few trusted practitioners after a very dark time, and each of those people ended up saying the same words to me; 

“This sounds ancestral. Have you thought about doing a Family Constellation?” 

I couldn’t ignore the signs any longer and decided to begin researching what on earth this work was really all about.  

Family Constellations, also known as Systemic Constellations, draw on Zulu attitudes towards the family alongside existential phenomenology and family systems therapy. 

In English please? 

This process is about uncovering the deeper workings of your family consciousness, why you all behave the way you do, uncovering why you may have wrongfully taken a ‘place’ in the family as a victim/addict/outcast, and also looks at where the family may be unconsciously carrying grief or suffering from the unacknowledged dead; a stillborn baby for example, or a loved one lost to tragedy or war.

My eyes were opened wider than ever after completing a weekend of constellation work with UK Psychologist Alun Reynolds once I realised just how much I was still carrying subconscious blame towards my parents for not ‘teaching’ me how to be an adult. I had never acknowledged their hardships, understood the infant death of my Father’s little Brother, acknowledged my Mother’s aborted child, or her anxiety during her labour with me. My constellation showed me just how wide the gap of complete disrespect had become between my family and myself and allowed me to begin to rebuild trust, understanding and acceptance for where I belonged and where I’d come from. It also allowed me to finally see the beliefs, ailments and ideas that I had taken on which weren’t actually mine and opened me up to a more expansive view of my healing process. 

I had no idea what to expect the day I arrived at the workshop. Deciding to go was one of the scariest things I have ever done on my healing journey and I later admitted to Alun I didn’t warm to him upon meeting him. I was surprisingly extremely resistant to and sceptical about the work despite signing up of my own accord, but there I found myself, on a rainy Saturday at the start of 2018 with a room full of strangers he told us we were guaranteed never to see again once our time together had come to a close. 

My biggest surprise was the beauty and profound healing I received from participating in other people’s family constellations. This isn’t a pre-requisite at all workshops, but Alun offers this option at his. I was picked to represent someone as a child, as well as someone’s Mother who had been deeply frozen emotionally from years of emotional abuse and miscarriages. It’s not really something that can easily be put into words, but feeling that woman’s grief and the grief of her ancestors pour through my body allowed me to cry rivers of tears I didn’t even know I also needed to cry for the women in my family who had been equally mistreated and silenced. 

Feeling for others and allowing pain to move and shed allowed me to process some of the emotional abuse and neglect I had experienced in several relationships, which I now understood I had endured because that was a familiar pattern in my own family system. I began to understand in that room just how inextricably connected we all really are. 

I FINALLY FELT TERROR, RAGE, PANIC AND DEEP SADNESS INSTEAD OF NUMBING MYSELF FROM IT, ALL WITHIN ONE ROOM, WITH TWELVE PEOPLE, OVER ONE WEEKEND. IT WAS INTENSE. BUT SO WAS THE LOVE AND RESPECT WE EACH HAD FOR ONE ANOTHER ONCE THE WEEKEND WAS OVER.

Alun placed his hand on the back of my heart after one particularly heart-opening session and reminded me “Do you see? What you give is what you get Natalie.” 

The hatred and mistrust I was carrying towards men after a traumatic break-up, which I was unfairly feeling towards Alun, dissipated as he said those words and my heart was forced to break open. 

I was also grateful to be able to sit and watch the other attendees represent my family members and understand as the constellation rebalanced that now I had accepted and acknowledged my ancestor’s grief there was really nothing standing in the way of me and the rest of my life story except myself. It was time to take responsibility. 

So what happens after a workshop like this? 

At first, nothing. 

“You do nothing and say nothing for at least six months and watch the work take care of itself”, he told us calmly. Alun held a gentle, safe and yet nurturing, firm and protective space for us all that weekend in which, one by one, we unravelled. 

He told us we were to do nothing more than to wait and watch our relationships transform as the family begun to treat one another with respect. 

To say I wasn’t a little confused would be lying. I have always wanted fast results and a need to be doing something to help things along. This time I had to trust the process. 

Things got worse before they got better. At that time I was staying at my Mother’s house whilst I figured out the next steps in my life and I watched as her anger and pain rushed to the surface. I don’t think I have ever seen my Mother cry before, but she cried to me one afternoon, told me how sad she was that she’d lost touch with her Sister and that sometimes she woke up with anxiety. Her ability to finally be a little more vulnerable with me allowed me to have compassion for her journey. It was a healing time for my Mum and I, but eventually her actions towards me shifted from controlling and concerned to supportive and more respectful. My Father also began to respect my boundaries and need for space. Slowly, I could feel my power returning and I felt peaceful and neutral around my family members instead of feeling constant uneasiness and an underlying need to get away from them for fear of being engulfed by their negativity. 

My decision to participate in constellation work was, I believe, my first step on my ancestral healing path, and one I never hesitate to recommend to other Empaths, particularly those struggling with wounded healer energy. 

As we take our rightful place in the family system, the one that we should have had from the beginning, where our family truly have our backs, that ripples out to the rest of the generations and any fearful, untrusting energy is released. I believe only by the brave souls in the family stepping up to do this kind of work can any true deep and lasting change be created. I’ve found a sense of peace, understanding and freedom that can only come from deep within and that comes from really beginning to make sense of where I came from and why I was put on this earth. 

There is a lot of information on Family Constellations online, but if you’d like to find out more about the practitioner I worked with, Alun Reynolds, you can do so here: http://www.constellationsolutions.co.uk/al1.htm 

Keep being brave x 

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