My work life

I’m at home with a sniffy nose, a lot of coughing, a painful stomach and a headache. I chose not to go to work this morning. I always think I should not call in sick – feeling guilty and full of shame for being not well. Anybody else feeling like that? Also, when I’m ill, I feel so very ill and so very upset and low.

Anyway, I wanted to write about my work life.

2 years I’ve been with this department now. The time for change has come, ….. I thought. I’ve just had a radical haircut, which is usually an indicator for change in my life. Two years is enough. Isn’t it? No, don’t get me wrong. I love (most of) my colleagues, and (most of) my job. It doesn’t pay very well, but – compared to other reception/admin jobs – it pays pretty well. There is no obvious reason why I should leave. Well – that’s not quite true. It’s the city I’ve got to commute to and from; it’s loud and full of tourists and students – overcrowded, I’d call it. At least I’ve changed to three full days from five half days. But still, a minimum of 2 hours commute on a work day? Okay, it gives me time to read (on the bus). And – really – an hour to work is not that bad. Is it? It’s like I’m looking for a good enough reason to change jobs. My husband calls me a job junky. I think he’s right. Maybe I’m just addicted to changing jobs after it has become routine. Maybe I’m just addicted to change anyway???

I’ve been looking, locally, but nothing compares to my current position, neither the pay rates nor the stuff I’d have to do to earn my wages. And – will I ever find such a lovely team of colleagues again? I’d be taking quite a risk.

There’s something else bugging me, if I’m honest. When I came to this country, in the beginning of 2005, I did not intend to work in admin much longer. I’d had enough of it when I left Germany. I actually hated being a PA/secretary/admin assistant. The whole admin crap – I didn’t want it anymore. And here I am – still doing admin. I wanted to be a full-time therapist. That’s what I wanted. In eight years I have not managed to earn a living from being a therapist. I am now not earning a living from anything I do. The part-time job in admin doesn’t pay enough to live – at least not in an independent way. I’m contributing to the bills, that’s it. The other days I’m spending hours and hours trying to get my name out there and trying to convince the public that constellations are fantastic and that I am a great therapist.

Drawing a balance: I failed.

Is that the deeper reason I’m at home, feeling pretty grim? I think I feel sorry for myself. Yes. I feel sorry for myself. “Poor little Silvia! You are a loser! Let’s face it. But I do feel sorry for you, I really do.” Is that what I need?

Wuh, – – – wait!

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I am not a loser. And I have not failed. Let’s face THAT, shall we?

I have changed jobs a lot, because I was never happy in them. I finally found a job, in which I am feeling happy enough to stay. I may only contribute to the bills and not earn enough to make a living, but I could if I wanted to. I don’t need to earn more than I currently do, because my husband and I have an arrangement. More than the income I need the time to build my therapeutic practice. And that is what the 2 other workdays are dedicated to.

I learned a lot on my way, and I learned that it is important to give energy into the things I’d like to grow. I also learned that I have most of my energy in the mornings. I know I haven’t made a rocket start; I’ve taken – I had to take – the little side roads, and I still am. On the way, I got to know exciting, supportive people, and slowly but surely I’ve been getting my name out there and still am. Don’t forget: I had to adapt to a new country. I left all my friends and family behind and had to start all over again. I’ve built friendships, strengthened my relationship, was a mother and bonus-mother to five children. I fostered two young people and I looked after dogs. I simply had no time to make a rocket start.

I know what it is: I’m sitting in this space that is empty. My kids are no longer here, the dogs are gone, too. I caught a bug. I’m feeling crap. That’s why I get this sense of emptiness. I misinterpreted it as failure.

I’m not failing. I never failed. I only ever did as best as I knew at the time.

There is so much to learn, still. But I’m on my way. I may not be the rocket therapist, but I may be the one who has been there, done that. And – once this bug has left my body – I’ll be my old sparkling self, inspiring and full of kindness and love.

Watch this space!

Letting go

It is one month ago that my second daughter flew the nest. It is only now that I can write about my emotions around letting her go. The process started a good year before, when I had a strong sense of having to let her take her own decisions and not being the first person she would go to when she wanted to share something, happy or sad. I could feel how she was maturing into an adult. At that time I was attending a psychodrama group with the wonderful Philip Halmarack, so I took the opportunity and worked on letting go of my daughter. It was very painful, but also insightful and transforming. I realised how very important it was to set her free and that I actually wanted her to move on and live her own life. When it came to the day one month ago, it was still painful, although also joyful, because I am so happy for her, moving in with her boyfriend, whom I really love. She received my full blessing and she knows I’m always here if she needs me.

She has left a big hole in my life. I miss her presence, even though we hadn’t had much time together anymore. I miss her hugs, the chats with her, the fun we had at the dinner table, I miss her coming home from work and sharing her day.

What am I filling this hole with?

At first, I just felt sad and sorry for myself and therefore filled this hole with negative emotions. Then I felt trapped (left) with my husband and the dogs and was quite vile at times, feeling I had no sense of duty anymore. Having a great support network, I worked through those phases quite quickly, though. Slowly but surely I stopped ‘pestering’ my daughter with texts and chats. Instead, I now consciously focus my attention on the things I have to do or I always wanted to do, e.g. writing another post on this blog. I am filling that hole with new projects: Our new house, which we move in soon; new ideas for workshops and how to use our ‘Magic Room’ – a nice little workshop space – in the new home.

I want to find dog sharers, so my husband and I can go away at weekends to explore new things together.

One door closes, another 10 open.

On Mother’s Day I received such a lovely card from my second-born: She appreciated that I struggled to relax into the new situation and she said she would never let go of me and that I’d done a good job, being a mother. Quote: “Well – Look at me!” 🙂

I am very proud of her, being so independent and grown up at the young age of 18 and experiencing a great love that has huge potential. I have my share in her being able to be happy. That I am proud of, too (tapping my own shoulder).

She has been a shining light in my life, and somehow I know she always will be. It’s wonderful to have a close and loving relationship like that. I never had that myself, although I feel it has changed over the years. My relationship with my mother is now so much better than when I was young.

I want to mention my first-born daughter here, too. I had to let her go when she was only 5 years old. At the time, I wouldn’t feel the real pain, I simply couldn’t. I was only ready to feel it when I worked on it a year ago in another psychodrama session, which brought up the relation to letting go of my second-born. Before that I never felt complete; and I experienced a lot of sadness, but never allowed myself to feel the real trauma the early separation caused. It takes a good supportive network to carry one through such re-lived traumatic experience, and I am so grateful that it was there and I was ready. Having her back in my life is a great blessing.

I like the song line from Sting, which says: “If you love somebody, set them free!” That’s what love is all about. But, like everything in this life on Earth, it’s a process, it can’t be done just like that. It involves grieving. Without mourning, there is no letting go.

Right now, I’m going through the process of letting go of my old life. I feel like growing. Sometimes I feel the growing pains, but I know that it is only temporary, and that I will come out the other side like a butterfly; and I will spread my wings…

…and – finally – fly.

Bless you all!

Family conscience

We are all children – We are not necessarily parents, but we are all children. (My husband sometimes says in such cases: “You must have a degree in pointing out the bleedin’ obvious.”). We remain children all our lives, until we die and – actually – beyond that.

In Family Constellation Work this is an important fact and has some weight.

When you visit mum and/or dad or phone them now as an adult, do you know the feeling of regressing to the 16 year old rebelling teenager you once were, or even to the ten year old child that wanted only one thing: to please Mum and Dad? I know it very well. Although I have learnt to handle those tense situations, in my case – when mum is being mum, I still feel all those feelings of a pleasing or a rebelling child. The pleasing bit is easy, isn’t it – you still get all the praise and the shining glimmer in their eyes when you comply to their ideas of how things should be, you feel you’re doing the right thing – you’re in the game. But when it comes to disagreement, that’s another story: You get responses like “Oh, you shouldn’t…” or “I wouldn’t, if I were you …”, or even a “How dare you do that to me/us!”. That feels, … um … dangerous – or, minimum uncomfortale. Doesn’t it?

My family conscience is all around; I take it with me, wherever I go; it is part of me. There’s always that little entity in me that knows exactly what agrees and what disagrees with mum’s and dad’s opinions on how life should be and how things will work. Family Constellation people call this “the family conscience”.

There is also the other thing you get, which is when mum and dad disagree and I dare to act like the disagreed parent: “You’re just like your father!” or “mother”, with that slight expression of disgust in the disagreeing parent. Ouch! That hurts. This is when children are – consciously or unconsciously – asked to take sides with one parent, which is basically tearing them apart. As long as the parents are together, when they disagree from time to time or even often, they actually agree to disagree and that is part of the ‘family conscience’. This is difficult for children and they develop certain skills in order to deal with such a situation.
If parents are separated though, there will be two family consciences. If parents separate in a disagreeable way and keep disagreeing with each other, it can be an even more difficult situation for a person (child). Of course, in other cases, if the parents agree to still be parents after separation, it can be a relief for children.
Any case of disagreement between mother and father and pulling their child(ren) into it, is asking the child(ren) to take sides, which is – because they love them both – impossible.

Children, by default, love both mum and dad and would do anything to make them both happy. They would actually even take their parent’s burdens from them, if they could. And they do try – unconsciously. This is when children (even when they’re grown-ups) don’t live their own lives. They try the impossible. A person’s fate is a person’s fate (or burden). Nobody can take it away from them. And – if everything was consciously happening – nobody would like to give their fate to anybody else. Would they?

The family conscience is a big thing that rules our lives – many people are completely unconscious about that fact. In Family Constellation Work the unconscious can be brought into consciousness. By looking at people acting as representatives for children (that is also adult children) and parents, family dynamics become visible. The inside picture of a family is brought to the outside world in order to have a look at it from a distance. Looking at issues from a distance – as you might know – can be revealing, and as a result the issue can usually be ‘handled’ with more awareness of all circumstances.

These days, when I speak with my mother, I have this whole picture in my mind, which was revealed to me, when I did my own family constellation. I see that she was the younger of two girls (5 years apart), losing her twin sister right after birth, losing her mother to cancer, when she was only 13 years old, having to get used to and accept a step mother, whom she couldn’t stand and a heart-broken father, who treated the wife like a house maid. I see all her short comings and that there was no counselling available to her in order to deal with her traumas. I see her hardly being able to stand on her own two legs without the support of a man by her side (my father), which made me sob, when I saw it in my constellation. These days, when I look at my mum or when I speak with her, I know that she has done the best she could. And with this in my mind, I feel grateful for what she has given to me: My life (and many other things). That is why these days our conversations are mostly harmonious, and we have finally bonded as mother and child. Since I saw what I saw in that constellation, I respect my mother with all her short comings. I am now able to say ‘yes’, when I think ‘no’, knowing that it makes her happy when I agree. I can now talk to her more respectfully, when I strongly disagree. I don’t slam doors anymore or hang up the phone.

It is magical: Since I did my constellation, my mum actually changed as well. She didn’t know anything about it. My attitude towards her changed, and that made her change. She started seeing me, respecting me. It was a process and probably still is, but it made our relationship work.

I still have a choice: I can be part of the family system or I can decide to step out of it. I chose to stay in it. As a result my life changed to the better. It changed from a chaotic life to a stable life.

Funny enough – my ex-partner’s families were all quite dysfunctional, and I never managed to stay with a man for more than three years. Now I am with a partner, whose family is exceptionally functional, and we’ve been together since the beginning of 2004, which is now eight years. And it looks very much like we’re going to stay together for a long time.

Love to the Universe and everybody in it!