A lost friend

I distanced myself from my closest friend half a year ago. The realisation of not having this relationship anymore comes in little, painful steps. Soon, I’m going to visit the town where she lives. Normally I would now make arrangements to see her and I would get all excited about it. She felt more like a sister to me. When I saw her the first time it was like a reunion. That was about eighteen years ago. I just fell in love with her – her looks, her energy, her aura, her innocence. I could talk with her like with no-one else. She knew everything about me, and I’m sure I knew more than anybody else. The only thing was, that it was always a bit one-sided in terms of putting effort in keeping and maintaining this relationship. The balance wasn’t right. Often I would call her many times before she would call me, or I would invite her so much more often than I was invited back, especially when her family was involved. I often felt abandoned, left out. When she was in love she would make herself very rare, and I would not be the first to know either. I’m sure she loved me in her own way, though, and had her reasons to act like she did.

The last few years I was more of a listener and supporter to her, as she was going through a never-ending crisis with her husband. I would call her minimum once a week to find out how she was and would listen to the same story again and again. Last summer I met her and told her that I felt our friendship was a bit one-sided and that I wished she would sometimes want to listen to me, too. She hadn’t realised I had been feeling like this and apologised, and we spoke about me for a change. She is a good listener, too, and it helped me to talk about my experience and short comings. I thought, our relationship was going to be more balanced from then on. I spent a lot of time with her during my stay.

One day I bumped into her husband, when I visited her at home, quite unexpectedly. I thought he should have gone to work by the time I arrived. I wanted to avoid him, knowing what I knew about him. But there he was, saying a friendly ‘hello, how are you’ to me, so I answered back friendly and asked him about his work, as nothing else seemed to come to my mind – Small Talk. Unfortunately, I hadn’t realised how sensitive this topic was for my friend. A minute into him talking about his job my friend interrupted him harshly and reminded him that he should know that his job arrangements (working away 4 days a week) were a big cause of the troubles they had, and that he should kindly not talk as if everything was alright. Before they could go into an argument, I said: “Stop, I’m sorry, but if you are going to have a domestic, I’d rather stay out of it.” He got up and left quite quickly after that. I didn’t think much of it, although I did see my friend was a bit stressed, especially with her two young children afterwards. We had quite a nice time together, and I stayed over and spent the morning with her, having breakfast, before I left.

A few weeks later I received an email from her, in which she accused me of having been insensitive when I had started talking about his job with her husband and not sticking up for her when she had a go at him. She felt betrayed. I could not believe what I read. Reading that felt like a stab in the back. That was too much for me, that tipped the boat over. I was furious, and as a result we had a rather nasty email exchange, which felt like poking in each others wounds. I wanted to hurt her.

Why did I do that. Why? I should have just apologised to her about my thoughtless conversation with her husband. Instead I stood my grounds and explained what happened for me in that situation and that I didn’t see myself doing anything wrong or selling her out. Does it matter, who is right? We were not able to leave it at that and move on. She kept her emails short – I was writing essays. At one point, I realised this was so going nowhere. I decided to distance myself from her. I felt not acknowledged and not seen as the person and true friend I thought I was.

But since, I have been grieving and missing her so much at times. It is a big loss and I don’t feel like having benefited from my telling her my ‘truth’. I think about her often, and there are times when I am very close to writing an email to her or calling her. I looked her up on Google and found she had opened her own practice as a complementary therapist. I thought: “Wow! Finally, she’s done it.” (she had been talking about wanting to do it for such a long time, I had actually lost faith). And I felt happy for her. I sent a message on Facebook about my discovery, hoping her daughter, who’s connected with me there and might see my post, would tell her about my wishing her well.

When I think about it now, I know that our friendship, as it was, belongs to the past and is an example of a rather neurotic one. I needed her more than she me, or maybe in a different way. Maybe one day our paths cross again. I think I would like that.

In the meantime, I feel I need to do some forgiveness work. But – to be honest – I am quite stuck with this issue and will most certainly need some help from a systemic constellator or a psychodrama facilitator, in order to clearly see what is going on underneath; but mostly in order to step into her shoes. But I won’t touch the topic for a while. It scares me like hell.

Farewell, my friend, my soul sister! I miss u. There is no replacement and never will be. I will try and keep the good memories alive, and maybe one day I will go to you with an open heart and try to re-connect. Or, maybe you will?

Children & trauma

My youngest daughter was only two years old when within a few months only her dad had to leave us and her adored and much loved big (5 year old, half-) sister left us to live with her dad (which wasn’t my youngest daughter’s dad). It came as a big shock and could not be digested by my little girl. It got stuck in her system as a trauma. At one point she started shouting and screaming at night while she was sleeping and would not be touched or calmed down. Those ‘attacks’ lasted for a good half hour or longer. I had – at the time – no idea why and felt completly helpless with the situation.

A little later, at a women-and-children’s clinic, I learnt to just be there until the attacks finished. I was advised to stay calm and keep still, which would eventually affect my child. During the stay in that clinic I learnt a lot about myself, my situation and received a huge amount of loving care from the therapists and nurses. Therapy showed me that I was a child in need, too, and that I had to learn to give myself those things I was missing. I had to understand that I would never get what I needed from my parents, as childhood was over, and my parents wouldn’t change just because I wanted them to.

After a few months of many sleepless nights with screaming attacks, my daughter slept through the nights again. I understand that she had to get the anger and frustration, as well as the feeling of being powerless, out of her system.

The trauma, though, was still there, and she developed many different kinds of symptoms during childhood that had to be dealt with. My oldest daughter was influenced against me and everybody in my family, so there was no contact for many years. My girls were separated.

One day, when my youngest was about 9 years old, she told me how angry she felt that her sister didn’t want to have contact with us and expressed her disagreement very emotionally – she was furious. I decided to use my family constellation skills on the kitchen table using jam jars, cups and glasses. I placed our situation using those cups and glasses and made them representatives of our family system by giving them names and positions and let my daughter take over to change and move them where she wanted them to be. My clever little girl knew exactly how the different people in our system felt in the different positions.

During this ‘constellation’ it became clear to my daughter that her sister was meant to be with her dad and that she just wasn’t able to contact us, although she really wanted to. She understood that everything was as it had to be. I was astonished how clearly she saw what was really going on and how the dynamics worked. This new insight gave her some peace and understanding, and from that day on she never questioned the situation again, she accepted it and kept hoping that things would change for the better (which they did eventually). She kept a loving contact in her heart and sent postcards and little messages now and then to let her sister know that she still loved her and would always be there for her. The same did I. And we often sat together, looked at older photos of my oldest and sent her good thoughts and wishes from our hearts. It was always very emotional but good for both our minds and souls.

Two years later we were ‘re-united’ after seven years, although my oldest daughter decided to stay at her dad’s in Germany. But we were back in contact, and we were re-bonding and have been doing so since.

I am convinced that family constellation work is a wonderful and powerful tool to help children (from a certain age) and adults to understand and accept their situation, find peace and even solutions.

I could not avoid my children getting hurt, as at the time I didn’t know better. But I was able to address my issues and heal myself in order to become a better parent. I see it as my duty to be the person in my children’s life they can rely on one hundred percent. I see it as my duty to be an example, because I know they look to me first.

As a constellator and grown-up I know how much my children want me to be happy and content, and that they would give their lives to take my pain from me. Therefore I am constantly making sure that I am happy and content.

Both my daughters carry the burden of their own heart breaks, which I am responsible for. But I have forgiven myself for causing pain and confusion, because I know I didn’t know what I was doing and I was in pain and I was confused myself.