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!” πŸ™‚

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!

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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.