Families are organic and remarkable. They are a place of deep love, bitter hatred and a myriad of other deep and real emotions. We all have a unique story that is our family and it is this story that we carry with us into virtually every other relationship we have — regardless of how much we spend on that fancy therapist! It is through our family that we have learned how to relate. Like stars forming patterns within proximity to one another, we create family constellations which later become the blueprint for all of our other relationships. We stay fixed in certain roles in order to maintain the constellation's detailed pattern; however, the success of our growth lies in our ability to allow these patterns evolve. This evolution takes place within our family as well as our new encounters.
I love my family more than words can express. They have been such an incredible support for me, even when they disagreed with my choices. Recently, I have been moving through a challenging time in my life. It has put many of my life’s decisions into question. I have had the good fortune to share some very beautiful conversations with my niece about much of what I am experiencing. Allow me to give you a bit more detail so that perhaps you can also see why this constellation is interesting.
My sister and I are over 10 years apart and my niece and I, barely 7. Remarkably, the constellation has remained the same for many years. To my sister, I will always be the little one who needs taking care of and I seem to always act this way in her presence. Regardless of all of my accomplishments, I still feel helpless around her. I will admit there is a part of me that just loves that I have someone to go to who will always make things better. As you can imagine, it can also be very disabling experience as well.
My niece and I have also shared a very unique and wonderful story. Our relationship has spanned many of life’s stages and evolved over time. I changed her diapers; we shared deep talks about life, school, sex, drugs and more! She always came to me when she felt confused. I didn’t make it better, but I always told her “how it was”, and she trusted me. I wasn’t her mother; instead I was her super cool aunt! How I loved being just that.
Today I am asking my niece about her life in an attempt to inform my own. She is now a beautiful, mature woman who has learnt her lessons well over the years. I like to think I had some part in informing the depth of her wisdom, but really I think it is just who she is. She is wise without all the searching. I see her and wonder when she became so grown. I have to pinch myself as she tells me "how it is” with such confidence and insight. A part of me is sad to see this little one emerge from her role as "my sweet little niece", but it is so beautiful to see who she has become.
It leads me to wonder, “At what point did I lock her into a place she no longer was? Why do I hold myself to behaviors that exist only with certain people, though I have come so far in the rest of my life?”. Perhaps most importantly, “How am I playing out some of those old family stories with new people, without even realizing it?”.
As mentioned before, it is from our families that we have learned how to relate in the world; like all things, this understanding must be given the freedom to grow. We must learn to live consciously so that we can allow ourselves and others to become wiser and more vibrant than our minds may want them to. It may take having some hard conversations with a loving heart, or just not allowing ourselves to fall into old patterns. Like breaking any habit that no longer serves us, it is typically hard but it is always worth it in the end.
As for me, I have decided to let my little niece be the woman she actually is… and I am eager to see what new constellation we can create together.
Does Paula’s story resonate with you? Are you ready for your own personal life transformation? Consider joining Paula in her Teleconference Course Stepping Up to Life on July 17th.