Sunday, April 24, 2005

ATTN: An introduction to Family Constellations

In the summer of 2002 i was introduced to the work of Bert Hellinger. It is hard to describe the impact it had on my personal growth. On my first attendance of a family constellation, within 10 minutes i ran outside to get some fresh air. The subject was sexual child abuse, like in the story written below. And i was just being part of the audience!

After three years of attending these meetings, and having done some other stuff as well, it finally starts to make sense what is happening in these meetings. It is the confrontation, supervised by a facilitator, of the one thing that the person asking the question has longed for the most.

In the family constellation, i have the role of representant. In the example below, i could have been the representant of her father. I have been representant in various roles; a father, a brother, the illness of cancer, and a country of origin. The instant feeling of connectedness right from the beginning of these sessions, has led me to my quest of ´what is attention?´.

Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about it. The book below is a good introduction. If you can understand Dutch , the word is ´familie opstellingen´ means ´family constellations´.


If it would have helped, I would have carried my pain
In a training group for therapists a woman stood in the constellation of her family of origin and for the first time she was faced visually with what she knew, but had not recognised: the degree of loss, need and damage in her family system. Within three generations not a single relationship free of damage was found. The relationship of her parents was one of hate and contempt, and from the age of eight years, she was selected to fulfil her fathers emotional and sexual needs, until she could leave home at age eighteen. The sexual operations were cruelly and painful, and took place with knowledge and tacitly approval of her mother.
In preceding therapy she had examined her anger, her pain and her feelings of having been betrayed, and though she had felt relieved, she could find no permanent solution. While she stood face to face with the representant of her father, the therapeut suggested: 'Say to him: "it hurts!"' When she did that, a cry of sorrow arose from very deep inside her. She added spontaneously: 'And it did not help at all; I could not take away your loneliness.' She put her arms around the man who represented her father, who cried also openly, and they held each other affectionately for a long time. For the first time as an adult, she was consciously feeling the love that she had felt for her father as a child and her surreptitious willingness to sacrifice herself for her parents.
After a while she said to him: 'I promise you that no more children will be hurt the way it happened to me. I will pay the price. With me this shall come to an end.' When she turned towards the group and told them that she was lesbian, she did this with a great simplicity and with the full human dignity that was appropriate for her situation.
One year later she still felt the delivering impact of her acceptance of the role which destiny had allocated her and accepted as an aware choice what she had formerly been carrying around unconsciously and could not endure.

Bert Hellinger - Love's Hidden Symmetry (1998)

I-Name: =Ronald.Wopereis
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Freedom is about stopping the past
- Lawrence Lessig