“Everyone in your family has a different experience of it – comparing notes helps you understand not just your family, but also their experience of you.”- Jim Sharman

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Family. Until you start one of your own, you can’t choose who’s in it – it’s something into which you are born – and not everyone copes well in a family unit – especially when that unit becomes dysfunctional and/or breaks up, which is when the challenges become even greater. Anyone who’s experienced their family unit disintegrating will be familiar with such challenges. Even in the tightest of families, disruption is inevitable.

My own experience of ‘family’ has been somewhat difficult, peppered with breakups, splits or schisms. The concept of ‘family’ was a struggle, with lots of emotional misunderstandings along the way that interfered massively with the ability to process the complexity of all the differences within both immediate and so-called ‘extended’ family. Separations, divorces, betrayals, pride, stubbornness, strong emotions and eventually death all played a part.

And it wasn’t until death reached my experience of family that I understood more about what my role was within it. When my father took his life, he left behind him a complex trail of different experiences that often contradicted one another, creating confusion or even despair amongst his children and spouses. It wasn’t until we all compared notes that we understood more about each other and our individual experiences of ‘family’.

It’s tempting here to say it’s ironic – but instead let’s use the word “beautiful” – the revelations that followed his departure were, at first, very painful to bear – but then something wonderful happened: my mother, aunt, stepmother, half brother, half sister, my father’s friends and I, we all learnt things about each other we didn’t know! The comparison of our experiences of him and his life’s perspective actually brought us all closer together. Because we talked.

I started to understand not only how ‘family’ itself worked but what their experience of me within it was – and that contributed massively and positively to the grieving process, in more ways than can be described here in just 400 words……so my invitation today is simple; talk more with each other and you’ll discover more than anyone knew existed. If your family is in crisis, it might just be the thing that solves it…..

What is your experience of your family? What do you think theirs is of you? Are you willing and able to test it, to see what gifts might be uncovered when you compare notes?

Love and light,

Jim Sharman
06.03.2022 🙏

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