Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother?

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Show up on the holidays at a family gathering and everything you thought you’d handled comes flooding back in. Great, another opportunity for healing! We’ve done so much work on family “stuff” in our various therapies and believe we’ve forgiven our parents, and think we should be done with it by now.

Elisa Novick; photo by Eric.

Maybe we can be, or maybe this is just the required curriculum that you will be working with all your life at some level.

When I work with clients’ family constellations in sessions and in my workshop, Kinship Dynamics and the Flows of History, we put on display the ways in which we have been in unconscious agreement with the negative dynamics that we grew up in. We include those patterns that have been passed down for generations, seeking for resolution. And through the very act of witnessing, healing can begin.

Often decided in the womb or soon after birth, our innate love and loyalty caused us to allow our selves to be sacrificed, to take on the family’s unresolved issues as our own. When you live in the energy fields of those upon whom you are wholly dependent, how do you know their patterns are not yours? It is difficult to resolve what you didn’t create when you think it is yours. So we’ve made self-suppression or sabotage a way of being, whether grossly or subtly. As a way of coping and trying to create distance we carry blame or rebelliousness or numbness or construct a ‘puppet self’ to meet the world and think all is well. Until we show up for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Passover.

There are key elements necessary for healing to take place. For some people, one of the most poignant moments of choice comes when I suggest honoring our parents as one step of the resolution. I understand the depths to which this choice can take us. Growing up, I bristled when I heard the biblical commandment to “Honor thy father and thy mother.” I spent the 1970s in Primal Therapy crying and beating pillows about what my parents had done to me. In sessions with clients, I hear stories of childhood abuse so horrendous and unconscionable that honoring parents or even accepting them as they are is difficult to consider.

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2 Responses to Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother?

  1. beleclaire beleclaire says:

    My thanks too Elisa for this beautiful piece.

    I am constantly surprised at just how much time and effort is involved in the healing process of sifting what is mine, what is anothers especially with respect to family.
    My father died in 1974 and I did a lot of psychological work in the 80s to heal the pain of grief..
    He popped up in a profound dream in the early 1990s when I was pregnant and then miscarried…and then no more contact until this Summer when I had another powerful dream about him.
    Since then I have realised how I am still carrying something of his pattern in relating to the world ( avoid it, mistrust and fear )…nearly 40 years on! how can this be? well it is..so I have to finally lay it all to rest in order just to be ME.
    I give thanks for the spiritual journey ( unencumbered by any religious upbringing ) and for astrology in helping me see the bigger pictre of time and the collective.

    Wishing you a joyful 2013 and many thanks

  2. Lizzy Lizzy says:

    Thank you so very much for this piece, dear dear Elisa. A true gift, a healing balm and a precious lesson for these difficult days spent with the family. Much love and thanks, and a wonderful New Year to all of you at PW. xxxx

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