So here I am procrastinating yet again. I have made a deal with my 17year old daughter; five times a week we have committed to giving two hours of focussed attention to what is of long-term importance for us. For my daughter this is 6th form work that will expand her possibilities for future study and life beyond A levels and B-techs. For me this is a commitment to write. It is in our diaries, when she studies, I will write. For some reason It feels like an important thing to do in a time when all our futures seem uncertain what with pandemics and the existential threat of the climate emergency. It feels like it is part of taking responsibility for ourselves at this present time.
Yet as I sit down to begin I find so many things that distract; finding the best play list on spotify to create the right ambience for writing, monitoring the cabbage white butterflies on the sprouting broccoli, (a little dull perhaps but it does supports my desire to grow as much of our own food as possible), thinking about what I will cook for tea (a little mundane, however I really enjoy the creativity of cooking), working with my daughter on a song she has just started composing, (now that is hard not to immerse myself in!)
What is it that I am avoiding? I wonder if I might be avoiding being seen and heard. I am the youngest of 4 brothers and as I reflect on my formative years, I suspect there was a consistent contradiction of how I should/could or might want to be in the world of family. On one hand just keep your head down, if you are not noticed you might get away with things, let others take the parental heat. On the other hand, it would have been great not to live in the shadows, to be noticed, to have been experienced as having voice.
As I grew older, I also learned that having voice sometimes had uncomfortable consequences; to say what I was really thinking, to bring the vulnerability of my emotions was often risky. It brought reaction, responses and at times punishment and rejection. To not give voice and stay potentially safer, or to give voice and increase the risk of emotional and relational safety. I think and feel that I have carried this all my life. It is one of my many paradoxes and contradictions.
I am coming to suspect that a large proportion of our being in the world is a working out of our family relations. I have learnt to create spaces where it is ok for people to say and feel what they need/want to without judgement or risk of relational fall out. I have become a facilitator, a coach and more recently a therapist. These are three professions (or pass times) that I feel strongly connected to do and have at times invested much time and money into the development of the necessary skills, approaches, and attributes. On a good day I am reasonably good at all three and have often found my self being asked to train others in all three areas, however, am I really doing for others what I want for myself? I want my voice to be heard.
I do not regret all the work I have done and still continue to do to support others, but I do know that I am not what I do for others, I am more than, and ‘other’ than that. I want to hear my own voice projected beyond my own head and imaginings, I have thoughts, ideas, concerns challenges and hopes that I feel have relevance in the pot of complexity that is life in the 21st century.
It feels like I have begun finding my voice, now to check what my Daughter has been doing for the past 2 hours!
NB. If members of my family of origin read this, I am not blaming anyone, just reflecting on what has and is still shaping me. I know it is my responsibility to work with what I have experienced.