Welcoming My Elders


In the heady days before kids I used to have a daily morning practice. It took about 30 minutes each day and compromised of a combination of yoga, Chi Gong, Body Mind Centring and a few other bits here and there. It was my way of anchoring myself to the day, to affirm and give myself space.

Part of my ritual was grounding. Using simple visualisations and energy work, I would send my roots down, down through my floor into the ground beneath. Past the concrete, through to the earth and keep sending down as far as I could connect. But one thing always struck me. Practicing this on my right side felt easy and effortless. Practicing however on my left, it didn’t come this way. I could feel my roots, rather than opening and spreading through the soil and beyond, they would tighten and pull away. I was acutely aware of this sense of pulling away, this saying no. And, on my left side, the side that pertains to the feminine, I frequently came to find myself reflecting on my maternal line and saw this same resistance running throughout those that I knew within it.

There was, firstly, my mother. A deeply troubled and unhappy woman, who withdrew from the world, who was angry and furious with the world, who spent, regrettably, her life fighting against most that crossed her path. There was my grandmother, a fiercely independent woman, who strode her path adamantly and didn’t care much for those that might want to walk with her. This included her children, my aunts and uncles. There were five altogether, including my mother. My grandmother passed away last year and her death was tragically preceded by three of her children. My mother died whilst my grandmother was on her deathbed. We had spent the summer waiting for them both to pass. It was also preceded by the death of a son-in-law and too her daughter-in-law. On my maternal line we experienced a wealth of premature death that shook each one of us and left two sets of cousins orphaned. One uncle was killed in a car crash, an aunt from an aneurysm on her brain, another from cancer. One of my uncles sadly took his own life. My mother had also fostered a death-wish. She bemoaned her life for as long as I remember, took little care of herself, passed responsibility and threatened suicide countless times. Both my brother and sister have attempted. I too spent part of my teenage years feeling suicidal. My grandfather had felt the same. It was something we learned. Something that was passed down and something that we carried. A shirking away from life, a saying no, where we deserved to have been saying YES!

From a very young age it caused an immense longing within me for kinship. I craved a sense of belonging and tried to carve it out as much as I could. My mother had refused to show me photos of my own childhood, in conversations she would claim ‘ownership’ of relatives in our family line and scour away heirlooms. I felt alienated from my past and it made my yearning for a sense of connection even stronger. In her fiery negativity, I tried to make myself distinct from her. I desperately needed to feel my energy wasn’t caught in her web of embitteredness and desperately wanted to feel the opposite of what she portrayed. I wanted happiness and light and love and to feel an affinity with those around. And my daily practice, as I grew, became part of my way to create this.

It felt, at the time, awesome to acknowledge and accept the historical pattern of resistance as I worked on my grounding. I would travel gently with my roots, observing the pulling and tried instead to lightly guide in the parts where I felt discomfort. I continued to view myself as distinct from this aspect of my heritage yet, at the same time, still continued to wish for a hub of family-ness around me. And then, with having children myself, it felt even more critical; I wanted for them to have this sense of extension, a wide circle, a knowing of where they had come from. It had been so difficult for me to establish, I ached for them to have a different experience.

And so to my journey now. This week I saw my wonderful cranial sacral therapist. As I lay on her table, with one of her hands cradling my spine, listening, calling it in it’s unfolding, I could feel, just beside the lower ribs on my left hand side, a pulling away. She had been working for about 45 minutes and I had felt a sense of arrival in most of my body apart from this one place. I closed my eyes, listened and ventured into the area. It felt as if a hand pulling away and I recognised myself recoiling from the negative energy of my mother, and too my grandmother. And then I asked myself; What do I need here not to be pulling away? How can I land here in this space? And with it, loudly, almost instantly, I heard my elders. I know no faces or names. I simply recognised those from my line there, present, attending. Boom! I went in. The pulling away stopped and there was space, there was movement and there was CONNECTION. BOOM!

Oh my golly! In one brief moment of being held and voyaging in, so many things, so deeply, were awakened within me. I saw myself, in the pattern that I had so intently been trying to change, there in it too. In trying to make myself separate from my mother, I too had been pulling away. I had been continuing the same form, just like those before me. Perhaps too they had been trying to re-shape it and perhaps too they were still caught in the midst just like myself. Suddenly weight is lifted from me, suddenly my insides are ticking in an upbeat way, suddenly I have ceased to worry and bear concern about feeling on the outside and wanting to be in. I am in and I am whole and all I needed to do was have a little dialogue with a little hand within me that wanted to, and had needed to, pull away.

So, now I am no longer reading just the story of the immediate negative of where I came from. Yes, there was much but now too I recall and witness beyond. I see the pulling away but I also recognise the strength, power and beauty of my ancestors as I say hello to them. With such dedication, I had been trying to heal the wounds of my past but had forgotten to acknowledge where my resilience, the resilience that been so essential to survive and then grow from my childhood, had taken seed from. I can see how I have been in conversation with them all the time. I see their guidance and assurance. And the inheritance that is my courage to adventure in. I am encircled by their depth of being and feel a peace and breadth within me that is effortless in its carriage. My longing has been met and it’s time to celebrate the reclamation of our birthright.

From the present we can go back to the past. And we can bring the past back into the present. My elders are shining on me. I feel their presence and their affirmation. And as I welcome them, they say yes, Sophie, YES!

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