alternatives to traditional mental health services
Growing up in the valley, my impression of the area matched the nickname for Duncan, BC of “drunken duncan”. returning here as an adult, I have been struck by the growth of the holistic community of healing. i am surprised to find myself settling in, in a brand new reality of growth, with no plans of going anywhere else soon. i feel at home here, surrounded by others on a healing journey, through alternative health practices. i am loving the land of lush green and comparatively mild temperatures to my adventures in northern canada. it is good to reconnect with the shoulder seasons again, seek out new hiking trails, and get lost in the woods with my iPhone camera.
My experiences of alternative healing here have been far more powerful than traditional mental health programming.
In CoDA (Codependents Anonymous), i attend one or two meetings each week, which are an opportunity for my authentic person to be witnessed, without judgement. by also witnessing the authentic expressions of other members, i see that i am not alone, and i am validated as in no other community i have found. i am struck by the power of the simple, universal human experience of listening and being heard. no higher education, research or government funding is necessary to perform this ritual. it is simple. anyone can do it. no equipment or expertise is necessary. it is innate in all human beings, and provides the deepest healing. last week, a new member proclaimed after listening to shares from everyone in the room, “everything, absolutely everything that was just shared — this should be broadcast on television. everyone should hear it. these meetings — they should be utilized in hospitals, schools, retirement homes, community centres. this is the best therapy i have ever had.” i couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. i wish all the people i love would get themselves to a CoDA meeting. the opportunity to express freely and be heard speaks directly to my invalidation trauma. it is a practice of exactly what i am trying to do in my life: simply “show up” in whatever state i might find myself in, embrace and express all of myself and stop wasting energy and isolating in order to hide the shadows, stop being ashamed, stop coping alone.
Through my involvement with CoDA, I was also introduced to the work of Systemic Family Constellations. There is a group here in the Valley of trained facilitators in this work. They don’t have a website, and run completely from word of mouth. after attending four workshop events, i got to do a constellation of my own last week. what is a constellation? a constellation is an intuitive physical representation of past and present ancestors in relation to each other and to the person who has initiated the constellation, whom i will call the subject for the sake of this writing. other workshop participants are intuitively chosen by the subject to “represent” his/her-self and the ancestors in his/her family system. the phenomenological aspect of the work is that it is positively inevitable that the healing that needs to take place will happen in each constellation, simply by placing the members of the family in physical representation to each other, following physical impulses to move and voicing physical and emotional sensations experienced by the people representing. the stories and struggles that are revealed are inevitably relevant and particular to the subject’s inquiry, and also always representative of universal family systems and dynamics across cultures and ethnic backgrounds (collective history). what is necessary to be healed is a person or event that has been shunned from the family, unspoken, and repressed. when this truth is acknowledged and witnessed, the family system experiences a catharsis; and deeply rooted patterns begin to shift in mysterious, sometimes imperceptible, ways. things that were previously experienced as being impossible often take place — for example, long-lost family members make contact, members miraculously find forgiveness and openness, re-connections are made where hope had previously been lost, a member’s luck or overall experience of life changes dramatically. there is a lot of compassion generated with this work as we witness in our own and others’ family systems that no one is ever to blame for the patterns in our families. They are the cumulative result of generations upon generations of human life, internal and external circumstances. all they (destructive family patterns) need in order to be healed is to be identified, acknowledged and heard — released from exile.
In my constellation, my inquiry was around the phenomenon of abandonment, isolation and separateness in my life. as with most initial constellations, the facilitator approached mine by guiding me to select representatives of my primary family and me — my mom, my dad and me. the acknowledgement of an adopted blood sibling of mine became the focal point of the constellation, and i selected a representative for him as well. the representative of my father felt deep shame and torment; a paralizing grief was expressed, though it seemed that this was only the tip of the ice burg. when we brought his ancestors into the constellation, from two very diverse ethnic backgrounds, one of them expressed feeling “faceless.” it was interesting to me that this representative also expressed feeling shunned. my mother remained pleasant and responsive, but seemed somehow removed or detached emotionally from the situation of her son. my family system was described by my representatives and the facilitator as feeling “frozen” — that this one constellation could only serve as a gateway to more in the future, which could delve further into the roots of being frozen. when did my family system become frozen and why?
What i have taken so far from this process are the implications for me of growing up with two “frozen” or numbed parents, who were part of frozen and numbed family constellations of their own. my question wasn’t answered other than to confirm that there are roots of isolation that run deep and are far-reaching in my family; and just as none of my ancestors are to blame, neither am i. these are not defects of character, but the product of my family’s evolution.
- journey of healing: part 1 (heartjunky.wordpress.com)
- government-funded mental health care for BPD in bc, canada (heartjunky.wordpress.com)
- Healing the Famiy Systems comes back to Kansas this November! (ancestralechoes.com)
- Magui Block (a.k.a. Carin Block) Creates a Resonance Repatterning New Workshop (repatterningjournal.com)