How Connecting Helped Me...
When I was 18 months old, my five-week-old brother Jeff died of sudden infant death syndrome. Loss occurred very early in my life and I did not realize the immense impact it had on me until 2008 when I was required to write a paper about the formation of my identity. Jeff had been in the back of my mind for most of my life. This little person who I only knew for a short time so long ago seemed to have left the largest mark on my family and on my identity. A part of me knew an important connection had been broken and that someone important to me was missing, someone very close to my heart.
With the loss of Jeff came the loss of my parents’ ability to open their hearts again as the pain was so vast and profound. The two people I knew love from had emotionally disappeared. This seemed to ignite my fear that loving and feeling loved only meant that person would eventually leave; thus, I developed a need for protection against such pain.
Family Constellations (FC) was the only form of therapy that broke through that door of protection. It was a key to getting through the misperceptions I developed over the years in order to survive what I thought was the fear of loss, which essentially made me afraid of the power of love. Jeff was not talked about very much after his death and there was only one photograph of him. The pain and grief in our family was palpable. I felt it throughout my childhood and beyond... When Jeff’s name was spoken throughout my life, I could feel the pain in the heart of my parents and the thought of ‘tread lightly’ sprang through my head. I thought for a long time that if I mentioned him it would awaken that pain, so I kept my questions to myself.
Jeff was definitely excluded from our conversations and early in my healing journey I was unable to see the power of his exclusion and the impact of this dynamic on my worries and fears. I was very afraid of the emotions attached to the loss of my brother and worried if I acknowledged and embraced him, I would experience the pain and anguish of losing him all over again.
The path illuminated by Family Constellations showed me how a very large loss early in my life fueled my fear of love and my reticence to deeply connect with others. With heightened awareness and FC, I began to lift the veil and shed light on the scared little girl, the unsure-quiet-do-as-I-am-told teenager, and the hidden adult.
This is only one of many examples of how connecting and reconnecting, especially through Family & Systemic Constellations, has supporting my healing. This is why it is so important for me to share this work with the world and my purpose of helping others connect to themselves, others, and build community in a world that seems so separated.
I was a collegiate scholarship athlete, an NCAA three-time All-American in softball, and a successful softball coach for 20 years. Playing and coaching sports was everything at the time. But when injuries and high school politics stopped me in my tracks, I had an identity crisis. If I wasn’t an athlete or a coach, who was I? I didn't coach for a few years and when I decided to step back into it, it wasn't what it used to be for me. I was more interested in the young women's personal challenges - it did affect their performances - and how to best support them. So, I decided we would meet weekly and talk about their lives and how things were going. I noticed right away that this was something they longed for... connecting, support, and a listening ear. My teams grew closer and performed better.
The young women looked forward to what they called “group therapy,” when we would all sit in a circle and discuss their personal challenges. How could they play their best when they were struggling internally and interpersonally? I knew they couldn’t, and knew their wounds needed tending. But I also knew I had to be responsible if I was tending the psyches of young women, so I went back to school to study psychology, earning my master’s degree at the age of 40. I then shifted my focus from athletic coaching to a private practice supporting individuals in their own journeys of healing, growth, and transformation.
Feeling called to hone my craft even more, while continuing to advance my own healing, I once again went back to school. I earned my doctorate in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology at the age of 45. Now that I've transformed myself, and supported both of my kids in becoming adults, I am able to focus my energies on creating safe, sacred, loving and compassionate space for others to connect and begin to heal.