Starting From Your Own Back Door
All communities have to start ‘from their own back door’ if they wish to heal because only they know what is needed and required for change to take place. In many diaspora communities, we have to start from the inside and heal out and one way of facilitating that healing is through Family and Community constellations that Include the Excluded Conversation.
The Excluded Conversation is one that focuses on the difficult issues that impact our communities and cause distress, dis-ease and dis-harmony. I am interested in how to support families and communities to look at the ‘deep roots’ of difficult conversations and relationships.
Conversations on Historical Legacy
In many of our communities, the family is indivisible, both impact on the other. This is what can make it so difficult for individuals in families to explore their African or Asian heritage, often questions about identity and belonging are taboo or painful to discuss so they are avoided or ignored.
We can seek to explore these conversations on history and legacy and trauma through the mapping process of a systemic constellation. When we fear the taboo, the unspoken and the unknown and keep silent, there is a danger that others in the family or community may take them on and recreate the family patterns from the past.
Why don’t we Talk about Difficult Things?
There are many issues that we know exist in our communities, that we do not speak about. Often these conversations are suppressed and kept within our families and communities for fear of shame, guilt, judgement!! My cousin told me a story about a young woman in America who entered her boyfriend’s house and looking at a picture on the wall enquired “why is my grandmother on your wall?”
We do not speak of this, or the fear of or other losses, the missing brothers and sisters in our clan, those we have heard of but never met. And those that we have never met and are suddenly presented to us later in life. There are other issues that are a left-over legacy from slavery and colonialism like ‘shadism’ that still exists in families and communities.
There is also much transgenerational anger that reasserts its head in different forms. In the last two weeks, the issue of gang violence in London has been in all the media and news. But this is not new, these acts of gang violence and self-harm has been present for many years. But now younger and younger children are becoming involved, it feels like a new generation is under threat.
Many families who come from communities that have migrated and raised second and third generations in their new homeland are facing these and other issues of identity, belonging and stigmatisation. The dis-ease of living with these stressors impact our families and communities. Our emotional well-being Is being impacted and creating health problems, of the body and mind.
Articulating our Experience
Often in African Diaspora communities, we have often used, music and dance to articulate our experience. Movement allows us to express a situation in a different way, to harness the energy of the conversation along different lines. We can do something similar through systemic constellations which map out a family situation or community dilemma that can act as an oracle, a past to present day story, that we can learn and begin to heal from.
Through this process, we can begin to look at the legacy of our history differently. When we map out and constellate the impact of slavery and colonialism, war and migration on the lived life of our family members and the community it affords us a different perspective.
All Therapeutic Personal work is Hard
All therapeutic work can bring up strong emotions and feelings that are difficult to explore. But can we let our fear of our feelings have greater control over us than our fear of what will happen within our families and communities if we do not make a profound change? Questions not for solutions, but for reflection.
This is not therapy, it is not a long term solution because for that we would need generations of healing work. It is, however, a start and a therapeutic healing process that can start to work with family and community life as it is now, here in the present.
Until next time!
Sonya’s first published articles appeared in the Training and Development Methods and Coaching at Work journals in 2006. She returned to writing in 2019 with articles for the systemic constellations journal, The Knowing Field and Therapy Today. Sonya is currently writing a commissioned book, that explores Transgenerational Therapy and Ancestral Remembering in the African Diaspora. For more information visit Sonya’s author website.