Personal Growth
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Do I think of the relationship with the world that has been such a paradox of experiences that I fluctuate between engaging and disengaging with it? If I sound confused it is because whenever I think of my relationships it sends me into my state level of memory: a world that I have resisted facing because it can be such a confused, terrifying and distorted place. My journey toward soul-fullness had led me on a path to finding myself and my voice. I know now that each time I connect to my body's wisdom I come out more healed and whole than when I went in. The trip is not pleasant but the outcome and the process it leads me to is well worth the price of admission. What is the price of admission? A willingness to face what lives in my body as sensations, feelings, pictures and glimmers of traumatic overwhelming experiences that didn't get integrated. These experiences live in the cells of my body as unexpressed unprocessed and unintegrated suppressed experiences and beliefs. They lay dormant until just the right sensory trigger activates them engaging my neurophysiology.

A curse? A gift? Both? They have been an unconscious curse sabotaging me intermittently throughout my life. What I have learned is they offer me the gift of transformation into an integrated wholeness that creates a healthier present and future. Of course at the time I didn't know this. I had to experience it in the safety of others. It is sad that it took so long to find them. My sense of my early life was that I was in heaven and then it got taken away. Not all at once but experience by experience, year by year and death by death.

I remember as a teenager when times got really hard for me and I felt like I wouldn't survive all my struggles I somehow got this sense of a group of people watching over me. I can remember hanging cloths on the line with the breeze making the sheets flap in the wind and I was just ranting inside my own head. By that time I had learned that you don't express yourself with your attitude, your feelings and you'd better be careful about your behaviors (especially voicing yourself). I was angry about the unfair treatment I felt I was getting at home. We all had chores and being the oldest from my perspective meant I had more than anyone else including and especially my mother. So I was ranting and raving to myself in a rather ugly way about everyone in the world when I got a sense of this group in a circle smiling down on me. It was as though this warm and loving energy out of nowhere wrapped my body in a calm and soothing way.

My thoughts slowed down as I sensed their comforting words. Their kind soothing voices connected me to my heart and soul and to a deeper understanding of my parents, my siblings, my life and what I needed to do and learn from the experiences. Somehow the kindness and warmth of this unseen council made me feel strong and competent. I found solutions to focus on rather than creating more problems. I breathed into that, calmed myself and completed my tasks. This counsel consisted of my maternal grandmother (Nannie), great grandmother, favorite uncle and grandfather. They had all been part of my early childhood resources that had disappeared by the time I was 15. Death took them all away from me. I guess my mind resurrected them out of my desperation.

We moved away from my home town when I was 8 years old. When I was in about 13 years old I saw my biological dad while on a visit to my home town in Lake Charles. I believe it was when my mother and I went to settle Nannie's estate. I'm not sure how he knew I was there but he came and got me and took me to see my grandmother. We went shopping. I tried on dresses, modeled them for him. I felt like a princess. He bought me two. It was a very special time. I never saw him alive again.

While doing a project in college when I was in my 40's for a family reconstruction class I reconnected to my dad's side of the family. I had been picked to do my family reconstruction and I realized I had no information about my dad's side of the family. During the week between our week-end classes I found my other family leg. I had no idea it would be that easy to track them down. I learned I had a sister and brother who shared the same mother and another sister with a different mother. I made many calls, wrote letters and met the siblings. I saw my grandmother who was in a nursing home and met aunts and uncles. It triggered memories of a lot of people in a small white house with a closed in front porch in a piney woods. I learned that was where my grandparents lived and my mother took me there for occasional visits before the age of 8. I learned my dad died in the 80's and had been asking for me, but no one knew my address.

Within 3 years those whom I had reconnected with (parental grandmother, aunt and uncles) had died. Others lived far away and were too involved in their own lives to reach out to me after the newness of contact wore off. After multiple trips and phone calls I couldn't keep reaching out to them. It became too painful realizing we had lived our lives without each other. The fact that we were family couldn't overcome the lack of frequent repetitive experiences that bond people together. We were connected through our DNA but we didn't have the connection of lived experiences. It was a bittersweet experience. One I'm sure I am not yet finished. It taught me that reconnecting to family after long periods of separation isn't always happily ever after. I am grateful for the experiences. I feel blessed by having the experience of them even for the short-time, but I still feel cheated. Again, the adults in my young life made decisions that they didn't think would make any difference to me because I was a child. They were wrong. They did what they did for their reasons but I do not feel they were in my best interest.

I have learned about the importance of developing attachments in relationships. This awoke me to the reality that, contrary to my early decision to not need anyone; I have and will always need others. I am not an island. No man or woman is. I couldn't have gotten so hurt and confused about relationships had they not been important. In order to balance my system to go on and function in the world I had to come up with some type of cover story to suppress my feelings. I became the solitary one who needed no one. The price of admission has been a lonely one.

Though this may seem idealistic and naive I really don't believe people deliberately set out to hurt each other, especially children. I truly believe that our intergenerational stress, traumas and fears are passed down as surely as our DNA, through neurophysiology and learning. They take us into a dark survival place where we momentarily loose our humanity and see the enemy everywhere. It is in those times we do harm and sometimes unspeakable harm to each other, even the ones we love.

I don't believe we truly understand this dark shadow world that lives within. I think we are terrified so we fight and run rather than embracing it. Running or resisting is futile. The shadow world seeps into our everyday life and we are thrown into our own darkness. It is fueled by our deepest hurts and our most terrifying fears. Some real some not but they need healing. I have gone back and forth between love and fear. Though both worlds were co-created with others, I am response-able for what I do with them, how I feel and how I react or respond. I am responsible for taking the best of both worlds and integrating them into a healthier loving connection to myself. Through this experience I have gained a greater connection to myself from connecting with them. Though distance, time and busyness keep us from maintaining contact I still feel blessed and more balanced just knowing they are there.

Deborah Chelette-Wilson is a relationship coach, authoress and speaker whose powerful message for women is "It's time to stop waiting for permission to be all that we can be(without being a bitch about it)." Her inspiring message helps women harness their personal power, find peace within and become part of the shift in creating healthier and more loving relationships, beginning with the one with their self. In order to honor someone else's heart you must first honor your own.