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I feel alone, as though I don't belong

Photo: Pep Gasol

A man in a group said: “I feel alone, as though I don’t belong”.

When I ask about events in his family, he says that he was born in Germany, of a German father and a Polish mother whose family was displaced during the Second World War and became German. This man decided to migrate to Australia in his twenties and gave up his German citizenship to become Australian. He became distant to his German family, stopped speaking his native language and fully embraced the Australian culture. He would like to feel more connected to others.

I ask the client to choose a woman to represent LIFE. He sets her up in the middle of the room and he positions himself in front of her. After a while, Life starts to smile and the client feels happy and says: “I like her, I feel very connected, I want to move next to her.”

I introduce another woman into the field and position her next to the representative for Life. I say to the client “the first woman represents the bright side of life, the beautiful. This second woman represents the dark side of life, the terrible, the difficult, war, the Holocaust”.

At first the client does not want to look at her. He starts to tremble and feels anxious. I ask the representative for the Holocaust to say: “I belong too.” The client stares at her, starts to feel angry and shouts “NO!” “this is not MY war, it has nothing to do with ME!”. I ask him to look at the first woman and I let the woman say to him: “She comes with me. You cannot have me without her. We are one”

The client cries convulsively, standing in front of both women. After a while, he starts to be soothed and spontaneously bows down to both in an act of deep surrender.

A month after the constellation the client said to me:

When the war that my parents experienced came up I could release that shame and anger I was subconsciously holding onto. I didn’t realise how much had shifted until I introduced myself a few weeks later at another workshop. I started with and held onto the representation of Germany as a matter of fact, saying, this is my heritage, my family roots, this is where I come from. I felt so grounded, had such a sense of belonging, no ‘negative’ emotions whatsoever and felt very much at peace. Such a vast difference.”

Many of us in Australia are migrants or children or grandchildren of migrants who left a country to start “anew” in another land. Often we are tempted to “forget” where we come from, especially if what we left behind brings us pain and distress. What I see though in my work with constellations is that it is impossible “to forget” where we come from because “we are” where we come from. We are our parents and ancestors, we are also what happened to them. To “start anew” comes at a cost: I have to repress a part of myself. It can work for a while, until the discomfort grows deeper, we feel lost, alone, and we decide to act. When I reclaim my past I can feel more alive and whole. Grieving the loss of my land and of my people, enables me to be more present and grounded in my new country. When I allow the pain, I can feel the joy more fully.

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