Having a frozen shoulder is a somewhat life altering experience. Life altering because of the limitations it places upon me physically and because of the way in which it causes me to think, deeply, about the ways in which life flows regardless of blockages, breakages and entanglements. However limited our physical selves become, life flows on through us. However closed the doors in the minds of alienated children, life flows through them still. Life is the flow, love is the healer, blocks and barriers are the emotional entanglements that are created as those we are in relationship with, become caught in the nets of the stories that are woven by generations before us.
A frozen shoulder means that I cannot drive at the moment and so I spend much of my time on the train, travelling the length and breadth of the country to do my work. This week, as I sat eating a sandwich on the station at London Bridge, a pigeon hobbled its ways towards me eyeing up the crumbs. I watched the pigeon as it focused its gaze on the food and I thought about the way in which it, regardless of the fact it only had one foot, was likely so old that it was past reproducing and spent much of its time starving, was driven on by the life force still flowing through it. As I did so I dropped a piece of egg onto the floor and watched how much the pigeon enjoyed eating it. Who knew that pigeons would eat egg I thought. Who knew that pigeons and people would have so much in common? As I surreptiously fed the pigeon, we eyeballed each other in a moment of silent communication and the flow of the life that caused me to give what I had to a creature many would consider to be vermin, showed me a profound truth about life. We are but conduits for the life that wants to be lived and our purpose on this planet is not to harm or hurt each other but to help that life flow as freely as it possibly can. Life is not for gathering good fortune to keep to ourselves, it is not about hoarding or having but about being. It is about being in relationship with each other and about sharing, it is about passing on the love that is the healing force so that we all can move closer to the joy of living. A joy which is most truly expressed when love flows and the next generation is open to the full force of what life can offer. We are not meant to live our lives closed, fearful and blocked.
But closed, fearful and blocked is what so many families feels when alienation strikes. Alienation is in its very essence a blockage which is created by the entanglements that come from wounds that may not even originate in our own generation. Parents who alienate their children are often acting out scripts from someone else’s play and are unconsciously maintaining the entanglements they grew up in, weaving these into the consciousness of their own children in a repetition compulsion which marches in time to someone else’s drum. Helping children who are caught in this way is about liberating them from these entanglements and freeing them to flow again. Helping the parent and perhaps the grandparent from whom these blocks originate is part of how we do this work.
Over the past few weeks we have reunited five more children with parents and the way that we have done this has been all about clearing blocks and untangling the threads which have kept the child captured. In a recent reunification which Nick and I undertook together, the movement of the children from hostile and rejecting to laughing and flowing took under two hours and demonstrated the power of working with transgenerational forensic understanding of what causes the blockage of alienation and what is necessary to free the flow of love in the children again.
Because the flow of life is never more fully expressed than it is when it is flowing naturally through children. It is never more alive, more creative, more curious and more full of possibility that when a child is open to all of the forces flowing through. Like a river in full flood, the power of life running through a child is a force to be reckoned with. When the damming of the river of life, through the obligations to carry other people’s burdens and other people’s difficulties, slows that flow and changes the course of that river, alienation grows and the child’s energies become channelled into something else. That something else is most often that which emanates from someone around the the child through whom life is not flowing. Influences, conscious or otherwise, live in the unspoken, unlived life of the unhealthy parent and are passed on to become webs of beliefs and behaviours which limit the child and close them down to become aligned in this way or that, to serve the needs of the parent. Life when it is stoppered up this way begins to stagnate and the child closes down, restricting their lives to the world in which their parent is confined, surrounded by fear and defences and blame.
It is not possible to free a child from alienation without paying attention to the source of it. Neither is it possible to free a child from alienation without bringing love to a broken family system. Therapy, in which a family sits in a room with a person on weekly basis cannot bring the healing forces into play and talking doesn’t do it. Healing alienation is about doing and being not knowing and it is about an active process not one which is observational and static.
Some recent successes in our reunification work have shown me that children do not have to lose a parent to regain the one they have rejected. Recent work has shown me that alienated children can be freed to relate to both parents and that doing that work is not about working in the here and now but in the past, with transgenerational trauma which is carried forward into subsequent generations. The successes we have had recently have demonstrated clearly to me that when the blocks and the barriers are cleared, love flows through the children again and their capacity for allowing that to happen is undiminished. Clearing fear and providing hope brings change to families in these circumstances and where that happens the division into good and bad falls away in the consciousness of the family. I am excited by these recent successes, which for me are reflected by the encounter with the pigeon this week which was made possible by my frozen shoulder which I could see as a bad thing but which increasingly I know to be necessary for me. Necessary so that I could slow down and be. Necessary so that I could stop and listen. Necessary so that I can learn.
Life wants to be lived and healing families where alienation strikes is about untangling the past and letting life flow. And where life flows, love goes and it is that love which heals the wounds that fear creates.
As recent reunifications have shown us, if we hold the alienating parent still and give them the opportunity for healing, put children in a situation where they can experience the full flow of love from the parent they have rejected and give the child permission, they will emerge, intact, with their hearts wide open.
Reunifications as described above, can only occur when the compulsion for change in the alienating parent is co-created by the mental health intervention supported by legal means. Parents who influence their children, either consciously or otherwise, will continue until they are prevented from doing so. This is why ‘therapy’ without the compulsions created by the court process, does not work. Love flows where the child is liberated but the child cannot be liberated through therapy alone. Whatever you read in this piece above, do not forget that our experience at the Family Separation Clinic, (where we are working with alienated children and their families daily) is based upon our use of therapeutic strategies which are combined with forensic analysis of generational trauma and the court process. Never let anyone tell you that therapy alone can heal this problem, it cannot. The problem is most often rooted in generations past and the behaviours seen in parents who cause this in children are complex and interwoven with the acting out of fear and control. To resolve it requires an understanding of the concentric circles within which the child is located and the courage to use the strongest compulsions for change.