Friday, March 12, 2010

I think the family pattern doesn't need me

Situations like the one I've described earlier surface periodically.  They're a perfect microcosm of a bigger system.  In this case, there is a lie perpetuated, and telling the truth is more threatening than the lie.  The fact that a lie has occurred takes a back seat to preserving an image of What Should Be.  Therefore, telling the truth is threatening to a family system that is based on What Should Be.

I'd had not realized that Telling the Truth is only one part of affecting a system.  There is also the Accepting of the Truth.

There were many scenarios in my family where the emperor had no clothes.   I learned painfully that while being admonished to tell the truth, the real lesson was to keep silent.  Therefore I came to doubt my own eyes.  Maybe I was mistaken, and the emperor was wearing clothes that just made him look naked.  Maybe his appearance to me as naked was evidence of my own sinfulness, the devil tempting me from the One True Way (that he was dressed in finery).  Maybe I was delusional, prideful, thought I "knew better than anyone else". 

The family pattern protects itself.  Self-doubt is very effective in preventing serious questioning.  But if one of the family members breaks through that and begins to question/challenge, there is the fail-safe.  The pattern can refuse to accept the truth.  One way it does this is to cast doubt upon the veracity of the teller.

Such was the position I found myself in when my father told me he had 'no choice' but to accept my brothers' word.  And since my own Word was in direct contradiction to my brothers', where did that leave me?  I asked him and he talked about something else.

I went over and over it in my mind to see if I could be mistaken.  I asked one brother if he could reconcile the seeming conflicting "facts" of the situation and he too didn't answer.

I finally came to a resolve that I was not okay with my brothers' word being invited in to dinner and mine on the porch or out in the yard.  While my father wasn't overtly calling me a liar, my Word was relegated to some ambiguous half-state:  the penumbra of questionable.   I felt the weight of the pressure to just accept this and say no more about it.  That was my role in the family.  I felt the familiar machinations of Pattern to  silence me:  self doubt (doubt about the facts, doubt about my character, a peculiar sensation of unreality).  Also,  threat:  if I asserted  my truth,  it could destroy the family.  A family fight could disintegrate us, and it would be all my fault.  Peace in the family was riding on my willingness to sacrifice my truth and allow it to be left outside.  This is what I've always been required to do and what I've always done.

I wrote my father:

The part I keep returning to is that if I told you something that contradicts what they said, and you're saying you have to believe them, what does that say about me and what I told you?  It seems like it puts my Word off in some ambiguous place that resembles a lie.

I'm having trouble with that.

I don't know if you're telling me that you believe me, but for the purposes of family peace and stability you're going to behave
as if you believe them?  I can be fine with that, but I really want to know if you believe me... because it sure seems if you're "accepting their word", then you must be rejecting mine.  If what  they told you not only contradicts what I told you, but contradicts everything Dan has told me for the past 16 months, then I don't know how you can't be saying that I'm lying.  I've tried looking at this from every angle, but I just can't seem to find another way to look at it.

My father's response was that there was no way that he thought I was lying, and he must have misunderstood (or wanted to) whatever it was my brothers told him, or that he's screwed up in some way.

Again, the substance of the truth was not addressed and I see it will not be.  He is willfully refusing to see something that is in front of him, and very obvious.  What Should Be trumps What Is.

But, this doesn't have to be at the price of my own compliance in betraying my truth.  It appears that the Pattern can make accommodation for my opting out of my role through my father accepting "blame".  He can absorb the cost through saying he was mistaken somehow.  And the belief in family As It Should Be stays intact, and unthreatened.

I broke down the first line of defense of the family image by speaking the truth.  But he is firmly holding the second line of defense by refusing to see, and accept, the truth.  

That's none of my business.

What's important to me is that this latest manifestation that exemplifies our family dynamic, has been a vehicle for seeing clearly what has been going on, and to firmly and consciously refuse it.

I don't know that I've ever done that before.


Ailey said...

Good going Ex. holding on to the truth and reiterating it with your Dad. It does sound as if claiming that he's misunderstood is the best he can do....for now. But who knows, maybe your refusal to accept the lie will have more of an impact, over time, on the family pattern than it appears to have had at this moment. Maybe (to borrow from family therapist Harriet Goldhor Lerner)by changing your steps in the family dance others will find that their steps need to change too.

love and blessings to you.

Lavender Luz said...

Ailey is wise to note that your dad is probably doing the best he can with what he has.

And, perhaps, this is all a cosmic gift to your Higher Self from your dad & bros (and their higher selves) as you play on the playground of Truth, exploring all its nooks and crannies.

And the chance to consciously decide which patterns you will be part of.

excavator said...

Gee, Lavender...I didn't even think about other patterns, whether I consciously choose them or not...but it makes sense.

There was a family constellations workshop on Sat, that called to me...I think it would have been really engaging to have gone. Damn.

Thanks, Ailey. I wonder what it is my father is serving, that would make him deliberately decide to not-see. It's a big deal to me that I broke a confidence--and I have always prided myself on keeping confidences--and this is the first one I've ever broken. It's sad to have it met with averted eyes. As you say, perhaps there will be something that reverberates through the family system. The Family Constellation workshops are supposed to do just that--clear family patterns that have been transmitted.

In the meantime it sure appears that the pattern doesn't require my participation: it can get along just fine without me.

And yes, you're right, Lavender...this situation is a gift, because it has given me the opportunity to really see it, and consciously choose.

Mercurious said...

I think you're wise to separate yourself from what sounds like a pattern of some family craziness.

Being true to yourself is pretty good innoculation against family wackiness.

Sheri said...

When I was going through a tough situation several years ago, there were times when things seemed so unfair. It just seemed "yucky," for lack of a better word.

What I now know, looking back, is that it was a period of yucky-ness that I moved through as I allowed things to unfold further. Things did get better.

Maybe you are in the yucky-ness right now, but are moving through it...learning great lessons along the way.

I admire you for stating your truth and breaking at least your part of the pattern.