My grandfather was always an angry man. As far back as I can remember he was mad about something, even his sense of humor was bitter. Behind his back we called him Grumpa.
When I was five years old, just prior to starting kindergarten, I flew by myself to visit my grand parents in southeastern Missouri. I was so excited to fly for the first time and I felt so grown up going all by myself. While I was visiting many wonderful and interesting things happened, as well as several horrible events. My grandfather raped me, forever altering the course of my life, that was all I would remember about this trip for decades to come.
Several times in the last week I have had conversations with clients about being complete with people in their lives. When I talk about this the fear always comes up that being complete means that they must then cut this person out of their lives forever, this does not have to be the case.
Being complete, for me, means that I/we no longer live from the old story. When my grandfather became very ill and it appeared that death was eminent I knew that I needed to be complete with him before he transitioned. I didn't want to lose the opportunity to put this completely to rest. (Note: I had done much work on my own, in group therapy, and with a counselor in order to reach this place. My immediate family had also chosen to distance themselves from him as a result of my coming out about my experience.) An amazing friend of mine (my beloved Desirae) bought us two plane tickets to Idaho and off we went. My parents were already there and picked us up at the airport. As soon as I walked in the door of my grandparents home my grandfather walked up to me all puffed chest and loud voiced, "we're going to the back bedroom to have this out, you & I!"
I calmly replied to him that I had nothing to hide or be ashamed of and we would have all conversation right there in the living room with everyone present. He deflated, his old ways were no longer going to work. That is how he had always dictated this family, intimidation. We all sat down in the living room together and I said to him, "I know what happened, you know what happened, there is no question. I am here to tell you that I forgive you, I forgive myself, and I am no longer willing to live the way we have for the last 25 years." It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I felt as though all of the air had gone out of the room. He crumbled, he cried, and we all hugged.
Desirae and I were staying in a nearby hotel for another couple of days and my parents would drop us off in the evening, and pick us up in the morning. Each morning there were stories of his anger, his manipulation, his intimidation. Each day that we spent with him he was kind, polite, and considerate of me. We had well and truly changed our story with each other. It was as though he could no longer be his old story because I could no longer see him as he had been. By contrast those who still told their old story continued to experience his old self.
He actually went on to live another 7 months, and through it all we remained at peace. When he died I was able to attend his funeral with ease and true grief. On the other hand, my mother (who had suffered much at his whim) experienced relief at his passing. Her first words after his last breath were, "he can never again hurt anyone."
So the truth is we get to chose. We get to choose the stories we will live, We get to choose when and how to be complete with our past and even our present.
Live Your Heart Out Loud!
Shamanic Coach, Kansas City, MO