It is time for the annual gathering of the clans across the western world at least. That feast time which marks excessive spending plus the stresses and strains of having loved ones from far and wide descend into the family home. New sofas have been sold to those who believe that new furniture for Christmas is the mark of success, piles of presents are wrapped and mince pies sit cooling on baking trays. Across the world a man in a red suit with a white beard symbolises going home with nostaligic longing, love and the reinforcement of familial ties. Is it the birth of Christ we are celebrating or the return of the light? I think it is an instinctive drive to find our roots and replenish them.
As I drove across the flat plains of East Yorkshire this weekend with my mum, we watched the light fading across the field and marvelled at the long streaks of red in the sky. I remembered as we drove, the childhood saying ‘red sky at night’ and suddenly I found myself immediately connected to the spirit of this time of year. When we go home for Christmas we are seeking that which we remember within us, those ties of belonging which, when they are not tangled by the unwellness of other people bring safety and inner peace. Home is where you were and are wanted and where you were first welcome in the world. Home is where your childhood heart is.
Growing up in an unhealthy family causes children to use adaptive coping mechanisms which if left undealt with become part of the fabric of who they are. When ties that bind are toxic, children’s roots grow gnarled and their shoots of growth wind their ways around the obstacles placed in the way of healthy development. I know that to be true on a personal as well as professional level and I know that recovery is both possible and yet extraordinarily painful to achieve. When the mind has been bent and broken, recovering perspective and facing the multiple layers of toxic beliefs which combine to create alienation is a super human endeavour. Children are not meant to be forced into adaptive coping mechanisms in which their parents needs come first, they are meant to be nurtured, cherished, guided and supported. They are supposed to be free.
But so many children are not free and this Christmas will not be making their way home to where those feelings of safety and warmth and nourishment will be felt. Too many children this Christmas will be spending another holiday period without seeing a parent they once loved and adored, too many will be fending off the toxicity of feelings stirred into place and fermented by the dynamics around them. Too many will have parents who believe that the toxic expression of these feelings is the truth of the matter, blind as they are to the reality of their own unhealthy relationship to their children. As I drove into my home town with my mum, I thought of all those children and the many roads they will all have to travel to get back to the place where I have finally, thankfully, found myself. Home.
For everyone with lost ones still missing remember that peace comes to alienated children when the kaleidescope turns and the pieces which were fragmented fall into place. That is where healing begins and love grows and the happy ending is ever after because it is emotionally and psychologically healthy.
For those mothers and fathers who ache with the loss and the sadness and rage and despair know this. What you face is not easy, it isn’t a road that anyone would ask you to walk if they knew what the truth is. The world is still not aware and still cannot see that the suffering caused by this problem is real. Even those who feel they are knowing of answers still struggle to help. But together we will. We will fight against prejudice, disbelief and dismissals, against efforts to discredit us, challenge us and stop us. We will find a way, anyway, this way or that way, your way or mine. There are those in this world who know what this fight is and it’s not about rights and it’s not about conflict. This is a struggle to develop a path for our children which gives them the right to live healthy and happy and free. Stay healthy and well and stay focused, the moment in time when a child returns home is often unknown and surprising. Don’t lock the door, keep the light on and look for them coming, they will, you must let them.
For the young and old children, for the ones who have been decades gone and for those who have been recently lost, for the children whose faces show the struggle they suffer to show love and receive it, for the angry ones, the defiant and the difficult ones, for the children who fear that the toxic swamp they are trying to hold at bay may one day overwhelm them, for the confused ones, the fearful ones, the ones who simply gave up because they could no longer navigate no man’s land. For the children whose minds are divided in two and those who believe that their parent is dead to them. For all of the alienated children in the world, we will light candles of hope to show you the road home again. Life is not a journey in which those bonds with the people who brought you into the world can never exist again. The pull of those ties and the sadness you feel is a normal and healthy part of being human. One day when the road is less rocky, the skies are less grey and the beliefs that you hold are less certain, you will know that. When you do, find the road home and go there.
When you get to the front door, don’t knock just walk in and say to your lost one ‘I’m home.’ When you do you will find that the ties will unwind, the love will come flooding and the place in your heart which feels empty will fill with the light of the world.
Have courage. The longest journey begins with the first step.