Skeletons Come to Light

By Sharon Thomas

Family can be a wonderful support and anchor to us in life.  When thinking of our upbringing though, sometimes old skeletons can resurface causing discomfort and misunderstandings. Have you had that experience in your family of origin at times?

Having three siblings spread out over the country, it can sometimes be eons before getting to visit face to face. I remember years ago traveling to my home state to share in the ceremony of placing our mother’s ashes to rest. It had been ages since seeing my older sister who was visiting from yet another state.  It was a true reunion! Yet there was an awkward episode that ensued. She insisted that I apologize for an incident that happened between us at least 40 years before. I reasoned what I did was as a reaction to her action. We left unresolved because at the time we didn’t know the tools to help us.

The Episode: In our early 20’s we had both been promised by our dad that we could use his spare car.  As it happened our events were scheduled for the very same day. My plan was to make a visit to the state park. Her husband was to drive the car to his work. Confronted, our dad said we would have to work it out ourselves. When asked, my sister didn’t seem interested to discuss it further leading me to conclude she had no attachment either way. When I went to get into his car that next day it was gone.

My sister had decided she was going to take my dad’s car but chose not to tell me of her plans.  Early that morning she had driven her husband to pick up the car and he drove it to his work.  I was stunned and felt rather mislead. In frustration, I felt like I had had enough and I took a stand.  My boyfriend drove me to my brother-in-law’s work. I located the car and proceeded to drive it to the state park. Next thing, she confronted me for taking the car.

Insightful. We grow up, get educated, become employed, get married, have children, function in life as normal adults. Yet sometimes when we get around family, triggers can begin to spark with the least bit of warning. I really don’t think either one of us expected there was still a charge for us like that. Fortunately, we’ve come upon a healthier way.

Today, through my sister’s discovery of it as a guide, we’ve begun to use the nonviolent communication model developed by Marshall Rosenberg. It’s based on the notion that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or harmful behavior when they don’t recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs. Now as we use this tool instead, we’re moving from skeletons to synchrony, addressing and deeply healing our old family wounds as they resurface.  Colorado — USA

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