An Elephant Enters the Room…
A long time ago, I saw a movie with Jodie Foster, in which her home was invaded. Fortunately, she had a built-in safety feature called a “Panic Room” where she could keep herself safe whilst monitoring the bad guys. We have not yet had robbers in our house. We live in a relatively safe suburb in Sydney. However, I will add that the North Shore is not the safest place for enthusiasm or ideas that challenge the status quo.
My intention for my home is for it to serve as a safe, calm, and grounded space where we can explore different views of the world. I will also admit that I’m not always secure in myself to stand up for my personal truths. And sometimes people come into my house dragging around some shit they’re best to leave at the door. And it’s hard to distinguish “shit” from “different perspectives” at times, at least for me.
I’m the first to admit that I haven’t always appreciated my family of origin in which I grew up. I feel I wasn’t allowed the freedom I sought to express myself fully as an artist should. Now that I have kids of my own, I see firsthand how difficult it is to hold onto traditions whilst letting go of whatever does not serve us as a family. It’s very easy to get stuck in one’s own limited view of the world, get bogged down by worries, and become overprotective of our children who are here to shake things up and show us what is possible.
In wanting to protect my view of the world, I’m not always open to others’ perspectives. As a firstborn, I feel it’s my duty to uphold tradition and when this tendency comes up, it takes me by surprise. I never considered myself a conventional person.
I feel strongly that family elders be respected. There, I said it. In my family, I’m one of the elders and I get inflamed when people don’t communicate their plans with me. I find it disrespectful. I find it challenging. I find it exclusionary. I feel left out. I wonder if I’m actually a part of the family.
My brother’s visits are uncomfortable because I feel I know very little about him. I know as much as you. When he walks in, I feel the weight of elephants on my chest. I shrink.
Address the Elephant
I feel insecure in my brother’s presence and my self-worth plummets. It may be the guilt and shame of having bullied him when I was a deeply unconscious “nerd”. To be honest, I don’t consider myself academically gifted. Creative, yes. Academic, no. I only excelled in school by sacrificing the other important facets of life, like friends, sports, outdoor play, and all that goodness that brings me so much joy these days.
I remember doing well in school and my brother failed every subject, even gym. The worse he did, the better I had to do so our parents didn’t lose hope completely. It was a horrible weight to carry on my shoulders as I was growing up. I think a huge part of my spirit was crushed under the responsibility of having to keep our parents happy.
Growing up, I must have taken my frustrations out on my brother. Why else are we unable to have a relationship as two adults? He must be holding onto something from the past, otherwise, we’d have a line of communication. Many grown-up siblings do. They talk to each other. We don’t.
Guilt is the elephant that I must face every time I see my brother. I have a “Panic Room” to retreat to. It’s actually an “Elephant Room”. I have candles, tarot cards, postcards made of elephant dung, journals, and pens. When my brother visits and I feel the weight of guilt descend on me, my strategy is to retreat. It’s important to keep myself safe and functioning. I am not the one solely responsible for the strained relationship between my brother and me.
Clean Up Elephant Dung
There in my elephant room, I can take some mindful breaths. I can light my candle and start writing out my feelings. That’s how I clean up elephant dung. I may jot down a few words of gratitude on the postcards made of elephant dung to hand to my brother and his fiance for making the effort to come visit us.
I’m not sure what more I can do.
Over to you…
Do you have a space in your house where you can be with your innermost truths? Where is that space and what do you keep there?