Sunday, December 31, 2006

Family Systems

Family Systems theory, developed by Dr. Murray Bowen of Georgetown Univ., actually comes from physics, so I understand, from field theory. Things aren't just independent but connected in a field, a web of relationships. That's the way life is.

It is odd when so many things within families seem to happen at the same time. Bowen theory says that when one member of a family system seeks to change, the whole system will react to bring that person back to where he or she was. Really, the system is seeking some kind of equilibrium, be it the old balance or something new.

As I seek to differentiate myself, I do not seek to leave the system (indeed, one can't, even if you think you do) but to become who I am, a gay man, while staying connected. Of course, most of the system has no idea. No word has been spoken to parents, siblings, etc. And yet, the spirits move. The systems reacts. The emotional energy surges and blows where it will. It seems that we know not whence it comes, nor whither it goes.

I am coming out, separating from my wife, beginning to commence to get started on a new life. We are looking at my moving out after the first of the year. SO, this Christmas, for the first time EVER, my brothers from far away gathered to have Christmas with my 83 yr. old father and stepmother. My father lives closest to me (about 130 miles away). We (wife, kids, me) planned to gather with them all.

And to top it all off, while I am with my father and two older brothers, things go crazy. My dad has been to the ER three times in the last week. Retaining fluid, pneumonia, unable to urinate. So, they put a catheter in. He had to go back to the ER on the 27th for a "follow up evaluation" which was really totally unnecessary. So, on the 27th, I spent about 7 hours sitting in the ER with my father and stepmother. Not nearly the time to visit with my brothers that I had hoped for.

I came out to them and told them about plans for the future. They took it all well enough, I suppose. They were supportive and loving.

Then, it was off to anther city for visiting with in-laws and helping them move. My sister-in-law and her family (who live in that city) were there, too. Everyone together. At least their bunch isn't as, um. . . interesting as mine.

Systems always seek equilibrium, homeostasis, balance. To remain strong, non-anxious, and kind; to reduce the emotional reactivity, this is the task. And I am making it. I have never felt adult, like a man. God it feels good, too.

Though some may whine and complain "In the midst of life, we are in death," I am able to hold fast and rejoice that "In the midst of death, I am in Life!" (homage to Martin Luther).

So, as I go into the new year, I pray for shalom for us all.


Lemuel said...

Thank you for reminding me of that quote as you move to light and life.

I will need to remember it as my own days perhaps unfold.


Michael said...

Ah, yes! Life. It is, after all, what Jesus said he came that we might have to the full. May you continue to discover it as you continue your journey.

Brian said...

thinking of you Joe, and hope the transition is smooth for all. Stay brave, stay honest, stay loving and stay alive.

Ur-spo said...

yes, changing yourself means the families/relationships you are in have to respond/change too.
Overall good things though; as we better ourselves, 'good' relationships will improve and the 'poor' ones will slacken off
Good luck to you.


Happy New Year !!!


freethnkr said...

So good to see that you are still moving forward. You are often in my thoughts.