As we wrap up this month’s theme of family, one of our COR workshop graduates and Event Managers, Jennifer Underwood, shares her beautiful story of the impact COR and our workshops have had on her family.
“A lot of this month is around making peace with your family, looking at the roles and dynamics within your family, and having compassion for each other. So much of our healing work starts and ends with our families, and it is good work.
But, to be honest, there is a huge part of me that always thought that it was work I would have to do on my own. I was positive that the patterns and systems in my family were going to stay that way forever. I might be able to find peace and healing for myself, but that was the best possible outcome. The real life relationships with my mother, my father, and my brother were unlikely to ever change.
I went home from my COR Woman, blown away by the healing I was able to do around my childhood and my relationship with my mother. I remember so clearly telling her about my experience, and then hesitantly throwing out, “I’d love it if you wanted to go, sometime, Mom.”
She replied, “We’ll see.” That was it. Quietly, she changed the subject.
I took this to mean the same thing as “maybe” meant in my childhood. I knew that I was vulnerably asking for the impossible, and that it was unlikely to ever happen. But I didn’t want to completely give up hope. I made a commitment to myself to at least keep talking about my experience and to keep offering to let her in. I hoped that maybe, someday, she might walk through the door.
Imagine my surprise when, just four months later, we were both at Dancing Deer, as I held space for my mother as she walked the same steps I had, completing COR Woman. It was nothing short of a miracle in my book. The idea that she would ever actually do it never honestly crossed my mind, but somewhere in my heart was a spark of hope that I trusted and allowed to live, and it inspired my mom to step further out of her comfort zone than she ever had, to trust me, and to chase her own healing.
One year later, I experienced another miracle when my brother, inspired by the changes he saw in both my mother and me, completed his Noble Man, again allowing me to be present as a staff, a witness to his healing.
Words cannot adequately express the healing this work has brought to my family. Going to COR has given us a common language, and an ability to communicate without the old defenses of yelling and name-calling. We can have the tough conversations now, together.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. While our weekends at COR have led to amazing growth and healing, and pathways I never considered to be possible with my family, doing the long-term healing of a lineage, of defensive and harmful patterns, is not an instantaneous process. It’s a lot of work. But the progress is definitely something to celebrate.
When my brother came back from Noble Man, my mom sat down with him and was able to hold space for a conversation where he told her about the ways in which he’d been hurt in childhood. She says now she had always assumed she knew this, and as she couldn’t go back and change things, there was no point in talking about it. Through COR, she was able to realize just how powerful it is to bring things out in the open and approach a situation with curiosity. Their relationship has had immense healing since then. Where once there was a lot of formality and avoidance to cover up pain, now there are regular enjoyable family dinners.
My own relationship with my brother has had immense healing as well. Before COR, he once told me during a fight that he was resigned to the fact that we would never be close and figured that once our parents died, we would probably never talk again. We both stated how sad this made us, but he said he didn’t know how to change it. The other day, he sent me a text telling me I was one of his favorite people in the world and acknowledged how weird that felt after feeling estranged for so long.
COR has brought my fractured and wounded family back together and given us the tools to continue the healing. More than anything, this has given me hope. If you had asked me 18 months ago, I would insist that the things that have happened since would be impossible. I would have told you that my family was beyond redemption, beyond the ability to change. What I’ve learned now is that this is never the case.
As set as some patterns may seem to be, and as impossible as healing sometimes feels, part of what we do here at COR is make room for the impossible healing. I’m forever grateful that even though I was positive my family would never join me on this path in my mind, there was a place in my heart that allowed for the impossible to become possible. I invited them in… not just once, but multiple times. And eventually, they have surprised me by saying yes, not just to please me, but because of a deep desire they both had to find healing for themselves and within our families as well.
If there is a family member you have been longing to invite to COR, but you haven’t, I urge you to consider doing so. Nurture that tiny spark of hope in your heart. Imagine, what might be possible if the impossible happened?”
We’d love to hear your comments, questions or insights here on our FB page!
Much love to you this week,
Jen and the COR Team