Frankly I was feeling a teensy bit smug; I had just completed a couple of blogs on complexes; I felt good about the result, had felt no triggering while I was preparing them, then of course the universe smiled and an e-mail zinged into my mail box producing exactly the reaction I had been thinking I had avoided. “Vancouver Bound!! Arriving May 11 – Departing May 22 🙂 I’m going to do the program on the 16th/17th and then Cortes on the 18th if that still works for you? VERY much looking forward to it!” I felt a flush in my body indicating the trigger; it was not what I thought we had agreed; it would require travel on the Friday and Monday of a holiday weekend, never a good idea, and would leave only two full days on the island. Then I dismissed my concerns and told myself to get over it; it was no big deal, however I knew that I needed to also express my concern or it could come back as passive-aggressive behaviour when we were stuck in hours of ferry line-ups. I replied, “Unfortunately your plans will make Cortes a brief visit as we will have to travel on the Friday and comeback on Monday now – not ideal as it is a long weekend. This means two days travel for two days on the island and Monday could be a long day (up to 12 hours).”
Cortes is a beautiful remote island off the coast of Vancouver Island and requires three ferries from Vancouver to access it. I have a lovely place there that I rent whenever I can and in between times (unfortunately there are too many of those), I use it myself when I can get away. On a good day it can take seven hours door to door. On a bad day it has taken me thirteen hours to get home due to ferry lines and schedules. My friend had called me to say she would like to come out and visit and asked if we could visit Cortes. I responded affirmatively and suggested a five-day window around Victoria Day weekend; these dates would avoid travel on busy days.
I thought I was done with it; if she still wanted to travel on the busy days I was sure it would work out however her response later that night caused me to rethink. Her e-mail was entirely innocent. “Is that still ok with you? What IS an ideal Cortes weekend? Will be fun regardless :)” However I realized I still had some energy unresolved and needed to put some effort into understanding my reaction. Then the eureka moment; I had not really dealt with the initial trigger; I had basically suppressed my feelings rather than explore them; I had leapt too quickly into trying to respond as an adult before the child had been fully explored; I had failed to practice what I preach.
The blog I had just written suggested five steps to explore and heal the wound that has triggered the complex. I had done number one – awareness then flipped to number four – reacting from my adult persona as opposed to the child. I had ignored steps two and three: exploring the energy and feelings and then empathizing with the part of me that owns those feelings. I took my journal downstairs, put on some sacred music and then took a deep breath to begin step two. The first thing that came to me was an old child response, ‘it’s just not fair, I put this lovely plan together and now she is making the plans and ignoring mine.” I sat with this for while and then sensed a deeper component; my control had been taken away. I had been in control and now she was. Then the pieces began to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. James Hollis suggests that one of core wounds as a child is overwhelment; one of the strategies to deal with our sense of powerlessness was talking control; this is one of mine. As I reflected I realized how much I hate not having control; for example going to a wedding in someone else’s vehicle, I feel trapped and powerless. At this point I thought I was complete however there was one button unpressed. I contemplated why I had so quickly suppressed my objections to the suggested plan. Even though my reaction may have come from the child, my perspective as an adult was still clear; I would prefer not to travel on the Friday and Monday, particularly the Monday when ferry loads are so unpredictable and I could not make a reservation. I took a deep breath and then it hit me. The other core wound that Hollis talks about is abandonment. I was scared if I had a voice that my friend would abandon me. Once at school I voiced that I wanted to play centre not wing on the rugby team, the outcome was that I did not play on the team again. These old complexes had the power to unconsciously influence my responses and to give my power away.
Having clearly identified the complexes, and empathized with the powerless victim that had triggered them I assumed I would have clarity about how to respond. Was this about having a boundary or going along? In fact I was no clearer so I let it go and went to bed. Waking the next morning, I realized to my delight that all the energy around the issue was gone, as an adult I was fine with any outcome. I sat at my computer and e-mailed my friend the definition of an ideal Cortes weekend. “1) Never travel on the Friday of a long weekend. 2) Never travel on the Monday of a long weekend. 3) Never go for less than three full days. 4) Always travel Monday to Thursday – seniors are free on the ferry.”
Then the magic happened, my friend suggested changing her plans to visit Cortes the previous weekend and we both seemed pleased with the compromise. As James Hollis said, “We all have appointments with ourselves, sometimes we fail to show up.” I got there eventually!