*cue harp sounds to take us back in time*
Many years ago, during a gathering of counseling majors for my graduate school, we played an icebreaker game called, Crossing the Line. The rules went like this: Everybody stands with their back to the wall, questions will be asked by a professor, if those on the wall can answer yes then they go to the line in the middle of the room. We were to walk with eyes straight ahead. After reaching the line we were all instructed to look to either side of us, those at the line were asked to turn around and see those left on the wall, and then we returned back to the wall for our next question. ABSOLUTELY NO TALKING. The questions start out easy and get harder.
Example 1: If you are or identify as female please cross the line.
Example 2: If you have ever lost anyone or known anyone who attempted suicide.
One question seemed simple enough. “If you love your parents or caregivers come to the line.” We were instructed to look to each side and then turn around. Gasps, sounds of air being blown out, and fidgeting were audible. One lone person stayed on the wall. They were off sort of in a corner far to the left of me, and the room was a large conference room without tables and chairs which really accentuated the lone figure on the wall. I think this event surprised the professors as it seemed like several minutes passed before we were instructed to go back to the wall.
At the end of the activity we talked about our experiences in our smaller learning groups. I remember that not a single person in my 12-person group thought the individual on the wall was a horrible person. We all expressed shock, sadness, empathy, and sympathy for them. We didn’t know the story (and we all wanted to know a bit more. Give us a break we are therapists and like to help.), but we imagined a tragic tale or being an orphan. To this day, I still have no idea why that person stayed on the wall, but I think of it now and then. What strength did it take to remain there when they saw everyone leaving them behind? How hard must it have been to not change their mind and go with the flow!
*cue harp sounds to come back to present*
What do you do when someone asks about your parent(s)? Do you retreat from the conversation, feel out of place, or even react with anger/fear/sadness? Do you feel like you need to find peace with your past so that you can move forward in your life; start living again, or for the first time ever? Do you wish you could act instead of react when birthdays, holidays, or other common celebrations occur? I would love to talk with you about what steps can be taken to move forward and take your life back.