In his story, The Sorrow of the Origins (1), the writer Laurence Nobécourt writes that she manages, shortly before the death of his mother, “To hand over (this one) in its rightful place from which all compassion is possible ”. For her, there is no longer any question of expectation or promise. “I had accepted the loss, I had accepted that my mother’s night – this terrible black hole – would never end. And that of the terror that accompanied it I would never be cured. “
Healing, maybe not, but for the youngest of the three siblings, no longer being on hold on her family was a game-changer and helped soothe the unloved. Now in her fifties, the author admits to being at peace with herself and with her family, after years of suffering linked to a complicated family history..
“The family is a place of emotional closeness from which we expect a lot”, analysis Nicole Prieur, philosopher and therapist. “You demand a lot more from your family than from many other people around you”, adds Anne-Catherine Sabas, psychopractor and psychoanalyst. “The child wants to be understood, recognized, respected in his singularity. And, within his siblings, he wants to be the most watched, the most loved, the most supported ”, continues Nicole Prieur. We grow up with this “hiatus”. And, as the pediatrician Winnicott said, “The suffering comes from what has not happened. “
Accumulation of internal sources of tension
Despite the love of his parents, even the most respectful, the most benevolent, one of the children of the siblings may feel insufficiently welcomed, heard. “This suffering of not having received the capacity for love that he needed, as a child, will be reactivated in adulthood, when he finds himself in touch with his family”, decrypts Saverio Tomasella, doctor in psychology.
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Other sources of internal tensions may have accumulated, in what the philosopher Nicole Prieur calls the “unconscious calculator”. Notably, she says, when the child has been a place of parental projection or reparation. Later, he suffers from the feeling of not being in his place, he is angry with his parents without understanding exactly why, he has scores to settle.
During a family reunion, a conversation awakens an injury, a small disappointment recalls another, stronger, and the discussion gets carried away, the doors slam, the dialogue is broken. Sometimes a distance is necessary. Sometimes it is necessary to cut the bridges.
Making peace with your family requires an inner journey. According to Nicole Prieur, it is first of all a matter of giving up our parents’ recognition of their shortcomings. Which amounts to freeing them from our impossible expectations. “To make peace is to grow, to settle accounts. No longer expect from them what they cannot give us. See rather what they gave us, despite their shortcomings ”, specifies the therapist.
Anne-Catherine Sabas advocates “Make peace with reality”. That is, no longer expecting family members to be different from what they are, but rather meeting them as they really are, with kindness, and accepting that relationships are not perfect.
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For the psychotherapist, one can improve a relationship with a parent, a brother or a sister, even if one cannot yet be reconciled. “Calming yourself is going to change our attitude and he will feel it.” If we stop blaming him, we heal his wounds, which allows the other to change his point of view. “
To burst the abscess
If it is difficult to pacify family relationships, one can at least try to make peace with what is the source of conflict. Saverio Tomasella suggests several attitudes according to different levels of opposition. In case of disagreement on certain ideas, policies for example, it is better to avoid bringing up the subject and change the conversation.
When it comes to a one-off family conflict, you sometimes have to dare to burst the abscess to find peace. Certain imaginary, unconscious or transgenerational conflicts can be linked to badly digested inheritances or to heavy family secrets. A path of pacification is then possible if one is able to adopt several points of view, to hear other stories about a situation experienced differently by certain members of the lineage.
This mentalization capacity which consists of “To have the other’s mind in mind”, described by Stephan Eliez, professor of child psychiatry at the University of Geneva, allows you to open a window, to imagine the feelings of the other and thus to better understand him, instead of assigning him an intention which generated a conflict poisoning several generations.
Work of a lifetime
In her practice, Anne-Catherine Sabas suggests that her patients write a letter to a member of their family or an ancestor at the origin of a discord. “This calming act is a path of emotional liberation. It puts at a distance a story that does not belong to us, it helps to get out of shame, of the taboo, and to free oneself from an unconscious weight ”, explains the specialist.
Some conflicts are said to be toxic when the people concerned accept only one version of the facts and insist on not acknowledging their actions. What happens in cases of abuse or sexual violence. “Getting away from your family is then a necessary measure, for a more or less long period, recommends Saverio Tomasella. This distance can help alleviate suffering. Until the guilty parent has the courage to face the truth and recognize the wrong he has done. “
Making peace with your loved ones is sometimes the work of a lifetime. Will Laurence Nobécourt ever be done with one day? In her book, she admits: “Childhood conditions us and marks us. It may take a lifetime to free yourself from it and then only become yourself, enriched by everything that has been discarded, that has constituted and shaped us. “
A peaceful family at last. Get out of the conflict cycle, by Anne-Catherine Sabas, Éd.
du Rocher, 2021, 256 p., € 18.90.
Make peace with your family. How to find harmonious relationships, by Saverio Tomasella and Charlotte Wils, Larousse, 2020, 288 p., € 16.95.
Hypnosis to simplify family relationships, by Nicole Prieur, Pocket, 2019, 216 p., € 6.70.
The Art of Deceiving Your Parents. There is no age to start living your own life, by Michael Bordt, First, 2018, 133 p., € 11.95.
Small family settlements, by Nicole Prieur, Albin Michel, 2009, 256 p., € 16.20.