Towards a sketch

Kandinsky, four partsThe sins of the fathers are visited on the children to the tenth generation, and Robert Hoffman sought to break that chain. During the Hoffman Process, a week long immersion in techniques to connect participants to our inner inspiration, to confront us with ourselves, and to free us from patterns inherited from parents in imitation or rebellion, I visited my parents’ deathbed again. Four years afterwards, though I have not escaped my parents’ programming, I find the model useful. I don’t use the “tools” to let my unconscious speak, because I find they work in particular heightened circumstances rather than the quotidian, and I have the Quaker meeting for that. Or perhaps because I am frightened of going into such a magical, mystical world, where I see in metaphors the reality which fails to correspond to my apparently rational illusions.

Twenty of us sat in a large room visualising our parents’ deathbeds, whether or not they were already dead, surrounded with mementoes of them, crying our hearts out. How to describe, introduce or capture that scene eludes me.

Also that weekend, I lay supine, a helpless baby, and she said to me, I don’t want you. While I have no conscious memory before I could walk, I trust this unconscious memory or reconstruction, just as when in counselling I went back to the pram under the tree- you told me that I liked looking up at the leaves in the wind- I felt such rage and terror. I went back there. At the very least my unwavering belief makes it real now.

Then there is the demon mother. She came to the CAB with her son, who had lost benefit through being found fit to work, and when I asked him about how he felt, she answered. One of the points available was “does not care about his (sic) appearance or living conditions”. The doctor had written “Appeared well-dressed today” and she started to wail. “He only dresses well because I make him. I even have to shave his head, or he would let his hair grow long, and untidy, and dirty.” There was nothing wrong with the man that liberation from his mother would not cure, yet when I thought of her I felt my own mother was worse.

rain landscapeAnd there was my friend showing grief twenty years after being 24 with a new-born, and no idea what to do with it, and her shame and distress now, as great as at the time. I don’t have any, but I understand that bringing up children is not easy. We all have these memory-scars, where if you touch them our pain is as great as ever. My mother’s solution, to control every aspect of my life, could be faulted, but it really was the best she could do. She didn’t understand, she didn’t see anything better, she did not have infinite resources money or energy, and she did her very best.

So I have a number of disparate elements, a rich seam to mine- the experience of everyone and something completely alien to most; extremity of feeling; there might be too much detail in places, too little in others, so my projected “four visits” might become three, or an essay with incidents.

I won’t be long back from Flintshire before going to the Yearly Meeting Gathering- another week on a campus with Quakers, you would think I would have learned my lesson- but I will work on this, hoping to produce a piece of continuous prose worthy of the subject-matter.

10 thoughts on “Towards a sketch

  1. “to free us from patterns inherited from parents in imitation or rebellion”- I like the concept. Most of who we are is the result of imitation or rebellion. I’ve had to set those things aside entirely to be able to create the sort of life I wanted for myself as my original patterns were resounding failures.


  2. Sorry. I’m knew. What the heck are you talking about? I have run into thousands of different belief system s and I am having a heck of time placing what went on. I got the important part, it sounds like everyone involved was learning to forgive, which is of the utmost importance in life, but who is Robert Hoffman? And what did this process have to do with Quakers?


    • Welcome, Hayden. Good luck with the publication, and the babies. My posts of 22-29 July form a series of sketches explained here. Liberal-liberal Quakers, like us in the UK, tend to be eclectic- seek wisdom where she may be found- and Robert Hoffman created the Hoffman Process, a personal growth workshop designed to free us from habits inherited from parents. Forgiveness was a by-product for me, not the primary intention I think: rather he wanted to show us more options than our parents’ habitual responses to stimuli, and doing the opposite in rebellion.

      Thank you for commenting, even if you did not understand it. Normally my posts are more comprehensible, because more self-contained.


      • Hi Clare, this sounds really interesting. I am terribly sorry for you loss but it sounds like you are going in a very healthy direction.


        • I am not working on my loss here, but on the relationship. I was completely dominated by my mother, into my thirties and after her death. Then I felt rage and resentment, and working through that took 14 years. I am over the “I blame my parents” stage, and in middle age it is about time. Some day, I may even become adult!


  3. Sometimes I like knowing that in some ways I am channeling my father or mother … I didn’t have a lot of rebellion in my childhood. Rather, I suppose I was far too spoiled, loved, indulged. Some personalities would have behaved differently, but it definitely worked for me. I had an utterly enchanting and possibly enchanted childhood.

    NOW … all of these people in one room sobbing their hearts out would drive the demons into me, not out ! Yikes. I reminded me of doing some volunteer work at a residence for the elderly … which was a tad creepy, because they always started talking the second I walked into the room. And then, some old geezer touched me up and said something horrid like, “Bet you’d like a bit of that, now, wouldn’t you.” Oh, good gravy. I did NOT look back, I simply ran from the room and requested a different assignment from the school counselor. Yikes.


All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.