Untangling The Family Web


When a friend took me to see “The Wild Center” in Tupper Lake, New York, last weekend, a giant spider web captured my imagination. It reminded me of something I learned while writing my book; that while the family we grow up in is our first mirror it is not usually an accurate reflection. We spend our lives untangling the stories that live inside us.

I had not realized how hard I’ve been trying to be seen accurately by my family until this past week. I wrote one of my siblings and shared some realizations about why it matters so much to me now to feel connected with them. Their response was to recognize some things about me that made me feel seen at the deepest level. After wiping my eyes, I realized that they were tears of relief.

I suspect that many of us work hard to be recognized in one of two ways: Either we don’t know who we are, so we work hard to have our family and others see us as we wish we were, or we know we have something good to offer and struggle to have our family see our true selves.

I fall into the latter category. Until I read my sister’s email, I didn’t know how much effort I had been putting into showing up as I really am, hoping my family would recognize me. The effect was like a landslide rolling off my shoulders.

The next time you take a breath, notice if you are holding onto a story that no longer feels true to you. If so, let it go, again and again, until you are free. If you have a sibling or parent whose story about you is tangled in their own, climb around on the ropes that bind you long enough to know which ones are yours, and which you can untangle, and slide right through to your core. Welcome home.

What story do you need to let go of?
How would your life be different if your family saw you as you really are?

This entry was posted in Eileen's Armchair and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Untangling The Family Web

  1. Great post, Eileen.

    This year, for the first time, I am beginning to let go of the story that I am solely responsible for the happiness of my 22-year-old son, Aaron, who has autism.

    This tentative step forward has helped me begin to build the community that Aaron will need to support him long after I am gone, by channeling my energy into making sure others understand the amazing person that I already know him to be.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I’m so glad to hear you are seeking and accepting help, Steve. What a huge boulder you have carried all these years, and with so much love. It can only lead to good all around.

  2. Hi Eileen, beautiful photos… The neatly organized web with children playing on it–climbing, sitting, holding on and looking in and around is touching and INSPIRING. Certainly, many of the onlookers wanted to climb around, too and look up and around. Maybe, you are thinking about building a beautiful playground in your name, nearby, so you can play with the kids, be an onlooker, proud and strong at your efforts and wealth and confident of your knowledge of early education, as demonstrated by your graduate degree and work at Milton Academy’s Lower School. Maybe, you miss seeing children learning and leap frogging, forward.Your tears may be the result of many factors, e.g., climate change and humidity, a deep need for family support from your sisters, feeling like “OTHERS” see you as the wicked witch of the North, rather than the challenged energetic smart North Country School graduate…. Cry your heart out for love has been REGAINNED. Could your tears fill Hoover Dam, freeze into a skateable area, create the diamonds? The Billionaires’ Foundation for education, health and all that is globally important..

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Dear Elaine, You have a very active imagination! You are not always accurate, but who is?I appreciate the bright light you shine upon your image of me. May you find a useful mirror in me.

  3. Tonja (Iman) Ali says:

    Hi Eileen,
    Great, great post! I mean it speaks right into my current awakening about what I’m really here to do. For so many years I thought it had something to do with fame or fortune – that if I could realize that type of platform THEN people would LISTEN and GET ME. LOL.

    But JUST recently I had my “Aaah-Ha Moment” — that best most magnetic way to be SEEN & COUNTED is the be in alignment with the ORIGINAL intention for my life. The best way is to BE MY AUTHENTIC SELF and HONOR those beautiful gifts that I have and share them with the world. And it’s THE MOST rewarding, exhilarating experience I’ve ever had. And less exhausting! LOL.

    This September (God Willing) I’m opening my very own Intuitive & Energy (Chakra) Healing Studio inside a Wellness Center here in Georgia!!! As a result, so many resources are coming to me from every direction – because this is MY AUTHENTIC ENERGY. I can be TRULY SEEN in MY OWN LIGHT and not the light of someone else.

    Thank you again for mindfulness.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Brava Iman! Let’s hear it for our authentic selves. The amazing thing I’ve found is that once we find our core we can soar! More power to you in your healing practice.

  4. joan says:

    Good morning Eileen: the longer I know you, the more beauty and depth as well as all things good I see in you. Often I have noticed, family and its members WISH they were more like you . . . but step back perhaps, because in comparison, they find they are not your equal. In the case of Eileen, I think that is more likely the case. Truly, you must move forward always, not seeking approval of family members or others. You, Eileen, are unique and beautiful far into your very depths. I see you as open and welcoming . . . arms spread wide and ready to bring others in. You ARE doing your part. . so keep moving forward on the path of life you have chosen with love in your heart.

    None of us know what tomorrow will bring. . . so let’s make each day we are on this earth count.
    And – as I am a bit ahead of you — you will find that as we grow older, dynamics within family and friends change . . . and we realize that family and friends and the love that brings is what life is really all about. For you, these are very good years if you continue to make them so. Your family will be ever so happy to have you as a member. Give them time. . but continue to glow every day, just as you were on the carriage last week. You made me wish I were a bit more like Eileen! xoxo

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Thank you Joan. You are such a champion of others. Thanks for your warm and encouraging words. I tend not to like comparisons because I think they place someone as lesser, and I know what that feels like, but I appreciate very much the wisdom of choosing with one’s heart. Here’s to yours.

  5. Paul Binder says:

    Yup. Untangling the family stories that we’ve held onto for so long, sure is liberating. Ain’t life great? Love you Eileen!

  6. Dear Eileen, you offer great wisdom and food for thought with this post! As you know, my family had some great challenges and difficulties which contributed to certain insecurities in me. I held on to these experiences for many years–they became this “stickiness” in my soul. However, the good news is with hard work and deep understanding– I am now finding a liberating joy with every day–thankfully. Recently a Buddhist teacher asked us to consider this: what if you wake up tomorrow morning with no history? Well, this sent ripples of giggles and absolute joy throughout the room, as it is a most important lesson on living in the present moment! Thank you for being you–a wonderful, loving, at at times, totally hilarious friend! Love, Louise

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Dear Louise, Your sharing has me thinking that I’m going to carry a big eraser around with me. Every time I start sliding back, I’m going to bring it out of my pocket and flash myself! Thank you for the terrific image of no history!!! love to you.

  7. Phyll says:

    Very interesting blog. Strong visual. Our families often see us as THEY wish to see us and not how we truly are; even in adulthood, as you pointed out in your beautiful book. As the youngest of 3 girls, I’ve often been categorized as “the baby” and treated like one—for many years. Finally, I became more authentic, determined to be my own person.

    Funny, but as I’ve grown into my own (true) skin, my sisters have grown more distant. It hurt, initially, but as the years have gone by, I’ve felt okay with things just the way they are. Now, we exchange Christmas and birthday cards and have a cordial relationship. Bottom line: do you want to live a life of truth and authenticity or wear the mask of conformity and pretend to be somebody you’re not? Ease of being or being dis-eased?

  8. eileenrockefeller says:

    Ease of being sounds good to me Phyll! A mantra I’ve been using lately in my meditation that helps is simply: “I’m here.” As long as I’m here with me it doesn’t matter if I’m alone or left out. It is harder to remember this than one might think! Enjoy your day! Hugs.

Comments are closed.