The foundation of systemic phenomenological work


14 July 2021| Personal

No one’s fault

“It’s not your fault,” I had a coachee say out loud. And then: “It’s nobody’s fault.”

A deep silence followed, in which you could feel how much pain there was and is in this family system.

The original question was about perpetrators. The coachee struggled with the fact that she would often be so venomous. We looked at where the roles of perpetrator and victim were not allowed to have a place in history, but I found little footing.

Her father had been three months old when his mother died. She died of pneumonia, and yes, she was probably weakened after childbirth. Four older children also lost their mother, and their father lost his wife.

“It was his fault,” were the unspoken words that circulated in this system.

The coachee apparently picked this up subconsciously as a child. Children can sense what is unspoken in a system. The child can pick up what the father’s ‘guilt’ is, and a daughter will take it off her father’s shoulders; that’s just what happens.

Well, and then ‘if you are guilty, then you are a perpetrator’ becomes the groove the pattern will get stuck in.

The venom subconsciously brings the unspoken venomous thoughts of the father’s older siblings into focus, and the daughter’s feeling of being a perpetrator unconsciously tries to protect father from that.

But after uttering “it’s nobody’s fault,” a huge emptiness appeared. And I could feel the pain, through the computer screen. Even this woman’s vastly developed reason could not defeat this pain. The pain that was there, that is there, that is palpable…

And in this silence, an insight arose in me, that feeling like a perpetrator is also a survival method. As long as it is someone’s fault, we don’t have to feel the pain. But when no one is to blame, this creates an emptiness from which pain inevitably looms.

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