The power of institutions.
Although I knew the term “dysfunctional family” early in my life, I never fully understood what it means in practice. It took me a while to step into the role of the observer and notice that this term is quite straightforward. A dysfunctional family does not function as it is supposed to and as a result it will not be able to fulfill its important role to nurture and socialize children.
Think for a moment of a car that is broken as a metaphor for a dysfunctional family.. It is yours, you have it, this car has all the visible attributes that define it as a car to the outside world. Yes, you can use it in a way, like to stay inside of it, but in the end, it is broken and it will just not start. It will not be a tool for you to get where you need to go. It does not fulfill its main purpose.
Now, about the Camino Santiago the Compostela. It is a medieval network of pilgrim’s ways. Although it originated and is deeply linked to Christianity, nowadays it is also followed by people with all sorts of beliefs and is treated as a spiritual or self-development practice rather than Christian pilgrimage. It began in the 10th century and continues till today, and I can confirm it does function very well and it fulfilled exactly the purpose exactly I was hoping for. It was a great way for me to learn more about myself and stay with myself but in a safe, structured, predictable and let’s not skip that one – very beautiful environment.
How walking the Camino supported me.
You know where you are going. You are given directions, structure, and support.
When we grow up, things can look a bit scary.. We face so many new challenges, learning about the world around us and how to adapt to it. It must be an incredible relief to do so in a safe, supportive environment, where you know that it’s ok to make mistakes and that even if you were about to fail or lose your way, you have people to support you and help you get back on track. Too bad many adults were deprived of it.
The way Camino is organized offers a luxurious possibility to face yourself but without enduring the challenges of ordinary life. Walking itself can become challenging and painful due to weather conditions, blisters or injury, not feeling well enough, missing friends or loved ones so it is so cool to know that the only thing you need to worry about is to shower, eat, sleep and wash your clothes.
The route I took is called “Camino Primitivo” and I followed it from the pleasant city of Lugo. Routes are well marked all the way to Santiago de Compostela (and after also to Finistera) with yellow shells and arrows painted on the houses, trees and milestones (milestones are also indicating the left distance). There is a special type of accommodation that is available to the people walking the Camino. It’s called “albergue”. And the internet is full of friendly, useful tips and information on how to pack, what to do, where to stay etc. People who live along the route are friendly and used to the pilgrims.
I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been for me to figure out the way by myself. Or try to guess what to pack and how I should prepare for this walk.
You are not alone. You are free to choose when, how and if you want to connect.
I think that one of the biggest issues with the dysfunctional family, next to the parent-child roles reversal, is the lack of boundaries. There is no unconditional love and oftentimes to get any love, validation, and attention means that you cannot just be yourself but are forced to play the roles assigned to you. This can be extremely draining. It sometimes leads to completely withdrawing into fantasy worlds, through books, video games, spacing out or abusing substances.
Walking the Camino by yourself doesn’t mean you are or have to be all alone. From my experience, even on the busiest parts of my walk people walking the Camino were very respectful of each other’s privacy. At the same time, if you want to, you can always find someone to talk to, share a meal or grab a drink with. So, if you are not so fond of small talk or you prefer to walk alone, you do not need to worry that you will have to excuse yourself. You also do not need to worry if you need to cry (even if it means crying a lot and getting all red and snotty, I tried that one out). Someone may ask you if you are ok or if you need something so it’s not like you suddenly became invisible or leprous, but you can have your privacy to deal with whatever it is that you need to deal with.
It’s all about you and what you need & want. And that brings me to:
Make sure you do it your way.
From my perspective, the Camino experience provided me with everything I needed to “go and find myself’. The questions are “did I receive it well?” and “did I provide myself with everything I needed to go and find myself?”
Well, I did my best 🙂 It took me a while to understand that I am supported enough to not worry about my safety. If I feel lonely, that is because of me choosing it rather than lacking company. It was definitely a new feeling to be able to just be, (even if it sometimes meant being grumpy, moody or avoiding people when I wanted to) and knowing that no matter what, the way will still be marked for me and there will always be an Albergue to sleep in at the end of the day.
Now I know that what I need when I crave comfort and rest is nature, physical effort, movement, and honoring things that are important in my own, sometimes odd way. I also know that I have to work on taking better care of myself. There was no need for me to walk so fast and so much on certain days, I should have mercy on my feet, which are thankfully fully recovered now.
At the same time, I am proud that I allowed myself to prioritize myself, to grieve, to be a bit anti-social, to cry and be overdramatic, and that I even tried to fall in love with my shadow-self and allow it to be seen, felt, and accepted.
And most importantly, I made sure that what I was thinking I want the most is still what I want the most <3
Rapid Transformational Therapy contains a lot of extremely helpful tools to connect with and comfort your inner child. Do not hesitate if you feel it’s time to close certain chapters of your past, do not hesitate. Book your free discovery call with me to talk about how even one Rapid Transformational Therapy session and your personal guided meditation can support your well-being.