This was the second year in a row that I did not spend Christmas with my family. In fact, I spent it all by myself. And even though I did enjoy most of the time there was also a lot of shame and guilt coming up. Shame and guilt about the fact that I have not been in touch with my family for a long time. That I did not try hard enough to find a way of spending time with them for Christmas in particular; but instead, choosing to abandon them knowing they were suffering from it.
Just ducklings everywhere
Many years ago, I read a book where the fairy tale about the ugly duckling was told from a new perspective. And this really changed my life, as it finally brought to my awareness why I had been suffering so much from a life that was perfectly fine for everyone else in it.
“The ugly duckling” talks about a swan hatchling that grows up in a family of ducks. And nobody knows that it isn’t an actual duckling; not even the hatchling itself. It spends its childhood believing it is a duck. And all it knows is the way ducks perceive and live their lives. However, this does not feel right or even work at all for the hatchling. It tries so hard to fit in and blames itself for not being like the others. But it only gets mirrored its inferior “duckliness” from its surrounding. It takes a long journey for the hatchling to finally find out who it truly is and to realize that all its flaws were only ever traits and gifts of its true self: a beautiful white swan.
You cannot deny your true nature
I read this version of the fairy tale in a book about archetypes at the age of about 17. And it really struck me. I knew right away this was my life, my story. However, I did not feel like a swan hatchling amongst ducks. I rather felt like a rabbit amongst chicken or a sparrow amongst cows. This is how intense I perceived the difference to my family of origin. And yet, they did not even recognize this. The only thing I ever got mirrored was being a duck with some strange ideas.
After I moved out, it actually started to get even more intense. I felt like I was so different from any of my family members, that I had to deny myself to be around them even. That I must think and speak in a different way to allow any conversation at all. I felt so misplaced that it would drain most of my energy to spend time with them. Like a pig that is forced to go deep sea diving to visit its adopted family. It works out fine and can even be nice for a short while … That is, until, the pig cannot hold its breath any longer.
I spent many years trying to explain myself to them, finding a compromise or a way to stay connected while being fully me. But I could not succeed. The truth of who I am and how I perceive life is so far away from their reality that I did not manage to find a healthy middle way. I continued suffering from it and at the same time blamed myself for not being able to fit in nor find an alternative solution. Eventually, in 2016, things got so intense that I could not stand it any longer. I realized that I had to fully express the real me otherwise I would perish. Therefore, I broke contact with my family members. I never intended this to be a permanent solution. But for the time in which I am transforming my life into what feels in alignment with my swan nature, I now have to stay away from the ducks. I need space to explore more of the possibilities of a life outside the duck farm. Thus, I cannot be around people who are not capable of seeing anything else in me than a duckling, just because they do not know anything else.
Sometimes, we have to become really empty, touch ground and burn down the old personality in order for us to arise as the new, more authentic version of ourselves. This is what this past year has been about for me.
The joy as well as the pain of this year’s Christmas are combined in that story. This year, I haven’t been treated like a duckling anymore. I spent the holidays fully honouring the truth of who I am. Yet I long to spend it with others like me. Though I have met many alike souls this past year, most of them live far away, in a different country or even on another continent. But it feels good to know they are there. And deep down I know that my life will continue to transform and that very soon, they and others, will be there in a more tangible way. Just as I know, there will be a time when my swan life is stable enough to allow getting back in touch with my duck family.