PART ONE Ever wondered why the Human race seems to evolve so slowly when it comes to self- awareness? Why is it so much easier to help others with their own problems and yet when that same logic is applied to your own issues, you simply can’t see the wood for the trees? Because the reality is: To truly take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and take onus for every obvious glaring failure that stares right back at you is a massively difficult or seemingly impossible task. Let me just get one very important point straight here-when I refer to FAILURE I am NOT referring to failure in the material world: I am NOT referring to how much fabulous wealth you may or may not have accumulated, what a wonderful career you may or may not have, how fabulous you may or may not be looking for your age…and all the other superficial things that could be added to that list: NO- I am referring to the ‘Inner Self’ the one person you cannot lie to-YOURSELF. That same question can be applied on a much greater scale: Why are nations so quick to point the finger and interfere with the affairs of others whilst blatantly ignoring their own deep rooted issues which continue to divide an entire state and its people? The answer is so simple, it’s blindingly obvious: A SICK FAMILY = A SICK SOCIETY. In basic terms, and excuse the lingo, we need to clear up the shit in our own backyard before we stand a hope in Hell of truly clearing up the excrement of others. ‘People in glass houses…’ ring a bell? Now, please don’t take this to mean that we suddenly stop caring about others or supporting them with their problems because ours are so much greater! Not at all- I am just proposing that we take a long hard look at where that empathy truly arises from and asking oneself whether is it occasionally a convenient escape route from dealing with our own issues, albeit unconsciously? So WHAT am I on about I can hear you asking (or maybe at this point you’ve simply stopped reading!) Okay, let me attempt to illustrate the point (please bear with me as this is about MY JOURNEY of understanding myself and those around me and trying to make sense of it all whilst sharing it with others) LET US TAKE A GREAT ORATOR WHO TRULY INSPIRES AND STRIKES AWE IN ALL THOSE WHO LISTEN TO HIS PROFOUND WORDS OF WISDOM AND LOGIC.: THIS SAME FELLOW THEN RETURNS HOME AND PROCEEDS TO BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF HIS WIFE AND MENTALLY SCARS HIS CHILDREN FOR LIFE: A ‘LIBERATOR’ IN THE EYES OF THE WORLD, A ‘TYRANT’ AND ABUSER IN THE HOME. HMM OKAY, I ACCEPT THAT THIS IS A SOMEWHAT BRUTAL EXAMPLE BUT WHAT I’M TRYING TO ILLUSTRATE HERE IS THE FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH THAT REAL CHANGE BEGINS IN THE HOME. THE ISSUES WITHIN THE FAMILY NEED TO BE ADDRESSED OR ELSE ALL OTHER ‘TRUTHS’ ARE LIES. ‘ME, MYSELF AND I’ THIS IS WHERE THE JOURNEY BEGINS. I AM A PRODUCT OF MY UPBRINGING-MY PARENTS ARE A PRODUCT OF THEIR UPBRINGING AND SO FORTH AND THE PATTERNS CONTINUE-THIS IS THE KEY. FROM EVERY AREA OF OUR BEING-THROUGH OUR DAILY BEHAVIOUR, TO HOW WE TREAT OTHERS, INCLUDING HOW WE TREAT OURSELVES, ALL THIS STEMS FROM OUR EARLIEST MEMORIES OF WHAT WE PERCEIVE TO BE ‘NORMAL’ FROM OUR HOME ENVIRONMENT. EVER FELT LIKE YOU WERE PLAYING THE LEADING ROLE IN A REAL LIFE VERSION OF THE MIKE LEIGH CLASSIC, ‘SECRETS AND LIES’? WHAT IS THIS NOTION WITHIN FAMILIES THAT LOYALTY, KEEPING SECRETS AND PROTECTING THE PERPETRATOR OF ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR, IS PARAMOUNT? OR ‘THE PAST IS THE PAST’? HAS IT NOT BEEN PROVEN SINCE TIME BEGAN THAT ONLY IF WE FACE UP TO THE PAST AND LEARN FROM THOSE MISTAKES CAN WE PROGRESS INTO THE FUTURE? WHY IS IT THAT ANY MEMBER OF A FAMILY, WHO DARES TO CONFRONT THOSE ISSUES IN AN ATTEMPT TO BRING ABOUT POSITIVE CHANGES, MAY BE SEEN AS DISLOYAL AND AT WORSE, A TRAITOR? HOW IS IT THAT SUCH BEHAVIOUR IN A FRIEND WOULD BE INTOLERABLE AND YET WE ACCEPT IT IN FAMILY BECAUSE, ‘BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER’? IS THAT A LICENSE TO BEHAVE HOW YOU PLEASE, PROTECTED BY THE FALSE TRUTH THAT UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR IS ACCEPTABLE BECAUSE IT IS FAMILY? IT IS WITHOUT DOUBT ONE OF THE MOST COMPLEX SUBJECTS KNOWN TO HUMANITY-THE INVISIBLE BONDS OF THE FAMILY. IMAGINE THAT SAME SCENARIO ON A MUCH LARGER SCALE: I LIKEN THIS TO SPAIN AND ITS LONG DRAWN OUT INABILITY TO FACE UP TO THE PAST WITH REGARDS TO THE CIVIL WAR-THE UNRESOLVED HATRED, FAMILIES DIVIDED, OLD FEUDS UNEARTHED, ACTS OF REVENGE, HORRIFIC ATROCITIES COMMITTED ON BOTH SIDES. HOW ON EARTH DOES A COUNTRY, ANY COUNTRY, RECOVER FROM SUCH A PAST? AND YET, HOW DOES THE SO-CALLED ‘PACTO DE OLVIDO’ ( A PACT TO FORGET THE PAST AND MOVE ON) RESOLVE ALL THESE PROFOUND ISSUES? FORGOTTEN ON THE SURFACE BUT CERTAINLY NOT CONFRONTED AND FORGIVEN. WHERE IS THE HEALING?