When we look at someone, at something, a story is told to us by the image. The story can never be the whole story as our eyes only take in partial information no matter how long or how often we look. Vision is its own editor. What is absent is always far more than what is present, what we select as present. History, context, relationship, everything that came before, everything outside the frame, everything it is leading toward, all missing from what is actually seen.
And yet from what we see, we glean what we come to accept as the story, the truth. When the image is from within the family – perhaps our mother stands weak and feeble before us; our father turns away; we are unwanted – we accept what we see, the story it seems to tell, often right to the end, what we believe to be our end and the story’s end. Our reactions, then, are generally within the parameters of that frame. Thus, those reactions, whether railing against or forgiveness or efforts to be different, are ultimately disappointing since they only are connected to one aspect of reality – that which we saw with our editor’s eye.
The most profound images we take in are received before we can speak or in other ways communicate. What we see then is especially narrow as the editor has but one task: to survive. We look for the hands that will feed and hold, the mouth that will smile. Once we find them, we do not question the bargain; we accept the rules and do what we can, anything we can, to accommodate them. They are the close ones that come to us seemingly without context. And so we grab them; they are there. Some time later, we may come to know that the price was high, the exchange uneven, but the first understanding will always have a place; this is what is necessary to survive. Therefore, the replication of the uneasy, even dangerous situation in adulthood is not simply a “pattern”; it is a felt sense, a deeply seeded knowledge of what is essential, or what was essential now carried over into current reality.
The experiential component of Constellations is key, no matter the venue, in order to reach past the intellectual mind into the sensory mind-body, in order to reach the reasons and resources that exist absolutely but often outside what is immediate. The Constellations include the intellect but do not rely solely on it. The task of Constellations is not to provide a better picture – which the powerful preverbal editor would not notice anyway and so would be colored by it no matter – but to allow a parallel truth to emerge. Of course, this is not the parallel truth, and neither is it the whole truth; rather, it is a simultaneous piece, larger and aligned with a greater context. With the larger cotext in place the tight and rigid frame may be loosened. With the boundaries of initial seeing dislodged, the image can begin to flow, to fill in, to provide more. In turn, we can move from reactions that are stifling in their narrowness to responsiveness that both emanates from a larger image and then can be integrated into one.