Abandonment Antidote - Family Activity
If you or any of your family is experiencing feelings of abandonment due to a loss, here is a healing and fun way to reprogram those feelings.
Gather your tribe for an Eclipse Party!
This exercise serves several purposes. First of all it connects you and/or your family to a larger community of support (real, virtual or imaginary - all can work) in both the capacity of receiving and giving support. Second, it helps you/them to practice being present with and thus be able to process and move through the painful feeling and also to practice the antidote. All pain is not likely to completely disappear on the spot, but you will have established some ongoing support and provided a good start to begin transforming the feeling of abandonment. And third, it is a party! When you prepare for a celebration - especially if you use some creativity in doing so, you are shifting out of pain into joy, even if only to a small degree.
Here are some suggestions on how to prepare for the event:
- First make a list of all of the most supportive, loving people in your life and/or in the lives of your family members.
- If you do not feel like you have many you can call upon right now, feel free to invent some or invoke the highest selves of your loved ones - dead or alive. You can choose mentors, hereo/ines from real life or fiction, or even beloved animals or favorite aspects of nature, like the sea or a favorite tree.
- Second send out invitations. They can be artistically created on paper (eg. white circle with slightly smaller black circle glued on the top.) or sent out via email (copy, paste and modify the template below)* or just send out a group text if that feels easier. If you are doing an imaginary party, you can still write out invitations, explaining why you are inviting those particular guests and burn them or you can just invoke them at the beginning of your gathering.
- The more time and creativity you can invest in preparing for this event - especially if you are involving your family, the better, but only if it is not stressful. If you are feeling overwhelmed, just do the bare minimum and know that this is perfectly fine.
- Optional decorations and preparation of snacks - even if it is just for you, your toddler, your cat and some comforting characters from your favorite childhood movies! Some suggestions for snacks would be round black sesame crackers toped with cheese to look like an eclipse or sun or moon cookies, an eclipse decorated cake or slices of oranges. Decorations could be black and white streamers and balloons and aluminum foil stars.
- Find black and/or white clothes for everyone. Even if just one black sock and one white one to you get in the spirit.
- If inviting any guests who will not be physically present at the gathering, have pictures or objects to represent each one.
- Consider where you will have the event take place. Ideally the temperature should be a little cool with low lighting.
- MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ICE CUBES AND A COZY BLANKET and optional candles, matches and music (Dark Side of the Moon would be a good choice - depending on your group. Also if you have the Pink Floyd CD and the DVD of the Wizard of Oz, here is a fun activity for after the hullabaloo and dancing if you have older kids and adults and wish to extend the gathering.)
On the night of the party:
Welcome everyone as they arrive during that first half hour and invite them to do some kind of low key activity. Try to keep it fairly quiet and explain there will be lots of time to make noise at the end!
- make moon art out of paper plates and whatever art materials you have on hand (crayons, water colors, glue, scissors, old magazines, noodles, leaves)
- have quiet music playing and suggest slow dance or stretches.
- have paper plates and pencils for people to write or draw an account of a time they felt like they were on the dark side of the moon.
When everyone has arrived, gather them in a circle. Explain what will be happening, so they understand that it will need to be serious and quiet at the beginning and that there will be a chance to make noise at the end.Then have everyone take 3 deep breaths to connect.
Tell a short eclipse story that links eclipses to the feeling of abandonment. Here is one example to get you started.
If restless young children, have them stay through the dragon story and then send them to another room with an adult or older kid to do some quiet activities such as craft project, books or moon videos like Good Night Moon , The Moon and the Cap , The Sun and the Moon , Lily and the Moon and Eclipse - this last one one needs someone to read subtitles. Have them get a turn with the ice cube and blanket and make sure they get to whisper in at least one persons ear in the following exercise.
Have a bowl of ice cubes and an empty bowl. Offer an ice cube to someone in the circle and ask them to think about a time they felt abandoned. Explain that you want them to hold the ice cube and let themselves FEEL (encourage them to feel where that sadness lives in their body) for one minute (set a timer). Then they put their ice cube in the empty bowl and get a new one that they pass to someone else in the circle.
When everyone has had a turn, light some candles (in a safe place where they won't get knocked over) or turn on some brighter lights. Say something about bringing back the light and warmth.
Have that last person go to the center of the circle and have someone wrap them in the blanket and close their eyes. Then have everyone surround them and takes turns hugging them and whispering something compassionate and comforting (like what they would want whispered in their ear if they felt sad and lonely) and something they love or value about that person in their ear, followed by a group hug. Encourage the blanketed one to really FEEL that all the way into their heart and belly.
If doing with imaginary tribe, swaddle yourself in a blanket and imagine what those guests would say to you and how their voices would sound in your ear and how you would feel to be embraced by all of them. Really drink that feeling into your core - and be sure to also reciprocate by telling those imaginary guests what you love about them and imagine how they might have felt during times they might have felt abandoned. Give yourself a hug! And you can do this for your kids by saying "and now I am going to pretend to be Grandma Betty. I think this is what she would say to you" etc.
Then that person brings the blanket to a person they choose and repeat until everyone has had a turn.
Next, invite everyone (including the small children) to follow you outside (or to a sink or tub) and bring the bowl of the melted ice cubes. Have everyone dip their fingers into the bowl and flick the drops off to let all of that loneliness go down into the Earth or flow down the drain to the sea.
Finally announce that now it is time for the hullabaloo (which is what the ancients did to scare off the dragon eating the moon during an eclipse) and make as much noise as you can get away with (bang pots and pans etc). Put on music and dance and eat. Celebrate with your tribe. Even if it is a tribe you have created!
Moonlight Muse- Finding Your Tribe
Click above link for recommended article.
* EMAIL INVITATION TEMPLATE (use any of the above images to add for decoration)
Please come to an Eclipse party* on (date) at (address).
We will be doing a little ritual/special activity at (time) so if you could arrive between (time one half hour earlier than ritual planned) and (time of ritual) we would greatly appreciate it. Snacks, general merrymaking and optional dancing to follow. Party ends at (time).
Please wear something white and/or black if possible (but not your fanciest party clothes since we will be sitting on the floor for part of the time).
If you would like to bring a snack to share (eclipse themed or not), that would be great. Otherwise just bring your loving, supportive self.
We are inviting you because we really value your presence in our lives and hope you will be able to attend.
RSVP via (give phone number or email address and specify whether you want call or text- whatever is easiest for you) by (pick a date). If for some reason you will not be able to make it after you have accepted, PLEASE let us know as far in advance as possible.
If someone does cancel, and you feel comfortable telling them that the purpose of the party was to address abandonment issues, ask them if they would be willing to write you a little message instead, otherwise, write one yourself as though it were from them.
*no it is not a real eclipse - Our family is going through a challenging time right now, so we are gathering our community to help us shift into a brighter phase.
FOR VIRTUAL GUESTS
We know you will not be able to attend in person, but if you could be present with us via (Google Hang Outs, Skype or on speaker phone), we would be honored to include you.
We know you will not be able to join us, but if you could promise to hold us in your thoughts at (time) and send us love, we would be very grateful. We will have your picture out to represent you at our gathering and send love back to you!