Elemental Family in Balance

The story below was posted a while ago but disappeared after all the site and model changes were made.  I updated it (because the kids grew faster than I expected) and am reposting it because it still feels true for our family.   We have all (the four of us) openly discussed talking about ourselves in this way and have all agreed to share our story (kids included).  I like to use our experience (and the elemental energy concepts) as an example or an analogy for how to navigate polarizing interactions within a family unit, even if the individuals are opposites of each other (fire and water for instance).  Here’s the original post:

I am currently in school, in my last few years, finishing a doctorate degree in clinical psychology.  My dream is to eventually have my own practice, and it doesn’t matter how old I am when it finally happens.  I suffer from severe depression and high functioning ASD (Asperger’s).  My husband takes care of our children.  He’s a stay-at-home dad, an amazing mechanic, bicycle repairer, and overall handyman.  The man’s a genius.  He also struggles with bipolar disorder.  When he was younger, in his manic phases, he could be brutally violent and heinous.  He’s had a fascinating and colorful life.  My son is nearing 18 years of age and is a genius that has been diagnosed with Autism.  He has learned how to code and create games using programs on his own.  He used to say he dreams about programming, literally when he goes to sleep, his dreams look like code.  My daughter is thirteen, and a freshman in high school.  She skipped kindergarten because at age 4 she was reading and writing at a second-grade level.  She’s a genius with anxiety.  If she wanted to, she could attend a talented and gifted program.  She’s more interested in art and stories than she is in academics.  I’ve never had to punish her for acting out.  She’s self-correcting to a fault.

I’ve been a practicing pagan since 2007.  My direction in life has always been to seek out the answers in nature.  As I learn the science of psychology, I often spend my days and nights connecting it to how these theories work in the pattern of nature and the universe.  The longer I practiced paganism, the more I started to recognize the patterns of balance in my family.  For instance, when I was younger, we had a vacation where we drove from New Mexico, to California, to Seattle, to Wyoming, then back home.  It was a 2 week, 10 state drive.   The one thing I remember from this amazing journey is every time we stopped, and I was able to swim.  Every hotel had a pool, or a nearby river.  Every time there was a lake, I had to swim in it.  I remember every swimming moment – each body of water I met.  I’ve been connected to water my whole life.  I finally realized that my entire personality could be explained by how water behaves.  I am water.

As I embraced this realization, I became curious about Zane, Aiden, and Elise.  Zane was easy – instantly, I recognized the fire in him.  The most connecting moments I had with him were when we would sit in silence, in our living room lit up with several candles.  We would sit and watch the flames dance.  He was more alive in those moments of fire.  We began having nights of watching candles and eventually obtained a fire bowl to sit closer to the fire.  Zane’s personality has always been flammable.  He can go from being warm and supportive to vicious and cruel.  People are drawn to him like moths to a flame.  Yet he also recognizes that his flames can get out of control if he’s not paying attention – and he can burn.  Zane is fire.

Although my children often behave very similarly to me, they have such amazing individual personalities.  I started to notice that Elise was very drawn to birds, flying, and the sky in general.  Her personality is often compared to a whirlwind or a tornado.  When she dances, she feels like a breeze passing by.  When she was younger, she would dress up like a butterfly, a fairy, or a bird.  She spent her own money just to buy a specially colored towel so that she could cut it up to make it look like wings.  If she could fly – she would.  When she’s around me I feel like I can breathe.  Elise is Air.

Which leaves Aiden.  Aiden is my mountain – he is my rock.  His body is a mountain.  He’s 6’ 4” and moves slow and steady, yet very deliberate.  He often gets stuck in literal concrete thinking.  It takes me flowing across him several times before the thought erodes into his being.  He grasps concepts that are so abstractly profound that most people (even in their dying breath), could never understand, yet human behavior confounds him.  He’s connected to the ground.  Aiden is Earth.

As I embraced this understanding in myself and my family, suddenly, all our personalities, all our struggles, made sense.  They were simply a part of being the elements that we are.  We began to understand that it is our responsibility to recognize how we can be destructive or how we can facilitate growth.  The four of us are in constant flux and at our finest moments of balance, can move our entire world.  When we are out of balance, we cause each other and those around us great suffering.