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Kay Nuyens

Family Relationships Are
Both a Gift and a Challenge

by Kay Nuyens

The Holy Spirit teaches that you always meet yourself,
and the encounter is holy because you are.
ACIM, T229

I never really thought that I belonged to a dysfunctional family. It seemed normal enough. Yet, as I gain in wisdom and understanding, I realize that a lot was missing in our family relationships. None of us were close. We all lived in our own little world. My mom died in October after suffering many years of Alzheimer’s. It was living through this painful experience that I could move into more love and compassion for my parents.

It was scary when mom was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, then soon I realized it was a gift that she had given herself. In the book, Feelings Buried Alive Never Die, Karl Truman shares the probable feelings behind this disease. I believed they fit perfectly with what mom dealt with all her life: "tired of coping, can’t face life anymore, feels unable to be in control of own life, feelings of inferiority and insecurity, suppressed anger, wants to live in own little world and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness." We are not victims. We are co-creators with God. I believe that mom chose this disease to give herself a gift of "internal, spiritual time." This disease was an opportunity to assist her in eliminating some of the blockages and self-limiting patterns with which she defined herself. Once I was able to change my perception of this "disease," I realized this was an opportunity for healing. I was in awe at the powerful choices we have as humans.

Watching someone you love move through the stages of Alzheimer’s was still a very painful experience, even though there was a gift in it. Dad would be upset with the obscenities that Mom used consistently; yet it made me smile. These were feelings that Mom had pushed down all her life. I believe that she never allowed herself to get in touch with her real feelings because it was much too frightening. Mom was disappointed with her life choices and tried to live with them rather than create the changes that she would have preferred. Under the guise of Alzheimer’s, mom could release all these negativities. Painful as it was to watch, the other part of me was cheering her on! Near the ending stages of mom’s illness, the nurses were concerned about her screaming. I shared that I believed that mom was finding herself in between dimensions; she was scared because she did not realize where she was. I knew that all was well and mom was just doing her work here on earth. She was resolving some of her earthly issues before moving into the spiritual realm.

One of my gifts during this experience with my mom was a better relationship with my dad. My dad had always challenged me. I perceived my dad as strict, uncompromising and demanding. I was afraid of him. Though I always knew that I was loved, it felt conditional. My parents seemed to believe that well-behaved, unspoken, conforming kids were an indication of how good their parenting skills were, but I believe that it was at the cost of broken spirits. Always wanting to please to feel loved, I grew up to be a perfectionist and a people-pleaser. Rather than encouraging and nourishing different perspectives on things, my parents controlled us by scolding, threatening and punishing. I acted out of fear and didn’t let my parents into my world.

My dad is now eighty-two years young. Our roles have reversed over the years. I know and respect my dad on a much different level now, and I truly honor who I know him to be in present time. My husband, Tom, and I have experienced dad becoming much more mellow. Life’s experiences have a way of creating changes in the world around us. These changes often force us to look at life differently. When dad had to finally put mom into a nursing home, the world as he knew it, came tumbling down. It was so admirable to note how much patience he developed as he watched mom lose more of her capacity for life. He showed such gentleness and a kindness that I had not previously witnessed. Faithfully and untiringly, I watched dad assist mom in her personal care. Witnessing his unconditional love was new for me and forever changed my perception of my dad.

Being a daughter has been both a challenge and a gift. As I was growing up, I didn’t always appreciate my dad. How could I understand that his challenge, his rigidity stemmed from the fact that his own childhood was devoid of love and nurturing? I realize now that dad did the best he could as a father. I considered his unhealed issues from a childhood he chose not to share with us. His expectations for us were greater than he was able to experience, so he worked hard to provide a life for us that was more comfortable than his own childhood. Dad was strict because he wanted to bring out the best in us. Compassion and forgiveness grew as I looked at this experience through different eyes. My perception of him has changed. The fear is gone. I can love him now.

There is a powerful old Buddhist teaching tale sharing the significance of our perceptions. When the Chinese get married, the wife would go to the home of the husband to live with his family. In this story, Milata, hated her father-in-law! She found him to be ornery, negative, small minded and critical and she grew in resentment of him. After 6-7 years she made a decision. She was going to kill him! She decided she would use arsenic because it was a poison that could not be detected by taste, and it would be easy to lace his food with it.

She went to the spiritual leader of the community to let him know her intent. Everyone knew what a mean, nasty man her father-in-law was to her. She told the master that she had a plan to kill him with arsenic, but she wanted to be sure that there was nothing she was not seeing. This wise man listened intently to Milata, and asked her to tell him again how difficult it was to live with her husband’s father. Finally he agreed that it was right for her to kill him. But he advised her not to put all the arsenic in one meal because everyone knew it was a difficult relationship--and she would become a suspect if her father-in-law died suddenly. He advised her to wait for thirty to forty days. During this time he suggested that Milata be VERY kind to her father-in-law. She should tell him how wonderful he is, how helpful he is, how much she appreciates him… so that people will see that they are learning to get along together. He asked her to come back to him in forty days and they will make a plan together. After ninety days passed, the spiritual leader saw Milata in town. He reminded her that she never returned to see him about the plan. Milata just looked at him quizzically. When he reminded her of the plan to kill her father-in-law, she laughed. Milata reported that he had turned into the sweetest, kindest, most helpful person you would ever want to know!

When we give love, it changes our perception. This is a spiritual law. We enter into the alignment of who we really are, divine beings. This is how God made us. When we plant seeds of kindness, compassion and love, the seeds produce the fruit that it is. We can’t keep the harvest from growing! So when we give love, attention and appreciation to the people we love--we experience the greater good as we become the good. We are wired to experience a greater good in our life. It reminds me of the Disney commercial--Magic Happens! Difficult people challenge us to grow.

I believe that all moments were meant to happen. Nothing happens by chance. The design is perfect. Altering our own perceptions is what brings us peace. Everything in our life becomes a blessing. Love transforms.

In my book, Invitation to Greatness, I see ourselves as actors and actresses on the stage of life. I believe that at some level, we select the people and situations in our lives to be our teachers--our challenges and our gifts. It is all a script created by our wise mind to remind us of our origin, our connection to the Divine. The real purpose of our existence is "Remembering" who we are…

My Life; My Script
From Invitation to Greatness by Kay Nuyens

We can look at our life as a movie script. In each moment we experience a different frame in our creative process. Since we co-created this script, we are not victims. We are powerful souls. Actually, we can edit our life’s drama any time through our conscious choices.

I love my present script! Though sometimes I wish I would have had the foresight to eliminate some of the past scenes. And I’d like to deny inviting certain characters to play particular roles... Yet I know they are wearing "their destined disguises" and are actually gifts to me, helping me to remember who I am.

I am not yet ready for the ending scenes. I am still in the process of "becoming" and evolving as a character... but I predict the grand finale will be a loving continuum.

Families come together as a mirror for our own introspection to help us find the hidden pieces. All moments were meant to happen. Nothing happens by chance. The design is perfect. Altering our own perceptions is what brings us peace. Everything in our life becomes a blessing. Love transforms. We were able to celebrate Mom’s transition into the spiritual realm.

Within a few months my dad married a widow of twenty-six years whom he met at church Bingo. She is eighty six, a spunky, healthy woman who makes us all laugh. I believe she came into my dad’s life to allow his heart to open a little more. Love is always a good thing.

©Copyright 2002 Kay Nuyens. All Rights Reserved. 

Invitation to Greatness Workbook by Kay Nuyens

Kay Nuyens
Kay Nuyens spent twenty-five years teaching and counseling in the public schools before buying early retirement in 1998. She has manifested a new, more joyful and fulfilling life for herself. She is now a certified clinical hypnotherapist, author, speaker, teacher and a certified JOY Practitioner, assisting struggling students to feel successful. Her goal is to empower people to find their inner connection, healing issues through awareness, compassion and the power of love. Kay offers private sessions, personal growth classes and workshops.

Her new book, "Invitation to Greatness" is a workbook for personal growth. It contains a treasure trove of exercises for inner reflection, self-expression, clearing blocks and creating new patterns. It is a personal journey to discover your inner healer, your own loving essence. Learn specific healing techniques to gain emotional freedom and peace of mind. Discover how YOU can create a successful life script! (www.changingfocus.net)


Visit Kay at Her Website:



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