A Circle Keeper recounts the incident that led to a family’s involvement in the RYC program, and a breakthrough during a Circle:

Two 15 year old twins live with their single mom. The brother (B) and sister (S) share a computer. They live in Parkdale. 

B came home and asked S to get off Facebook so he could do his homework. S refused. B tipped her chair over backwards. She fell on the floor. He pinned her down. She got away, locked herself in the bathroom and called 911. The brother was charged with assault and there was a restraining order against him. When we came together in the Circle, this family had not been together in the same room for seven months, outside of the courtroom.

The Talking Piece went around and around, and we were getting nothing out of the young people.

Then, in response to a question from the Lead Keeper, B said, “I just feel really really angry, and I don’t know why.”

As the Co-Keeper in the Circle, I was next. A 50-something white, relatively privileged woman. For me, what resonated in his statement was, “and I don’t know why”. Since Circle Keepers are also participants, I shared my experience of feeling angry. “I hate feeling angry. It’s like all this energy that has no place to go. So when I try to peel it back and say, Why does this anger have so much energy? The answer I get is, behind the anger is pain. And pain is even more uncomfortable than anger.”

The talking piece continued to go around. The mom talked about her anger that her husband had died and left her alone with two babies in a new country. The mom works two split shifts, cleaning hotel rooms. She is the 9th child and the only adopted child in her family. All of her brothers and sisters are still in the Philippines.

The sister talked about her anger that she shared a computer with her brother and a bed with her mother.

The talking piece came to B, the so-called “offender”. He’s a tough kid, with spiky hair and the waist of his jeans hanging down to his knees. Right now he’s fighting back tears so much that he can hardly get his story out. He said: “It was my basketball tournament. I scored the first point. I looked around to see my mom and my sister cheering for me, and I couldn’t find them. I played my best game ever: three baskets. I thought maybe they came late. But they still weren’t there. We won. The team went out to celebrate.

I went home, to tell my sister and my mom of my success. My sister was on the computer. My mom was on the phone. I came in and said ‘We won!’ My sister didn’t get off the computer. My mom didn’t get off the phone. It’s like, I’m invisible.” All of this surfaced in our first Circle. B found a voice. Nothing yet was resolved, but it was a definitely a positive beginning.

After the Circle, as we were all packing up to go, the sister went over and gave her brother a hug. The mom saw this, went over, and they had a 3-way hug. B said, “I’ve been saying I don’t want to come home, because I thought you didn’t want me to come home, but now I know you do.”

Participating in the Circle process enabled the family to begin to re-connect. It was a significant breakthrough and a powerful experience for everyone involved.