How Trauma is Inherited – Literally
Let’s talk about this. It’s a fairly new concept, at least to me. After talking about my family dynamic during one session, my amazing holistic therapist (who is also a reiki master) had an open discussion with me about why my soul feels heavy and how my emotions are heightened through sensitivity. Historical trauma is different than subconsciously hanging on to the past, there is a scientific study highlighting how the effects of ancestral memory are lodged into our DNA, resulting in destructive behavior patterns and defense/coping mechanisms.
I’m always asking my best friends why am I the way that I am, and now I know. I’m carrying the weight of two generations on top of childhood stress. Without going in too much detail, let’s just say I grew up watching my mother suffer from depression/bipolar, and my father battling PTSD. I love my parents and obviously don’t fault them for anything. We just had a beautiful vacation in Key West, and I’d like to note my parents are OK (they actually don’t even care lol) with me telling mini versions of our story. Eventually, however, I’d like to sit with my dad with a recorder to recollect his account of the wartime to get a memoir book going. I just think his life was fascinating and he inspires daily.
Second Generation – The Backstory
*Caution – PTSD Trigger Warning stories below*
I never met my grandpa on either side, as they both passed away long before I was born. I’m very close to my dad’s side of the family though and am planning to see my Nana soon. My mom lived in poverty, the youngest of 6. Her mother (my grandmother, who passed away in 2013) and sister was very abusive to her. She had to drop out of school and do heavy labor in the local rice village at age 14. My dad was a city boy, well-off, had a full education and the second eldest of 8. At 18 years old, he was drafted in the Vietnam war and served as 2nd lieutenant from 1972-1975. There are three particular stories he told me that still shakes me to my core. I’ve never shared this with anyone in my life because the conversation never came up, but when he told me, damn I felt that. I felt that energy in the bad days where he’d just go to his room and not talk to any of us. When he used to be really volatile, I remember sitting in my room and wait for it to blow over and then I’d come out, make my dad his favorite, a peanut butter sandwich and we’d just eat lunch/dinner in silence. My dad didn’t really open up to me until I was old enough to understand life and death, so as a kid, I felt the intense energy in our household but didn’t understand why. Then there was my mom whom I walked on eggshells around.
Expiration Date – Times Up
It’s up to us to change the narratives, whatever your family history, whatever your trauma and upbringing, it’s time for us to break the cycle. When they tell you it “runs in the family,” you tell them, this is where it runs out. This is where it stops so we can raise a generation of healthy individuals. Our ancestors have suffered through so much, passing it on and on, but we, I, end the cycle now.