Awareness is one of the key factors in identifying, breaking, and healing trauma within the family.
I’ve lived in a state of fight, flight, or freeze since day one of my life. Both of my parents struggled with addiction and my dad was deeply impacted by PTSD from serving in Vietnam as a very young man. If love was a spectrum, you would have found my parents on the opposite end of a story book romance. They were drawn together by their deep wounds of trauma and from that place they co-created a foundation steeped in dysfunction, abuse, neglect, co-dependency, scarcity, fear, anger, and pain – this became the foundation for my life.
Just like their parents and those before them, mine were unaware of the trauma they had experienced and the effect it was having on them. They were so deeply entangled and enmeshed in generations of trauma and dysfunction that they were unable to see what they were passing on to me. It’s hard to see trauma when trauma is rooted deeply into the foundation of a family lineage. It takes awareness, a desire for change, and a willingness to do the painful work of pulling the curtain back.
“When entangled, you unconsciously carry the feelings, symptoms, behaviors, and hardships of an earlier member of your family system as if these were your own.”~ Mark Woylnn
I unknowingly lived in the shadow of my family trauma and dysfunction for over 3 decades. I was well on my way to keeping the torch lit as I struggled with codependency, emotionally unavailable partners, an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and a scarcity mindset that kept me trapped in financial insecurity. All the while, my painful abandonment wound constantly impacted how I showed up for myself and others. While externally I had learned to function at a higher level than my parents, internally my traumatic experiences kept me stuck indeep rooted family trauma patterns.
Intergenerational trauma refers to trauma that has been passed down from a trauma survivor to their descendants and it can be identified in people who may be experiencing symptoms, reactions, patterns, and emotional & psychological effects from trauma experienced by previous generations.
~ Louise Hay
“If your mother did not know how to love herself, or your father did not know how to love himself, then it would be impossible for them to teach you to love yourself. They were doing the best they could with what they had been taught as children.
As humans, we have an innate ability to adapt. When we live with chronic stress or have lived through a traumatic experience(s), natural responses activate to help us survive – these are called trauma responses. These responses are helpful for short-terms survival, however when we find ourselves in a “survival mode” head space for a long period of time it can become harmful to our mind, body and spirit. When the brain becomes accustomed to this adaptive behavior, the adaptations can be passed on to future generations. These patterns can be extremely hard to unlearn.
Remaining in survival mode can deeply impact one’s ability to fully live and thrive. When we live in survival mode we are focused on and constantly preparing for fear, scarcity, and danger. Thriving on the other hand gives us a chance to experience safety and security, something that most intergenerational trauma survivors have never been modeled or given a foundation for.
When someone has gone through a traumatic experience(s) it can become common for them to struggle to feel calm in situations that are considered “safe” because of the anxiety that has built up in their body based on past experiences. When this happens the trauma response becomes harmful and begins to impact their way of life.
I spent over three decades of my life living in my maladaptive trauma response. I saw the world through the eyes of my family – scary, disappointing, unfair, cruel, unsupportive, and lonely. Because of their unhealed trauma I not only carried my own pain, hurt, and suffering but I carried theirs as well. It was utterly exhausting. Eight years ago I reached my rock bottom and saw it as a chance to get honest with myself. I had two options, either I could continue down the path I was on while carrying the family torch (trauma) or I could start pulling myself up and out of the hole I was in and change the path of my life.
I’m deeply grateful today for the choice I made 8 years ago – I chose to fight for my life. It wasn’t an easy choice at the time and the journey of recovery has not been gentle but it has been worth ever minute that I have committed. While trauma recovery is not linear, the process cannot begin without a sense of awareness. In order to begin healing I had to get curious about what happened to me. I had to get honest about the state of my family. I had to want to know and understand how I got to where I was in order to get out of it.
I know how painful it feels to bring awareness to family neglect, abuse, and dysfunction. I know how confusing it feels to still want to be loved and accepted by those who hurt you. I know it feels shameful to admit to the experiences you’ve been through. I know how hard it feels to speak your truth while everyone around you chooses to live in denial.
I also know that if you’ve made it this far and you are still here with me, you are likely the one who is being called to break the cycle of trauma in your family.
If you are ready to begin healing please know that you don’t have to do it alone. I would love to support you on your journey. My 1-on-1 coaching container is designed to create a compassionate, non-judgmental, and safe space that meets you right where you are today. From there we move at a pace that supports your life experiences, goals, and visions for the future.
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You never know how one conversation could shift the direction of your life.
Lots of love ~ Morgan