How do we give ourselves permission to be joyful? I mean really joyful.
How do we duck from under the weight of conditioning wrought by generational trauma that gets in the way of us finding our own joy?
Well, the truth is we can’t duck it, we have to deal with it. We have to look it in the eye and ask, “What are you holding on to?,” and listen to the answer with an open heart and an open mind. To heal from what was we must recognize and acknowledge it. From my experience it’s emotional pain that causes mental strife … it’s the stuff that stands in our way of experiencing pure, unmitigated joy, and it does not leave on its own. It needs to be loved away.
I have come to this conclusion after 24 years walking the healing path; a journey that continues because even now, after all this time and with all the healing I have done, I still find myself bumping up against generational trauma that limits my ability to find my own joy in the moment.
Waiting for the other shoe to drop
The notion is that nothing good is given without something good being taken away. Or, that when something good happens it will be quickly cancelled by something equally bad.
This is the big one. This is the one that sits quietly in the background of my psyche undermining my joy.
This is really old stuff. This is my two tyrannical grandfathers reigning terror on my tenderhearted grandmothers and their children.
I’ve done a good deal of family history so I have a fairly basic understanding of the hardships, prejudices and world events that shaped my family’s lives. Some of them coped better than others. My grandfathers not so much. I know now that their actions were the projection of their unresolved pain. The thing is that in those days no one talked about, never mind dealt with, their hurt. Everything was covered in a shroud of secrecy and bravado and allowed to fester and explode on the people around them. Not surprisingly, their families took the brunt. Sadly, this is still too much our society’s truth.
These days there’s no reason not to deal with our pain. Oh, there are plenty of excuses, most of them based in fear or shame, but the fact is the resources are out there to help everyone when they have the courage to step up and say, “Enough is enough!”.
I had to do it, or my life was going to implode.
Happily, one of the magical things I’ve learned while walking my healing path is that it’s not just my own pain I’m healing, it’s that of the ancestral collective that lives in me.
Many years ago, after a painful divorce, I made the decision to deal with my emotional baggage. I distinctly remember writing in my journal at the time that, “The buck stops here.” It wasn’t that there was a next generation I had to save. As fate would have it my family tree stops with me. It was more a strong feeling that I had to provide some relief for those who had come before me. We know from the field of epigenetics that trauma and beliefs can be encoded into our DNA. This means that we bear the emotional wounds of previous generations and these are perpetuated onto future generations unless we gather our courage and get the help we need to stop it. Think about it … how many family ghosts are dwelling in your family’s attic and pull the strings of your life?
So, I made a pact with myself, and my ancestors, that I would do what I needed to heal my life and their pain. Interestingly, the more I have grown in self-awareness and been able to remedy my issues, the deeper has become, in a healthy way, my connection to my ancestors and their stories. I fell empathy for their experiences, not angst. This brings me joy because I feel I am no longer constrained by the debilitating patterns of self-denial wrought by generational terror and waiting for that damn shoe to drop. Most of the time.
Blossoming in our own truth
Every once in a while, when I feel the light of something wonderful in my life, I feel the threat of that old shoe. Years of therapy have put me in a better position to recognize when it’s there and to know that it has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with my experience. It is old. It is the shame, guilt, disappointments, bitterness, and all other negative emotions that dwell in the cauldron of fear that have stirred for generations. And when I sense its presence, it takes every ounce of courage I have to surrender the need to be controlled by this old family shame and throw the spectre of that old shoe out the proverbial door.
We are fortunate in these modern times to have access to good mental and emotional health care. Trauma no longer has to rule our lives if we only open ourselves to a chance for healing. Once we can free ourselves from the chains of family trauma, we are free to blossom into our truth and share its beauty with the people who share our lives.
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©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks