Healing generational trauma is a topic most of us have either discussed or heard about. A lot of people in this day and age have a goal to heal their generational trauma and rightfully so. We want to make a change.
So what does that actually look like? And what does it actually take to heal generational trauma?
Now before I start, I just want to say that what I'm about to say isn't a fact, but a perspective that I have on this topic. And it's a perspective I want to share because I want you to think about it.
"Let's skip the small talk, who hurt you?"
That was a caption of mine on Instagram back in 2015 that many people resonated with.
(Yes, those are my original words.)
The first time we experience pain or hurt, it is usually from our primary caregivers...our parents. Our parent's don't mean to hurt us, but we experience the pain and it leaves an imprint in us for the rest of our lives until we acknowledge the imprint.
But let's focus on our relationships. Who we choose as a partner to build a life with defines a lot of how our life is shaped. Why do you think some people feel safer being single or without commitments to a partner? That commitment determines so much of how your life will turn out Subconsciously we know this.
I read an article once that said that most people date their parents. You read that right. We date our parents. What does that mean? It means that you attract partners who reflect traits of one or both of your parents. Makes sense, our parents were our first love. And the environment we grew up in, whether they were around or not, set examples for us as children for what to search for in the future.
What I am about to say may come off as harsh, but bear with me because this is with love.
Let's say you have major toxicity within your relationship. I want you to think about the environment you grew up in. Was this the same toxicity you witnessed or experienced with your parents or primary caregivers? Did you see the reactions or the effects of it on a normal basis thus making you believe that's it's normal? "Have you made the connection that you may think it's acceptable because you've accepted it as normal" On the other hand, maybe you even swore that "I'll never have that in my life" but somehow, you wake up one day and your reality feels the same like the one you were living in as a child... only you're an adult. And your partner is a participant in recreating that childhood reality with you.
Did you attract this kind of partner? Of course you did. But why?
I believe it's for the opportunity to change. I believe how we heal generational trauma is by healing ourselves so we don't react and recreate the trauma that has been lived for generations before us.
With that being said, back to the topic of dating our parents...
After reading that article about dating our parents, I started to analyze all the partners I have been with. I made more than a few connections. Most of them were like my father. My dad I can say is a good man at heart, but doesn't know how to show up. He was in and out of my life since I was born. Always fighting with my mom. Drank a lot. Didn't offer his help or support to my mother consistently. When I was young he had my sisters with their mom. They all lived together. I remember feeling so jealous as a child. Like I wanted my father but my sisters had him instead. In my head I pictured them with so much accessibility to him that I never had. A silent competition I created in my mind, yet I was already the underdog and losing.
As an adult every single one of my partners had affairs up until now. Every single one. Constantly reinforcing the feeling of competition within me. I was always in a competition that I didn't even sign up for. I always thought I was too smart to be played. I would pick up on the signs and know when to leave. And it FO SHO wasn't going to happen more than once in my relationship. Yet every time, I was played more than once, I ignored the signs even though they were right in front of me, and I still stayed just to try to validate to myself that I was the MVP. I went from being thrown into the game against my will to trying to play to win. It was just like how I felt with my father. Always trying to win his love, feel his love, even though he wouldn't show up for me. I was recreating that by choosing partners who put me in that place, knowing that they wold put me there after seeing the signs, but happily going along with it because that reality was subconsciously familiar to me.
I had a relationship where I felt like my partner was like my mother. Moody. Constantly reprimanding me like I was a child. No matter my approach to communicate my feelings there was a moment when my partner would get defensive to the point where they didn't even hear me and there reaction would be explosive. Now I felt like I was on the offense, and they were on the defense, when I was just speaking up to be a teammate. I felt that if I didn't do my best to keep this person in a constant state of happiness ( the responsibility I felt as a kid as a response to less peaceful environments) then it would take their love away from me in some form: catch an attitude, blame me, ignore me, or find reasons to explode again so they could continue to take things out on me. That partner refused to see their own actions and wrong doings. They would just deny what they did completely, or make an excuse to justify it instead.
That was the reality of my childhood. I know my mom loves me. I know my dad loves me. And I've come to terms with that they were only recreating from the trauma that they went through themselves. So I have some compassion for their story and mine. And I can only imagine that the trauma they experienced was trauma passed down...and so on and so on.
I believe we subconsciously seek out experiences for two reason. 1) To use the experience and transform ourselves so we can create a new reality and make brand new imprints.
2) To use the experience to recreate the imprints that feel familiar to us.
Could it be that healing generational trauma then is about living a life making new imprints other than what's been encoded into your generation with our relationships and experiences?
I don't know but it's a thought.
So are we attracting partners who are like our parents and recreating the same familiar trauma we experienced in our childhood? Thus creating more generational trauma?
I don't know but it's a thought.
But I wanna share something else. The other half of that same article that I read stated that not only do we attract partners like our parents, you may become like one of your parents within that relationship.
My relationships have always been my mirror. And I've never been afraid to look in it. I can honestly say the same way I have had partners treat me like my mother and father did, I have become like my mother and father in past relationships.
I can also think of a specific relationship where the partner stated that I reminded them of their father. I remember seeing the similarities of this person being like their father as well, but because they disliked their father so much, they would never accept the similarities, thus recreating the same reality their father created for himself, subconsciously. As that partner described their father, he was a very toxic man but had some good traits about him. I could see similarities within myself, especially in my toxic ways. But after time went on and I changed those toxic ways, that partner fell completely out of love with me. I was no longer actively participating in recreating the trauma they experienced and the reality they were trying to recreate. We lost a connection and they began seeking a connection elsewhere. In Hindsight, I can see the entire picture of why it didn't work out. The end of that relationship made me realize two things. 1) That I have made a major change within myself. I was no longer the person I walked into the relationship as and I have overcome reacting to the same trauma in the past and recreating it in the future. I was ready to make new imprints. 2) A person may only be with you because you are stepping in as the parent tthey unconsciously seek love from or you're actively participating in recreating the trauma they are attached to.
It hurt that it ended as every relationship does, but I was happy to accept that this ending meant that I have evolved.I was in a space I have never been. Never felt. A new me.
Realizing that made me realize where I am now. Healing my generational trauma like everyone else. Consciously choosing not participate in recreating the same trauma I been through, being aware, and actively participating in what is aligned for the change I envision is how I am healing my generational trauma.
Really becoming conscious of "Am I actively participating in recreating trauma or am I creating a new imprint?" I think holds the key to the reminder that the best way to heal trauma from the generations before you is to focus on where you are now and making a decision that doesn't look the same as the past.
Brittany S. Hall