The self-discovery we can come to
by facing shadow,
the choice to courage,
the way in which
we lead the child within
by the door of voluntary vulnerability
to come to the place of great healing,
can only be exactly this way,
because all our first wounds
arrived in the only place
they could arrive, which
was the utmost helpless vulnerability
Generational trauma can be understood so simply by the fact that every child is too busy waiting to hear “I’m sorry” to understand the power of gratitude and every parent too busy waiting to hear “thank-you” to understand the power of apology.
To paraphrase Fred Rogers:
So many people have helped us both, to be here in this moment, as you read and reflect on this.
Some of these people are close or near, some distant or far away, some tried their best and some did not realise they had any impact at all, some taught us inadvertently how we wanted to be by how much we were impacted by their example and some by how much we did not want to behave as they did when our turn came.
Some we can still reach with words or gestures, some we can invoke only through reflection and prayer.
There are of course entire generations of our ancestors without whom we would not be here today. People with hearts and the capacity to suffer and dream, who had their own struggles, heartbreaks, trials and epiphanies that defined the sense of meaning, of their entire lives.
We inherit their traumas in our tissue and our viscera as they inherited the trauma of their ancestors in their tissues and viscera and so on, all the way back to the time of tooth and claw.
Movies and novels romanticise life in previous era but the truth is Life was harsher, more violent, poverty was more extreme, war was more prevalent, food was scarcer, healthcare non-existent, bigotry and sexism was a commonplace norm.
Still, we’ve lost something of value along the way in our blind march towards technological advancement, we’ve grown out of our villages and we no longer observe initiation.
We sit here today with the privileges of our era, blind to the costs that enabled these gifts and ungrateful towards what we perceive as the foolishness and clumsiness of the generation before us, unforgiving towards what we perceive as entitlement and selfishness of the generation after us.
The bill is coming due now. The ones who will make a lasting difference are the ones who can consciously process the generational trauma and integrate the lessons into their behaviours and reconcile the ledger. Not the ones baying for retribution or the ones enshrining their victimhood.
The key ingredients are “I am sorry” and “Thank You.”