Trauma that cannot be processed by one family member, because it is overwhelming, they do not have the skills or knowledge of how to process it, or do not have the will to feel it and release it, will be passed on genetically to the next generation. It also of course affects the rest of the current generation due to the unavailability of the traumatised person who will be isolated within themselves, possibly numb emotionally and distant in their ineracting with others, be they their children or siblings.
Trauma stays within the body and freezes part of the person’s energy, it is literally stuck, frozen in time within them, locked into when the trauma occurred. It stays in the body until it is processed and if it is not processed then it remains locked in place, creating internal tension and dis-ease.
No individual wants this to occur or be passed on to their existing children or grand children. It is not an intentional thing, it is an automatic thing. If Dad has died in the war then Mum is going to be mourning, she is not going to be able to be present fully for the children or meet their emotional needs. The children will sense Mum’s pain and feel their own loss and mourning, so they will try to get Mum to feel better, so they can get the attention they need. If it doesn’t work they eventually give up trying and switch off, shut down emotionally, feeling empty, unloved, unsatisfied with life.
The pattern then repeats when they marry and try to get the attention they missed out on from their husband or wife. No matter how loving the partner is, they cannot make up for the emotional pain or love deficit from their partner’s childhood, so it will feel unloving or not enough. They may try hard to give enough, to do extra, be extra affectionate and giving, they may try to fill that hole in their partner. Eventually they realise no matter what they do it is not enough, it doesn’t work and they are exhausted from trying, so they switch off, shut down, isolate and become emotionally numb as well, so the pattern continues. No malice, no cruelty, just life when there is trauma within one or both partners in a relationship.
So how do you resolve it? By becoming aware of the trauma within, by creating a safe enough space that you can feel it, acknowledge it and let it dissolve. By seeing your defense mechanism and games you have used to protect yourself from it.
- Have you kept yourself so busy that you can’t feel?
- Have you been saving the world, feeling righteous putting all your energy into others or a cause, but neglecting yourself, avoiding yourself and your inner world?
- Have you been pleasing others, doing for others, hoping that they will love and accept you and you will feel that you are okay, lovable and worthwhile?
- Have you been isolating yourself from others, keeping a low profile, so as not to be seen or to avoid any possible further trauma? By being preoccupied with avoiding it, you stay stuck in it and will have difficulty exeriencing any joy in life.
There are many defensive mechanisms that people use to try and keep safe or to avoid their feelings. Looking good so to avoid rejection, fearing you won’t be accepted as you are, so you try to be, look, do everything perfectly. This is exhausting. It is no wonder people end up depressed or ill, their life force is being frittered away with fear and their over reactions to it.
To clear the trauma and stop passing it onto our kids we need to become emotionally aware and savvy in processing how we feel. Learn to go within and sit inside yourself, breathe, let the emotion surface and breathe through it, let it be released, felt into completion. It can’t be avoided. It has to be acknowledged and felt. Thank the defense mechanism for keeping you safe, but choose to be present for yourself and your inner child now.
It is this inner child part of you that needs your reassurance, your love, your acceptance. It needs you to become the good parent to yourself, to know that you will look after him/her and protect her, you wil be the Adult guardian she felt was absent in earlier years. As she feels safer and you feel and release the pain, you will find you are not triggered by life any more, you can live more in the now and be there for those you love. Your children, if you have any, will notice this shift, they will feel your presence and they will absorb your love, your attention, and you can meet their emotional needs, fill up their inner cup with love so it is overflowing, then they can acept themselves and enjoy their lives.
If their cup does not get filled and they feel empty, forlorn, they will at a soul level choose to take some of your pain, some of your trauma so you feel better and then you might be able to love them more. They abandon themselves to care for you. This is a reversal of the orders of love and is damaging for all involved. Parents are meant to give and children receive. However, it is often reversed in many families when the parents are hurt, injured or unavailable, whether that be due to illness, addiction or absence.
Children try to make the parent happier, they may try to be neater or tidier, they may help out with the housework or try to cheer the parent up with jokes, they may try to steal the attention through getting into trouble to distract you from your pain or they may even sacrifice their own health, choosing to get ill so you will focus on them and not feel your own pain. Children are so loving, but this is not healthy behaviour.
In doing this chldren miss out on being kids, they grow up way too fast and this stunts their natural growth and emotional development. It locks trauma, pain and loss within them and so the cycle repeats. When they have their own children they will sense the parent’s pain and do the same thing, hence it passes through the generations. No malice, not deliberate, done out of love, of wanting to help and of not knowing how to heal the underlying issue of emotional pain and trauma.
Thankfully in today’s world we do have the knowledge of how to heal trauma, how to bring love back into the family system and to correct any reversals of flow, so that the younger generations can receive the love and support they need and deserve from the ancestors behind them.
Family Constellations and other methods can help individuals to heal their family systems, enabling hope and love to exist for all family members. There is much more that can be said about this in future blogs, for now this is enough, to understand that trauma passes through families until love is restored.
Each family member can find peace and happiness when the blocks to love are removed. It can be done, support is available and you can learn the skills to feel your emotions and release that which is locked away inside you. It is possible, it is worth doing and your children thank you, because then they don’t need to do it for you, the burden they carry for you is transformed, freeing them to enjoy their lives more. Such love, such loyalty, such strength and commitment to each other, that is what families are about and it is beautiful. Blessed BE, Amen.