Generational Trauma: Let's Talk About It.
Hi, friends! I know that it has been a while since my last blog post but to be frank... ya girl was going through some thangs. As of now, I am okay. I am healthy. I am alive and I am blessed. Although, just a few short months ago, my response would have been quite different. Just when I thought that 2020 was seemingly starting to improve, my world was turned upside down. I suffered from a traumatic event that has changed my life and the way that I view myself and my surroundings, forever. Though I am hurting, simultaneously, I am healing. As a reflection of my homecoming, I would like to share my recent journey of dealing with generational trauma and my commitment to heal.
Sorry, but we're not in the same space.
Back in late July, I endured a traumatic event that has altered my entire existence. This one lone altercation single-handedly opened Pandora's box where a plethora of secrets and familial characteristics were released from the dark shadows and into the light. Proceeding through this traumatic event has caused me to analyze every aspect of my life as my overall mindset became renewed. I was transpired into a spiritual awakening of things that I became aware of that needed to be removed from my life and my future children’s lives. I realized that the patterns that were cultivated from generations ago were no longer suitable for my current and future family.
Which is all the more reason as to why this topic is one that is near and dear to my heart. I won't go into detail about what specifically I've encountered (because that's my business) but after experiencing what is known as generational trauma within my own family, I've come to realize that this is something that manyyyyy families experience as well. I think that it's time that we (our generation) put an end to it. Why is it that we often talk about procuring generational wealth but we rarely discuss generational healing? Why is it okay or normal for us to continue negative generational habits? Breaking generational curses (negative patterns from your family history that are repeated in your own life) are one thing but it requires some form of healing as well in order to fully remove yourself from it.
Generational trauma or transgenerational/intergenerational trauma is a psychological term which asserts that trauma can be transferred in between generations. These are habits, events, traits, or characteristics that are carried along from one generation to the next. Examples of generational trauma include the death or loss of a loved one; poverty; torture of a family member; sexual abuse; verbal abuse; physical abuse; adultery; and more. And let's not forget about Black generational trauma where additional examples such as police brutality and negative patterns from the Black church exists. These events or behaviors can cause a continuous ripple effect of symptoms that can trickle down from parent to child and so forth. Which signifies that if we don't acknowledge, remove, and heal ourselves from generational trauma, we risk giving our children and our children's children symptoms of depression, self-esteem issues, anxiety, mistrust, etc. So ask yourself: am I willing to pass on these traits? Or, can it end with me?
I choose to end the cycle. Recently, it has occurred to me that I and the generation(s) before me—we're not in the same space. What didn't work for them is surely not going to work for me therefore I feel as though it is my obligation to put a stop to it. I refuse to allow negative patterns to transpire into more generational trauma for myself and my future family. But I will advocate that not all generational patterns are negative. For example, every year my family and I would go on a family vacation to escape the weariness of the world and spend some much needed relaxation and family-time. This is a positive trend that I will definitely continue with my children. Nonetheless, this just goes to show that you have the power to sustain or release certain generational habits. You have the ability to break generational curses and to be healed from generational trauma. You can choose to cultivate your own habits and patterns. You can choose to cultivate your own happiness. You can choose to cultivate your own peace of mind. You can choose to cultivate freedom from generational trauma.
It's your responsibility.
For the first time in my 24 years of living, I went to therapy. I've always been pretty vocal about the importance of mental health and why we should take care of ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. Although therapy is an essential tool to utilize for a better, healthier lifestyle, I've never been a fan of physically talking about my feelings out loud to others. Especially to someone with whom I've never met before. Just the mere thought of pouring myself into a random person in an unknown environment drives my anxiety. So instead of going to therapy, I've always resulted in expressing my feelings through writing. This was my comfort zone. But if there are any lessons that I've acquired from this treacherous year known as 2020, is that I should get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And boy has this year pushed me to do just that.
I made the decision to go therapy because I didn't want my current circumstances with my family to dictate my future and how I feel about others in my surroundings. There were times in my past where I should've gone to therapy but sadly I didn't go. What's hilarious is the fact that I made "go to therapy" as one of my 2020 goals. I wasn't necessarily going through anything at the time when I made this a goal, but I believe that even if you aren't currently going through a problem, it's still a good idea to check in with a licensed therapist every now and then to assure that you are being the best possible version of yourself. Little did I know that a traumatic event would cause me to achieve this goal halfway into the year.
If y'all really want to dig deep — my ultimate reason for going to therapy was because I knew that it was my responsibility to heal from my trauma. This part is important: even though your trauma is not your fault; healing is your responsibility. You owe it to yourself and your future self to start healing, now. Start healing for your future family. Start healing for your future opportunities. Start healing for your future legacy. Please know that it is okay to uproot yourself from old, familial habits. It's okay to let go of things that are not of you or that no longer serve you. Release those negative patterns and foster positive ones. It's time to heal.
Methods of healing.
Now I would like to share a few methods that I have utilized on my journey of healing. To heal from my generational trauma, I first began with finding a local therapist. I found my therapist through Therapy for Black Girls which is an awesome platform where you can find a Black therapist for all of your mental health needs. Since attending therapy, I've overcame my anxiety of expressing my feelings out loud to others and I actually look forward to my therapy appointments where my good sis can get me together real quick!
Noticing my triggers was my next step. This is anything that may cause feelings or symptoms of past trauma. Not only should you be aware of your triggers but it's essential that you are vocal about them to the people in your surroundings as well. I clearly stated my triggers to Michael, my boyfriend, and he has been very keen to avoid topics that are related to my trauma. If you are someone's support system, please be mindful and respectful of their triggers. Don't downplay their emotions but rather, be acceptive and honor their wishes. When something does trigger me, I try not to be reactive. Instead, I pause and take a moment to get my thoughts together so that I can move accordingly. By being vocal about my triggers, it has allowed me to establish boundaries and strengthen existing characteristics. I've become more self-aware, patient, and decisive of things that I want and don't want in my life.
Which leads me to my next method of healing called mindfulness. This is a mediation technique where a mental state is achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. The goal of this meditation practice is to simply sit and take a moment for yourself. Focus on where your mind is going. Feel your breath enter and exit your body. Feel your toes and fingers. What specific emotion are you feeling right now? Acknowledge that emotion and be in the moment. Overall, this is a state of being present. To learn more about mindfulness and why it is essential to be mindful when it comes to healing, listen to Black Girls Heal: the podcast episode #68: Mindfulness & Healing Your Trauma.
Music and podcasts have also been another healing tool for me. Lately I've letting my emotions run wild whenever I am listening to music or hearing insightful messages from podcasts. I'll be sure to post my healing playlist on @XisEssentials Instagram later this week, so be on the lookout for that!
I want to remind you that healing is not a one-step plan. Healing is a process and a lifestyle that requires constant energy and attention. It will probably be a while before I am completely healed (whatever that looks like) from my traumatic experience. There's no set date or time of when the healing process is done. Understand that healing takes work. Don't rush it. I will admit that I still have my bad days from time to time and that my social needs vary each and every day. Sometimes, I crave solitude while other times I desire a little human interaction. It just depends and honestly, I am okay with that. I wouldn't necessarily say that I am grateful for the things that I've been through (well, at least not yet) but I am gracious that this situation has allowed me to view myself in a whole different light. My mindset on a lot of things have drastically changed. I am happy with how it has shaped me into becoming the woman that I've always dreamed to be. So again, I encourage you to take your time to heal. Know your end goal. Put forth the work. Set your intentions at the beginning of the day. Talk to God. Create your own methods of self-healing. And most importantly, end the cycle of generational trauma. Your future self will thank you.
I would like to thank my best friends and loved ones whom have noticed my absence and need of isolation. Thank you for being patient with me. I will always credit my strong support system because without them, healing would be that much more difficult. Also, thank you to my readers for being patient with me as well. I hope and pray that this blog post will resonate with you and help you on your journey of healing and self-reflection. Stay encouraged, friends!
"Trust yourself enough to let go, shift, and uproot. Give yourself permission to shed who you used to be. You are allowed to start over and find new ways to bloom into your best self."
- Alex Elle
Xi's Takeaway Essentials:
You owe your future self to start healing now.
Personalize your healing methods based on your specific needs.
Trust yourself to let go of old habits in order to cultivate new ones.