While cleaning up a few years ago, I found some notes in a journal that I’d written in my mid-twenties. I drew my open hand towards my heart as I read my concerns about having a baby.
‘How could I bring a tiny human into this scary and unpredictable world of chaos and disorder? How could I possibly be responsible for, and protect a precious life when so much could go wrong?’
It made no sense. Did I even write these words? I’d had a great life. A relatively sheltered one. I’d been loved by my family and friends. These thoughts were from the nineties. Before September 11. Before COVID-19. I’d never pictured a future without children. My words seemed incompatible with, well… me. I needed to explore why I’d had such a gloomy outlook all those year ago.
Often, our behaviour is easily explained because of a direct connection with a traumatic event. If you were the victim of a home invasion for instance, it wouldn’t be unusual to be paranoid about personal security. But for others like myself, the connections aren’t always as transparent. For far too long, I carried the weight of unnatural fears that seemingly had no source.
It was during my search for answers, that I first heard the term ‘Intergenerational Trauma.’ It is the theory of how unresolved trauma can be passed down through the generations. The symptoms are similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but the traumatic event isn’t experienced first hand.
This led me to the work of Bruce Lipton who is a well renowned Cell Biologist. He conducted extensive research into epigenetics and identifies how the environment we are exposed to can affect our cells more than our DNA. I found it fascinating how human cells adapt after trauma and live on in future generations. It’s as if the cells are on alert and scarred by the events of the past. Protecting themselves from threats that haven’t happened.
I read several books and did my own research before interviewing my mum and aunty. I drew up a family tree and added the snippets of information as they gave them to me. It sure led somewhere I wasn’t expecting.
A pattern formed. Amongst my grandparents and great grandparent’s generations, there had been ten instances where couples had experienced the trauma of losing a child. The children died from various causes at different ages. Some had cancer or other illnesses, one had an epileptic fit in the bath, one was a twin who died at birth, and another was in a car accident. I almost dropped the pen when my eyes connected the pieces.
Could my concerns about bringing children into the world, be my ancestors fears, not mine?
Words that have travelled through my bloodline to reach me. Warning me of the pain they’d experienced. Their devastation and regret for the children they were supposed to protect. My words expressing their fears. Unhealed. Unnatural and unbelievable. Maybe this explains why my words didn’t ring true. I wrote them before I had this knowledge. A tingling sensation straightened my back. Could this just be a co-incidence? I wondered. But as I delved further, I was excited to discover several more connections that made sense.
My twenty-year old fears weren't the reason I didn’t have a baby, (you will have to wait for my book to find out the full story of why someone who loves kids didn’t end up having any of her own) but intergenerational trauma may explain the origin of those words in my journal.
You too may be defending your ancestors without knowing the reason. Tackling the problems inherited from your family. I hope my story inspires you to reflect on your own life, and open your mind to the possibility that the things that are troubling you, may not actually belong to you.
It’s worth it. You may begin to heal old wounds and more importantly, you may break the pattern of trauma and stop it from reaching the next generation.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and please stay safe. If you want to hear more from me, please like my ‘Lisa Benson Author’ page on Facebook or follow me (lisabensonauthor) on Instagram.