Is it really your problem?

There is a topic that fascinates me recently. I started to hear about it in the past few years and by now I am more interested in it than ever.  It came up because as I dug deeper to find solutions for my struggles I didn’t get anywhere after a while. I was stuck and it frustrated me. 

This amazing topic is the connection between generations within a family, how we inherit emotional struggles and hardships. Often we don’t even know what’s wrong with us, why do we feel certain emotions without any logical explanations. 

I have a book called It didn’t start with youby Mark Wollyn. The funny thing is that I downloaded it by accident – not that I believe there are accidents – because I was looking to get a similar book and didn’t check the author. I simply clicked on the wrong link. I decided to keep it and I am extremely pleased that I did. 

This book is giving amazing examples of how inherited family traumas shape who we are and what can we do to end the cycle. 

We are connected. Photo: Pixabay

The first time I heard about this was in an interview with Dr. Gabor Mate, the famous Canadian- Hungarian physician who specializes in childhood development and trauma. He was born in 1944 in a Jewish family in Budapest Hungary. His mom called the doctor several times because he was crying a lot and nobody knew what was wrong. The doctor said all the Jewish babies are crying. It was a terrible time, all the Jews were deported and people were scared. The babies were picking up all these emotions and acted on it. 

There are many examples in the book how Holocaust affected not only the people who were actually living thorough it – or died because of it – but people who were born into the effected families one or two generations later. 

Another interesting fact I read somewhere else is that when our mother was a fetus in her mom’s (our grandmother’s) womb the eggs were started to develop in her ovaries already. One of those eggs became us 20—30 years later. We are deeply connected on many different levels. 

It made me think and started to search for some memories what I heard about my grandma, my mom and myself. 

When I was a kid I loved to see family photos. My grandma had a box in her room filled with old black and white photographs and I often asked her for them. 

There was a picture of a cute chubby baby. It was taken in a garden and behind this baby, there was a woman. I didn’t know who that person was because the upper part of the photo was cut off for some reason. The head of the adult in the picture was missing. 

Old photos don’t tell the whole truth Photo: Pixabay

I was curious so I asked questions. 

It turned out that the cute little baby is my mom. She was about 1 year old and the adult behind her was my grandma. My mom was the 9th child in the family, born late: my grandma was already 40 and she was deeply embarrassed by the fact that she had a baby at this “old age”. She cut her head off from the photo because she was ashamed and didn’t want others to see that she had another baby. Of course everyone knew and this – for me – ridiculous act didn’t change the fact. It just shows: she felt shame. It was in 1946.

They decided with my grandpa that this baby – my mom – is going to be the one who will take care of them when they will be old. If this “accident” already happened then they have to take advantage of it. 

It became my mom’s fate. She has never left the house where she was born. Unfortunately her father passed away when she was only 19 but my grandma lived until she was 101 years old mostly because of the devoted love and care of my mom. 

She got married when she was 20 and her husband (my dad) moved into the old family home and they lived together. By now my grandma and my dad also passed away.  

I wish I could say they lived happily ever after but it is not true. My grandma never accepted my dad and there were conflicts. My grandma had a very strong personality and my dad was not able to stand up for himself. 

I was born into this family setting in 1971. I asked my mom once how my birth affected the peace and happiness in the family and she said for a few weeks it did for the better but after a while it went back to normal. Normal means tension here. 

I also heard two things repeatedly in my childhood. 

First, everyone was disappointed because I was born to be a girl. They were so sure I would be a boy that didn’t even have an idea what my name will be. One of the nurses suggested Anita. It was very popular at that time so my parents agreed. 

When I was 3. Photo: my own

The other “joke” I heard many times that I was probably switched and they got the wrong baby at the hospital. Just because I was born with red hair and nobody had read hair in the family. 

I heard this often throughout my childhood: You are so different. I was very strong willed, I loved to read – nobody liked reading except one of my aunts who was an outcast too – and they announced at some point: they know they can’t count on me when they are old. 

All my teenager and young years I wanted to prove them I am good enough to be their daughter. 

I have never ever imagined that one day I will be living in Canada, many thousands of kilometers away. 

When we moved it was a huge trauma for my parents and for me too. I admit it now; I tried to fight it off for the past 17 years but it was hard. Still is because of the disappointment I caused.

I interrupted the family pattern by not living up to their expectations. It was a tradition in my family for many generations that one of the daughters should take care of their parents. Since I am an only child it should be me, but I am not doing this. 

Again, I disappointed them. Just like when I was born. 

Working through the exercises of the book I mentioned I realized, this is my basic mantra. I disappoint everyone. I’m a failure.

How often we self sabotage because of some unknown mantra that belongs to others? Subconsciously we want to belong, we want to be loved and accepted by our family members, especially our moms. 

I didn’t dig deep enough to get to the root cause, yet. I got a bit closer though. I started to understand more where my mom is coming from and feel empathy for her more than ever. I am sure she wanted the best for me and her mom wanted the best for her too. Within their own limits just as I do for my own daughters. When we make peace with our past it helps to breathe. It creates space to live. Definitely makes the next generation’s life easier. Whenever you solve one of your issues, work on self-development your kids will thank you one day.

I started to believe there is so much more than we sense with our senses. This is a magical world and we do a big favour when we start to understand the deeper connections. 

Ask your parents and grandparents, if they are still alive about family history. Relatives can help too. Maybe there are secrets that nobody mentioned before that can give you answers for things you never understood. To deal with those inter-generation traumas we don’t necessarily need to know what happened exactly. The book explains that beautifully.

Open the door to the unknown. Photo: Pixabay

This article is just a very small introduction of this interesting topic. If you want to know more, I highly recommend: start reading the book. It could be a door to the path of understanding your family and yourself more.

By the end of it you might be surprised to learn that the problems you deal with don’t even belong to you. And when you know that, you can put them down and live a freer, less stressed and more successful life.  

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