Whether you believe that trauma is generational, or that you simply mimic parenting techniques that you had learned while growing up, it is nearly impossible not to parent similarly to how you were parented.
You may be the mother who has the same laugh as her own mother. Or you may be the mother who promised yourself that you wouldn’t worry as much as her own, because you saw the ill effects it had on your own childhood.
No matter the physical, mental or emotional inheritance that you have gained from your parent, you have undoubtedly muttered under your breath, at least once in your life, with an accompanied eye-roll that, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
As an anxiety driven mother, I am aware of where my general worry was born.
You do not come into this world with this burden. You adopt it.
Sleep deprivation originally triggered my anxieties when I had become a mother. Then I sought therapy. I had no idea that I had been struggling with panic attacks since childhood. From weekly migraines to IBS symptoms, I had no idea that what had been keeping me away from school and social activities was stress.
Though therapy may not have crossed my parents’ minds when I was a young child, it is a blessing that I was able to discover and, with help, diagnose my childhood experiences before I pass this unnecessary angst onto my children – whether taught or genetically assumed.
I am a huge advocate of therapy, but I also do believe that you can achieve some self-healing through literature and meditation. Professional assistance, I believe, takes it a step further, especially if you are experiencing thoughts and/or actions that are in the way of your happiness. There is no shame in seeking professional help: it’s one of the bravest things you can do.
I now can see the occasional and irrational fears that arise within my young child. Personally, it is still difficult to decipher fear from intuition, but I can point out moments where I must intervene and remind my child that, “you are safe.”
This is something I remind myself every day.
Though part of me feels unable to control what is transferred to my children, I am oddly comforted by knowing that fear had manipulated my upbringing in order to try to ensure it won’t affect my children. I am truly comforted knowing that I have gained a few tools to navigate my anxious brain, which in turn can guide their thoughts and feelings.
Healing spiritually and emotionally is a process. As you may have heard one million and one times, “healing has no destination.” You may not feel like you are on the right track at times, but when you can notice this shift you can re-direct yourself. Though it has no destination, you can determine the journey.
Recognizing is a first step.
As a mother, I can now identify what triggers my children’s fears. I am able to step in and apply the knowledge that I have gained, even in small amounts, to try and better their emotional outcomes.
Self-discovery plays an immense role in healing. Learning your family’s past helps, but I believe understanding how and why you react to certain scenarios can be the diving board into a poll of further discoveries. At times, as it did for me, becoming a mother had been the pivotal moment that had awakened me and allowed me to reach deep within myself and uncover generationally transferred traumas.
Yes, anxieties and depressions are part of life, but when they come to ruin or hinder your full potential it’s important to face them. It’s imperative to heal from them.
Though I may not be able to control my fears as well as I wish I could, I am able to assist in my children’s stress because I have recognized my own.
I may have inherited anxieties from the family members who had come before me, but I will continue to grow and learn from their fears, which have since become mine.
I will recover from their pain, because I have accepted it as my own.
I will face these fears, for the sake of my children. For the next generation.
And I will do everything in my power to end this cycle.
Words by Julian Jamie
Photographed by Jagoda Wiśniewska