Generational Trauma

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These last couple years have been very difficult, not just for me but for everyone alive at this time. I wasn’t visiting my family regularly due to covid restrictions and became a hermit since working from home. These last 6+ months have been very productive for me career wise, however my mental health has been stagnant and slowly declining.

If you know me, you know I am extremely sentimental and family-oriented. I have an incredible relationship with my Grandma Pearl in particular, she is my moms mom, who spent so much time and effort raising me up to be the person I am today. One tough thing about my grandma is her desire to not think or talk about anything negative.

She is widowed… my grandpa passed away from cancer in 1991, just a month or two before my older brother was born. My brother and I never got to meet our grandpa, so being the curious and family-oriented kid I was, I was constantly seeking answers to questions I had about him. The image that was painted in my head by my family was that my grandpa was the best, most fun, funny and smart person of all time.

Since therapy, I have been able to release most resentment I held toward my abusers. However, I still strive for self development and would grow from some closure as to why my mom hurt me the way she did. Since leaving my mom, I’ve never stopped seeking answers from both my aunt and grandma but as per usual I’d get the same old, “your grandpa was just so smart and fun, and sometimes had a short fuse…”

I accepted these answers for so long, until I got both vaccinations and was finally able to spend time in person with my grandma Pearl again. I love my grandma so much and want to spend as much time with her as I can to make up for the time we missed, so we decided to see each other every Sunday for mandarin lessons and dance work-outs!

I think my grandma finally understands that the things my mom would say about me are completely false, so she took some walls down that I’ve never seen past before. When I asked my grandma about my grandpa last month, again I got the same ol’ same ol’ I had gotten for years. I finally broke down and said “I think I always ask you these questions because I’m trying to fill in the gaps and piece together what went wrong with me and my mom”.

Grandma Pearl and Grandpa Mike’s Wedding

For the first time in my life my grandma took a deep breath in, then out and looked into her lap. She was completely vulnerable with me and disclosed that she always thought it was her fault, at least my mom frequently told her it was. She said that when my grandpa passed, she was so busy preparing to raise 3 kids without him that she may not have been there often enough for her girls.

I asked more questions and dug a bit deeper, all while comforting her and reassuring her of course. I knew my grandma couldn’t be the sole reason for my mothers trauma because she’s always been an incredible person the whole 23 years I’ve known her. My grandma was finally open to me about my grandpa, she said he was raised in terrible conditions and vowed to be the best family man ever. He truly was the best husband and father, until he was diagnosed with cancer.

My grandparents kept the terminal cancer a secret from their kid’s for years. I can only imagine how traumatic this would be for them to keep a secret, as well as for my mom and her siblings to find out years later. I can understand how my mom would feel resentment towards my grandparents for not telling her, and perhaps guilt for all the times she was hard to deal with, having no idea her dad was dying.

This information helped me empathize with my mom and understand where most of her trauma came from. My poor grandma was cracking hundreds of almonds daily and making spreads to try to treat my grandpas illness, even though it was stage 4. She was driving him to and from the hospital daily all while raising a new born son and 2 teenage daughters. My mom took her pain out at my grandma and had convinced her that she was the worst person on earth for years.

This was most tough for my grandpa obviously. I guess within the same year he was diagnosed, his entire personality changed and he became miserable. I had never heard these stories before but my grandma says he started yelling and fighting all the time, plus he stopped parenting the way he used to. He always spoiled my mom and aunt but would also set boundaries, but once he was diagnosed, he began spoiling the kids even more and would get angry at almost anything.

This information does not forgive or justify my moms treatment towards me or others, however it helps me understand and empathize with her trauma. I know that a normal, healthy person would have had much more insight and wouldn’t exhibit her same behaviours, but this is where understanding mental illness becomes extremely important.

I believe my mother is lacking the emotional intelligence and has numerous mental illnesses stunting her to the mental age of 15, the age she found out about my grandpas cancer. This of course is speculation, so I will continue to search for answers within myself and my family so we can continue to heal.

This is all I can do for now, it’s time for bed. Thank you for reading 🙂 If you have any questions or want to add any comments I encourage you to do so!

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