schoolpsychnerd: (Default)
[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd
Last week, in addition to getting strep, a psychologist friend had asked if I had ever considered that Complex PTSD might be something that is there for me. I laughed because at this point I kind of feel like I ate the DSM (eating disoder, maybe Seasonal Affective Disorder? Like I already feel like pathology alphabet soup) and while I mentioned that CPTSD wasn't a thing. She, by virtue of having a PhD in the area, could poke holes in that argument and when I get to therapy again it's something I'm open to exploring. In a way, it feels silly for me to think about having CPTSD. I'm not in a warzone, I'm a white upper middle class educated ciswoman whose disability is invisible and has straight passing privledge. Wasn't I just a whiner? Or crazy? However, as I've thought more about it, it makes more and more sense. And on Mother's day, as I cope with the baggage the day brings for me, I started thinking about inter-generational trauma.

Transgenerational trauma is the idea that trauma is passed down (from a behavioral POV and possibly from an epigenetic POV which is fascinating). Some very rudamentary research I did showed that inital questions about it came from noticing increased mental health needs in children of holocaust survivors. It's the idea that the trauma and oppression experienced by great-grandparents and grandparents affect our parents and us. It was an idea I took some comfort in today.

I have a complex relationship with my parents. Well one of them, my dad is dead but my image of him and how I relate to him in my life changes. My mom and I rarely speak. I know both of them had incredibly difficult lives with physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. If they had been my students, I would have called DCFS. I knew many of my mother's trauma narratives by the time I had started elementary school. I knew my dad's by middle school. Both of them also were deeply committed that my brother and I would not know the fear and pain they had known as kids. And they never hit my brother and I the way they hit. We got spanked and I have some thoughts about that but it doesn't compare to what my parents endured. They were determined they would not get angry at us as their parents got angry at them. And they didn't...they didn't get angry like that. People who love each other don't fight. People who love each other don't get angry. So if you get angry you don't love someone. At least that was how it looked until I took out the trauma lense.

My dad's family is Russian Jews from the shtettle and tenaments to becoming famous doctors and lawyers. While not Holocaust survivors, the progroms and institutionalized antisemtism don't leave us just because my Dad moves to Kentucky and can join a Country Club. I learned from my Aunt about the abuse and beatings my grandfather endured, the way my great grandparents treated my Grandma (oh the shit they said but she was an unflappable Swede from a family without trauma. Grandma Megibow did not fuck around). I don't know a lot about my mom's family but when I did the Life Story Model with my Granny, I can imagine there's a lot of trauma and abuse disguised as discipline. She was the oldest of a large poor southern family and no one thought she'd ever amount to anything. My parents hated anger because anger was a trigger for them. Strong emotions were a trigger for them. People not being happy triggered them and they needed to be soothed.

It doesn't make it ok. I see the same impulses in me and I'm trying to work on them. Like my parents, if I have a kid, I would like them to have the space to feel their strong emotions, be emotional creatures. I would like to not panic when someone tells me something i said upset them. I would like to be able to sit with discomfort of beign near an angry person. I want to not run when someone raises a voice. I would like to the fear of rejection to not drive me. I would like the transgenerational trauma to end with me. I love my parents, they did the best they could, and it doesn't mean I have to be ok with them and all that happened. It explains, it doesn't excuse.

Date: 2017-05-15 07:42 pm (UTC)
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
From: [personal profile] dorchadas
I think it's sometimes hard to understand how much our upbringing affects us because it seems like one of those cliches that always comes in fiction, like how joke about how anime characters' entire personalities can always be traced back to the One Event in their past that set the course of their lives. But it's never that obvious or that easy.  photo _petting__revamp_by_kimraifan.gif


schoolpsychnerd: (Default)

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