I’ve been reading a lot about “unintegrated pain” that families carry around for generations. This concept makes so much sense as far as the whole “oh god, I’m turning into my mother” thing. We repeat our parents’ mistakes and often put our kids through the exact same things we hated as children. Things we vowed we’d never do or say. Behaviors we’d avoid at all costs. Not us, we were going to be better. We’d rise above. We’d love better, communicate healthier, and remain open and loving no matter what. Sigh...if only it were that clean.
I think the reason so many of us continue painful cycles in families isn’t due to genetics or habits. It’s largely because the pain and turmoil surrounding these choices we are subconsciously making are just never addressed. Family pain that collects over the years like your grandmother’s figurines, that no one wants but has no idea how to get rid of them. Women in particular have a very hard time being seen as anything but the loving, smiling, domestic, martyr archetype. The need to cling to the belief of who we are trumps the need to finally put an end to vicious, destructive behaviors that live under the surface of an immaculately set table. The latter requires getting our hands and hearts dirty. We will manically clean every corner of our kitchens, eradicating every spec of dust, because that’s visible. The dirt living under the June Cleaver veneer isn’t seen. And if we can’t actually see it, maybe it’s not really there and everything is just fine. Maybe we haven’t fucked up, maybe we didn’t somehow perpetuate decades worth of pain and poison, maybe we ourselves weren’t mistreated to such a startling degree. It’s definitely more convenient to keep existing in this imperfect pattern, rather than staring the beast in the eye and finally killing it. Often times the family member that knows they can’t continue like this is labeled the whistle blower. This job is thankless. No one wants anyone else to point out the destructive errors of their ways. In essence, the whistle blower will get her ass kicked.
She will be reviled, alienated, badmouthed, scapegoated, and blamed. She will have to learn to pick up a heavy shield and not drop it, since the machine gun rounds of searing character attacks may never cease. She is seen as a threat since she’s pointing out the truth, because she doesn’t know any other way. She may wind up alone and will learn to fill those now empty spaces with healthier connections to stable, kind humans. She will live by the notion of quality vs quantity. She will enjoy the peace of being by herself because often that is easier, and will have to very closely watch her tendency to isolate herself in the face of emotional danger, a survival skill she learned as a child. Her carrying that instinct into adulthood will be the very turning point that will continue family pain cycles or not. The choices she makes are heavily loaded. How she proceeds will shape the current generation, as well as the next. When she hears the beast approaching with stealth and malice, she can either ignore him and allow him to feed his own power, or she can spear him right in the heart. She can let him slither past to save herself in the moment, or she can beat him at his own game by greeting him and letting him know she’s aware of his presence. The beast in question is the massive pain bubble that’s been ballooning up over time, floating menacingly over generations over inherently good people. The bubble that’s begging to burst and release more pain and hurt than it can contain. Nothing on earth was created to contain such pain. Not people, not animals, not atmospheres, not energies. There is pain everywhere, it’s part of life. But it isn’t our birthright. There is pain that’s unique to individuals, to families, to relationships, to countries, to races, to the global collective. We share it with each other without realizing, like a contagious virus. It exists in so many forms, but we can un-swallow it. It shouldn’t be a given in our daily lives. We can stop the cycle and free ourselves, thereby sparing future generations of having to bear the same burden our ancestors did. It’s messy work, and anyone who revolts from an underground resistance position has to expect that they will be on the receiving end of a lot of hate. But anyone who feels they have a calling to put an end to years worth of struggle and hurt must do so. Anyone who doesn’t agree to go on living a certain way must understand that they feel this way for a reason. Perhaps they’re more perceptive and tapped into the bigger picture. Perhaps they are highly sensitive to numerous energy fields at once, and knows it shouldn’t be this way. Perhaps it’s a cosmic responsibility. Perhaps it’s a dubious honor. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, and that the work just needs to be done. If we don’t fix it we are continuing it, and if we continue it then we are just as guilty as those who came before us. The very first step is to understand it’s separate from us. We may have pain and carry it around, but it’s not fused with who we really are. We carry the pain body but it doesn’t define us. We mustn’t ignore it or run from it; that only feeds it and makes it stronger. It cackles when we look away. The first step in beating it is to almost befriend it. Look at it, learn everything about it, and start to see yourself as an entirely separate entity. So begins the extraction of the pain from your mind. Slowly back away from it by beginning to understand it can’t hurt you anymore. Whether it’s anger, fear, frustration, sadness etc, it’s a construct of the mind. Unless you’re in actual danger, you are really quite safe. Most likely, it’s your only thoughts hurting you.
Being aware that your pain is this thing you’ve been holding that you can put down, kickstarts a life saving shift. The separation begins, and you start to drift away from all that suffocated you for so long. By being intensely aware of your current circumstances, you can draw the conclusion that you’re not in danger. Even if someone is saying hurtful things to you, you can hear those words as just words. They might feel like daggers but they’re not actually so. There will be triggers everywhere forever. We can teach ourselves to not fall prey to them by examining the present. I am alive, I am not being physically attacked, I healthy, I am driving and listening to the radio, I’m at the gym. Literally taking detailed stock of where you are in this moment helps to slowly erase the past. It reminds you that you are protected from an imaginary future that you have made up. One of the ways I feel present is through my feet. Our feet are wondrous. They are filled with sensors that fuse us to Mama Earth. I love being barefoot in general, I always have. Granted I’m only without shoes at home, but my shoes aren’t a blockage. I am instantly soothed by paying close attention to my feet, shoeless or not, being rooted to the ground. This provides me with an instant shot of stability. I then travel up the rest of my body, examining all the sensory sensations that are happening in the moment. Our senses are our gateway to the present. What you are seeing and hearing now is the truth. What you are remembering or predicting is not. It’s like how we tell a kid who is frightened of a movie that it’s not real. It’s ok to be scared, but know that it’s a false reality. It’s little things like this that start to help us distance ourselves from threats, hurts, and anything else that feels destabilizing. And when we move further away, we naturally feel happier, more intact. More whole, calmer. Our own shifts are then calmer to those in our orbit. Vibration pays itself forward. This is how we slowly change course within families; we integrate pain by studying it, coming face to face with it, and then crossing the street. We invite others to cross over with us, only after being accountable for having gone down the wrong path first. There are apologies and humility in order. No correction occurs without owning the mistake. I’m sorry I was hurt, and I’m sorrier to those I have hurt. We all have a responsibility, as well as the tools, to heal years of lousy cycles. Each of us was born with the power and ability to set positive change into motion. Generationally speaking, it will be interesting to see if my grandchildren will remember me as a beacon of love and change, or if they’ll think I was batshit crazy🤷🏼♀️. Maybe it doesn’t matter, as long as they’re together and laughing, and that they draw strength and love from each other. Yeah...that’ll make everything worth it.