Trigger warning: abuse, trauma, addiction, sexual abuse
Isn’t that what we all hope to leave once our time is done? What does that mean?
In my family it means creating a legacy that discontinues the perpetuation of abuse and negativity on one side of the family. On the other side it means not picturing our predecessors only as angels every day.
On my mother’s side of the family there are generations of mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. We are successfully bringing that to an end with my generation and with the next including my niece and nephew. It also means that of four siblings only one has decided to have children with the rest of us abstaining. I always thought that would be me, a mama of lots of lovely children. That isn’t what I have manifested this lifetime. My younger brother and sister have chosen to not have children consciously. We are healing our personal relationships with our parents and with one another. It isn’t easy. It takes honesty and it takes time. Some of us put more time into it than others. We all know though that we don’t want to carry forward what the past created. It is our hope that we create something new that hasn’t been seen in this family for a very long time if ever.
My mother and her siblings spent years not talking about their past. It was too hard. The trauma runs so deep that there is no easy solution for dealing with it. Traditional therapy was never enough. It was also a trigger and would bring about bouts of extreme depression and mania. Each of the siblings became addicts in their own ways trying to self-medicate and forget the things that were unforgettable. In order to not have memories spring up and catch them unawares they also spent years not talking to one another. The abuse was so prevalent that it was easy to perpetuate it on the children without them even realizing. My mother has always said, be grateful that you haven’t experienced what I have. Anything that you have gone through is nothing in comparison to what I have lived through.
I was also the catalyst for stopping the abuse. Even as a young child I was outspoken and said no, not me. You can’t do that to me. I had to say it a lot. A couple of years ago my mother verbally attacked me saying, you weren’t raped so it doesn’t count. Always competing for who had it the worst is her outlook. I have always chosen to not compete in any form. To her it doesn’t matter that I spent most of my childhood being abused by the men she brought into our lives, her brother, her husbands. It took me a long time to learn how to not walk in the world as a victim. Her family was used to training the next victim.
Each of my siblings, her children, have experienced abuse in some form or another. Mostly mental and emotional. I am the only one who was sexually abused. I spent a lot of my childhood standing up for us. Trying to teach them to not be victims and finding their inner strengths as well.
That doesn’t always make me the most popular sibling. I am always asking them to be the best, most heartfelt self that they can be. I am always asking for honesty and realness in all interactions. That isn’t always easy either.
The hope is that for my niece and nephew that they will have good relationships with each of us. That they will have fond memories of family rather than memories of monsters not imagined.
Leaving a legacy means leaving things behind that will continue. May we continue to do our work and leave less work for them to do when their time comes.