~ Latin for ~
Inheriting the Wind
Welcome to the fourth installment of My Mother’s Story and Mine. I offer you, the reader, an invitation to follow the path on which I have labored in making sense and finding meaning of my maternal family history. This solemn narrative has developed as I have developed, ripened as I have cultivated my thoughts, and effloresced as I continue to pour out of my heart into written word. This series of blogs titled, My Mother’s Story and Mine reveals our painful family history and is now shared vulnerably as a case study with my professional and personal assessments. Which is to say the only real authority in which I am able to speak, is from my perspective. It is my narrative as I experienced myself in our family.
Each of my family members has their own experience(s) which is unique to them. The generational trauma I suffered at first shut me down, then slowly awakened me when the darkness had settled and it was safe to arise in a new luminescence. Dinos Christianopoulos’ quote: They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds, speaks to how I reacted to the impact of inheriting the wind from my maternal grandfather, which was passed to my mother.
Making sense of our family story is a vital part of my reauthoring process as I curiously gaze through many new lenses of perspective. Collections of our family story officially began to emerge from the very first writing assignment for an undergraduate class in 1990. Unexpectedly, this movement inaugurated a healing process in my soul as I began to compile my truths in written form; a narrative integration. My writings gave me a solid venue to be witnessed and heard. Being heard was another important stage of growth since my childhood environment had not been conducive to developing a voice of my own, due to the intrusive censoring of my thoughts by my mother.
Our family experienced, carried, and passed on generational wounds unknowingly, and there was a pivotal moment when I recognized the impact it had made on me. I found myself absorbed in a grieving process as I realized the significant loss and waste I experienced because of the preceding choices of my ancestors. The joy that eluded me most of my life began to make sense as I realized why I did not fit comfortably with others; why I was constantly seeking approval from others, my mother, and ultimately God. That produced anxiety, depression, and fear. These blog pages are dedicated to revealing my stages of naivety, awareness, growth, and insights gained as my soul continues to awaken. It is my hope that you, my reader, might find a ray of encouragement and insight as I use my own life as the backdrop, turning theoretical principals into living manna.
Understanding my grandfather was punitive and abusive during my mother’s first 13 years of life, and cunningly manipulative thereafter, culminating in abandonment, leaving his family and running off with another woman destabilized the family unit for generations. This repetitive experience inadvertently propagated guilt and shame in our family lineage. As evidenced by my mother’s poem she was shamed, not because she did anything deserving to have felt shame, rather because my grandfather shamed her as a little girl, a budding young woman, while at the same time creating doubt in her heart about her sense of self. My Grandmother too, must have felt shamed as she questioned herself, “Why am I not enough?” My mother being the eldest had been given responsibility to care for her younger siblings. It is conceivable she indicted herself with thoughts such as, “If only I were a better, more dutiful, more obedient daughter, maybe dad would not have left us.” As the child checks in with the parent and questions what they are experiencing and the parent tells them, “You don’t know what you are talking about,” the reality of the child is invalidated and their ability to discern reality becomes diminished over time because the parent in whom the child trusts is telling them something opposite of their real experience. These are the internal schemas that were not voiced as part of our legacy, yet the pain manifested itself through outrage and blame. Shame was prevalent and it became our family legacy. When one feels shame, there is “always an internalized ‘other’ in whose eyes one is shamed or one whose eyes seek in vain” the approval from the eyes of the one doing the shaming. When we are not held lovingly in “the gaze of” our parent(s) we feel distress at the loss of connection. If over the course of a lifetime these patterns are repeated without reparative moments, we learn self-hatred and low esteem is birthed. “It is not ‘the other’ who is hated for shaming us; it is ‘the self’ who becomes hated.”
We learn the world and how we fit into it from our caregiver’s eyes. The parent’s eyes are a child’s refuge or a place from which we cannot bear to see ourselves if we feel despised. The “eyes of the parent” is a mirror where children confirm their existence and validate their importance to their parent.
Mentalizing is a term that I learned in my studies. As a child, our identity is derived from the image of ourselves as we perceive ourselves in the mind of our caregivers. The precondition for reliable mentalizing is secure attachment. Adults who securely attached to their parents as children will feel secure, and will, in turn, create secure attachments for their children. Those who did not experience a secure childhood will pass on their unstable foundational start in life to their children resulting in anxious-resistant insecure attachment, anxious-avoidant insecure attachment, or disorganized attachment. Successful parenting reflects the understanding of particular causes of distress and appreciation of their child’s emotional states and will mirror that back to their child. In essence, when a parent mirrors or reflects a child’s emotional state without shaming them, the parent is, “Helping the child positively find their mind via their mind.” This type of mirroring reinforces to the child that what they are experiencing is a normal response to a particular situation. For example, if a child falls and scrapes their knee and the parent screams at the child who is crying, “Shut up, you do not have reason to cry,” is invalidating the child’s experience as a true perception of their experience. If this type of parenting is repeated over and over during the course of a child’s lifetime, this child does not develop a healthy sense of self and learns not to trust their own sense of reality.
As a child, our identity is derived from the image of ourselves
as perceived in the mind of our mother or father.
REPEATED TENS OF THOUSANDS of times in the child’s life,
small moments of mutual rapport serve to transmit the best part of our humanity,
our capacity for love. From one generation to the next,
we learn the world through our caregiver’s eyes.
The mother’s eyes, become
the mirror where children confirm their existence and worth.
Adapted from the works of Judith L. Herman
The mother’s face is the precursor to the mirror.
This means…when we look in the mirror, we tend to see ourselves as one or both of our parents has viewed us and communicated verbally and non-verbally. We learned to see ourselves a particular way as we developed a sense of self (who we are) through their eyes. Regarding handling emotions: we learned distress tolerance and emotional regulation through the parent’s response to our distresses.
The reticulated feminine imagination of Firefly Horizons and aesthetic architect of its contextual nature. Crystal establishes artful metaphor and metonymy in interpretative language to convey abstract questions to easy answers. Through sovereign reflection, she initiates imaginative beginnings. Read more about Crystal • Articles by Crystal