By now, many of us have seen Disney’s animated movie, Encanto. For many of us, we may or may not have realized how many different mirrors were being held up to us as we watched each family member struggle to maintain the matriarch’s projected rules and expectations. We realized that there were messages we carried well into our adulthood, feelings and emotions that we kept lock-and-key or even moments of wondering, “Am I invisible?”
The journey to healing from generational family trauma is no easy feat. The paths chosen are complex, nuanced, and terrifying. However, as this is part of your new beginning, depending on what your generational family trauma was like, here are some valuable but not exhaustive concepts to consider.
Forgiving, but not Forgetting
Imagine a bear getting caught in a bear trap by the lake, and it revisited the same lake only to see another bear trap. Odds are the bear will remember what happened and avoid the trap. Forgiving does not condone what happened in the past, but it also does not help to forget.
“We don’t talk about —-”
While the song is incredibly catchy, ask yourself, “What discussions did I hope to have with my parent(s)/guardian(s) that did not happen?” Sometimes the talks we hoped to have had may have helped us navigate things better. For example, I remember asking my mother why we did not talk about one of her siblings. As she was talking, I realized that I held on to feelings, thoughts, and experiences that were never mine, to begin with, further perpetuating the family pattern of the unjustified family cut-off.
“Being Free Comes at a Price”
Choosing to prioritize your peace may bring about unexpected battles. For example, things start to shake up a bit when you become proactive about untangling yourself from dysfunctional family dynamics. The discomfort can be hard to manage when you have to be the peacemaker, but when you remind yourself why you prioritize a value, the feeling becomes manageable.
Changing the narrative is also redefining the meaning of things that no longer serve a functional purpose—cheers to your new beginning.
Yemi Lekuti, Ph.D, LPC, CGCS, CGP
I enjoy working with couples and families, addressing issues of faith, identity, and sexuality, parenting (biological, foster, adoptive), life transitions for teens and adults, play therapy for children, dating and marital issues, and social and multicultural concerns. It does not matter where you are in life or what you are dealing with, I am available via telehealth to help you understand your journey, reignite your passion, and support your goals in obtaining a fulfilling life.