History isn't just something "Back then". It's something right now, Alive in our own cells, Programmed and labeled As culture and personality. The struggles of old, The weight too heavy to carry, Passed along through generations In hopes that the next Will be able to set them free. And the trauma isn't just our own, But a collective grief Shared by all those who can feel it. Your pain, is my pain And their pain is our pain. The Human experience knows no boundaries Has no sense of time. For we are but a continuation Of all the lives unlived. Our bodies just the clay That history has molded.
Gordon Caldwell, 2021
I’ve been feeling into the idea of generational trauma for a while now. The fact that we inherit certain beliefs and experiences through our parents, and their parents, etc… That “culture” is just a result of collective trauma which shapes how a certain group of people act and organize based on their ancestors’ past experiences. And once you start recognizing this trauma, you begin to see it everywhere.
Being Scottish, I’ve inherited a history that required a hardening up, a shutting down of emotion using humour and “I’m fine” to deflect pain. To push it down, be strong and to suffer in silence. But I also grew up Canadian, where we apologize for existing, feeling guilty for thinking about ourselves, putting the needs of others first, to the detriment of our own. We have no solid roots beneath us, no sense of individual “Self”, relying on others to define that for us instead. These are all trauma responses. And based on what is coming out now regarding the residential schools, it’s clear where some of this guilt, shame and lack of stability is coming from.
The healing process is a messy one. But until we’re willing to accept and feel our collective trauma, recognizing how it’s shaped our own culture and who we believe we ‘are’, we’ll just keep repeating the same patterns over again, carrying the same baggage into the future. This is a time of letting go, of grieving, so we can move forward lighter, more compassionately and gently. This is a time of deep healing, that is well overdue.