“Do you feel comfortable sharing family stories about living people?” is a question I am frequently asked, particularly when I’ve just published a post about my trauma work.
I never feel comfortable or good about revisiting trauma infused stories, but not because I might upset someone in my family. The only exception is the other survivors in my family.
Most of these folks have had 40, 50, 60, or 70 years to not simply share their story, but to literally challenge or change the narrative for all of us survivors. They chose silence.
They had options – and still do – to make amends for their silence if nothing else.
What they still don’t understand is that their ongoing silence is complicity and it will continue to impact their children and grandchildren.
I choose not to continue my silence. I’m not interested in protecting people from the consequences of their choices even though I’m also not out to intentionally hurt anyone.
I figure decades of scores of adults saying nothing has had far greater impact than anything I could say now.
Obviously, I know these folks have also been hurt by the traumas I’ve uncovered. But there’s a clear hierarchy of who got resources & tools to persevere and who did not, a hierarchy driven by the trauma. If you can afford to buy a vacation home, you can afford to support your adult sibling and their kids if they need to leave an abuser. You don’t get a pass for that.
There are very few adults in my family who did a damn thing to help their most innocent family members. And even fewer of my generation willing to discuss, much less wrestle with these legacies. What they still don’t understand is that their ongoing silence is complicity and it will continue to impact their children and grandchildren. Trauma, neglect, abuse have genetic components along with alcoholism and health conditions.
I can’t force my cousins to do anything and I certainly can’t force these stories onto their children. What I can do is say something here, a permanent record for them to access one day when they get to make that choice. And they can make up their owns minds.
In so doing, I can also weave the stories of millions of Americans into this thread – the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of The Greatest Generation who carry legacies of untreated PTSD, poverty, addiction, school and church abuse, and more.
I am 49 years old and I am tired of dragging this pain around. I want to do my level best to change the generational legacies of trauma, addiction, violence, and untreated mental health symptoms. I decided not to have children. I spend a lot of my professional and personal energy to support children and youth. And I ended my silent complicity.
I’m no warrior nor am I particularly brave. I’m a broken, flawed, and fucked-up woman with my own mistakes to own. Keeping the silence has done more damage than anything I could say now.
This ends here.
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