Old family pictures remind me of how interconnected I am. As I was scrolling through my news feed today, a slew of photo memories popped up. One of the pictures is the featured photo on this post. It’s me with my mom and grandma at Longwood Gardens in Delaware – three generations of amazing ladies!
As I looked at the photos – and there were many – I couldn’t help but smile. I’ve recently been journaling about family trauma and the wounds I keep licking to help me heal the unspoken truths and flashes of backlash and hurt. We’ve all been there: memories of times when our parents didn’t truly see our childish antics or our “moments on the stage;” times when our imagination was cut short because it was misunderstood, or moments of misplaced anger lashed out at our right to be “figgity” kids with an innocent mission. I share these traumas with the world because I believe we all hold the karmic rope as we file into life, one after the other. And the bottom line is this: family hurts.
But that pain isn’t how we define our family.
Today, the pictures reminded me of what’s important – that underneath the issues I’ve had and the wounds I’m still opening to the night sky, I am weaved into the pattern of my mother and grandmother so much so, that to untangle myself from that would mean an untimely undoing of my own Self. I look at our faces, side by side, and I see decades of life! We’ve hurt, we’ve ran, we’ve suffered, we’ve hid from it all. But we’ve also loved and laughed and embraced and LIVED, and we have the laugh lines and the wrinkles to prove our path in life. I can’t imagine not celebrating that!
When I journal about my family and the traumas I’ve had with and for them, I share a part of that celebration, because as a new writer reminded me last night, our path to self-love and healing is not a one-time-done kind of thing. It’s a practice, put forth before us each and every day, through every breakdown and through every resurrection. And I agree – we all fuck up; we all come from backgrounds that were, or still are, at some point, fucked up. But we can’t celebrate our roots and our foundation and from whom we come if we can’t say “thank you!” And believe me, there is so much to be thankful for.
I look at our faces, side by side, and I know in my heart of hearts, that we have done our best. We’ve loved and listened and birthed and raised a community, values, ideas, and passion in the only way we then knew how; and those ways will undoubtedly change, as will we, as we should.
Sometimes, our foundation is shaky and our roots need a little clearing. Sometimes, we’re not sure how to say what we feel in front of others, or how to open our hearts to let out the waste that’s piled up too high. I don’t have an answer to these things, at least not yet, but I now know the corner of my DNA that gave me my mother’s loud edge and my grandma’s forgiving heart. I see it in the way we stand and in the manner in which we smile with our eyes; I feel it in the way we belly laugh and unknowingly fold our palms in our lap when we sit. These are the strands of our connection that I now know have braided together to remind me that yes….
But family defines us by what we do with that pain, and if we can turn it into love? A constant love to serve our Self and our world?