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What Does Healing Your Generational Trauma Look Like as a Parent?

Michelle is a self-love and wellness coach on her personal healing journey. She empowers others through her experiences.

How I started my healing journey

My healing journey started when I wanted to quit smoking. Actually after six years of trying to quit smoking. The longer it went on the more I didn't like who I was. The more time that passed the more I felt like I was becoming my parents - toxic. I didn't want to end up like them. I didn't want to keep smoking. It wasn't just the act of smoking I didn't enjoy anymore it was what came attached to it; lack of self-care, disgusting mouth hygiene, being controlled by my addiction but most of all the effects it had on my mentality. I used to think it helped my anxiety, depression, and stress management but in the end, it just wasn't helping anymore - it was worsening it all. I wasn't always negative. I mean when things went my way I was very positive but life just doesn't work that way so I was miserable most of the time. I didn't feel right and my girls absorbed all of it. After a while, I started seeing the truth of the addiction, the truth of my actions, the truth of it affecting my kids and my life.

Before I started healing, I was so lost in depression and this unrecognizable persona that I wasn't aware of my actions or the reasons behind them enough to change them. This was hard because I knew I didn't feel like myself but I couldn't BE myself.

After really facing my own toxicity and figuring out the why, how, and when of it all, I could be more aware. I could separate that darkness from my true self. I could slow down enough to say, "Okay, I am frustrated. These are not my true thoughts and feelings."

At the start of my journey, I turned to witchcraft and tarot cards to help me walk the path in the right direction. It was extremely hard but I knew my life had to change so I could change the girls' lives. I didn't want them to grow up with the same toxicity I did. I wanted my girls to be healthy but I couldn't raise healthy kids if I wasn't a healthy parent.

I had been stuck in an unhealthy toxic cycle for an entire decade cursing everything and everyone around me for my troubles. Every time I would tell myself that I would change and get healthy, I would always fail and postpone it. Three years ago, nothing was different other than my will and genuine want for a better life. In the hard moments, you know those moments where you want to give up, I kept picturing my old life and it scared me to give up. Falling back into old ways scared me because I felt like I finally got out and I didn't know that I could do it again. So I kept going. I kept pushing through. I kept being compassionate with myself and what really helped in my journey was giving myself the space to feel and make mistakes without it meaning I was failing. I wasn't failing, I was processing, feeling, and releasing. I was growing.

This helped me parent better. It helped me see my girls as humans who also process, feel, release, and grow.

I practice self-love and self-awareness

Self-love is the first step to healing. You can't heal and become the true you if you don't learn to love yourself - all of yourself. When I was stuck in unhealthy cycles, I didn't love myself. I didn't love myself BEFORE I fell deep into depression which is part of the reason I became depressed in the first place.

See, when you love yourself, you also believe in yourself, value yourself, set boundaries, learn about yourself and invest in yourself. You are compassionate and patient with yourself. You allow yourself to make mistakes, learn from them, and do better moving forward. You spend a lot of time caring for yourself. Within all of this, you develop and nurture your self-awareness. Your intuition. You listen to your body. You listen to your mind. You learn about what you need and want and what you don't. When you become self-aware of your person, you become self-aware of the people around you and your surroundings therefore the cause of your triggers. Triggers are anything that brings you from a peaceful state to an imbalanced mental and spiritual state. When you are aware of your triggers you can nurture them. You sit with the symptoms (feelings, thoughts). You allow yourself to be human and imperfect. You feel them and release them instead of harbouring them. You heal them. When you can do that with yourself, you can do it with others. You can teach others, i.e your kids.

I bite my tongue and take a deep breath

This is an action I seem to do often since I started healing. There are many times where thoughts appear and I have to physically keep my mouth shut as to not throw out the negativity flowing through my mind. It mostly happens with my tween girls since they are the ones I spend the most time with.

For example today I spent all day by myself. Actually, it was the second day that I was alone left to do whatever I wanted which was nothing at all but watching television. I love these days because I CRAVE alone and quiet time. I started a new job a few months ago which really drains my introverted soul and I intend to use this Christmas break to my full advantage. When you have kids doing nothing is not always possible. They came back from their uncle's house today and let's just say, I noticed! My quiet alone time was gone. I had to do things. I had to get up. I had to speak - even this drains me. I got frustrated. Irritable even. I got triggered. During the decade that I struggled mentally, I resented having children and wished I was by myself. When I get triggered and feel like I lose control I act out. In this situation, I guess I felt like I lost my space and control over my actions. I was forced to do things I didn't want to do. When I act out I say hurtful things and I become controlling. I start criticizing the girls' every action. I judge them. I push them away. I become my dad simply said. The truth is that when I become controlling I don't gain control, I actually lose it even more and I hurt the people around me.

So I bite my tongue. I process the thoughts and I make the choice to address a situation. I decide if it's worth saying. I contemplate how my words will affect the other person. I choose if it's important. If I decide that my thoughts aren't my own or relevant, I bite my tongue. I walk away. I go for a walk. I go in the shower. I go sit in my room. I do whatever is necessary to clear my mind and get myself back to a peaceful state because oftentimes whatever I am criticizing is not the real issue. In this case, the issue was that I felt like the girls took something away from me - my alone time and I got upset. They came back home - their home - because they had to eventually. How I reacted wasn't their problem to fix, it was mine to process and heal. Projecting my personal triggers on them and blaming them would only hurt them. It would only keep the unhealthy generational trauma cycles alive for the next generation to heal.

I own up to my actions and apologize - A LOT

This is a hard one. It's hard to admit when you've made a mistake. It's hard to be wrong but it happens and will always happen so learning how to own up to my mistakes and apologizing wasn't a debate or an option. You can't maintain a healthy relationship with yourself and others if you can't apologize and validate yours and their truth. Apologizing conveys the message that the person on the other end matters to you and having a good relationship with them matters but also that they simply matter.

When you apologize, you learn about taming your ego and your pride; how to put others first when you should; empathy and compassion; honesty with yourself and others; responsibility for your actions.

Apologizing and owning your mistakes also teaches you and others about forgiveness. It forces you to practice healthy communication. It helps clear misunderstandings. It allows for different perspectives to be shared. It promotes compromise and problem-solving.

It's hard to apologize but it's harder to lose the people that mean a lot to you including yourself.

I give them the same safe space I give myself

Most important of all, I give them the same safe space I have learned to give myself. If I am allowed to make mistakes, to break down, act out, and speak my truth with compassion then so do they. I learned that I mattered and they do too.

I grew up feeling alone, judged, controlled, and uncared for mentally and emotionally. I didn't have a safe space to be myself much less human.

As a parent, I didn't want to put my girls through the same that mine put me through. I realized on my healing journey that it wasn't entirely my parents' faults and I have forgiven them but I also don't have a relationship with them. When I look at my girls I see myself. A girl who didn't ask to be born, forced to grow up and be human. I wanted them to have a safe space to run to when the world out there tries to break them. I didn't want them to have to go through the excruciating pain of healing my trauma on top of theirs the way I had to.

So I healed. I loved myself. I gave myself a safe space.

I am a healthier person and a better parent for it.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Michelle Brady

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