Unraveling The Threads: A Family's Journey Through Generational Trauma and Addiction

Unraveling The Threads: A Family's Journey Through Generational Trauma and Addiction

My nanny, an angel in my life, was an orphan. The trauma of being shuffled between orphanages marked her early years until she found stability when she married my papa at 16. My great-grandma Elsie, who I called Gaggie, stepped into a motherly role for my nanny, leaving her mark with her bright red lipstick and fondness for rye.

Known as "Fertile Myrtle" due to her ten pregnancies, Nanny suffered a devastating loss when her youngest son, Brian, was killed in a car accident. This tragedy profoundly affected my Mom. It took a spiritual awakening, induced by psilocybin, for her to recall and process the traumatic memory of Brian's death, some 40 years later.

My Mom's life was marked by tumultuous relationships. First, there was a married man, with whom she had a chaotic relationship. After they split up, she got involved with a man who, despite his struggles with alcoholism, was a wonderful person. This man was open about his struggles, shedding tears in a time when mental health was stigmatized, especially for a skilled trades worker in Sarnia, Ontario. He was one of the good ones. Tragically, he eventually succumbed to his demons and committed suicide, leaving my Mom and my 16-year-old sister to navigate the aftermath alone. My sister was left to comfort our mother each night as she recounted the horrifying experiences of their relationship.

Later, my Mom married another man. In my 30s, this man, my stepfather, sexually assaulted me in my sleep.

During this period, years later, I was caring for my dying Mom and my sister had recently taken to the streets after her tireless attempts to care for our Mom alongside her crippling addiction. Despite the emotional toll, I found the strength to take on the responsibility of handling my mother’s care, full-time while also supporting my partner who had recently lost his job. He would come over daily while I was staying with her for his meals even. We shared many stories and Mom, and her hopes for me in the future. She was so ecstatic that she was able to finally be able to fund my dreams that I have had since I was a child, knowing I would soon be receiving my inheritance from her palliative disease.

Looking back, I remember my Mom sharing stories about accusations made by my stepfather's ex-wife. Now, it all makes sense. He likely assaulted her too. His transformation when he drank, unnoticed then, is clear to me now. Like many other times and behaviours I have been conditioned to think were “just how men act” in my life.

Despite these painful past experiences, some family members are now standing up and making changes. They're confronting the problems that once plagued our family and working towards a future where these issues no longer exist. Everyone is capable of change.

Now, my focus is on raising awareness about generational trauma. By sharing these painful stories, I hope to foster understanding, inspire healing, and contribute to breaking the cycle that has profoundly impacted our family. It's a difficult journey, but the belief in a better future for the next generation fuels my strength and determination.

I remember the tireless efforts of my nanny, who worked at Mac’s Milk Variety Store to pay the mortgage. Both my paternal grandfather and papa were also incredible individuals. They embraced feminism and championed equality, setting a positive example for us. Unfortunately, after losing them, we began to perceive all men through the lens of our past experiences, which led us to believe that they were all the same. However, it's important to recognize that not all men are like that. We were let down by a few bad individuals, but there are many wonderful and supportive men out there.

It’s worth noting the martini glass on my nanny's tombstone, symbolizing her love for vodka. It highlights the apparent hypocrisy in how society views different forms of addiction. While my grandmother's choice of alcohol was accepted and even celebrated, other family members who struggled with drug addiction faced judgment. This contradiction raises questions about societal attitudes and the stigma surrounding certain addictions.

It’s crucial to remember that there are many compassionate and respectful men in the world. We shouldn't let the actions of a few tarnish our perception of an entire gender. By acknowledging this, challenging harmful behaviours, and promoting equality, we can work towards a more inclusive and understanding society.

By confronting harmful behaviours, addressing societal imbalances, and promoting respect and understanding, we can create a better world for all.

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