Most of my life I remember hearing stories about my great grandparents, whom I mostly did not know, rumours about my grandparents that I thought were just small town gossip, and accusations toward my mother that I KNEW weren’t true. After all, we were a good Christian family so there’s no way these stories could be true... Right?
Growing up in my family often felt hostile. There was constant conflict between us and other family members, people from church, friends, coworkers, and even random strangers. But as a child, it had never occurred to me that my family was the common denominator. I saw the world as a harsh place where friendships were fleeting, love was conditional, jobs were never permanent, and authority was meant to be challenged.
And yet, even with the constant conflict and feelings that I was never quite good enough, I still always stood up for my family and chose to believe that the steady stream of stories and rumours I heard about were false. After all, I had known them my whole life, and there was no way my family would do all these things. Or so I thought.
I will never forget the day everything changed. Everything I thought knew to be true about my family, and about my life, went up in smoke as the mom that I had been defending for all of these years, up and walked out of our lives without even a goodbye. Those weeks, months and years following her abrupt departure from my life were a whirlwind that often just felt like survival. My whole world, everything I had known to be true and had been defending for years had come crashing down. Every day I would discover new things about my family and the woman I had known as my mom for so many years. Horrible, disgusting things that I could hardly wrap my mind around. It was a pain like I had never felt. My whole life had been a sham and my family was a disgrace.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18
As time passed, and I began to move past the critical wound that being abandoned by my mother had left. I started to think back over my life and the seemingly endless conflict that seemed to follow our family wherever we went, and I began to see the common thread in all of these broken relationships. It was us.
So many of the stories, the rumours, the memories that I had chosen to see from a different light, were true. I began to understand why in elementary school there were certain kids whose parents wouldn’t let them play with me. Why in high school, my boyfriend almost broke up with me because of a past conflict between his parents and family members of mine. Why I always had such a hard time finding jobs in a small town where everyone knew my family and interviews often ended with “are you related to...?” and then I was never called back. So many situations in my life that had seemed so confusing to me suddenly became so clear. I felt so much shame and humiliation. How could I have come from this? Was this going to be my family legacy? Was I destined to be just like them? Then I slowly began to realize that I had a choice, and my choice was no. It stops here. It stops with me.
I sought out a Christian councillor and began to examine my history from a different perspective. I would see people around town that I had always thought of in a certain way and had to stop and question, why is it that I don’t like them? I started going back to the root of these feelings I had toward so many people that I hardly even knew, and my perspective began to change. So often I could trace it back to a specific encounter or argument that I had no part of. It was just something I had observed as a child or I was informed about after the fact, that our family no longer liked that person. I was hating people I didn’t know over situations I had nothing to do with, and it felt awful. I knew that I needed to change my thought patterns and reframe the way I looked at the world.
I began talking with people about things that had happened in the past to try and hear their side of the story. The versions I had been led to believe were so different and often just flat out lies, and hearing the truth was heartbreaking. It felt like the deeper I dove into everything that had gone on in my family, the uglier it got. So many issues passed from one generation to the next and I could not let it continue. I had to examine who I was apart from the generations of bondage that had plagued my family. And that was when I began to hear God say, “You are, who I say you are.” Not who your family has tried to create or manipulate you into being, and not who other people may think you are because of your bloodline. You are a child of God.
Many years have passed now since I began this journey, and the journey still continues. It has become easier in many ways now that I have moved past the initial shock of it all and the trauma of having to reopen old wounds I didn’t even realize I had, but I know this will be something I will need to continually revisit for the rest of my life if I want to keep that bond broken.
Following the birth of my first child, my husband and I made a choice that things were starting new with us. I will never forget sitting in my hospital bed and staring into that sweet little face and making a promise that these traumas and bondages that have gone from one generation to another, were stopping with me.
There have been times that living without all of the conflict and anxiety that it would bring, has almost felt strange. Like there must be something wrong with the joy and contentment I was feeling in my life. For so many years conflict and anxiety was all that I knew, so it has definitely been an adjustment to living a life free from all of it.
Sometimes I can feel those thoughts try to creep in that tell me I can’t get out from under it, it is just too big and it has gone on for so long. But then I have to consciously bring it back to God where it belongs. It was never mine to begin with and I choose to continually cut away at that ugly branch of my generational tree. I want so much more for my kids than this and it has no place in their lives. So every day I choose to say it stops with me, and allow God’s joy and peace to fill our home and lives. Just because that was my past does not mean it has any place in my future.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” Isaiah 43:19
Due to the author's family still living in the area, the decision has been made to post anonymously to protect her and her family. If you would like to send the author a message, email email@example.com and it will be forwarded to her.