Category: Journal

Generational Trauma

When my mother got very ill in 2007 I spoke to hear a lot about family. She shared a lot of things with me that she had never shared before; about our family, about our heritage, about her upbringing, and some of the troubling things she had to endure. Some of the things she shared explained some of her very fundamental traits. What was remarkable is how aware she was of how the damage she sustained had influenced her attitudes and behaviours.

Life has not always been kind to my mother. Part of that unkindness was because my grandmother had been ill-equipped as a mother due to life being unkind to her. My grandmother did the best she could, given the post-world war circumstances she had to survive in. She made choices that, in hindsight were probably not the wisest, but she made them in order to survive. Stress makes your planning horizon shorter, and when the stress becomes institutionalised it turns into trauma, often locking you in that short term thinking. Her trauma impacted how she raised my mother the best she knew how, but like so many others who suffered trauma, could not keep herself from traumatising her daughter.

My mother’s life was not easy, but it was a hell of a lot easier than my grandmother’s. So the trauma, which was passed down from one generation to the other, became a little less. She was able to sooth some of the pain and heal some of the trauma and make better choices for herself. Better, but not always good. Her horizon expanded a little bit, when compared to my grandmother’s. She did the best hat she could in raising her children. She set me up with slightly less trauma, to make slightly better choices and therefore a slightly better life.

It is undeniable, however, that I have traits and display behaviours that are dysfunctional, which I can trace back to my mother’s dysfunctions, which in turn I can trace back to my grandmother’s dysfunctions, which in turn are linked to the things she had to do (the person she had to become) during the war. This is what I understand to be generational trauma. With a bit of luck you can diminish it with each generation, but if you are not that fortunate, you pass it along to, or even exacerbate it for the next generation.

Two weeks ago one of my friends, a person I have known for decades, made a heartless comment when we were discussing the Netherlands considering apologising for their role in the transatlantic slave trade. He mocked the idea that such a move would make any difference and cynically joked that he wanted an apology for WWII. At best he suggested that generational trauma does not exist, at worst he suggested that even if it did exist, he wasn’t suffering from me (which I doubt) and therefore nobody should be.

He’s well aware of me, my life and I’ve shared things with him about my family, their struggles and my own. His comments and callousness really hurt me and I’m not entirely sure what to do with that.

Unexpected Days Off

Because I’m still quite new to many things in the United Kingdom, like the public holidays, I am often a bit surprised by them. Like this week I learned that next Monday is the May bank holiday Monday. It’s a pleasant surprise and reminds me of how I used to get surprised by holidays when I was in school.

“See you on Monday, guys!”
“Eh, yeah, Monday in a week!”
“Wait what?”
“Yes, it’s spring break, you idiot!”

A Stifling Environment

I realise only now that my previous place of employment was such a stifling environment. I was always quite insecure about my abilities as a software engineer. In the years since I left I have come to terms with the fact that I’m really quite talented, but that I was never afforded the autonomy and space to make the changes required to evolve and fix the software I was working on. I am so much more successful now.

Arcane

Ever since I fell in love with The Dragon Prince, fantasy genre cartoon with a cast of incredible characters, great representation and solid world building. It became immediately clear that the vibe they tried to hit was one of wholesomeness and inclusion. Of course I was hooked.

Recently, Netflix has released another cartoon, based on the League of Legends universe, which I’m not super-familiar with. It’s called Arcane, and it’s incredible. Not only are the story, characters and world building en pointe, the graphics are phenomenal, but the character development throughout the story is spectacular.

The world building blends steam- and manapunk together in a way that is seamless, evocative and with all the verisimilitude necessary to make it believable. The story, while not uncommon and reliant on a couple of common tropes, is engaging and get me incredibly invested in the outcome. And the characters are all well-rounded and diverse, each getting enough screen time for every viewer to get invested in someone.

Besides the far superior graphics, this cartoon deals with very mature subject matter (oppression, corruption, e.g.) and, unlike The Dragon Prince, is definitely for mature audiences.

It stands out to me as the best content that Netflix has produced so far, and I recommend this 9 episode first season of Arcane to anyone who enjoys getting caught up in a great cartoon.