It was August 2018 when I decided to remove myself from my family. Earlier that year, my husband and I learned we were expecting our first child. I was so excited to share this news with my family. I wasn’t expecting the reactions I received from my immediate family. The happiness was replaced with tension. We weren’t that close to begin with, and it goes back to the family dynamics of my childhood.
Where my family dynamics all began
Not many people in my community like to speak about generational trauma. Being a black woman from a southern family, the motto was always; “What goes on in this house stays in this house!” As a child, you don’t fully grasp what that means, so you listen, not realizing that you are enabling toxic behavior.
Growing up with my grandmother, as my parents struggled with addiction, was when the emotional and verbal abuse began. I had no idea how traumatizing this family dynamic was for my mental health until I became pregnant. Blame it on the hormones, but carrying life forced me to really analyze my upbringing, and this led me to accept the fact that what I experienced was abuse as a child, and it led to long-term effects. A lot of choices I made or didn’t make were because of my childhood family dynamics. I became so used to being called out of my name often and being told that I would turn out just like my parents, from my own grandmother and family members. This began when I was only eight years old.
For many years I lived behind rose-colored glasses! I just wanted a family who loved and protected me. My spirit was broken at such an early age, and I did not realize it. My grandmother thought that constant screaming, name-calling, and overlooking sexual abuse was the norm. It took going to therapy postpartum once a week for months for me to realize that the depression and anxiety I had been trying to repress were because of my traumatic childhood family dynamics.
Postpartum was when I learned that a mother passes down her trauma to the fetus before birth, and this is how generational trauma continues. I knew that I did not want the type of energy I grew up around attaching to our son. I wanted him to be born into a home filled with love and joy. I knew that I had to protect my child’s mental health.
I did not want him around people who could abuse his mom and think that it’s normal behavior. I was tasked to guide, nurture, and protect him as his mother and this made it easy for me to cut off the only family I’ve ever known.
It was time for me to heal emotionally so that I could combat my anxiety and depression.