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© 2018 Shakti Sundari. 

Inter-Generational Trauma & the Masculine

July 31, 2019

 

As I was driving in the car with my son earlier today, we were talking about my Dad.

 

I wondered out loud how I would feel at the time of his passing. 

 

My Dad and I stopped having a good relationship the moment I hit puberty.

 

As a girl I idolised him. As a teen I hated him, yet longed for his love and approval.

 

I'm not sure what exactly switched for him at that point: stress at work, marital conflict, frustrated sexuality, an inferiority complex over my burgeoning intellect, an ego that couldn't handle being challenged or a discomfort with my embodiment of independence and womanhood.... all of these could have been reasons, but the fact is, that from then on, I experienced him as distant, disinterested, critical and controlling.

 

And, once or twice, physically violent.

 

My Dad has remained an extremely challenging man to get along with - not just for me, but anyone (there aren't many) in his orbit.

 

Age has only exacerbated his most objectionable qualities. 

 

It took me many years to overcome my hatred for him and recognise not only the way our family dynamic was shaping my self and relating, but also how my soul deliberately chose this karma to prepare me for my dharma in this lifetime.

 

And even when I thought I'd healed and integrated all this and would glibly attest to the fact that I no longer harboured any resentment, I went and picked a narcissist for a partner, who pushed me face first into the shit of my unresolved co-dependency, born of this ancestral dysfunction.

 

Which, as it suddenly dawned on me as I streamed my consciousness out loud in the car, originated - perhaps - in my father being a London child during the 2nd WW, living in great poverty as the son of a man, who was serving as a medical orderly in the army.

 

In other words, my father's father had had to pick up body parts, assist with the removal of limbs and generally clear up the indescribably horrific physical mess of war, both in Europe and the Far East.

 

It has never been spoken about and I never met my paternal grandfather, but from the limited amount I've gleaned, my Dad's father was a dour and difficult character.

 

Perhaps he was suffering from what we'd now call PTSD?

 

Perhaps this, coupled with my father’s experience of severe poverty and existential angst, goes some way to explaining his adolescent freeze-framed psyche and inability to connect from the heart.

 

I spoke with my son of how trauma sits in our cells and DNA. How it's passed along the family line, unless we do the work to illuminate, heal and integrate.

 

I spoke of how, even though I'm no longer with his father, I chose well in a man of such good character, who has been a steadfast and devoted Dad throughout.

 

I felt pride in and gratitude for the profound love, respect and affinity I share with my son, who is already such a mature, wise and compassionate young man at just 17.

 

Reflecting in this way, I see so clearly how destructive it is, both to the individual and the whole, when policies and actions, from the macro to the micro, entrench a shadow masculinity that engenders trauma.

 

And, conversely, how different our relationships, communities, societies and world would be, if we took the focus off competition, conflict and self-interest... the separation thinking of me versus you... and turned our energies, instead, towards love, co-creation, abundance and you are me.

 

More specifically, I see how important it is for us all to acknowledge the residual impact of gendered conflict and inter-generational trauma in our lives and do the work for the buck to stop with us.

 

This invites us to a radically new way of being, since the prevalent social, economic, political structures and belief-systems are permeated by the frequency of separation, which, in turn, actively perpetuates trauma.

 

We might imagine we're fine and think trauma has nothing to do with us, but any time we're baying for the blood of a rogue nation-state, selling weapons, training soldiers, refusing refugees asylum, hating on women/men or simply castigating those in society who are different to us, we're a part of the system that traumatises.

 

And this – ironically - can only breed further division and conflict: feeding the self-perpetuating projection of dangerous others who need controlling, punishing and containing.

 

We might imagine this has nothing to do with us, and yet how many of us have parents or grandparents who knew the horrors of war? Our DNA is encoded with their survival terror.

 

We might imagine this has nothing to do with us, but every inner city stabbing is a reflection, on some level or other, of the next generation of traumatised youth speaking.  

 

As I feel into the trauma of my own male lineage, my heart aches for what my forefathers have witnessed and endured.  And I pray to be the one with whom the buck stops and in whom love prevails.

 

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