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What We Inherit

I’m very pleased to see some of the people who are reading my posts opening up about their own experiences.  This is truly the purpose in my telling these stories about my life.  My hope is to encourage sharing and healing.  I never want any one of us to feel alone, to feel that there is no one to turn to when it comes to the hard and unpleasant issues of our lives.

Re-visiting the things that have happened to us and gaining an understanding of how events molded us into the people that we are today is not the same as wallowing in self-pity or living in the past.  It’s not the same as blaming our failures on another person.  Rather, it is an owning of the truth about what makes us, “US”.  It is an examination and honoring of the self – so that we can incorporate it, deal with it, make it a part of our strength.

I also want to encourage any of you who are out there and don’t feel comfortable sharing in an open forum.  Don’t force yourself.  There is no ONE method of doing a thing that works for all people.  Only YOU know what is best for YOU.  I heartily recommend that you at least TRY talking about the hard stuff – even if you only choose one, trusted person to hear the reliving of your pain.  In this way, you can begin to purge it from that dark place inside of you and bring it into the light.

One of the ways that we keep handing down the abuses that we’ve suffered is by keeping them hidden, keeping them silent, and keeping them shameful.   People are victimized by parents who were victimized by THEIR parents.  This is not always the case, but it is the case a majority of the time.

Recent discoveries have found that our brains themselves are altered by early stressors.  If our parents come from abuse, we not only get the nurture part of the equation,  learned behavior, but the nature part, too.  Our brains inherit the problems that began in theirs – or in those of their parents or grandparents.  When realizing that our parents probably inherited brains already malfunctioning, it makes it very hard to simply blame them for this “cycle” we find ourselves perpetuating.  The story continues with different actors in the same play, the dysfunction and pain reenacted.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

I did not get a chance to break the cycle with my own children.  They also suffered abuse.  It would be easy for me to vilify myself, blame my culture, hide my head from the truth and pretend that none of it happened.  In fact, through my Dissociative Disorder, that’s what I sometimes do, and have done.

I’ve had to really work to re-wire my way of thinking about it all.   If I embrace this as an opportunity for change and not an opportunity for blame, I can making something good of the bad things that have befallen myself and my children.  If I can openly speak with my daughters and my son, if I can warn them, help them to see how the system works and how to interrupt it, I might help spare my grandchildren, and my great-grandchildren, and so on, and so on.

So can we ALL!  I’m proud of you, my sisters and brothers who are tackling perhaps the hardest subject matter with which we will ever deal, and attempting to make a change – not only for OUR futures, but for the future of all humankind.

If you’d like to learn more, I’ve tagged some articles that I’ve found helpful.  In presenting those here, I’m in no way saying that I agree with every single thing written, but these pages are informative and will give people a starting place; a place of knowledge – which always lends power over our lives and our circumstances.

This website of Jim Hopper, Ph. D., has a wealth of valuable information in a positive, easy to read style:

Why Did It Happen & What Can I Do?

The following show some of the physiological consequences of abuse:

Children Can Inherit Mom’s Abuse-Altered Brain

Childhood Stress Alters Kids

For the more scientifically minded, the following article has more meat:

Early Stress Alters Epigenome

There is also evidence that abusive behavior is learned:

Even Monkeys Learn It

I really like the work of this group:

Movement To Stop Abuse In Only Five Generations

Posted in Feedback To My Readers, My Life Today.

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5 Responses

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  1. Yvonne says

    Since our parents and grandparents did not consider the physical striking of us, their children and grandchildren, with a hand, switch, belt, leather strap or fly swatter abuse, it is difficult for me to blame them. Religion was usually the reason used to explain why a parent should “whip” a child, ie, “Spare the rod and spoil the child”. When I would receive a whipping, it did not seem unusual as most of my friends were disciplined in that manner.

    However, remembering how angry and defiant those whippings made me, it certainly explains why I was a rebellious teen. Compared to many of today’s teens I was rather tame because I never got mixed up with alcohol or drugs. But I get married at sixteen and had my first child at seventeen.

  2. Nina S. says

    I really like reading your blog Deneen. I’ve got it added to my google reader so I’m always updated when there is a new post. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  3. Julie Carriker says

    I’m about to jump into the Wonderful World of Blogging! Here I come… 🙂

  4. Deneen Ansley says

    Yvonne – I can see that you and I have a lot in common! I find it amazing how our experiences can override our natural responses to things. I’m sure that the first times our parents or grandparents were hit as children, they must have thought inside that it was wrong and unfair. Yet, we acclimate to our environments, we learn what is accepted and expected, even, and when we all go to “play grownup” ourselves, we do it in the manner that the grownups who we encountered thorough-out our lives did it.

    I also married at sixteen and was a mother at seventeen! Even more that we share! How cool is that?

  5. Deneen Ansley says

    Nina – Thank you! I’m so thrilled that you are reading along. It’s great that you help to make me a writer who is Internationally read! I’ll keep writing – and you keep writing!

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