Previously I was never really that interested in learning about my ancestry; feeling that was then and this is now and that was them and this is me. They had outside toilets, heated water on a fire and bathed in tin baths. To me that had nothing to do with my laptop and central heating existence. What relevance could there be?
In what I deemed was an extremely clever analysis, I was missing out the blaringly obvious fact that without the then, there would be no now and they are actually a big part of me. The more I learn about the then, the more I understand about my now.
We are a part of intricate web of generations of people who had passions and fears and dreams and experiences that shaped their story. Those stories all get passed onto the next generation; a living storytale. Your parents passed them down to you with a smile, with a cross word, in shutting you out, in letting you in, in despair and in happiness. Someone in their story told them, with or without words, what kind of place the world is, how you have relationships with people, who little girls and boys grow up to be and what to value or disregard.
Some stories are worth telling and sharing with each other; they give us a sense of meaning, value and hope. They are the lullaby’s that soothe us into a restful sleep; safe in the knowledge that tomorrow holds promise. Other stories are more like nightmares; they keep us up at night. They come like vampires and suck out our self-esteem and joy, leaving us the living dead.
One person’s tragedy rarely stays theirs alone, if it’s not dealt with it becomes the next generation’s tragedy. When we are children it’s difficult to realise that what we are experiencing, the joys and pains, are partly someone else’s story. We know only how it feels and if it feels bad that it must be because of us; that we are not worthy, valuable or loveable. It’s makes sense then, that we would adapt to survive in the world that is created for us and grow up not even realising that we are still playing a character from a script that someone else wrote for us.
The little girl who was told, with or without words, that girls will never amount to anything, might grow up to be the adult who fails exams even though she knows the answers and is repeatedly rejected by potential employers. The child that was beaten, might grow up to believe the world isn’t a safe place to be and people can’t be trusted to protect you, so he attacks before he gets attacked.
We too will pass our story on. How much of that story and which parts will largely depend on how awake we are to that story and why it got there in the first place. How fulfilling is the story you are living? How much is you and how much is because someone else told you that was how it had to be?
Stories like any myths or histories can give us a really strong foundation of understanding; who, why, where, but like any story we can choose to put it down and write our own.