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  • Writer's pictureeschaden

Intergenerational Trauma

Well my 4th of July plans changed up a bit. We didn’t make it to the harbor, or rather we did but then we couldn’t park the RV there so we had to go to Ventura to the beach for the day. It was not what I had in mind but it was a nice day anyway.

There were lots of families at the beach enjoying the Fourth of July. And we parked next to one where pretty much every single man in the family had facial tattoos (and I mean a lot of them). They were hard drinking, marijuana smoking men. The women seemed less intense. The men pretty much hung around up top in the parking lot and did what I am sure they do frequently: party.

I watched them all day somewhat fascinated by the very strange dynamic going on. There were a couple of dads on the beach with their kids, many kids. Well behaved, nice kids with parents who were attentive and happy...and not overtly drunk or stoned. Then there were the people up top in the parking lot, who were totally getting shitty. It was a strange incongruence.

All I could see was the trauma. Trauma spread all over all of them. The guys in the parking lot the most traumatized most likely. Their lives full of tragic occurrences that I can’t even begin to imagine. I watched the dads that seemed to walk the line between the two worlds, showing up for their kids, while also dealing with the family that lurked in the parking lot. I thought about how hard it must be to try to exist in both those worlds. I thought those dads were doing a great job actually. Then I saw the kids. The beautiful little children who were exposed to the perils of highly intoxicated traumatized people...and my heart broke for them. Their lives are going to be altered, changed and likely damaged by their proximity to the adults in their lives living out their trauma, no recovery, only addiction, violence and mayhem.

I saw the cycle repeating. And all I could see was the childhood version of everyone. How the dads might have been raised on that same beach, 4th of July celebrations that got out of control. Then the tattooed men in the parking lot, I saw them as children running around that same beach. Waiting for life to come and force them to grow up way before they were ready.

What I saw transpire yesterday was the intergenerational impact of trauma and addiction. And I prayed for all of them, that they all might find another way to deal with the things that happened to them. The things that they were left alone with to process and deal...the things that make them drink and drug to forget, and then do those same things to their own kids.

The whole cycle made me sad. Not like pity sad, just confused sad. How are we ever going to wake up as a society when the common refrain is to just stay in your lane, and repeat that which you yourself barely survived?

I did what I always do when I see something that breaks my heart but I can do nothing, I prayed for them. I prayed for those dads in the middle most because they have the best chance to break the cycle...they were present on that beach, throwing the ball with those kids. They were present and not insanely drunk. I prayed that they would be able to overcome their own childhood and help those little kids to not only survive their own, but to hopefully have less to survive from.

And I prayed for those kids, those little beings of light that were content and happy playing in the sand. I prayed that they might somehow miss the trauma that was going on all around them. That they might be spared a life of medicating all the shit that went down that was never, ever their fault. I prayed for the tattooed men in the parking lot who had consumed enough substances by noon that would have knocked anyone else on their ass. I prayed that they might be able to find a different way to live life rather than escape it.

The whole thing made me somewhat despondent. Watching the whole dynamic play out was painful to watch as I could do nothing but sit and pray that they all find the light somehow.

My kids and I left just as they were starting to shoot off fireworks, large thundering bangs and booms that were indicative of the violence that would likely come later...or perhaps might start right then. I didn’t want to be there when it did so we packed up and went home. I prayed all the way home that all of them would have a lovely 4th and find a different way than the fate that I saw lurking.

I left grateful to be sober. Grateful that I have been willing to do the work to heal from all the shit that I survived. Grateful that I am not drunk as shit perpetuating more trauma on my kids. I am grateful that my family has chosen sobriety over numbing. Believe me there are still times when the pain of the past is so acute that I really wish that I could numb the fuck out. But I know that the numbing only brings about the need for more numbing, violence and chaos.

So I closed out my 4th of July grateful for my independence from booze and drugs. I do not ever take it for granted. While my life never looked like the lives I saw yesterday, I know the pain in which that family lived. I have walked that walk and it is miserable so very often. I drove home thinking about how blessed I was to be sober and on a path that moves me closer to God and to my intended purpose in this life: to wake up and endeavor to help others do the same...even if I can only do that by praying silently as I watch trauma be perpetuated. Praying is something and that is always better than nothing.

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