It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn
Is there a traumatic event in you family’s history- someone fought in a war, a car accident, an illness, a suicide, a sudden or unexpected death, the death of a child, or a traumatic miscarriage? Of course there is. These things are part of the fabric of human life. Wolynn provides research that suggests that you may find that some of these traumatic incidents in your family line have made their way down to you. He tells stories of people driven to desperate or violent acts who only find out later that a similar act occurred to their parent or grandparent. He suggests that working through the pain behind the act, and understanding all about its story that you can, can help you heal and will take away the act’s power.
I have to say, I’m not a believer, even after reading so many interesting stories in this book. I am a believer in the long-lasting effects of traumatic events on the psyche, events that can leave us feeling insecure or unwanted. I do believe that if those things aren’t worked through and resolved that they factor into the way we interact with the world, and if we become parents, they certainly factor into how we parent. If we don’t deal with our own issues, it is certain that we can pass them on to our kids. When you don’t feel loved, it’s hard to make your kids feel loved.
I really liked Wolynn’s approach to getting to the “core wounding message” in your own heart. He walks you through the process of digging through your traumas in probably the most effective way I’ve ever seen. He describes the power that lies in realizing your message, discovering its bounds, and being able to face up to it and determine how you want to move forward. He then provides a lot of great advice for how to work through your hurt and move forward, and make sure you don’t pass your wounding message on to your offspring. Although I didn’t love the parts about genetically transferred trauma, I think this book is a great read overall because of this part about defining and working through your core message. In talking about it with a friend, she said that it was a good decade of therapy for her to get to that message, so maybe this book is a shortcut there if you’re ready for it.