Breaking The Generational Cycle
For the last 4 years I have been writing and sharing my journey through breaking generational trauma right here on my blog, Mama in Grace.
Generational trauma, or intergenerational trauma, is a term used to describe the psychological, emotional, and physical effects of a traumatic event that has been passed down through multiple generations of a family or community.
This type of trauma is often experienced by descendants of those who experienced traumatic events such as war, genocide, or mass displacement. It can also be passed down through exposure to poverty, racism, child abuse and neglect, or domestic violence.
If you are new here, welcome!
My name is Courtney and I’m a wife, a mother of three amazing children and a recovering people pleaser.
I started writing because of a calling I felt from the Lord to tell my story about childhood and generational trauma.
What i am about to share with you now is from the very first time i spoke on stage at a women’s conference and the first time i ever spoke my testimony out loud.
First I want to acknowledge the heaviness of trauma and how important it really is to be heard and feel seen.
And how important grace really is when it comes to overcoming anything. But in this case, generational cycles and trauma.
The first step in breaking generational trauma is acknowledging that it exists and that it keeps being passed down from generation to generation.
By acknowledging the existence of generational trauma, you can begin to take responsibility for your own healing journey. It is also important to recognize the legacy of the past, and the impact it has had on your family and community.
One major thing that I’ve learned, especially while in group therapy with my mom and sister, is that trauma isolates its victims. It’s how those who have hurt you control and prevent you from doing what you need to do.
Breaking generational trauma is no easy task.
It requires a willingness to confront the past and its lingering effects, as well as a commitment to changing the future.
The next step is to work on understanding the source of the trauma and its effects on current generations.
It’s important to uncover any secrets that have been kept, as well as to identify any patterns of behavior that may be linked to the trauma. Once this understanding has been established, you can begin to work on healing.
It’s also important to understand that breaking generational trauma can be a long and painful process that requires both personal effort and support from family, friends, and mental health professionals.
To say it lightly, I didn’t have the easiest childhood.
My mom had just graduated high school when she gave birth to me, and I also have a sister that’s two years older than me. That’s right, she had my sister when she was 16.. Crazy.. I know.
Anyways, our real dad wasn’t in the picture much because he was addicted to drugs and in and out of the state prison.
When I was just a year and a half old my grandpa passed away from brain cancer, and my mom being the oldest of her siblings was left to handle his end of the life stuff all on her own at the young age of 19.
I give her so much credit because during this time she found a way to go to college while raising us. She has no idea how much that has always inspired me.
I’m sure one thing we can all relate to right off the bat is that we’ve all faced defeat.
We’ve all felt pain and sorrow and the bitterness of life, we’ve felt rotten from the inside, useless, and maybe even not attractive.
This is the best way to explain how I was feeling when I left home at 14 years old. Tired of the abuse, I had made a decision to walk away.
Without my mom and without a plan.
Knowing that I had nothing, I knew that God had a better plan for my life.
On the outside of who we become, things may not look so bad. Which is why so many of us are able to hide our real struggles and pain so well.
But once we make the brave choice to open ourselves up we start to see the bruises that haven’t healed and we feel the pain again. We can taste the bitterness of the memories, regret and shame.
And the idea of who we thought we were begins to fall apart while it makes room for who we were actually created to be.
Most of my childhood I recall living in something that I like to call survival mode. Shame, anxiety, and fear were very, very close friends of mine.
When I first decided to leave home in the middle of winter, I was dating a man almost 10 years older than me and was dying to get away from my stepfather who had been abusing me since he came into the picture when I was just 6 months old.
Even though this wasn’t healthy, I clung to whatever felt more comfortable at the time…don’t we all do that?
Living in my car and sleeping wherever I could find a couch to sleep on sounded so much better than staying where I was at “home.”
I honestly had no idea at the time how messed up my life had been.
My step father did his best to make my mom, my sister and i feel worthless. He wanted us to depend on him, yet at the same time he did not want us to be happy and he made sure we knew it behind closed doors. Just as a narcissist does.
Leaving home felt impossible at times. Abusive relationships become a really awkward source of comfort when it’s all you’ve ever known.
Once I began to truly understand how trauma bonds work, I was able to forgive myself for the terrible things I had done to gain my abusers approval. And I was able to forgive my mom for not ever leaving when I wanted her to.
I’ve learned in therapy how important being mindful really is. Acknowledging and accepting the trauma i had endured was not only healing for me, but it helped me recognize myself outside of my past and the things that had been done to me.
I now know how important it is to not just take care of your mind, or just your body, or just your soul.
We truly need all three to be balanced and well if we want to live out our best life.
Healing from generational trauma requires both personal and collective action.
On a personal level, it is important to practice self–care, such as engaging in activities that bring you both joy and comfort, as well as seeking professional help when needed.
On a collective level, it is important to address any systemic issues that may be contributing to the trauma, such as racism, poverty, or sexism.
As I became a mom myself 10 years ago now, I made the decision to really break the generational cycle and to create something new because I wanted to not go down the same road that my family and I were familiar with.
I started to let go of what I thought would be and started to allow my plans for my life to change and to be different from what everyone else thought looked normal.
This ultimately meant that I would change my degree and career choice mid- nursing school and graduate with whatever I could get credit for–just so I could graduate.
I was so happy to be done with classes when I finally was. I always loved learning but I didn’t feel 100% aligned with where it was taking me at the time.
Taking care of other people is just a part of my heart and who God made me to be..
However, the little girl inside of me wanted so badly to be noticed. And it was time for me to finally notice her.
I decided to take some time for myself to find out who I really was.
As an independent woman in the healthiest relationship I had ever been in and as a new mom, I finally felt comfortable taking off my mask and uncovering all the bruised and broken pieces that I couldn’t see before.
Being a mom made me feel like I had a purpose for the first time and being in a healthy relationship made me feel seen.
Those were two things I so desperately needed to identify with who I really was, so I’m so thankful to God how he orchestrated everything in my life the way he did.
There was still something missing and I could feel it deep down in the core of my soul. I chose to continue to suppress so many memories that I never wanted to remember, again, don’t we all do that?
Memories of older men touching my adolescent body in personal ways would reveal themselves to me whenever I felt a moment of intimacy. Voices of being told I was useless would remind me whenever I would start to relax.
My very real fear of being abandoned wreaked havoc in my mind, in my marriage and in my personal relationships.
It didn’t take long before my body really started to suffer from what I was forcing myself to forget every single day and this is when i started to learn about the mind – body connection.
Over so much time of suppressing things, I became really, really ill.
My body was so full of inflammation that I began throwing up every morning and I couldn’t eat regularly. My body hurt more than it ever had before, and my anxiety had turned into a full on panic disorder.
It was absolutely crazy, I was in the hospital over 200 days in 1 year alone.
I experienced first hand that so many doctors are still very uneducated about mental health in general and it honestly felt like i was a test subject at the time.
I think those doctors and nurses were so sick of seeing me that they didn’t want to deal with me anymore, at least that’s what fear and shame liked to tell me.
Any sign of irritation coming from anyone would make me feel like such a burden, and I was afraid for the longest time to say how I felt because of it.
I had developed many tactics that I had learned to keep myself safe throughout the years, and being quiet was one of them.
Not realizing it at the time, the doctors and medical professionals that refused to listen to what I had to say regarding my own health triggered so much of my past. But I knew deep inside that something was wrong and thank the Good Lord I had listened to that feeling I had.
I was willing to try anything at that point to figure out what was wrong with my body, including taking out my gallbladder in hopes that it would trigger a placebo effect in my brain and that the symptoms would just go away.
It wasn’t shortly after that when my GI doctor had heavily recommended that I get a feeding tube in my stomach because I had thrown up SO much he believed I had a disorder called Gastro-paresis. My body was literally wasting away.
Being a research fanatic I not only began reading medical journals but I reached out to the gastro-paresis community before I ever committed to a feeding tube to see what others were saying, and I found out very quickly that none of what they were dealing with aligned with how i felt.
However I knew something was still wrong.
Frustrated with my local medical community I reached out to the Mayo Clinic and in 2018 when i made it there, I found out exactly what had been causing so much of my pain that i was feeling.
It turned out that i wasn’t crazy and i did have something wrong!
I found out that I have a tumor growing on the inside of my bone in the T11 disc in my back which protrudes out and rubs against my bottom rib where it meets my back.
Another name for this tumor is an Osteoid Osteoma. And because the risk is so high doing a biopsy, we decided to leave it alone. This crazy phenomenon creates an intense nerve spasm if I lay on it the wrong way or if I pick up something too heavy.
Praise the Lord for answers!
You wouldn’t believe the relief knowing the pain i experienced was actually validated.
During this time i began seeing a trauma therapist, figuring out more about generational cycles, about myself and who i had become as a result of all that i had endured throughout my life.
I began to develop a deep passion and understanding for the mental health community and those who are hurting.
God really opened my eyes and I began to grow my relationship with Jesus further than I ever even thought of.
And I allowed his love and grace to truly cleanse my soul through working through my memories alongside a counselor who prayed with me at every session.
I started to see the benefits of not only trusting God but also listening to what he calls me in faith to do, like sharing my testimony.
Finding and creating positive relationships with other people has always been hard for me because i never accepted who i really was outside of what i had been through.
Now that I’m starting to see me for who God made me to be and not who the world tells me to be, I’m starting to feel that burden and that lie lift away.
Walking alongside Jesus has proven that He will continue to give the dead things in my heart life again.
I mean, if you could see the amazing women God has surrounded me with in these last couple of years. Honestly, I never thought i’d have friends like the ones i have now.
Joyce Meyer doesn’t know it, but she became my best friend during these hard times in my life.. Listening to her story and where she is now and how she encourages others to walk with the lord lit a fire in my soul that I don’t think will ever burn out.
Lastly, it is important to recognize that breaking generational trauma is an ongoing process. It is not something that can be done overnight, and it is important to remember that healing takes time.
With patience, understanding, and support, it is possible to break the cycle of generational trauma and create a better future for generations to come.
I now have a passion to help others by being a safe place to listen and share their testimony. My joy comes from helping others in finding clarity in who they are and what they have been through.
I pray that all of my work and anything i create becomes a testament to what God has done in my life and i pray that He uses it to bless others and change lives like He did for me.
Check out my blog post, “Do you trust God in times of stress?”
You can also read my very first guest post here!