A while back, there were certain religious institutions that would accept monetary payments in exchange for forgiveness. This “forgiveness” whether it be partial or otherwise would then grant deceased relatives access to heaven that they otherwise may not have gotten. Sounds great right? Assuming your family could afford it… and for a while people paid these “indulgences,” probably thinking and believing that they were buying gods love and a family memebers freedom from suffering. But in reality what the money really did was give religious institutions access to the kinds of funds that would support their varrious projects and “expansions.”
But why, on a Friday, am I talking about church and forgiveness? Well, to be frank, I’m not… what I am talking about is the debt we pay for the ones that leave us behind and while it certainly isn’t always monetary, it can still be quite costly.
Something that’s been on my mind quite a bit lately is the concept of inheritance and how we inherit the sins and in some cases, the atrocities, that were inflicted on our parents and their parents and so on. See a few years back a friend of mine posted this really profound thought that I probably brought up before but I’m going to say it again –
She said “We all just want to give our children a life they don’t have to heal from.” – read that again – “We all just want to give our children a life they don’t have to heal from.”
And though she is completely right and although no parent sets out to damage their child, some kids today are constantly paying for sins that they didn’t commit and that they might not even be able to understand for another two or three decades. Why? Because they, and we, are paying for the sins of our mother’s mothers and our father’s fathers and so on – and if you stick with me for a bit I can explain exactly why and how we are doing that.
Spacial Awareness and Mental Health
Now before I get too deep into this, I’ll preface this with – not everyone has aggressive amounts of trauma or any real trauma at all, but some have and as humans, it’s our job to respect people where they are at on their journey and listen to them and their stories to the best of our abilities. We don’t have to agree with them or their beliefs, but telling them they are wrong or lying for the sake of making ourselves feel better is no longer an option. That said, let’s get into it.
A decade or two ago, the mental health resources were obviously not what they are today. The stigma surrounding mental health and even asking for help was often portrayed as weakness and while, in a lot of ways, men are still made to feel inferior for asking for and getting the help they need – young men are in a way better place now than their fathers and grandfathers were 30-60 years ago. So, keeping this in mind – our parents and their parents, in some cases, are pretty darn screwed up. BUT ITS NOT THEIR FAULT. (With one very important exception…)
The exception: If you, as a parent, relative, friend, etc. can properly identify your own trauma and the trauma you are inflicting on others and you are not doing EVERYTHING in your power ie. therapy or medication or kickboxing (whatever works for you) to work through that and not be hurtful to the people you love – you CANNOT blame anyone but yourself for the fallout of your actions and you can’t blame those around you because they don’t spend every minute of everyday trying to avoid your invisible trip wires.
Look, believe it or not, I’m not here to place blame or condemn anyone or point the finger this way and that and I’m also not trying to be the trauma police. I’m not here to name names in order to validate my own trauma – that would be twisted – but I am saying this because I know I am not the only one who has been snapped at or has snapped at the people around me because someone did something to me or I did something to them as a result of an entirely disconnected situation. So, in order to understand why older people are triggered and why they react to things we do and why we and our kids feel like we are stepping on invisible trip wires – we need to accept that the people raising us have some stuff they haven’t dealt with – and a major reason for that is because they were conditioned to believe it is normal by their parents. (gaslighting is generationally screwy)
Forgiveness isn’t for them
I forget who said this recently, but I heard this quote that ran along the lines of “forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you.” – read that again – “forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you.” which brings us back to the church and to “indulgences” because when we pay for the sins of those before us, we don’t nessesarily do it for them. We do it for ourselves, to make ourselves feel better, while claiming we are doing it for them – and if you think that’s selfish… well in some cases you gotta allow yourself to put you first.
When we forgive others – we do it knowing that we can let go of our half of the burden and the weight of carrying that hurt and that anger in us. When we forgive others we give ourselves permission to move on.
So I guess in other words, we learn to bear it so they don’t have to – then we allow ourselves to let it go because we don’t have to. And none of this discounts how hard this can be but maybe on a certain level it allows us to come to terms with the idea that everyone that we love and that every person around us is human.
They are imperfect.
Everyone around us is fighting their own battles and sometimes we, in our proximity to them, are met with friendly fire. And that sucks – but at the end of the day, we choose what and how these things actually affect us – and hopefully twenty years from now we will have built better tools to carry those things with us. But for now – let’s just work on doing better and being better because just because I went through it, doesn’t mean they have to.