Trauma and It’s After Affects

I remember hearing the sounds in the middle of the night.  It sounded like fighting.  I knew I should stay in bed, but I got up to go see what was going on.  I was about 6 years old.  I had long black hair and I was in a nightgown.  In our home, we had a French door set that would take you into the kitchen from the living room.  The doors were open, so I peeked around the corner through the windowpane of the French doors and into the kitchen.
My dad was drunk and throwing things.  He was shouting that he was going to kill us all.  My mother was ducking, and I could hear her heavy breathing from the activity of ducking and the adrenaline.  She had a bloodied lip, and I could see the start of a black eye.  My brothers were trying to control the situation and trying to get my father to stop. 
He threw a coffee cup at my mother.  She ducked, it hit the tile on the wall and fell crashing down. 
I had the thought that we would be on the news the next day.  The newscaster would report that my dad had killed us all. 
I was too young to fully understand what that would mean for me.  I was not frightened but rather in a type of shock and frozen.  I finally moved and went back to bed. 
The next morning, my mother was up and making breakfast as usual.  The smell of bacon and eggs was heavy.  I looked at the floor and the kitchen and it was cleaned.  There was my father sitting at the table, coffee in hand.  As if nothing had changed or happened, my family moved through their day.  Before I left for school, I touched the broken tile on the wall.  To me, it was not a normal day.  My mother still had a black eye and a bruised and cut lip.  I carried the trauma with me to school that day and every day after.
Fast forward to today.  I was called to help my sister who was at the hospital with her son who was an alcoholic.  He lay in the hospital bed with tubes hooked up everywhere. 
The traumas my sister lives with are still with her.  It was evident that they had been passed down to her son who also had difficulty coping and turned to alcohol. 
Trauma not only affects those who live through it, but it can also reach into the future and touch the lives of future generations.  You might ask how that can be, well, it happens when a parent has not been taught how to cope with their traumas and passes on their faulty coping tools to the next generation. Was it intentional? The answer is no.  Every generation wants the next to be better.  It happens when someone is not shown how to do something different. 
Trauma can make us resistant to seeking help.  My clients ask me why we must go through the ugly parts of their lives again and again.  I explain to them that it’s the only way to tame the power that they have on us.  If we can speak about our traumas and cope rather than be sent into an emotional spiral, we have tamed them.  The likelihood of being highjacked by the memories and thoughts, is decreased. 
Alcoholism however is something that is also passed on genetically.   Unfortunately, my nephew struggled with addiction and could not tame it. 
Alcohol is often downplayed as a drug that can also kill through overdosing.  My nephew had drunk so much, that now he lay here, and my sister had to make the unbearable decision to stop the machines and allow him to go.  Another trauma added to her list. 
The work that I do is not an easy one, but I do it in the hopes of changing lives one life at a time.  I only wish that I had been able to help my sister through her traumas long before her children had to suffer the consequences of it’s after affects.  Today, she carries a long list of traumas, but she is doing the work to change her life with the hope of also changing her other son’s life.  Together, they will change the future of their generational lineage.
I write this to honor my deceased nephew, Gary Hudson.  May his life not be lost in vain and that if you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism or trauma, that you reach out for help.

Leave a Reply