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  • Writer's pictureSarah Gagnon

The Therapist Recognized the Generational Patterns

I decided I wanted to start counseling with my sister early January 2020. I asked her if she was interested in counseling on our way to get Mexican food for dinner after the funeral of my stepmom’s father. I was asking in a passive way and my sister said, Sarah just ask it. I was nervous and cautious to what type of response I would get from her. Over the years I have tailored back my opinion and thoughts in fear of pissing her off & her walking out of my life again because I said something she did not like.

We had our second counseling session today. I was less anxious about this session than our first session. I knew after our first session it would take some time for my sister to trust the process. I also knew she was willing to have an open mind during the process.

We both agreed during out first session that we were ready to unveil the trauma of our childhood. We were both ready to break the generational trauma in our family. Today, we went through the process of making a genogram with our therapist. It made me realize the disconnect in our family. During the process I also thought, “I wish I had the family tree made in elementary/middle school”. I remember going through my maternal grandmother’s photo albums listening to her stories and her telling me who the people were in the older black & white photos.

I had two realizations going through this process of making a genogram with our therapist.

  1. Both my mother and I do not have a relationship with our biological fathers.

  2. The women in my family have passed down the generational trauma.

I had acknowledged both facts prior to our session today. I think hearing it our therapist acknowledge the generational patterns in our family let me see it in a new light. I never had thought about the connection my mother and I have in relation to our biological fathers. Our experiences are completely different – this may be why I did not see the connection. I wonder how this similarity has contributed to our relationship. I wonder if my mother saw herself in me because of this. I wonder how my maternal grandmother dealt with this situation with my mother.

I remember the exact moment my mother told me that the man I call my father was not my biological father. We were eating dinner in some sort of dinner after my dance competition in some city (I do not remember exactly where we were). We were sitting in a round booth. I do not remember what I was eating but I remember feeling like my entire stomach fell. I was shocked. I felt betrayed because I thought this information was something everyone else knew about but me. I think the topic of my biological father did not come up again until I was in high school. Then later when I was in college. I tried to locate him through social media a few years ago. I thought I had found him and messaged the man who I thought was my biological father. He blocked me. I have not attempted again to connect with him.

I was twelve years old when I found out the truth about my biological father. I wish I knew sooner. I wish my family normalized it. I wish we talked about it more. As I type this, I realized that in this moment in my life I learned not to talk about unpleasant truths. There are many unpleasant truths about my family that were never talked about – they just became the elephant in the room that everyone saw but did or said nothing about. As if not acknowledging it would make the truth less true.

This is how my maternal grandmother and mother cope. This is how I survived my childhood – not knowing there was a better way of dealing with the chaos of my childhood. This is how my sister copes.

My sister and I are writing the next chapter of our story. One brick at a time.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if any of this resonates with you.


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