It is up to adults to try to mitigate the transmission of family history to the next generations. Wars, deaths, suicides, financial collapses, prisons, drug addiction, betrayals, murders, in short, the transgenerational events that make up our history must reach children to the extent of their ability to understand the all-too-human in us.
Over time, tragedies tend to be romanticized, like the not uncommon story of the white girl who had to run away to marry the black boy because her parents were against interracial relationships. It ends with the racist in-laws dying old men in the magnanimous arms of a previously rejected son-in-law. Here’s a lesson for the descendants.
In the electrifying podcast “Collor The secret of their downfall is as old as the story of Cain and Abel — the name of the first episode.
It all seems very simple if we think that it is enough to control external agents so that family matters do not reach the children’s ears too soon — or never at all. Hiding adoption, for example, was a common gesture a few decades ago and involved major logistical maneuvers. Disappear for nine months and return carrying a baby; Changing neighborhoods or cities were necessary practices for those who thought they would “traumatize” the child with the truth about their origins.
In reality, the great trauma is not in the origin, but in the difficulty of assuming that the hegemonic family model — cisgender, heterosexual, married, with biological children — is the great meat grinder grinding real families. The fact that children adopted into this system showed symptoms was seen as an inheritance from the family they supposedly “abandoned”, not as the pernicious effect of the secret itself. The myth of Oedipus speaks precisely of the tragedy that arises from the secret of origin, when we intend to escape it.
Secrets leak and it is very naive to believe that this happens just based on other people’s gossip or some new revealing fact. The unspoken is revealed in the smallest details, which the child captures even though he does not know what he has captured. She may not know the content, but she will be unconsciously impacted every time the subject comes up. It could be the tone of voice, a wrinkle in expression, the look, the interval between words, lapses and mistakes. There are endless signs that the “bluetooth” of the unconscious never turns off. Actors and actresses work exactly there: transmitting text and subtext, which are often contradictory.
The disruptive and traumatic effect of what is not said is well known in psychoanalysis, whether it is the secret that has been told to us by others or the secret that we hide from ourselves. This is the case of Freud’s patient, called Elizabeth, with severe hysterical symptoms — including difficulties in getting around. The case was resolved by the awareness of her love for her brother-in-law, the recent widower of her dear sister. By admitting to herself — in the presence of the analyst — her desire, she was able to return to twirling through the halls of Vienna. She did not marry her beloved, but she freed herself from an unconscious moral dilemma that was preventing her from living her life.
What to do based on what is revealed, only each person’s ethics will tell, no analyst should stick their finger in there.
Our stories can be terribly unpleasant, and often are, since living has never been easy. But so that they do not become a curse, they must be said well.
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