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Generational Trauma and Sibling Relationships

Chiamaka dissects generational trauma., how it manifested in the older generation's relationships and how the current generation is doing what it can to help it.

Trauma has an excellent and uncanny way of staying alive as time goes by. This is majorly due to the fact that a lot of times, it either goes uncontested or unnoticed. People who have been affected by trauma, generational trauma, in particular, are very unlikely to confront the situation. In my personal life, I’ve realized that my siblings and I are slowly breaking major generational traumas as well as unlearning a lot. We relate with each other in a much different manner than most of the other members of the family and they become incredibly disconcerted and uncomfortable when they witness this happening. For the most part, I’ve also realized that generational trauma is encouraged because it keeps the balance of current systems and enables toxic environments to flourish.

Both my parents are not very close to their siblings. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that they do not trust each other. The majority of people I encounter in their age group share similar sentiments towards their siblings. Their distrust and disagreements are mostly exacerbated by casual occurrences, family politics, parental issues and other discord as they crossed from childhood into adulthood. Often as a result of their socio-economic status, and possibly a bunch of other issues, each child develops a me-vs-the-others tendency or even worse, feels that their siblings might be actively working against them.

Growing up, they were not really encouraged to form bonds as each person just looked out for themselves. These gaps in relationships really start to come forth once both parties attempt to cohabitate or start relating with each other later in life. The contrasting relationship between my siblings and I can be slightly odd to people who have grown up like this.

My siblings and I make a conscious and deliberate effort to know and understand each other better and while not all modern-day siblings might find each other likeable or even enjoy similar companionship, there is a clear difference in how we are wired to view each other. Not many consider each other to be direct enemies. Likewise, we are also ready to identify faults and work towards a solution or at least a common ground. The older generation however didn’t have a culture of expressing their feelings; they stomached a lot, sweeping things under the rug and pretending everything is okay. What this eventually snowballs into is a shaky, love-hate relationship anchored by scorn and distrust.

I have found that there are things that are commonplace to my siblings and I that my mother finds unconventional and downright weird. When I hung out a lot with my sister’s ex-partner, my mother would advise me to steer clear of him. She would tell me that it is possible for people to have sexual relationships with their siblings’ partners, something which I found incredibly off-putting. To me, I would not betray my sister in such a way. However, as a result of the relationships they had formed with their siblings and even sometimes friends, if they felt that a siblings’ partner was better off than theirs or they stood more to gain from that partner, they would have no qualms simply moving to that partner. Love does not often factor into decision-making about life partner or future children, these are simply practical and need to be done in order to preserve the family line.

Unfortunately, people in older generations are very triggered or attacked by the relationships that younger people share with their siblings. They cannot fathom the trust, love and mutual care that we have for each other. The blowback from this is that our parents find ways to cause strife or inject deceit and distrust into often harmless situations. One of such examples as aforementioned is my mother causing my sister to have fears about a romantic partner with me.

It is really important for younger people to reject the ideas that our siblings cannot be our true loves. Sibling relationships are often the bedrock of stable, fruitful families as we grow older and make deeper connections with people on the outside. Knowing that we will have a safe haven within our family bonds washes away and decreases cases of generational trauma.

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