February is Black History Month, a teacher at my school helped to create a poetry project. She and another adult at one of our sister high schools made an all-call for poetry regarding our own family history. I don’t want to put words in their mouths, but I think their objective for the project was to go beyond race to embrace everyone’s history.
The prompt to get us to create a submission asked us how we plan to contribute to our family’s legacy.
This is what I came up with:
On the floor
Gasping for air
In one, suffering body.
She screams through sobs, snot and regret.
“Oh God! Take this pain away!”
A journey this low created by decades-
Sometimes, the only way out-
Something larger than herself grabs her,
Away from that destiny written by the women
Generations before her.
Lifting her bosom and eyes to the sky,
She rejects the path
And she says:
“Oh God, I see the pattern of broken, woven threads.
I see the cross, heavy from the burden of judgement.
I see the toxic mold others have crafted for me…
But I WILL NOT go with the flow.
I WILL NOT carry the load
I WILL NOT contort my spirit
to conform to a lineage of dysfunction.
Breaking the cycle
On her own two feet.
Learning her new name.
Stronger without blame.
Wiser from her pain.
For herself… for her inner child…. And her daughter.
A “Cerberus” is a Greek mythological creature. It appears as a three headed dog that serves to guard the underworld and prevents those in Hell from leaving. (Technically, the picture above is Krampus; I couldn’t find a fitting royalty-free Cerberus… go figure.)
My “Cerberus” was shame, guilt and fear, instilled during my childhood.
A little introspection and family of origin work gave me the insight that emotional dysregulation can be inherited, if not necessarily genetic.
I made the #153Promise to myself and my children that I would end that cycle of emotional abuse and make proactive parenting decisions that promote positive mental health and wellness.
What’s your legacy???