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I never met my grandfather, António. He died when we stepped on a mine left behind by the war. My grandmother had to take care of the eight children by herself. My mother, the oldest sibling, helped her. Growing up, I always knew that my family had been affected by the Angolan civil war, but it wasn’t until recently that I started to confront and heal from the intergenerational trauma that had been passed down to me.
The war in Angola lasted from 1975 to 2002, and it was a brutal conflict that left the country devastated. My family’s experience is just one of many, but it’s an experience that has shaped my family and me in ways that are still unfolding.
For years, I struggled to make sense of my family’s trauma. I didn’t know how to talk about it, or even where to begin. It wasn’t until I started researching the concept of intergenerational trauma that I began to understand the weight of what my family had been through.
Intergenerational trauma is the idea that trauma can be passed down from generation to generation, affecting not just those who directly experienced the trauma, but also their children and grandchildren. The trauma can manifest in different ways, from physical symptoms to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
As I delved deeper into this concept, I began to see how it had affected my own family. My mother had always been fiercely protective of her siblings, and I realized that this was a direct result of the trauma they had experienced. They had all had to rely on each other to survive, and that bond had only grown stronger over time.
But while that bond had been a source of strength for my family, it had also been a source of pain. My mother had never fully dealt with the loss of her father, and it had affected her in ways she wasn’t even aware of. She had always been quick to anger, and it wasn’t until I started researching intergenerational trauma that I began to understand why.
As I talked to my mother and her siblings about their experiences, I realized that they had all been carrying a heavy burden. They had all lost something during the war, whether it was a parent, a home, or a sense of security. And they had all been trying to cope with that loss in their own way.
For me, the process of confronting my family’s trauma has been a long and difficult one. It has meant revisiting painful memories and asking difficult questions. But it has also been a healing process, one that has allowed me to better understand myself and my family
I’ve come to realize that our experiences during the Angolan civil war have shaped who we are, but they don’t define us. We are more than just the trauma we’ve experienced, and there is always hope for healing and growth.
Healing from the trauma has been a journey of self-discovery. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my family through this process. I’ve developed a better understanding of the impact of the war on my family, and I’ve learned how to be more compassionate and empathetic towards myself and others. I’ve also developed coping mechanisms that have helped me manage my anxiety and other mental health issues.
Through this process, I’ve come to realize that healing from intergenerational trauma is a lifelong journey. It requires a commitment to self-care and a willingness to confront the past in order to move forward. It also requires resilience, strength, and a deep sense of compassion.
In writing this article, my hope is that others who have experienced intergenerational trauma will feel less alone. It’s a complex issue that can be difficult to talk about, but it’s one that we need to confront if we want to heal and move forward.
If you’re struggling with intergenerational trauma, know that there is help available. Whether it’s through therapy, support groups, or simply talking to someone you trust, there are resources out there to help you on your journey.
In the end, confronting our trauma is not an easy process, but it is a necessary one. It is only by facing our pain that we can begin to heal and find a way forward. And while the road may be long, the destination is worth it.