When I was in my late 20s, I learned from an aunt how my grandma persevered in taking care of her 4 kids when my grandpa was killed by a co-worker. At that time, my grandma was only in her 20s and she had 4 young kids to take care of. I didn’t exactly know the ages of my mom and her siblings when their father’s life was tragically taken away, I knew though that being that young, with four small kids, living in the Philippines in the 1950s, caring for them and having such responsibilities was no easy feat.
Yet my grandma, with all her resourcefulness and tenacity did! She was able to provide for her family and even gave opportunities for my mom and her siblings to have good education.
Stories of her resilience and how she took in a very challenging moment to one of triumph is a big part of my own healing journey and the work I espouse around healing. Our ancestral stories are filled with strife, traumas, grief. Generations after generations, experiences around war, famine, conflicts, natural disasters, family feuds, abuse, are what we are so ingrained with. This generation’s list include climate crisis, economic collapse, Covid, alongside the wounds and traumas of colonization, patriarchy, racism, imperialism and capitalism. Our lives are rife with stories of pain and suffering.
Yet, we are not just our ancestors’ sufferings or their traumas. We are also living and breathing descendants of our ancestors’ triumphs over adversities. We are also remnants of their resilience and the flames of hope they kept alive.
We are not only the wounded parts of generations past. We are also the collective memory of their wellness.
As we bring intergenerational strengths into consciousness, we also remind ourselves about the healed parts of our ancestral lineage. The parts that enabled for us to be in the here and now. The parts that faced adversities and triumphed. The parts whose strengths kept hope alive and more. These are the parts that kept generations going.
How can we do this? How might we surface the tenacity and strengths of our ancestors?
Here are some top of mind and heart ideas.
1. Reclaim and flip the narratives we choose to preserve and share by emphasizing on stories of strengths and resilience. Use this re-rooting exercise to chart a timeline of your ancestral histories that showcase strengths and resilience.
2. Uncover ancestral stories where the wound became the medicine- Malidoma Somé, spiritual teacher and ritualist, asked “How can the wound passed on to us become a healing opportunity?” How did the wounded lives of our ancestors shifted their perspectives, patterns and paths?
3. Know that our stories are connected. Our very existence and the society we are in are byproducts of our ancestors’ choices. Our choices now becomes the imprint for future generations. What we choose to preserve, act upon, carry (specially in our bodies) are what the future will have as their ancestral stories. How we choose to “live our legacies” is crucial for the generations to come.
There is more to write around this topic. Something more to unpack in this new year as I focus on “re-rooting” as my word for the year and how mining stories of strengths and resilience will surely be part of that.