Resolving family trauma with heartfelt communication

Grandpa Hicks has been gone since I was 3, but he still speaks to me through the shared memories of my family

Perhaps those experiencing heated, inexplicable familial conflicts can see themselves somewhere in the following story, and find some healing insight into their own hidden wounds.

My mother recently remembered that my dad’s dad, who used to live with us when I was three, would come downstairs to the kitchen in the middle of the night every night, to raid the fridge.

Mom would hear him shuffling through cupboards. He ravaged her groceries. Then she’d confront him about it, and he’d just laugh. She hated it.

So get this. When I was a teenager, I used to come downstairs in the middle of the night and raid the fridge, and mom would be so pissed at me about food all the time and tell me things like, “You’ll understand when you have to buy your own food someday.”

I thought, “Whatever, I’ll show her. When I buy my own food, I am going to eat whatever I damn well please!”

So I grew up and ate whatever I damn well pleased, and got really fat and wasted all my money on food.

This is a prime example of inner reactance, a crucial concept to understand so that we can dismantle harmful addictions as individuals and as a society.

Binge-eating has been the primary antagonist of my existence for nearly as long as I can remember.

Countless times, I found myself on auto-pilot. Raiding fridges and cupboards without abandon. Fiercely wondering: “WHY AM I DOING THIS?” Unable to stop myself. Possessed by Gluttonia Torpor.

Little did I know, when I was a teenager my mom hadn’t just been pissed at me for eating her food, she was still being pissed about my grandpa all those years ago and taking it out on me.

Making that connection was very healing, for both my mother and I.

Maybe I have a gene passed down from Grandpa Hicks. Some genetic memory of raiding the fridge that drove my behavior, and subsequently triggered my mother’s deep-seeded irritation with how my grandfather had behaved in the night.

There is a debate as to whether we are conditioned more by genetics or by being socialized in our home environment. I believe the answer is resoundingly: both.

We are not chained to a genetic fate, though. Genetic traits create probabilities, potentialities. It’s what we do with those potentialities that matters.

Buried in all the memories of your life, there are countless puzzle pieces. Putting those pieces together can help you understand and transcend your limitations.

But maybe you don’t have all the pieces by yourself. Your family has crucial pieces. Your friends. People who knew you when you were a kid may know some seemingly random, inconsequential thing about the past that, in the right light and from the optimal perspective, could revolutionize your future forever.

This is part of why communication is so important. Conversing with the people in your life. Being curious, asking questions, and sharing what’s meaningful.

My mom and I have gone several years before, without really getting to know each other any better. It’s easy to think you know the people you are familiar with. But there’s always more to discover.

And the more discover about people, the more vibrant and relatable they become. That goes for family, friends, anyone in your community, country, or across the world.

If there are extraterrestrials (and there probably are), it goes for them too.

However, putting the puzzle of your life together can be very frustrating. It can take years, decades, or more.

Sometimes, the people who have your missing pieces are dead, or won’t talk to you.

That’s why it’s important to be OK with not knowing.

Another reason it’s vital to be OK without knowing, is because in my experience, surrendering your demands towards life is one of the most effective ways to have your desires met.

It seems like an oxymoron, and it is. But it seems to be true to an extent. Letting go of your needs is one of the surest ways to get your needs met.

So, don’t set out to discover people’s hearts and minds with some hidden agenda for self-actualization. That’ll probably backfire.

Set out to discover people, because your efforts will bring joy and contentment to their hearts.

People love talking about themselves.

Who doesn’t love sharing what’s important to them, whether it be stories of the past, or their favorite music, quotes, movies, hobbies, and cherished past times?

Finding answers to your life’s vastest conundrums is a lovely side-effect.

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