Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died,
even if his or her story lies submerged in years of silence,
fragments of life experience, memory and body sensation can live on,
reaching out from the past to resolution in the minds and bodies
of those living in the present.
~ It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn
At some point, as I delved into my own origins story, I began to wonder if many of the random things that seemed to happen to my family members were the result of something that happened to our ancestors.
I discovered this book that seemed to indicate that it was a real possibility.
Wolynn asks early in his book – Did something traumatic happen while your mother was pregnant with you ?
I would say that any unplanned pregnancy would be – to some extent – “traumatic”, wouldn’t you ? Most adoptions are the result of an unplanned pregnancy. My mom was only a teenager in high school when she discovered that I was on my way. At 2 months pregnant, she married my father. He had only just started his university education but had to quit school and go to work to support us.
But what about in the days and weeks before the decision to marry took place ? I did find the love letters my parents were writing to one another as I cleaned out their belongings after they had both died. I only read one. It was a note from my mother to a friend (I don’t know whether she ever delivered it) that was stressing about how my father would react to the news. I suppose if I had known I was going to embark on this origins journey less than 2 years later, I might have saved them for the insights they would have given me.
I do regret not saving the love letters. Shortly before I started cleaning out their home, I had read an article. It was written by a woman who lamented her mother destroying similar letters after her father had died. She told her daughter that they were not for anyone else to read beyond the two of them – not even their own child. That the letters were private. That perspective is what guided my thoughts at the time.
Previously, I had received a bunch of letters that my dad’s adoptive father had written, I believe mostly during World War II, from my mom. I actually read one of those letters at my grandfather’s funeral service as an indication of his love of family and country. However, most of those letters simply sat here – unread – for a couple of years and eventually, I delivered them to my grandfather’s biological daughter, my Aunt Karen.
I suppose the lack of time I had to hopefully read those love letters, influenced my decision not to keep my parent’s love letters when I had them in hand. Too bad I can’t go back and retrieve them now.