For the sins of our ancestors

All parents damage their children.

One of my earliest memories is being a helpless bystander to an argument between my parents. In particular, at the end of it, being told to choose which of them I wanted to live with.

It didn’t happen. For better or worse, they’re still together, decades on.

In some ways I’m not very good at being in a relationship. I guess I just am not all that good at partnerly communication. In my very first relationship, I became acutely aware of some of the ways in which I behaved and how those habits echoed those of my parents. Years on, I still struggle with those same issues.

Like it or not, I inherited that emotional tempestuousness. It’s probably a blessing in disguise that I struggle to get words out, because honestly, some of the ugly thoughts in my head in my worst moments should never be uttered. I know, even as they occur to me, how hurtful they are, and that they’re not necessarily fair. Succumbing to the heat of the moment would be awful. I don’t want to play that game.

Do you struggle with any particular traits you’ve inherited from your parents?

9 thoughts on “For the sins of our ancestors

  • Reply Sally November 18, 2014 at 08:24

    Most definitely. I have to work really hard to not fall into the “silent treatment” trap which is how I saw most arguments and fights handled. Thankfully, we don’t tend to last longer than a few hours of being mad and we are pretty at talking it out. It’s an ongoing thing I have to work at.

  • Reply Athena November 18, 2014 at 09:57

    I don’t struggle with inheriting a personality trait from my parents but I struggle from situations I was put in years later. I had noticed a few years ago that I was repeating an unhealthy pattern in my relationships and only now have really worked on myself through therapy. I have a really bad habit of being alone and wanting to be with someone all the time and I put a lot of stress on my partner. I was orphaned young so when I feel someone actually loves me, I don’t want to let it go.

  • Reply Newlyweds on a Budget November 18, 2014 at 10:37

    I unfortunately inherited my mother’s big mouth. I really have to teach myself and I work on it all the time–to think before I speak.

  • Reply Untemplater November 18, 2014 at 18:23

    Two things. 1) stubbornness from my mother and 2) wanting/starting too many projects at once versus staying focused and not getting enough done. Neither of them I like to talk about because I like to think I have overcome these weaknesses. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t struggle with them still.

    It’s good that you recognize your weaknesses in communication. I think everybody has some weaknesses in communication because it’s such a huge part of life and there are so many complexities and ways that we have to communicate with each other. The first step in getting better is recognizing when we have a problem, so we can all work on changing. Hang in there. You’re a fabulous written communicator! 🙂

  • Reply Erin @ Journey to Saving November 18, 2014 at 18:46

    I can definitely relate to that, and I have taken after my dad in a few ways. He has a very short temper, and there were a lot of fights between my mom and him because of it. I don’t have a lot of patience, and I’ve said some horrible things in the past that I later regretted. Those haven’t been my proudest moments at all, but I’ve gotten a much better handle on it since my first relationship.

    One of my best friends thought fighting was completely normal and was a way of showing someone affection, because that was how his family functioned growing up. We witnessed one too many arguments between him and his ex. It’s kind of crazy how some things stick with you.

  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank November 19, 2014 at 22:11

    I love everything I have inherited from my parents. Though there are some bad, my parents who are in counseling field help us in bringing the pieces together. I am just lucky that I have them in my life.

  • Reply Manda | musicalpoem November 20, 2014 at 04:28

    I am so much like my mom it frightens me. Even her qualities that drive me crazy, I have!! Most noticeable when my younger brother is around, because then I find myself “mothering” him in similar ways that our mom does. It’s weird…

  • Reply Revanche November 21, 2014 at 13:11

    The traits I inherited were not great for me personally when I was younger and didn’t know how to use them but are great for my career. Go figure: stubbornness, temper (temper, temper, and more temper), nearly impervious to self-awareness about looks (actually neither will take responsibility for that last one).

    It’s actually helpful when faced with challenges and inequity in the workplace to have the sheer rage and stubbornness to push back over the years, rather than sit back and let it happen. You win some, you lose some, but at least there’s a chance to win some.

  • Reply Kara Segedin November 22, 2014 at 12:31

    There isn’t enough room in a dozen comments sections!

    This poem always sticks with me…
    This Be The Verse
    BY PHILIP LARKIN
    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

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