I know, you’ve probably heard that before. It’s a stereotype of a certain type of con man. Some so-called psychic tells you that you have a curse on you because of something an ancestor did, and they’ll take it off you but need $XXXXXXX to buy the required ingredients to break the curse. It’s never your own fault, it’s always something someone did way back in your family’s past.
The problem is, the situation is real. It’s just that the psychic or witch or priest/pastor/minister who wants to do some ritual over you is not actually looking at what the curse REALLY is.
A lot of religions have this kind of concept. Even Christianity has it. Exodus 20:5: “… I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”
But, it is only when you start to look at psychology that a real understanding of what is going on truly gets looked at.
Let’s take my own family for example. My grandmother, Rose Van de Lune Buechner, was a large woman. She was born in 1910, making her teen years right in the heart of the “flapper” era. What you have to understand is that the 1920s, the “ideal” woman was much the same as showed up in the 60s, 70s and 80s (as well as into the 90s and even today) where you were looking for slender, lean and almost androgynous women. The 1920s were also the time when the emphasis on makeup, and other ways to “perfect” the human body (not just by foundation garments, but starting to mass produce, and mass market various items for “perfecting” the woman’s body. It’s hard to make a sweeping social change when every garment must be tailored to a person’s exact measurements. When mass production made generalized clothing simple and inexpensive, we as a society started making our bodies fit the clothing instead of the other way around.
Now, not only did she end up a widowed mother (thereby being a single mother) in the 1940s, she was raising a son who was also considered to be a large person.
So, we have all of the qualities set up for continuing a cycle of internalized blame for being fat being passed from mother, to son, to granddaughter (particularly when the granddaughter is the spitting image – physically and psychologically – as the grandmother).
It is not inevitable that emotional scarring or damage will be passed from generation to generation, but it is possible – even likely – that it will happen. What each generation has the choice to do with it, however, is where we can make all of the difference in the world.
Grandma Rose was a very, very bitter woman. She was quite a hard woman, in fact. I may happily and proudly proclaim that I am a bitch, but Rose gave new meaning to the word battle-axe (a.k.a. termagant, virago, or Nurse Ratched). She lived a hard life, so I don’t blame her for becoming that harsh. Oh, she loved – but like many of her peers, she wasn’t very good at communicating that love in ways other than food or other caretaking activities. I spent a good portion of my early childhood with this woman.
And Dad, frankly, is not the softest of men either. And, similar to his mother, there is a certain amount of emotional unavailability.
When there is enough similarity between generations, in terms of personality, there is likely to be a shared experience of internalized shame, blame and pain.
This is where the “ancestral curse” comes in.
Basically, what is going on is that each generation is repeating – in some fashion, not always in the exact same way, and sometimes by going so far to the other end as to teach their own children to be more like their parents than themselves – the same emotional issues.
Until someone can break the cycle, however that happens, the so-called curse will continue.
So, take some time to look at your own family. See what behavioral traits are repeated through the generations. And then, take a good hard look at those traits. If they are healthy, wonderful – keep them. If they are UNHEALTHY, start working on healing that particular wound. Get help, go to a therapist, don’t just try to medicate it away. You must confront the problem and deal with it.