Fixing the future through the past

I’ve admittedly not looked into whether mental health issues are hereditary but I’ve been doing a lot of work recently on my family tree and the results have been very interesting. I think now they could be passed on in some way & its been helping me examine my previous mental health issues. It would appear my issues are an amalgamation of over a 150 years of my fore-mothers histories.

I’ve been reading a book The Shaman Within by Barbara Meiklejohn-Free and in the book she mentions how your ancestors can help you heal yourself by knowing the line you come from and your family history. She also mentions her childhood relationship with her mother. I found it really interesting to compare with my own. At the time, as a young child, I never knew if the troubles I went through were down to poverty, general life or hard time on behalf of my mother but to the young me I just felt everything was mean and reacted accordingly. We had a very fractious relationship for many years. Last year we both read a book Warriors,Settlers & Nomads by Terence Watts with each one being a personality type. The exercises in the book ask you to discuss your parent or guardian by choosing what you think your parent is. My personality test came out as Settler and I described my mother as a Warrior and that is how I reacted to her throughout life. Strangley when we compared notes my mum had been given the personality type Settler also and she thought HER mother was a Warrior! And so it would probably go on. It gave us the opportunity to explore our issues and learn more about each other.

But going back to the family tree. I’ve had lifelong issues with money including a borderline gambling habit in my younger days, I’ve had mental health issues, in my binge drinking days I discovered my limits which turned out to be no limits. My grandmother had similar issues and I found out last year that she felt she was often mis-understood and that she wasn’t as happy sometimes as she could have been. She also had the same money issues as me but on a higher level. I don’t have knowledge of her mother as she died when I was small. i remember a warm hearted lady but only years later discovered she had a child out of wedlock and dealt with the issues of bringing up a child alone in the early 1900’s. She was sometimes harsh on my mother for falling pregnant so young with the result she married my father for a short time more for formality than anything else

Her mother had mental health issues. A childhood spent in teh work house followed by servitude in a stately house left her institutionalised and unable to shake off the horrors of her past to the point that she refused to wear anything except that of the work house uniform for the rest of her life. This resulted in mocking and bullying in the street. How must that have affected her children?

But then her mother had it equally hard. Married at 17 and widowed by 22 with 3 children to her first husband by the time she married my 3 x great grandfather she was an alcoholic. No Samaritans or bereavement counselling then,you simply got on as best as you could or you took to drink, sold all the furniture in the house, gave your children up to the workshouse and beat your husband for not working.

So 150 plus years and it’s time to break the cycle. I still need to work on my finances but I barely drink these days and as long as I stay out of bingo halls, casinos and arcades I can keep out of trouble. But it’s time to stop living in the past (literally) and move forward. The last few weeks there has been a definite shift in perspective in how I view the world and that also ties into my family tree. Going further back I found I’m a direct descendant of the Plantagenet line with ancestors such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Henry II & III, King John and Louis VIII of France. While some people develop mantras and spiritual sayings I’ve gone the more unconventional route and it works for me. When I feel like I can’t do something or take a chance  I tell myself that my ancestors managed to often rule 2 countries at the same time (however badly in some cases) so something like submitting a short story is nothing. It’s even spread to my son who is currently looking for work & has been brave enough to spread that search internationally. It’s impossible to say no or stress when you’re ancestral uncle is Richard the Lionheart. The three lions are part of my personal heritage. I found myself taking chances and doing things I would normally back out of. I’m smiling a lot more too.

If only I could go back in time to 3 x Great Grandma Jemima and tell her the same. I wonder if she would listen? So maybe the way to change your future can be found in the past? Is history repeating itself? Is your family stuck in an endless cycle? And is there someone in the past that moved beyond all that and can give you some courage to cling onto and channel? Try it, research and see what you find. You never know what positivity it can bring x

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Just Say No

I’ve had a much needed week off work. The more I have time off the more I accept that I don’t want to work for other people and it gives me the incentive to look into working for myself creating knitted products and beads. I’ve no idea if it will be successful but I have to try. However with a mortgage and bills to pay I can’t just walk away so I need to compromise. I have a meeting next week – the usual annual review nonsense and I think I am going to ask about dropping one day and reducing my hours from Sept/Oct. That gives me 6 months to try and clear some bills and work on creating stock. Just making the decision has resulted this week in the creation of 4 items and plans for more. For the first time in ages I feel like I have a work plan that would actually make me feel like getting up on a morning.

The week started well, I got to visit the new shopping centre built in the city. The mall is the only one to be built in Europe this year at a cost of £350 million according to the blurb. I’d like to say I was impressed but the domed roof was built in sections which create a wind tunnel effect and there were no doors! In the middle of a freak cold snap I just wanted to go somewhere much warmer. Maybe I will try again in the summer

Wednesday saw me take part in a business event volunteering day at a local High School. This is the 3rd time I’ve done this here and each time I’ve felt a boost from it (not enough of a boost to make me want to be a teacher though! Spending time with 10 teenagers for 5 hours is much different from a full week of trying to teach unwilling kids). The business event is a mix of X-Factor and Dragons Den and the kids have to learn to work together to create a new pop group, making all the decisions from who they want in the band to creating the merchandise for them and planning their first concert. This is followed by a 3 minute presentation asking a select panel (well 3 teachers!) for investment money to help promote this new super-group.

It works really well, the idea is that the kids can see what goes into applying and preparing for a job, why just because they may not have all the attributes it still may be worth applying for the job and as scary as presentations are they are a fact of business life and it’s good practice  Plus they are put in mixed groups so are working with others they may not normally spend time with. This happens in the world of work – it’s only in the ideal world where you get to work with your friends all day. There are always natural leaders in the group and ones who are just happy to take part. I always assumed it was only girls who checked out each others outfits but last year I saw things from a different perspective. As all the teens have to come in business dress I watched the boys checking each others suits out and comparing who had the most expensive. But also who’s suit set them out as potential leaders of business. It was a fascinating view into the world of the modern teenager. We never had these opportunities as kids and I wish we did. My career (if you can call it that) has been based on whoever would give me a job at the time and practically falling into each one I’ve had. It’s only in the last few months that I’ve actually made plans based on what I really want. Not good for someone who spent 5 years helping others find jobs!

I highly recommend volunteering as a positive step. It doesn’t have to be with children, it could be care work. In the UK at least, there are opportunities for so many things including dog walking for guide dogs. If you are computer savvy, charities can use your support. There is something for everyone. For me, it helps keep my positive mood up but for others it’s something to add to the CV and fill in gaps where illness has stopped them working. I know of many people that have ended up with a paid job that started off as volunteer work. I cannot big it up enough!

Good Friday involved spending more time bonding with my mum. We’ve been researching our family tree and for the last 250 years the females in our family have mostly worked in textiles including my mum when she first went to work. We went to check out the city’s textile museum. Normally this would be fun but there was an extra pathos this time reading the history blogs on the walls; the stories of children crawling under dangerous machinery to clean out jammed material and the diseases they picked up, this could’ve been my relatives. I felt a sadness walking round that I wouldn’t normally have. My mum had her own (funny to me!) sadness. She’s only 58 but several of the machines were still in use when she left school and worked on them herself. She kept asking if it made her old too!

But we did have fun, the visit sparked lots of memories for both of us. We had a beautiful chat about spending time with our granddads (mine being her father) which has inspired a (half finished at the minute) poem. Plus a drive to the house where she was born (the street behind my high school which I never realised) culminating in a funny story of my mum getting her head stuck in the railings and having to be smothered in butter to get free but getting a scolding because her mum had had to use her best butter! There’s always one child in the family that constantly attracts trouble even by accident. It was me but there’s an extra bonding moment when you see it was your mum too. I used to think we didn’t have much in common but we are more alike than I ever realised.

So this week has been made up of helping others and family time, a very positive want to spend my time.