A friend of mine got a text today from her mother, stating she was in distress and needed help. Of course my friend went. This is not the first time I have heard about something like this: a parent asking a child for help because they were in emotional distress. Somehow I always get slightly mad about it. A parent should not have to ask their child for help in that way, no matter how old the child is. But it happens, more then you'd think. So I started wondering why.
Why is it that such a large chunk of the previous generation has such trouble dealing with their emotions? Why have they never learned how? So I looked at the generation before them, our grandparents. And there it is. The Second World War. We tend to forget our grandparents were survivors. They saw horrible things and survived them. Concentration camps, the horrible winter, living in constant fear. We forget these things. In times of peace, war seems so far away. No, we are not living in total peace, there is a war going on somewhere every single second. But we don't feel it. We don't see it. Most of us don't anyway. We shy away from the soldiers that come back from fighting wars in countries a lot of people can't even locate on a map. It's not OUR war. We know nothing of war. And we certainly don't notice how quite a few of us, more then we think, are still battling the results of that great war over 50 years ago.
Our parents were taught not to be vulnerable. Showing how you feel, or talking about it, made you vulnerable. At the camps, such things could mean instant death. For fear of losing their children the survivors taught their children what they had done to make it out alive: keep your head down, keep everything locked inside. A very effective survival strategy in the camps, but now the war is over it backfires. A lot of people don't know how to react to how they feel. Sometimes they don't even know what they feel at all. But humans are emotional creatures and not being able to express what they feel is not healthy. So they get confused and sad. I once read somewhere it takes about 3 generations to get over a war trauma. Yes, I believe it really does takes that long. I see it happening all around me; people my generation giving in to the confusion and sadness, allowing it to be present and working through all the emotions to come out more complete, more alive. And then they end up seeing the pain their parents still carry, not resenting them, but feeling sorry for them that they were not able to recover. They still have time. They can still claim their own lives and make something more out of it then sheer survival. I hope they will.