In every discipline there is a system of naming things. Whether it is botany, microbiology, cooking, online gaming, medicine or Yu-Gi-Oh cards…there is nomenclature. A name defines, identifies and delineates. God created all things, but he allowed Adam to name everything. In naming everything, Adam owned it. He marked it as his in a particular way. Giving everything a name demystifies it.
It has become apparent to me that one of my roles (especially in my family) is to name things. In telling the Cliff Notes version of my family history to my therapist, it was quickly evident that I name things and people. And the tags I give them are bold. My markers are not judging or editorializing, but they are powerful. As I ran through the family tree, I gave a 5 minute synopsis of both my maternal and paternal history. Broad, intense, bold brush strokes. But, by naming everything, I demystify it all. I deconstruct it. And I can then reconstruct it in a way I define.
Is this revisionism? Maybe. But, it may allow me to alter my own path. It may give me an exit ramp off the road I have been on. Ingrained patterns are exceedingly difficult to break and may require deconstruction. It may even require the psychological equivalent of the “Extreme Home Makeover”. Gut it to the studs or scrap it down to the foundation…..and start fresh.
I cannot change the fact that I have certain facts hanging from my family tree. And it can be tempting to lop off the low hanging fruit, prune away the dead wood or even graft new species onto the trunk, hoping for a new variety to develop. And as sad as it is…..majestic trees sometimes just die. Their withering is unanticipated and impossible to stop. The hope is that a truly great tree drops many small seeds and produces many saplings. The success of those saplings is independent of the original tree. The DNA gets passed on even is the grand daddy oak falls.
So, as I named each of the people in the last 3 generations, I owned them all. The poverty, the struggle to “make it”, the loss, ambition, the isolation, the abandonment, the conditions, the judgments, the rebukes, the depression, the addiction, the suicide and the disconnection. In doing so, I can give myself permission to accept, support, retrieve, reconcile, connect and LOVE my family….maybe for the first time.