Picture snagged from Pinterest
I recently took some time to catch up on backed up e-mail, you know the e-mail you really want to read but don't quite have time for it, so you save it for later? Well, a subscription to Happily Heathen, on The Agora: the Central Hub for the Patheos Pagan Channel, was one of those "I'll save these for later. That later came when I couldn't sleep one night.
While playing catch up on this particular subscription, I came across Healing old wounds at a new ancestors grave. In a lot of ways, this was something I needed to read. There have been some people in my family that have negatively affected our Wyrd. My Mother's Step Father for instance. I do not want to honor this man. What he did to my Mother and my Aunt makes me sick. I have no love for him. I wish I could say that he means nothing to me and doesn't affect me, but he does. The things he did make me quite creative when thinking about vengeance and then I have to remind myself, as I did when he was alive, that he just isn't worth it.
But there is a lesson in his existence, his crimes, and even my Mom's Mom's fear of being alone so much so she stayed with someone who hurt and abused her children. That lesson is in my Mother. For everything that happened, my Mom got herself out, she made a life for herself, and while she never forgave her step dad (he's dead now, had a heart attack and crashed his truck into a light pole- not quite the judicial end I would have liked but I will take it), she forgave her mother. She forgave her mother for looking the other way, for beating her when she tried to get help, for choosing a monster over her own daughter. She forgave all of it and she didn't do just for herself, she did it for her mother so that Grandma J, would have a chance to know me, her Granddaughter. Now, I was never left alone with my mom's step dad and I never got to spend the night with Grandma J until after he died. But that one night I was able to, meant more to my Grandma J than I could even express to my Mom. I feel in a lot of ways, my Mom doing that, helped to heal the wounds of the family Wyrd and taught me the importance of forgiveness, and getting back on your feet and pushing through.
On the converse, my Aunt, my Mom's Identical Twin, did not learn these lessons. In fact, she fell into the victim roll and continued the cycle of abuse in her own kids, particularly to the one who actually cares about her the most. She is also horrible to my Mom, so much so that while my Mom still loves her sister, she wants nothing to do with her. I think hanging in there for 50+ years is long enough and at some point, you just have to say, "I love you, but we're done." I don't know exactly how that will affect the Wryd, if that's positive or negative. For me personally, I'm fine with this disconnection to my Aunt. I tried for a long time to be devils advocate, to be sympathetic, but she finally just pushed me beyond my limits. I love my Aunt, always will, but that doesn't mean I have to talk to her or allow her to cause more damage.
But how does this play out in honoring my ancestors? How do you honor someone or people who have hurt you or others you care about in your life, even if you don't want to honor them? What about the people you don't know about yet? Or ancestors from long ago you know nothing about only their names? I think its a personal choice. I don't think anyone can tell you who you have to honor. That probably comes off as "pick and choose" in so far as picking what you like and discarding the rest. Well, I suppose in a way it is. I will honor my Aunt because I love her and we had some good times, but also because she is my Aunt and there are lessons in my life that she's taught me about people. I don't want to honor my Mom's step dad and while I may never honor him directly, I will honor the indirect lessons- those my Mother learned and then instilled in me, such as who and what to watch out for, getting back on your feet, and learning to forgive and what forgiveness can do. This may not work for everyone and I think that's okay.