Major life transitions are a funky thing, aren’t they? Oftentimes, we may find ourselves feeling as if we are a fish out of water. We do our best to adapt. We might feel as if we’re succeeding. We may feel as if we’re gasping for air, completely failing on our promise to be our most authentic self.
So many things come into play, too, to affect us: Money, relationship, employment, children, our own moods. Sometimes, we may find ourselves falling into a deep esoteric and existential funk. What to do? What is this quirky life about—really? Who are we—now?
My three favorite words: Don’t freak out.
It’s all part of the process—at least that is what I keep hearing. At times, I really believed it to be true. Lately, I have questioned the process (well, my process) more and more. Still … as an eternal optimist, onward I go as I find myself in the thick of things—emotionally, spiritually—here in Chicagoland.
The issue at hand: The best was to move through (and beyond) this current leg of my spiritual odyssey, which finds me living back in the home I grew up in. Lessons galore here, that is for sure, but ever since I arrived, it has felt as if a thick, lingering blanket of uncertainty has been placed over me. Once, where there was a bright burning internal flame, now … there is barely a few sparks. When people speak, I hear murmurs—like those teachers in the “Charlie Brown” cartoons. I suppose this can happen when one returns to one’s family home and on some level, I’m irked: All that money I spent on therapy with that Jungian Therapist who fell asleep while listening to me … and I wind up just feeling like a troubled teen.
How rude. I mean, how many chants does it take upon a California mountaintop to reach an ongoing state of Nirvana?
Endless amounts apparently. And maybe that “state” is only attainable beyond this life. (On a side note: I do think, that in my next life, I may take up residence in another galaxy. For starters, I’m pooped. I’m continually influenced by Mercury Retros and with four planets in Scorpio, The Donald, and brutal Saturn retros, what’s a beduffled Polish dude to do? So, yes, next lifetime: Another star system …. I pray there is good catering.)
Back to the issue at hand: Moving through times of major life transitions.
Here’s the thing: The beginning point of my journey began with a “sign.” After a job I held for 14 years was terminated during in a buyout, I was led to return to the midwest to write about my Polish family’s haunting WWII experience. And I did. I went on a kind of serendipitous ride—one that felt like a quirky magic carpet ride, in fact—and somehow, became a nomad.
It’s been going on three years now—this nomadicness—and my latest “return” back home has solidified something I suspected when I was writing about Polish refugees: That inherited family trauma, and epigenetics, is, in fact, a real thing. It’s a real “living thing, actually, and I have been experiencing it. Full time and in present time, although the “pain” began in the past.
What I also know is this: That I must be going through this in an effort to share it with people, and, hopefully, heal something that has been wanting to deeply play out from inside of me: my Polish family’s traumatic experience.
Let’s break it down:
Stalin’s men uproots and deports Polish family with nearly a million other Poles in Eastern Poland in the early 1940s. Polish family lives in labor camp for 18 months. “Get us out, get us out!” The Poles plead. Nobody listens. Upon release in the summer of 1941 (when Hitler attacked Russia and Stalin joined the Allied Forces), Polish family is released and wanders, like the Polish refugees they suddenly are, thousands of miles to—hopefully (they think), safety—all the way to Uzbekistan. After many months, Polish family is absorbed into a cluster of refugees being saved and evacuated by the Polish Army-in-Exile under Gen. Anders’ command, and taken out of Russia. Polish family arrives in Iran. Polish family is taken to refuge in British colonies sprouting orphanages for displaced people—in Tanzania, Africa. Polish family lives there for eight years, craving home and place. Polish family finally arrives in Chicago in 1950.
My journey: I get a sign to write about my Polish family. I resist. Ouch, I say. That will hurt. Can I just write about celebrities and TV instead? The signs keep coming. Finally, I agree. A pandora’s box is opened.
“At last!” I hear my grandmother, Jadwiga’s spirit, say, as I open the door in the living room of my mind. “We’ve been pounding on that damn thing for years.”
My Aunt Mary strolls inside and takes a seat. “Oh, I really love what you’ve done with the place!”
It’s the nicest thing anybody has ever said about the interior of my mind.
Polish guy listens to their tale. Polish guy feels their angst. Polish boy writes about it. Polish guy prays to move on from job—”get me out, get me out,” he pleads. (Or think he is pleading.) Polish guy loses job. Polish guy gets a sign to go back to Midwest. Polish guy goes. Polish guy lives off savings and 401k. Polish guy bops around, subletting one apartment after another, until book is published. Polish guy has stellar book launch and feels ethereal vibes at every book event. Polish guy gets an offer to watch olive tree farm in Maui. Polish guy goes. Ninety days later, Polish guy returns to Mainland. Polish guy falls into deep depression. Polish guy takes job in Palm Springs. Miracles and angst happen. Polish guy leaves Palm Springs a year later. Polish guy returns back to his family home. Polish guy becomes more depressed. Polish guy is tired of wandering. Polish guy contemplates the meaning of home. Polish guy wants to go home. Polish guy doesn’t know where that is.
My sense of what inherited family trauma and the epigenetic threads that may dwell within us, is this: When activated, particularly during times of stress or change, they act like a hologram. As if by magic, something is turned on. The hologram is awakened and the energy vibration of that particular hologram begins to play itself out—in the mind, psyche, and spirit—of the individual. It’s as if the “host’s” entire being is overtaken by this energetic thread.
For what purpose?
Perhaps that living thread needs to finally be dissipated and sent back into the ethers? Who knows? For me, perhaps all this nomadic wandering around and search for home needs to be played out so that something so deeply wounding from my family’s past—some energetic thread that was never really dealt with on any level—can, at last, find its transformative ta-da moment, and the curtain can gracefully fall, and the lights in the living theater can, gracefully, go dark.
One never knows. I don’t know. I was never good at math, but I can add this thing and that thing together, draw a line under it, and look at the final number.
Somehow, when I decided to write about my family, when I truly explored the brutal depths of their journey, I became a host to my family’s deep haunting trauma.
However, I need to remember something very important. They survived.
And I will, too.