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The Process of Fraying
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Impact of Ancestors

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Jess Woods | 109 comments Mod
Impact of Ancestors (The Process of Fraying):

Since this novel deals with psychology, mental health, and family, I thought we'd branch a little out today (while still on topic) and discuss something I find fascinating! While I did think about Violet's upbringing in the novel, and I think readers can see how that affected her, I wish I had really dug into this one before I wrote her.

I have a wonderful, loving, and supportive family. I don't say that to boast--rather, I just think it is a good disclaimer for today's post.

About a year after publication, a psychologist reached out to me to ask if I had looked into inherited family trauma during the research stage of writing. And while the research stage did include over 40 books read, I had not read anything about inherited family trauma. While the psychologist was not necessarily implying that I might have inherited some family trauma, she was suggesting that the thought was interesting in light of my novel, so I read a few articles she sent and a book called It Didn't Start With You by Mark Wolynn.

The premise is that often unbeknownst to ourselves, we inherit the trauma of our family members just as we inherit physical attributes and demeanor (though admittedly some of our development is nurture over nature). It's fascinating stuff whether you buy into it or not.

I definitely can see the positive legacy left by many of my ancestors. I am thankful for them, and I can see the way these positive legacies have shaped my life. But I can also see the legacies of addiction, anxiety, depression, displacement, and obsession, particularly now that I've read about inherited family trauma and have learned which questions to ask those family members who are still with me. Unfortunately, I am also separated from some of my ancestors (I have another great-grandmother who was full-blooded Cherokee), and I don't see an easy way to connect to them at present. Still I often wonder which parts of my ancestors are echoed in me, for better or worse.

I'm still thinking on it, but here are some things I think I've inherited from my ancestors (both nature and nurture): a deep love and appreciation for nature, spiritual awareness, empathy, love for people, a desire to be independent, the need to spend copious time outdoors, overthinking, anxiety and depression, restlessness/displacement, wanderlust.

From Violet specifically, I've been told I carry her compassionate heart. I sure hope so! Capturing Violet's compassion was important in my writing journey, and I hope readers can see that shine through in her interactions and thoughts within the novel.

Question Time: We won't get into specifics here, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on those who've come before us. Have you had any similar realizations? How have your ancestors shaped you?

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message 2: by Amanda (new) - added it

Amanda (drpowell) | 376 comments A history of addiction in our extended family really led me to making good choices in HS and college. I feared being unable to control myself. I am super thankful I made good choices, but I am also thankful for maturity that helped me break out of the fear element. Ultimately I inherited more good (spunk and drive and faith) than bad.


message 3: by Jae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jae Hodges (jaehodges) | 22 comments I come from a long line of seriously introverted women—my mother, her mother, and by all accounts her mother and grandmother before her. No question I picked that up from them, but the interesting trait that happens to go with it is the “out of sight, out of mind” element. This one I fight every day.


Jess Woods | 109 comments Mod
Jess wrote: "Impact of Ancestors (The Process of Fraying):

Since this novel deals with psychology, mental health, and family, I thought we'd branch a little out today (while still on topic) and discuss somethi..."


I, too, have seen those devastating effects, and I think it helped me make good choices too.


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