Body to Body, Generation to Generation
“We now have evidence that memories connected to painful events also get passed down from parent to child — and to that child’s child. What’s more, these experiences appear to be held, passed on, and inherited in the body, not just in the thinking brain. Often people experience this as a persistent sense of imminent doom…
“We are only beginning to understand how these processes work… Here is what we do know so far:
· A fetus growing inside the womb of a traumatized mother may inherit some of that trauma in its DNA expression. This results in the repeated release of stress hormones, which may affect the nervous system of the developing fetus.
· A man with unhealed trauma in his body may produce sperm with altered DNA expression. These in turn may inhibit the healthy functioning of cells in his children.
· Trauma can alter the DNA expression of a child or grandchild’s brain, causing a wide range of health and mental health issues, including memory loss, chronic anxiety, muscle weakness, and depression.
“Some scientists theorize this genetic alteration may be a way to protect later generations, Essentially, genetic changes train our descendants’ bodies through heredity rather than behavior. This suggests that what we call genetic defects may actually be ways to increase our descendants’ odds of survival in a potentially dangerous environment, by relaying hormonal information to the fetus in the womb.
“The womb itself is an environment: a watery world of sounds, movement, and human biochemicals. Recent research suggests that, during the last trimester of pregnancy, fetuses in the womb can learn and remember just as well as newborns. Part of what they may learn, based on what their mothers go through during pregnancy, is whether the world outside is safe and healthy or dangerous and toxic.
“If the fetus’s mother is relatively happy and healthy during her pregnancy, and if she has a nervous system that is settled, her body will produce few stress hormones. As a result, by the time the fetus begins journeying down the birth canal, his or her body may have learned that the world is a generally safe and settled place to be.
“But if the fetus’s mom experiences trauma, or if her earlier trauma causes a variety of stress hormones to regularly get released into her body, her baby may begin life outside the womb with less of a sense of safety, resilience, and coherence” (My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Menaken, pp40–41).
Belly Button Window, James Marshall Hendrix
Well, I’m up here in this womb,
And I’m lookin’ all around.
Well, I’m lookin’ out my belly button window,
And I’m seein’ a whole lot of frowns.
And I’m wonderin’ if you don’t want me around.
What seems to be the fuss out there?
Just what seems to be the hang?
Cuz if you don’t want me around this time,
Yeah, I’ll be glad to go back to spirit land.
And they can take along the rest
Before I come down the shoot again.
Man, I sure remember the last time, baby,
They’re still harpin’ about me then.
So, if you don’t want me now,
Make up your mind, where or when?
Give or take, you only got 200 days.
Cuz I aint comin’ down this way too much more again.
You know they got pills for ills and thrills and even spills
But I think you’re just a little too late.
Cuz I‘m comin’ down into this world, Daddy,
Regardless of love and hate.
I’m gonna sit up in your bed, Mama,
And grin right in our face.
Then I’m gonna eat up all your chocolates
And say, ‘I hope I’m not too late.’
Make up your mind, where or when,
You only got 200 hundred days.
The writing prompt for this exercise is: What might your fetus, you, have been going through in the womb; what might your mother have been going through while she was carrying you; what might have been going on around your mother — that could have contributed to how you came out, up to and including effecting how the disease of addiction may have entered your life?