Fall is here and as we approach holidays that acknowledge the thinning of the veil between worlds and honor our loved ones who have passed (Día de los Muertos, Halloween, Samhain, All Hallows Eve, etc.) I’d like to tell you a ghost story from my own life.
Years ago, I visited an Intuitive, planning to ask some specific questions about my career. Immediately upon starting the session she said something like, “Yeah, yeah, we’ll get to that. But first, your great-grandfather is here and acknowledging that he was abusive. He’s saying the effects of that abuse still reverberate in your family and also effect your life.” As you might imagine, I was shocked. Not about the information-I had known about the abuse for many years. But frankly, I hadn’t thought of it in years and this felt like a totally separate subject to me. I had come in to talk about my direction as a therapist and suddenly this great-grandfather, that frankly I didn’t really want to hear from, shows up and takes over, talking about family events that happened over 100 years ago. What was I supposed to do with this?
Thinking back on this experience years later I can say that everything that came from it (asking family history questions, deeply considering the generational effects of abuse, identifying the cycle breakers who made life better for everyone who came after them, making connections about how these events have shaped all of us) were more important to my growth as a therapist, and a person, than any of the, “Should I take this job or that one” questions that felt so urgent in that moment. This experience propelled me into deeper exploration of my present self, the legacy that came before me, and what the future could hold. It also started my process of asking clients questions about their own sexual inheritance such as, “What messages did you hear or not hear about sexuality in your youth?,” “What do you think your parents were taught about sex? How do you think that influences what they taught you?” and, “What kind of sexual legacy do you want to leave for those who come after you?”
This is what inspired me to create our NEI Human Sexuality Certificate Program class this fall: Sexual Inheritance: Recognizing Ancestral, Familial, and Cultural Messages. If your family history knowledge is limited, no problem! You don’t have to know anything about your biological origin story or have traced your genealogical records back generations to attend this class. If you do know family stories or history, that is wonderful and welcome. If not, we will explore family of choice, affinity ancestors (historical figures you feel a connection to that have left a legacy that resonates), cultural messages, and childhood experiences. If your family history is limited we will explore the possible reasons why (systemic oppression, family estrangement, family separation, etc.) and what legacies remain from these experiences. Finally, we will practice skills for you to help accompany the people you work with on their own explanation of their sexual inheritance. I can’t wait to see you all (virtually) in November!
Laura Rademacher is the Director of the Human Sexuality Certificate Program at the New Earth Institute, Southwestern College. For more information this program contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.