How Important Is Knowing Your Origins?

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by B_ScaredLittleBoy, Oct 29, 2007.

  1. B_ScaredLittleBoy

    B_ScaredLittleBoy New Member

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    How important is it to 'know where you came from'? Would it mess a guy's head up to not know? To be lied to about it?

    Has any research been done into this? Has anyone here experienced this? What are the 'remedies' or therapies?

    Just wondering. Thanks.
     
  2. psidom

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    I think it would easily create some issues in the identity of the person.
    now then to throw a "lie" about it on top of that, could i think
    create bigger issues....especially with trust.
    cool avatar btw. ;)
     
  3. B_ScaredLittleBoy

    B_ScaredLittleBoy New Member

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    Thanks. It originally said 'I'm too sexy for this shirt' but I copied and removed a few letters.

    I'd like to learn more about this subject. Because it affects me :redface:
     
  4. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    I'm a Mormon. You know it's important to me.
     
  5. Dave NoCal

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    I was adopted. I was able to track down my birth mother but she was not interested in talking. I have name and a nationality on her, nothing on my biological father.
    This used to concern me somewhat but, really, I now think it was a way of psychologically distancing myself from my adoptive parents with whom I was in conflict at the time. Also, it seems to me that thinking about this was a way of trying to have a back-up, romanticized "family" if my real (adoptive) family could not be accepting of me being gay.
    As the years have passed and our relationships have grown, my biological origins have come to matter less and less and at this point is simply an abstract curiosity. I am grateful to be part of a large, very warm, accepting (not just of me), and kind extended family.
     
  6. B_ScaredLittleBoy

    B_ScaredLittleBoy New Member

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    That's a bit different to my experience. Is there a name for this? I thought it was identity crisis but it seemed too broad a term on wikipedia.

    I've heard it called 'narrative wreckage' before but I think that was one person's opinion and I think it related to being adopted again.

    I was brought up being told my father was dead, that he hanged himself. This was the 'truth' until I was 15 when I was told (not by my mother) who my real (supposedly) father is. Then I suppose my 'identity' if I ever had one was rewritten. And now I'm kind of in a limbo in many ways.

    Some episodes of 'crisis' are when I was told to go hang myself like my dad, that I was ugly as sin and should go do that. And when I see my (supposed; living) dad and/or his brothers I feel very awkward and nervous. Funnily enough, I feel small around them...

    Anyway I really "dislike" my mother and quite a lot of my family, although that's only recently because they are on my case all the time. I don't think they know how this or this and a combination of things affect me...

    With regards to relationships, I actually trust too much and involve myself too much too quickly (with girls) which may be from a need to be mothered?

    I just wanted to know if anyone had been through anything similar, if there is a specific name for this that I could research and what any assistance might involve. Thanks.
     
  7. chico8

    chico8 New Member

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    It sounds as though your "father" issue is only part of the problem.

    I'd suggest seeing a counselor. Life isn't always something that can be categorized, labeled and given a specific course of treatment to "cure" it.

    To be honest, I think too many people, myself included, want life to fit into this tidy little boxes. I've found it simply doesn't work that way. Life is an incredibly complex organism and to trying to treat only one aspect of it while ignoring the others usually ends up in failure.
     
  8. earllogjam

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    It doesn't matter to me. It may be a source of pride and identity for some people but I always thought those who need to know their family tree do so because of some deep insecurity in who they are today, feel lost, or have too much time on their hands. I don't need to know my relatives are descendants of the French Aristocracy to give me any more pride in who I am today. What does having a famous great grandfather whom I never knew relate to me and my life? How is my self worth or identity tied into people who are long dead and gone? Am I supposed to act and feel superior because I have a certain last name? Hogwash.

    I never really cared much for the benefits of geneology outside of genetic disease screening. It just seems like a way of perpetuating nepotism, false pride, and inequality in our society.

    My mother is Canadian and my father is American and my heritage is Heinz 57. I think I'm part Irish, Dutch, German, Swedish, Croatian, French, Russian....you name it. I have no affinity for any of these countries or long dead relatives from the Old World. I consider myself American and that's all that matters for me. I never knew my grandparents and all living relatives don't really know the family history beyond one or two generations. It never keeps me up at night.
     
  9. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    I think there is something primal in us that seeks to answer who we are and where we came from. Part of that can be answered by discovering one's ancestry. More... perhaps mystically?... I feel a draw to know about the people to whom I owe my particular existence. There's a kinship I sense in it.

    Now I was raised in an old house that's been in the family forever and is packed full of furniture, portraits, clothing, even the purses and spectacles of people dead for over 100 years. My sister came across the diary of my g.g.g.g. grandmother and it's fascinating to me personally as well as objectively. Having been raised in surroundings like that it's hard to escape the feeling of history. The entrance hall alone has 8 or 9 portraits of various grandparents from ages ago. All of them placed up high, looking down upon whomever enters. It's a bit intimidating and, in the right light, or lack of light I should say, gives quite a sinister effect. At some point I decided that as they were all various sorts of grandparents that they would love me even as ghosts so I came to lose fear but not respect.

    I sense that parts of them are in parts of me. I can see resemblances to living people in some instances and I wonder how much of that dead relative is in the living person.

    Yes I find it gives me a sense of security, and as I wrote previously, it used to make me feel superior but really, how can I live as another man? I can't. I am myself and who I make myself into is up to me in the end. I can't live in the wake of a bunch of museum pieces. They're gone and I'm alive. So while it may give me a sense of what went into making me genetically and historically, it can't answer a thing for who I am now. Took me a while to realize that (and a lot of other things).
     
  10. tjjk

    tjjk New Member

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    Geneology is important, even if you don't feel that it is. there is a theory that karma is carrie dthrough a family for 7 generations and that part of one's personal karma is tied to the family karma.

    It's also important for identity - without needieness or a snese of weakness - to know where you come from, the culture of your family - everybody had culture, even if its just the tradition of green bean casserole, it's culture. A well rounded person knows who they are. There are books on it - i just don't know what they are...
     
  11. chico8

    chico8 New Member

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    There's some truth in what you say about people feeling overly important knowing that they descended from some famous person. However, I find your attack on genealogy to be incredibly vicious and very ignorant.

    That said, I'm currently working on my family history and it has been incredibly enlightening. The one thing that has run through my mind through the entire process is this, "Those who ignore the past are destined to repeat it."

    I've found out a great deal not only about my parents but also their parents. Things that have helped me understand why they did or did not do certain things. It's helped me tremendously in understanding who I am.

    Beyond the personal aspects of my family history, I've learned a phenomenal amount of history and have learned that there are many myths surrounding immigrants to the US and their reasons for emigrating. Given the current poisoned attitudes towards immigration, it's been incredibly enlightening.

    Not wanting to know the past is like ignoring who you ultimately are. We are the products of human beings caught up in the whirlpools of history. That history has a tremendous impact on who we are. The idea that Americans can somehow shrug off that past and emerge as "new" and unburdened creatures is sheer ignorance. We are tied inextricably to those who came before us.
     
  12. whatireallywant

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    My mom is really into genealogy, and I sometimes wonder if part of that is because she was raised by her grandparents rather than her parents, and had felt insecure about that as a child. Really though, I don't see why she should have since her grandparents seemed to raise her just fine. Although it's fine with me that she has the interest in genealogy. It's not something I would research myself, since it's just not all that important to me.

    I also have a lot of dysfunction in my family, on both sides. I won't go into too much detail here, and I doubt that it is all that much different from other families, to be honest.
     
  13. chico8

    chico8 New Member

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    A 95 year old relative told me, "When we're young, we're only interested in the future; what's in front of us and where we're going. It's not until we arrive at our destination that we begin to look back to see where it is that we came from."

    I think there's a lot of truth in what he said. Sure, there are a lot of young people who brag about their origins but for the most part, genealogy, the study of one's origins is mostly a pursuit of the middle aged or elderly.

    In the US, genealogy is a big business, partly due to the fact that we're such a transient culture. Many of us have little or no connection to our communities beyond our own timeframe. Genealogy is a way of connecting ourselves to the greater world, a means of identifying with something other than the endless and brutal pursuit of wealth. A way of saying, "I belong."

    The best family histories that I've read are the ones that expose the warts along with the beauty marks, the dysfunctions along with the triumphs. The worst are those that read like resumes.

    There was a one month period in my research when I uncovered some very ugly aspects of my family's history, some about my own parents. It really made me question why I was doing this. Fortunately it made me realize that life is life and history is history. I can no more change it than I can a leopard's spots. What I can do is learn from it and pass it on allowing my brothers, sister, cousins, nephews and niece to see where it is that we came from and how those distant ancestors have affected us.

    The most amazing aspect of this voyage of exploration has been that so many relatives have seen in me some aspect of one of my parents, grandparents, even great grandparents. It's made me realize that the past and our forebears never die, that inside of each and everyone of us is a piece of all those who came before us.

    Coming to terms with those bits and pieces isn't always easy, as scared little boy has said. However, in the end it's better to face life and the past head on than hide beneath a rock of ignorance.
     
  14. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Oh I agree with that! My first taste of it happened when going through a will from my father's side of the family. It enumerated things like pots and utensils, beds, farming tools, and..... slaves. As he was from Massachusetts, that was the last thing I expected to see but there it was. "Sally, 8, negro." There were three slaves altogether, a family I don't know. It shocked me because I wondered if I lived then would I have done the same thing? How could I relate to someone who would do such a thing I find completely abhorrent? Digging-up the skeletons has since become one of the most satisfying things I do. It helps paint a more complete picture and throws some spice into things.
     
  15. chico8

    chico8 New Member

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    When I approached my family history, I swore I would only take things in the context of which they happened. I've done a fairly good job, however, the only way we can truly see the past is through the eyes of the present. The process has generally made me more tolerant of people. Oftentimes we are forced into situations not of our own making.

    My gr gr grandmother seemingly never married, yet had 3 maybe 4 children out of wedlock. The time and place in which she lived made it very difficult to marry unless certain conditions were met. There's a slight possibility that she was a prostitute. None of her children have strong resemblances to one another.

    Her second son, my great grandfather, loved women. Lots of them. That may well be why his children for the most part never kept in touch with each other.

    Of course to speculate on why people act the way they do is just that, speculation, it's helped me understand that we are products of those who came before us. The good and the bad follow us whether we know it or not.

    Back to scared little boy. I would suggest you start finding out why your mother acts like she does. She'll probably never change, but there may well be some act of violence in her past that makes her treat you the way she does. Also, your biological father's genetic and cultural make up are important. If you can find out more, if you have the stomach to find out more, I'd highly suggest that you do so.

    It's all too easy to think that we as individuals are somehow unique but in the end, we, once again, are the products of all those who came before us.
     
  16. Calboner

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    Certainly. If a guy never learned that he came out of his mother's womb but went through life believing that he was brought by the stork, he would be seriously messed up.
     
  17. earllogjam

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    My sister, bless her heart, has done some geneology on our family and has found through her research that we are descendents of French aristocracy. It's my opinion that her research is dubious at best and I never take her interpretation seriously. She does. It confers a great deal of pride for her coming from our "white trash" roots. I cringe every time she mentions it at family gatherings like it somehow elevates who we are now. It is obviously coming from her insecurity or shame of our family. It is something she believes to make her world make sense, a validation. A great deal of her self worth is wrapped up in that.

    That said, I think geneology can be a source of great pride - however erroneous it may be in my sister's case, and it's great that you have learned a good deal about yourself and history in the process. I don't share your interest and feeling of importance of knowing your family history, however. I don't agree with your statement that not wanting to know the past is ignoring who you ultimately are. And I don't agree with your belief that we are inextricably tied to our genetic lineage. I am myself and I live today. My history that directly affects me ends with my mother and father and maybe my dead grandparents whom I never knew. Knowing I am a descendent of aristocracy does not affect me one way or another. That is probably a lie anyways. Knowing what mistakes my ancestors made does not change my present in any way whatsoever or my understanding of myself. Who I am as a person TODAY is not defined by them. If it does I'd be eating possum and living in a trailer park. Unlike you, knowing what and who they were has no bearing on how I have come to define myself. You might say that past has been severed by my family in some way, perhaps intentionally.

    I think the greatness of being American is the possibilty of reinventing yourself and not being tied to your past. Immigrants came to reinvent themselves to leave suffering and poverty and achieve a better life. That act alone has a way of putting less emphasis on your past. They were not encumbered by the rules of the Old World where your past and lineage often was the sole determinant of your social and economic status in life and that of your progeny.
     
  18. B_Swimming Lad

    B_Swimming Lad New Member

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    It honestly wouldn't suprise me if I had been adopted. I'm sure my parents love us but the always showed so little interest. Their own lives were more important than ours.
     
  19. koval

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    I started doing some genealogy research a few years back and it became a bit of hobby for me (not that I intended it to be one). Got as far back as 1653 on my fathers side and a few skeletons on my mothers side :wink:. Out of 11 generations myself and my brother are the first ones to break with tradition by not going into the maritime world.

    My father also adopted my mothers 3 kids (from previous relationship) and treated them like his own. To him we were all part of one family and that no one is better than any of the other siblings.

    I guess I take after my father's side when it comes to my sense of loyalty to my family and friends.:biggrin1:
     
  20. SpoiledPrincess

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    You didn't grow up not knowing your origins, you grew up being lied to and that produces many more issues than simply not knowing.
     
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