The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

February 2024: New Chapter

Posted on Feb 25, 2024

February 2024: New Chapter
2024 sunburst on trail

If you follow my Facebook page, you will already know that I’ve had a “rough go” of it for the last little while. After making some tweaks and allowing myself to rest, I think I’ve turned a corner. I’m on the mend. To provide some background, the month of January was bitterly cold and slow with clients (only 4). So, I decided to take the hint from the Universe and start writing my book – and working on my trust/anxiety issues with daily reassurances that the Universe is limitless and has my back, my needs are provided for.

I started writing my book 10 years ago, but didn’t get farther than an opening paragraph. Since then, I’ve been collecting thoughts and ideas, making notes, reading memoirs, and getting a general feel for it. This past January, it felt like the Universe was telling me: okay, enough research, time to start writing. I also felt brave enough to open my old journals and revisit my past as I perceived it at the time. I knew I could finally embrace that younger version of myself with compassion instead of keeping her at arm’s length with a sense of shame.

It became a tandem exercise: writing what I could remember of my childhood and adolescence while reading my initial forays into journalling in my early twenties. And then processing what I was reading in my current journal! At some point, I decided to transcribe my old journals into the computer for easier access should something be pertinent for my book. What I didn’t realize, but my body did, was the drain this processing and writing had upon my emotional, mental, and physical reserves.

I first noticed the setback at the end of January, but couldn’t explain it as I hadn’t done anything physically exhausting to explain a typical Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ‘crash’ – which takes about a week to recover. Instead, my symptoms and level of functioning continued to decrease to the point that I spent more time in bed or on the couch than I did actively doing anything, including sedentary computer work. I simply did not have the brain capacity to keep words and concepts together (otherwise known as brain fog).

I would have to check my journal to determine the exact timing of the realization that the regression of symptoms (it was more than a crash) was rooted in revisiting my childhood and adolescent trauma. While my brain and psyche may have processed quite a bit of my trauma, evidently my body hasn’t released all of it yet. Hence why generational trauma is a legit concept. Trauma is not only passed down through the generations via learned behaviours, it is also stored in us on an inexplicable cellular level.

The histories of our ancestors are as much a part of our lives and our stories as it was their own. While they experienced it firsthand, we are storing it and re-experiencing it on a different level – genetically or otherwise. And our descendants carry on the stories while creating their own as well. In that case, I am grateful the buck stops with me. I have no living children nor nieces nor nephews. However, my cousins do. And I wonder how much of our shared histories are stored in their biological systems. Stories they are unaware of.

I am a bit of a genealogical junkie (whether it’s a person or a place). I love watching shows that explore genealogical clues. I have done some exploring of my own and discovered crazy stories hidden in the details that get recorded. One has to sit with the data a bit to discern the trail of bread crumbs; but the details are telling. I suspect I could write a book that is just a collection of genealogical anecdotes. My latest passion has been exploring my namesakes up my family tree. The very first one is a Barbara born in 1753 in Prussia; and she has quite the story that I hope to share in my book someday! Life wasn’t simple at any time in history. There is no such thing as the ‘good ole days.’

Not only do I have my own experience living as Barbara, but these former Barbaras are also written into my genetic code. So far, the ones I’ve researched a bit haven’t had easy lives. Some of my generational trauma has been passed down through cultural conditioning, some of it from shared experiences as women in patriarchal systems. Can I live up to the strength and courage these namesakes exhibited? They all made tough decisions to make the most of their situations.

In that sense, I have too. I wonder what they would make of my choices? From the data, I have a sense that that very first Barbara would not only understand my choices, but celebrate them. Some of the more ‘recent’ ones would have a hard time with my decision to divorce my husband or my limitations with a chronic illness (productivity being the Mennonite raison d’être). But different times call for different actions. Their stories are remarkable for what isn’t said as much as for what is known.  

I, in fact, didn’t know I had namesakes until 2016. See previous blog. That is also part of the generational trauma stored in my body. To explore my story is to resurrect theirs. They will not be forgotten. Wow. That hit me on a visceral level. For my next thought was: unlike my mother. My story is also my mother’s story and all the women before us on that family tree. For my book, I will be limiting it to the accessible Barbaras on my tree.

How to end this blog? I began simply reflecting on the past couple months and finally having the wherewithal to write a blog entry. I was beginning to think I wouldn’t write anything this year. I went from giving a ‘heads up’ that I have been unwell to generational trauma and ancestral stories. Not what I was expecting. So, as I leave this blog to either transcribe my old journal entries or research namesakes, I encourage you to embrace all the stories held within your physical body: the past versions of yourself as well as all the ancestors that have contributed genetically and experientially to your story, your being. Celebrate you today!


  1. WoW !! Did this ever resonate !! including goosebumps (like really) !! To my knowledge, there are no namesakes of mine on either side of my family. However, I’m actually ok with that. In fact, I’m more than okay. I’m thrilled !! I’m relieved actually … not sure this world could deal with two of me !! Ei..ei..yi..ei… 🙃 😉

    • Thanks Sandi! 🙂

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *