Personal Narrative: my Family Genogram

Category: Writing
Date added
2021/10/20
Pages:  5
Words:  1607
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A genogram is an excellent way of illustrating family relationships, conflicts and intergenerational patterns and understanding family dynamics that drive and affect family members. Developing my family genogram was extremely painful for me because it brought painful memories and experiences I had throughout the past years of my life, but at the same time, I found it a challenging way to learn more about conflicts in my family and how and why such conflicts have developed. By making this genogram, I became fully aware of the conflicts and characteristics that my family members share, which helped me learn more about myself and how I became who I am today. My family genogram includes four generations.

The first generation includes my parental and maternal grandparents who passed away when I was a little child. I do not recall how my relationship with them was, but my mother told me that I was close to my grandfathers and closer to my grandmothers. The second generation includes my parents and their siblings (my uncles and aunts from both sides). My father was the oldest of one brother and four sisters. His brother and two of his sisters passed away, one of which was hostile to me. My relationships with his other two sisters were different. I still have a good relationship with one, and the other one who still lives in our house has been violent towards me most of the time in the past years. My mother has one older brother and one younger sister. I had a good relationship with her brother (my uncle) who passed away a few years ago, and I still have a good relationship with her sister (my aunt) who currently lives in Egypt.

The third generation includes me and my seven siblings (four sisters and three brothers) and their spouses, and in the fourth generation, I only included the number of children they have. The characteristics that exist within my family that are a result of nature are Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Arthritis, and Depression. These characteristics run on both my father’s and my mother’s sides of the family. In this paper, I have decided to focus on the conflicts shown in my family genogram because these conflicts impacted my life, shaped my personality and made me the person I am today. While developing my family genogram, it was clear that main conflicts and various forms of violence were committed by my brothers and their wives against me, for cultural reasons. Being a woman in Gaza is extremely difficult. Gaza is a patriarchal, conservative, male-dominating and close-minded society, where men are the final decision makers and have power over women within the family, and women do not have a voice and are oppressed through a culture of silence.

Women in my society are controlled by their fathers and brothers when they are single, and by their husbands after they marry. In my cultural context, women do not and are not allowed to have a voice or live on their own. I am the youngest of seven siblings. All my siblings responded to family pressure and accepted traditional arranged marriages. All of them now are parents of many children. In my society, women generally get married at an early age through traditional arranged marriages.

My sisters married through family arranged marriages before they reached the age of eighteen. I never wanted to accept what my sisters accepted. I always wanted to pursue my education. I was doing very good at high school and wanted to pursue my education, so I didn’t respect to family pressure and rejected all arranged marriages my family had arranged for me. As a result, my family especially my brothers turned against me, committed several forms of verbal and physical violence against me, treated me with disrespect and turned my life into hell. To make my life even worse, my brothers ordered their wives to treat me badly, and their wives blindly followed their orders and were hostile to me. I would not care much if my brothers and their families live away from where I live, but unfortunately, we all live in the same building. The fused violence committed against me by my brothers did not make me give up on my dream of pursuing my education. My wildest dream at the time was to get a university degree, get a job and be independent. After graduating from high school, top of my class, I received a full scholarship to study for my first university degree at the University of Calgary, Canada.

My family, especially my brothers, tried to stand in my way, beat me up, stole my passport, and refused to let me go, but my father wanted to have at least one educated child in the family to be proud of. Since my older brothers and sisters left school early, my father saw me as his last hope and let me travel to Canada on my own. His unlikely decision became a turning point in my life. I was top of my class at my university, and I graduated with distinction and returned to Gaza, open-minded, free-spirited and with great knowledge. Back in Gaza, my father was the only one who was happy for me and proud of me. I remember my brothers were very jealous, and instead of congratulating me for graduating with honors, they insulted me and suggested I give them my university certificate to use as toilet paper. This insult affected me badly at the time, but I used it as motivation to give me more strength to fight for my life and freedom. Shortly after I returned from Canada, I worked for local and international organizations and companies in Gaza. While I was working in Gaza, my brothers obliged me to take full responsibility for my parents and siblings still at home; I paid their living expenses and bills. None of that was appreciated; it was simply expected, because I was still single, by choice.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my out of Gaza and my brothers forced me to take full responsibility for my parents especially my sick mother. And so, for some years, I continued to take care of my parents, but I never let go of my dream of getting a master’s degree abroad. Here I am not pursuing my MA degree in Conflict Transformation at CJP/EMU. By outlining this specific relationship that my brothers and I have, I realized that I have nothing in common with them. It breaks my heart to see this relationship falling apart, but I think that the jealousy and stubbornness that my brothers have are the main reasons behind it. It still hurts because it is difficult to understand why my brothers are like this. Why I had to suffer while everyone else in my family was so seemingly happy with their lives. Why I hurt so badly when other siblings get along so well. I used to think it might be my fault. While living in Gaza, I felt isolated and cut-off from the rest of my family. It is also embarrassing because it feels like I was the only one with brothers who cannot get along. Sometimes it was difficult for me to accept that it was not my fault.

Having a spiraling mind with endless thoughts and loneliness with no escape often led me to self-blame and guilt and made me feel that being a single woman in my family was a burden and the cause of this whole conflict. But I learned to accept that it is not my fault and that I should not take responsibility for my brothers’ actions. While creating my family genogram, I have realized that the three concepts of Bowen Theory that resonate with me and apply to my family system are Sibling Position, Emotional Cutoff, and Triangles. Firstly, my position in my sibling order had a negative impact on me all my life. Having older brothers in a male-dominating society means male dominance against women. The violence committed by my older brothers against me served in their role as dominating male authority figures in the family, but at the same time gave me strength, courage and determination to fight for my life, freedom and education and shaped my personality. Secondly, and as I described it in my genogram reflection above, the emotional cutoff I am still feeling due to living with my brothers in the past years explains the pattern of how I have been dealing with this kind of attachment and the long-term consequences of doing so. Thirdly, the concept of Triangles is true to my family. It defines the patterns of anxiety between me and my brothers and how I have been controlled by them over the past years.

Bowen Theory helped me understand why my brothers behave the way they do, and how my family system works. In conclusion, writing this paper has been an emotional learning experience for me. At the same time, it helped me realize how my personality has developed in a better way over the years. It also helped me understand how the challenges and difficulties I faced in my life were essential in giving me the will, courage and determination I need to keep going. On the other hand, I have realized the importance of understanding family dynamics and how these dynamics drive and affect family members and their relationships with one another. This understanding does not only make me a better person but also helps me identify with other people, both on the professional and personal level. 

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Personal Narrative: My Family Genogram. (2021, Oct 20). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/personal-narrative-my-family-genogram/

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