My quest to find all the living descendants of John Lyming has created a large tree, 8000+ people and growing all the time. I have found some not so good things about our family along the way. Heart Disease and Strokes are rampant killers in our family. The mental illness of depression runs in the family, just this week I got word of a cousin who attempted suicide and shocked his family, who had no idea he was suffering so bad.
There were also some who abandoned their families, were charged with desertion during war time, charged with other crimes and served time, had feuds with family members or neighbors.
When writing profiles I struggle with how much of the truth to tell, one can get sucked into only wanting to paint an idealist view of your ancestors. And I fear that writing the whole unadulterated truth based on the records and sources in an impartial way, but later finding out that this is painful for a living descendant and losing them as a contact.
Is there middle ground?
And then there is this question, how can I even bring myself to write about my parents. The pain they caused me during my childhood, as a young adult and even at the time of my mother's death, has required years of therapy, and lots of anti-depression meds. The more I learn about them the more I realize that I did not know them at all, and that my memories were painted by my mother's power of denial. I am not saying there were never any good times, there were. But they have been overshadowed by the pain of rejection and being cast out of their lives forever, 23 years ago for being gay.
I am working on my tree everyday, and for a long time I did not have my parents photo's in the tree so that I did not have to look at them. But after my mother died, and the weight of her rejection lifted, I was able to look at a photo and not want to throw up. Now almost 8 years later I can look and not feel anything for the most part, they are just part of the tree.
My father never wrote an obituary for my mother, so I did it to put on her Find A Grave page I made for her. I submitted it to her high school alumni website and it was posted there.
When I wrote my book "Lemons of Tennessee, Descendants of Levi Lemmons b.1785" I felt I had to write on their profile page for the book. So I wrote "only the facts mam" type of profile for them. I am fairly sure that the EMDR therapy I did 5 years ago was what allowed me to do that and not be triggered back in to a depression.
I am hoping to hear how others deal with the Scamps, Scoundrels, Skaliwags, and Criminals in your trees when writing profiles.
"Lemons of Tennessee, Descendants of Levi Lemmons b.1785" http://www.amazon.com/dp/0991599705