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It Didn't Start with You

It Didn't Start with You by Mark Wolynn

Hey reader, 

Thanks for being here :) Welcome to another "book blurb" on my site, where I share an in-depth recommendation of my favorite books in a more detailed and personal way. 

I read It Didn't Start with You last year, and I couldn’t be more thankful that the book came into my life exactly when it did. It’s a fascinating book, which has led to great personal introspection, realization, acceptance, and ultimately healing. I recommend this book to everyone and anyone I meet who is interested in learning more about inner child healing, shadow work, or even just further developing their personal and emotional self. I hope you, too, read this book in full and that it plays as monumental of a role in your evolution journey as it did in my own. Let's dive in! 


The book opens with the story of a young man, Jesse, who awoke one night just after his 19th birthday, freezing cold with an impending sense of doom, convinced that he would die if he went back to sleep. A year later, without a single full night’s sleep, and after seeing multiple specialists, he found himself in Mark’s office,  seeking help for his severe depression and insomnia. Once an outgoing and skilled athlete, Jesse had recently lost his baseball scholarship, dropped out of college, and at just 20, was unrecognizable to his family and friends due to his lack of sleep and ongoing emotional/mental instability.

Jesse knew his fear was irrational, yet he felt helpless to put an end to it. After listening to his core descriptors (you’ll read more about this in the book) and doing family genealogy work to create a map of experiences going back generations, Jesse and Mark discovered that Jesse had an uncle who had died in a snowstorm of hypothermia a few generations ago. Moreover,  his uncle was almost the exact same age that Jesse was when he first awoke with dread and cold chills in the night. Jesse also learned that because his young uncle’s death was such a tragic loss, their family never spoke his name again.

Before seeing Mark, Jesse had no knowledge of this, yet he was, in some ways, living out his deceased uncle’s life story / tragic experience. Once this history was discovered, Jesse was able to use visualizations, active imagination, and direct dialogue techniques to create neurological and emotional/energetic pathways to reconnection, integration, and reclamation of his life and his health. (More on this inside the book, of course :) Disentangled from his uncle’s trauma and freed from the heavy fog of insomnia, Jesse not only began to feel comfortable and sleep well again, but he gained a more profound sense of connection to his family, present, and past.

In an attempt to explain stories such as Jesse’s, scientists are now able to identify “biological markers” — which is evidence that traumas can and do pass down from one generation to the next. Seeing this specific data and research in the book was one of the most fascinating chapters in the book for me personally.

Tragedies such as abandonment, suicide, war, or the early death of a child, parent, or sibling—can send shock waves of distress cascading from one generation to the next. Three generations can feel the same epigenetic consequences, many without knowing it or why. When a traumatic event occurs, a common self-protection response to great pain is to avoid it completely. But when we block those feelings out completely, we unknowingly stunt the necessary healing process, and the trauma lives on, un-resolved, creating the environment for patterns of suffering to repeat and live on. 

You may be reading this and think, why would I want to read this book? It sounds like a  bit of an emotional downer, ha I can promise you that it is far from that. Mark Wolynn  shares fascinating real life, personal stories of his patients’ individual fears, limiting beliefs, and habitual patterns. And shows you, the reader, how he can help them heal by better understanding their family history, which allows them to understand their own unique behaviors better and heal their relationships with family members. Written in a clear, engaging style,  you definitely do not need to be a doctor or therapist to understand these concepts. There are writing prompts and exercises within this book that help you identify the areas of your life where you may be struggling. If you’re ready to do the good work and dive into your family history, you’ll be moving towards a powerful internal healing experience. 

I found this book immensely helpful in my personal growth as well as a fascinating read and epic conversation starter with friends, family, and my partner. Through journaling, introspection, conversations with family members, and the help of my therapist, I was able to find clarity and resolution to some negative attachment styles and patterns that I was enabling to “live on” through me... I hope this book does the same for you!

*These above reflects my personal opinion and experience with the book. A trained professional therapist or counselor will be able to support and guide you in exploring difficult topics such as this. I am so grateful that I have access to ongoing therapy/counseling and hope to educate those in need of professional advice on their current available options. You are not alone. For free mental health resources, please visit:

The National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help 

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


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