Drowning in Disharmony

Truth wove through my mind in the early morning today after dreams filled with a critic and a champion. In this dream, the critic was in fact, supposed to be someone there to help me. But instead gave me impossible challenges and spoke in a condescending tone, pointing out my inadequacies. The champion stood by, offering to support me and pointing out to the critic how the required efforts were too hard for me. The critic was stronger and more forceful. I felt disheartened, as if the reality was I was not enough and it was my fault.

With eyes wide awake and the dream rehearsed through my mind. The critic was someone I knew to be not only a badass, but also a hard ass. The champion seemed to be a stranger to me. As I wrestled on to other thoughts of a difficult conversation earlier in the week, my mind turned back to the dream and tied the strings of multiple events together. These two parties, the critic and the champion were both part of me and it was the continuous judgement of this presence that had me vibrating with thoughts of needing to eat better, loose weight, do more, do better through each of the minutes of the day this week, until exhausted and confused I would sit with a puzzle to occupy the mind, snacks to satisfy some desire and a TV show to hear sound of others in the room allowing me to surrender the to do list at least for that day.

A year of Covid, a year of George Floyd, Trump election denial, and now 215 indigenous children discovered in unmarked graves. How can we heal? If you asked me last week, I would not have answered you. I would not have known the answer really. And I would not want to be in the fray and chose a side. My own trauma was healed by accepting I cannot change the past, nor can I change other people’s choices and actions so I might as well stop fighting them and step out of the arena. But 215 children is very different and I don’t know how a country can heal with the confusion and chaos of a multitude of attitudes, opinions and stories.

The trauma of sexual assault is different than racism. Isn’t it? Women used to be the property of men, bearing disappointment on a family when born because a female child’s worth was not that of a male child. In some places in the world this is still true. In the home I grew up in, this was true. A brother, the last of four children to be celebrated and a life more honoured than the lives of the girls. Girls meant to be taken care of by men and men given a dowery to take on the burden. My brother born with the responsibility of carrying forward the family name with a respectable career and family, a burden unto itself. My mother the victim of sexual assault that went unspoken for decades and when finally brought to light with the stories of many victims, it went unpunished. You see, at one point women just didn’t say anything. My mother taught her daughters that our sexual safety was our burden, not owed to us by men. When assaulted at the young age of 17, I assumed the burden of guilt and carried it silently for years, just as my mother had.

Still, in a world where my first thought upon learning I was pregnant was, ‘please dear God, a boy,’ and women are paid less than their male counterparts, it does not compare to having one’s child taken from them or being shot because one is dark skinned. Or feeling threatened because of political preferences or gender identity and preference. All of it is disheartening. The disharmony we as humans feel is animating even louder with anti-vaxers, and anti-maskers.

Disharmony is the key to the question I have been wrestling with… how do we move forward? How do we move way from treating everyone who isn’t who we believe they should be and step toward harmony?

I long for us to heal the suffering of women who have a #metoo story.

I plead for young black males to walk freely.

I beg for a time when we respect and honour the indigenous in our communities.

I long for the day when we value all life without prejudice.

And earlier this week I would have argued that more blame will not heal. Actually, I will still argue more blame will not heal. However, I have also come to see, we cannot move forward until those who have suffered these atrocities at the hands of another cannot move forward, cannot stop defending themselves UNTIL they feel safe enough to step out of the arena.

Safety is illusive for many who have suffered great trauma. Before I could chose to step away from defending myself, I had to chose harmony and acceptance. The Work with Byron Katie helped me with those steps.

In the book, written by a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, The Gift, by Edith Eger proposes the power for freedom and harmony is in the mind. Upon her release, she learned to look for the gifts from the experience, rather than dwell on the hardship.

“Dr Egersshows us how to stop destructive patterns and imprisoning thoughts to find freedom and enjoy life. The prison is in your mind. The key is in your pocket. In the end, it’s not what happens to us that matters most, it’s what we choose to do with it. We all face suffering; sadness, loss, despair, fear, anxiety, failure. But we also have a choice; to give in and give up in the face of trauma or difficulties, or to live every moment as a gift.”

Even as I powerfully as I agree with Edith Eger’s ideas, I know how hard it is to chose to step out of the arena. I understand how important it is to have some sense of support around us. I can see how profoundly we need to feel safe enough when we do chose to put down our defences and turn our gaze in the direction of hope and possibility.

It does start with our willingness AND courage. The willingness to fail and the courage to die to all we have ever known.

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