Giving thanks and praise for my dear friend and sister, Cathy Gerrior. Once again Cathy shares the teachings through personal reflections, a path to helping all of us love one another back to life.
With love, respect, and deep gratitude i share hope and healing with you from a very important woman in my life! Blessings. maureen.
In Hopes of Healing
The journey to healing can be a long and winding road. At least that's what i thought until recently.
i had the amazing honor of gathering with residential school survivors for a five day workshop called "Returning to Spirit". It is an emotionally intense program that requires the participants to return to that moment in our childhood when our spirit was broken and our souls scarred by something that happened to us. We learned that we cannot go back in time to change what happened, but we do have the power to change the impact on our lives now.
i wonder if you could imagine what it's like to sit in a room and listen to people speak of the most unimaginable and unspeakable things that were done to them as innocent children. The horror deepens with each story. What is surprising and most amazing is the genuine love, caring and support shown by these very same people who were tortured, brutalized, and victimized for much, if not all of their childhood. It speaks to me deeply about the resiliency of our people. Despite everything done to us over seven generations, we are still here.
i have always struggled to hear these stories from the people who lived them. And when i think it can't get any worse in terms of the horrors inflicted on them, it does. So much worse. Yet each time someone trusts enough to say it out loud, it is with the hopes of healing, both for themselves and for their people.
i recall one story years ago told by a survivor. She was being beaten very badly after being accused of speaking her language. In the midst of that beating, when her face was being smashed into the kitchen counter, she somehow realized that although they could physically control her, they could not control what she thought. They couldn't hear her thoughts so they couldn't reach her there. She spoke of how that freed her at that moment. She was no longer a helpless victim.
As a child of a survivor i had my own story to tell and it was not easy either, but so many little kindnesses happened between us all; a hug, a chant, a song, kind words, a listening ear, a smile, and a lot of laughter, that it became possible to share my deepest darkest pain with a whole group of people. We all took the risk together and, it was a process, but through that process we were able to understand how the impact was still influencing our lives today. And we learned how to not just stop it, but to change it.
There is something to be said for going back in time and looking at an event or situation from the perspective of an adult. You can learn to see, and to even believe that it wasn't your fault, that you didn't deserve what happened to you. You are not bad, or evil, or unlovable, or that there's not something wrong with you. Bad things do happen to good people and even to innocent children. That is not our fault. It is our responsibility though to give ourselves permission to work through it and to move on, because it is our lives and our families lives who get punished for it, over and over again when we don't.
There is so much more to us than our pain. i learned that there. Outwardly i was not living my life as a victim. Inside i still was. i was not reliving the event(s) over in my head. i was living out the belief that i had no value that resulted from those things that happened to me. i learned that belief i held was only a story i created in my head because as a child, that is what made sense. If bad things were happening to me, then it must be because i'm bad. If no one is protecting me, then it must because i'm not worth it. i also learned that i quite like how i feel and think about myself and my world when it is no longer tainted by that brush. It took only five days.
We are not finished yet. We will be going back to work on reconciliation. You see, people connected with the church took the same workshop the week before we did. They too carry the legacy of the residential schools and are also in need healing. Differently i think, but perhaps they too are just as broken. The goal is to bring the two groups together to complete the healing on both sides. There is much work to be done to accomplish that in safety for all, but i think we left feeling like it was possible. That maybe anything is possible now.
We heard a saying in this workshop, 'Love someone to life'. i think that's what happened over those five days. Through all the anger, tears, shame, and confusion, we loved each other back to life.
And so now we wait for the next half of the workshop. With a little fearfulness, some uncertainty, and perhaps even some anticipation. i believe that each of us though, are looking to return in hopes of healing.
All my Relations.