So sometimes things don't come out for awhile. It takes time to be ready. The first time this happened I, myself wasn't ready but my mind, body and soul knew it was time. I didn't. It hit me. I wasn't looking. However there are other times I didn't know I was hurt and angry. I think I just know too well how to compartmentalize feelings away in a place that my mind hides. Other times I know it was bad, but I just kinda let it go. Or so I thought.
This is one of those times. Were I thought I was okay. Its really interesting though. This past year has given me some reprieve from the darkest part of my trauma. I've been truly blessed to be okay. It hasn't been without set-backs, learning and pain. Those things are a constant but not as bad cause I now know how to help myself feel again. Its not scary anymore. That was a big personal win. To not be afraid of my own mind and memories. I can do this. I handle it.
By our ceremony season last year I was a mess though. I was trying to figure out how to get rid of some of the pains that come along with remembering. Like shame, self-hate, blame, anger, sadness and depression to name a few. It was during this time that they came to me. I was there inside the ceremony feeling downhearted. I saw them. A giant herd of buffalo surrounding my vision- everywhere I could see. One of them came up to me. He was huge in size. He put his face down to mine. Looking into his eyes I seen the greatest kindness and love I've ever seen in my life-ever. It was the most loving moment I've had in my life in a long time. I reached up to him, putting my hands on his face. I leaned my face into his. Our heads touching. Still. Finally leaning back he spoke to me, "Come with us." Was all he said. He turned and began to disappear into the herd. I came back to reality. It was this moment that I realized fully that they came to help me. They seen me. They heard me. I don't know of a more humbling experience in my life with the exception of the thunderbeing's love. I think about it and it brings tears to my eyes. No one loves me like that in my life and just wants to help me. Even now as I write this there is a lump in my throat. Cause I feel more than thankful. I don't have words for what they did for me. Not just through the ceremony but in my life. Reminding me that its okay to be loved like that. His eyes are what I can't and won't forget as long as I live. The kindness and deep love. I don't know if I've ever felt that before in my life ever...
This year as I'm getting ready to go back west for ceremony season I've been thinking about alot of things. Pondering, agitating, trying to figure out things with myself. So here goes what I've sorta figured out so far.
I'm angry. Super angry and resentful. Of the "movement." You know organizing and all that stuff. I'm mad at the work we do. Or maybe its not really the work. I'm not saying this properly. I realized after stepping back this past few years. It took me awhile to try and walk away- by the way. I haven't yet completely. But I've tried hard to change what I'm doing and how. I don't know if thats effective but thats another story for another day.
Here's the thing. We don't talk about alot of the pain we went through. When I say we, I'm talking about way back in the day. I mean way back. Think Native Youth Movement. Think the late 90's to early 2000's. We were youth. Young, innocent in some ways, naive, but strong in our believe to follow our dreams. Literally and figuratively. We can talk about the things we did. But we never really talked about the hurt, with exception of a few of us who talk to each other. Its not public. People probably don't know even the half of it. I won't go into details since some of this is not my story to tell.
What I can say now though, is at a young age I learned to internalize the pain that we went through at that time. Its still there. Like my childhood trauma is; festering, building, waiting. It wasn't until very recently I had a good look at myself and realized I'm really angry, hurt and resentful because of the build up over the years of "walking off" the hurts we went through. It hasn't gone anywhere, I think some of it left at different times through healing ceremonies. For the most part I looked away from it. Part of it though goes back to those days and our innocence. We didn't expect people to attack us, to condemn us, to put us down, and to even blacklist us. We went into things with good hearts following a dream literally. We didn't know how to organize, how to be political. We just stood up and told our stories of what Native youth life was like. It was hard. I don't know how to quantify all the different ways we were hurt. Its so many things and so many different ways. I just don't know. I'm proud though that we didn't give up even when there was few people that believed in us.
I think I just forgot, that our political coming up as youth was so painful. So hard. So lonely. I'm not trying to focus on only the negative here. Its just I feel like we don't really understand what that did to us-as a collective and as individuals. Its now that I'm starting to realize the deep hurt that those of us involved back then carry. It makes me feel sad to know that we were so young and had good intentions but were treated so badly by our own people, in the media, in so many ways.
The thing I'm realizing it didn't just end with Native Youth Movement. This pattern continued for years. I know I got hurt at different points doing the work. Its that I didn't acknowledge how hurt I was or what that did to me. I left it alone. I put away. Sometimes I'd go ceremony to clean it away. But not fully since the hurt is still there.
This feeling of hurt has turned into anger which over the years has become resentment. Or bitterness. Maybe both. It wasn't until now when I've tried to make some efforts to step back and assess my life that I'm realizing how unhealthy this really is. Its not that I'm blaming anyone. Please understand that. Its about my inability to see things as they really are. To be my own mirror. To take responsibility for not seeing this sooner. Because I truly believe these different hurts have made me an ugly and angry person. To be around. In my heart. Which makes me really sad. I don't want to be ugly and angry. I don't want to hurt people like I was and like we were back in the day.
Part of looking at all this is figuring out what I've done wrong to others too. Where did I screw up. Its not easy to admit that to myself. I have a giant ego sometimes that helps me think I'm the greatest and not see myself as a human person who makes errors. Which is okay too. To err is human. The problem is when you don't see the patterns of messed up behaviour, or you continue to be an asshole. Thats were I think I am. I'm not changing. Its critical to not continue the horrible experiences that have happened to us, in order for the next organizers to not have to deal with the same things we did. Thats apart of our responsibility to continue the work of our elders and ancestors. Protect our way of life and make good choices for the future. You could call that decolonization if you want. I don't think we did at the time. But its what we were taught by the movement leaders and spiritual teachers that we had a job to do as youth. That it was important to continue to fight and to build for our people into the future. Our ancestors did. They loved us, so now its our turn.
However this brings me back to this hurt. I'm not sure yet that I have any answers to my feelings right now. I just know I've carried this around for to long. If I don't deal with this then how am I being a better relative. How am I setting an example by being angry, hurt and resentful. Forgiveness is an important step. I think for alot of us youth during that time. We need to forgive ourselves. We got hurt. Its not okay. But it happened. Its time to acknowledge what we went through and let go of it. So we can carry less.
In my life, I need to figure out how to take more responsibility for my own actions. To think more intentionally. To react less and be thoughtful before saying, doing, or acting. I haven't yet ingrained how our elders talk, think and be. Its something I really hope one day I can do. I aspire to be loving, to be kind and to be a good teacher. A good helper. But I can't do that without letting go of the hurt I carry around.
You know I think we experienced lateral violence which is the term people now use. But it was bigger than just people doing that. It was spiritual attacks, it was our credibility in the media; I mean at one point the police targeted us as gang on their gang list to surveil us. It was so big atleast to us. Maybe no one knew that. I don't know. Things have to change. Our youth, our women and our people shouldn't be attacked for following their dreams.
That change starts with me. So here is another place to fight back. Be better, be stronger and one day I will be like those I so love. Kind, gentle and loving. Since love is the reason we are still here today. We were loved generations ago. I have love, I have a big heart. Its just sore with being hurt. Its tired from being angry. My heart will heal. I will heal. Things will be better. I can't promise I won't screw up or not make mistakes. But I'm committed to trying my best. Thats all I have. Those buffalo reminded me I can be loved. I can have help. I can get better.