Dealing with trauma is not fun. Its exhausting. Its one of the most painful experiences to relive all the horrors of past trauma just so you can let go, deal with it and be free. Somedays I thought I would die from the pain. I couldnít go on. Never mind explain to someone what was going on. Its not like I could say ďIím fineĒ or ďits okayĒ because that wasnít the case. I would feel isolated by others just because I knew they didnít have my experience of trauma. Maybe they had good childhoods or were raised in good homes. Whatever it was I know fully that some people could empathize or sympathize but they couldnít fully understand. It was those moments that I just closed myself off. Cause how do you explain something that makes you raw, emotionally drained and that you donít fully understand yourself?
I realize though throughout these past few years, that I'm not alone. I have a common experience with many. From many places. Childhood trauma is sadly not an unusual thing. Especially when our generation is the first to have not attended residential school. We are coated in the residual of it. We are the survivors of the survivors. I think about my five closest sister friends, everyone of us has been sexually abused, assaulted, raped or all of the above. Not to mention neglect, physical and emotional abuse. It is somewhat staggering to think about what our generation faces in these terms. But statistically the truth is harsh.
However, living in my world means being connected to many people who live outside the boundaries of our communities and collective understanding. Through the work, through school. Through many places of intersection. Through organizing together. There are so many places and spaces.
The challenge then becomes how do I articulate that I just canít be here right now? That I canít organize or be apart of the work. My body, mind and spirit have decided I must heal, whether I like it or not. How do you explain I am going through something that is a common experience that many of us carry and deal with in our lives as this first generation who didnít attend residential schools. How its systematic racism that has become internalized and cyclical in our communities. That if I donít deal with it, I wonít stop it from continuing. I wonít be a good relative and that I failed my people but more than that failed my responsibility. How to articulate what Iím going through was a direct result of federal indian policy and IS a part of the continued colonial regime that seeks to profit from our lands? That there is no separation between the social, political and economic even in my very personal life, and healing.
Its so challenging, because I donít want to be a victim. Iím not asking for sympathy. I know you probably canít understand. Thats okay. Iím not asking you to understand. I just want to be heard. The greatest response is just to be present. To listen. That is all.
Somedays, its hard to talk about it. Cause if the pain makes me want to die or give up; imagine what thatís like to try and articulate to someone else? The other part is there is such a stigma on healing in our society at large. It can be seen as weakness, or sometimes ďwhy donít you get over it- its in the past,Ē which I wish it was that simple. I want to ďget over itĒ but I canít right now. I have to work it out. It can be some embarrassing to be in that place. To not be ďhigh-functioningĒ and maintaining some sort of normalcy. Thats though how I used to run from it, is maintaining and pretending everything was okay. That made me a mean, angry and ugly person.
However if Iím letting you know Iím dealing with this, its because you mean something to me and I want you to know Iím not shutting you out. I need time to get through this. I need you to hear me and just be there. Itís hard for me talk to you about it because I feel ashamed and embarrassed by my own trauma at times. I often wonder whats wrong with me and I hope you wonít look down on me or judge me. I feel crazy sometimes. I feel like my world is falling apart. Its scary to talk about that with people that donít have the same experience or have had trauma in their lives. Since there is always the risk you will think Iím a victim or that Iím less than, or not normal.
The reason I wanted to articulate this, is I realize that Iím not alone. That my own healing is what many of my friends and people closest to me are going through too. That we need to be able to support each other and help articulate these experiences to the outside world -to our own families, partners and love ones. That these are hard conversations to have with ourselves not to mention you, who may not have the same experience. But we want you to hear us, and just be. Not put us in the victim category because it takes a strong person to face our greatest fears. Not to disengage from us because we are dealing with something you canít understand. Just give us time and patience that we will talk about it when we are ready or not. That we will continue to work, organize and be there when we are ready too. That we are not broken but learning to make ourselves better people.
Healing is not an easy thing. There isnít a roadmap that is laid out for everyone. Iíve realized that therapy helps me apply an approach for living day to day life. Its helped me work out how to deal when I get triggered. Ceremony on the other hand has helped take the raw of the pain out of my soul. It provided a safe space to let go. Where it was and is okay to hurt out loud. There is no judgement there. Combined I donít know if I couldíve survived without both. It only took me a decade to figure that out. But its a process, a road as some have metaphorically called it.
I just really felt the need today to write about this. Especially since a brother of mine is dealing with his pain, his trauma and his fears. He needs support. I hope that as we un-ravel colonization in our lives and our communities that we can be there for each other. That we can share what has helped us deal. That we can create worlds were healing on deep level is a good and accepted thing. That stigma wonít exist. We will get better and one day we wonít need to heal anymore because the problem doesnít exist. We have defeated it and won.