Almost six months ago (January 21), I wrote “It’s a Process” about the synchronicities that led to my becoming aware of generations of trauma in my family of origin … how I came to see that I’ve been chosen to be an agent of healing for our family. I naively felt honored and enthusiastic about being so chosen.
And then I got the flu.
And then COVID hit.
And then came the lock down and personal distancing and mask-wearing controversies.
And then George Floyd was murdered.
And then protestors took to the streets.
And then our local YWCA sponsored a 21-day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge.
And then I listened to Krista Tippett’s Podcast conversation with Resmaa Menakem titled “Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence.” He spoke about racial trauma that both Blacks and Whites carry in our bodies and how healing needs to happen at a cellular level.
And I became aware of a whole other level of trauma than the one I wrote about in January … historical and institutional trauma … going back to the Dark Ages when brutality was the norm. It lives in our bodies. I am aware of constriction I’ve carried for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried to explain it to myself from my personal life. I had no idea constriction is passed down from that far back.
While we see anger and violence in the streets of our country, the real battlefield is inside our bodies … all of our bodies, of every color.~Resmaa Menakem in his conversation with Krista Tippett
Many years ago, when I served as an addictions family therapist, I was given feedback by an African American co-worker that our African American clients saw me as “Miss Nicey Nice.” At the time, I didn’t have the courage to ask what they meant. But that phrase haunted me for years.
Your niceness is inadequate to deal with the level of brutality that has occurred.~Resmaa Menakem during his conversation with Krista Tippett
After listening to Resmaa, I reflected on the legacy of shame in my family … my introversion … my conflict avoidance … my “good girl” survival strategy … and how all this silences me … contributes to my difficulty speaking out … to my fear of making waves … to my fear of being disliked … to my attachment to comfort.
I recognized at a deeper level an area where I need to grow … where I’ve needed to grow for a long time … where my fear has been holding me back.
I risked breaking silence … I practiced speaking up … being confrontational even … about group dynamics in an interracial group.
… white comfort trumps my liberation.~Resmaa Menakem during his conversation with Krista Tippett
I went on to exercise my “speaking up muscle” by addressing other issues … like institutional inequities … blaming the victim … disdain for the inner journey.
Each time I felt the discomfort.
I longed for validation … acknowledgment … soothing. None came.
I didn’t die. I grew a little bit stronger.
It’s a process … becoming a woman for whom growth, healing, and justice is more important than the comfort of being liked … a woman for whom I can feel proud.
I’m on the journey.