For much of my life, I conflated forgiveness with what MLK jr. termed an “obnoxious negative peace”, one where I swallowed all of the pain that I’ve experienced in order to preserve a facade of family, ease and love. So what does a healer do when she is confronted with deep past shit, like childhood trauma and all the things that she’s been actively healing? What do we have to do to be free?
We tell the truth. First to ourselves, and then over and over again, every time. It doesn’t mean that we become walking billboards of angst, but rather that we make the choice to stand in our truths with our actions and our words. There is no end to the demand that a living world will make of you, said Octavia Butler. But there are really only two demands consistently in every waking and dreaming moment. Who iz you? and, How will you show up?
The truth, that becomes the hard part when you’re in a room that suddenly becomes a minefield because somebody has walked in, or somebody says that thing that always gets you, or you just can’t stand the fakeness of everybody just playing nice. Suddenly, all of the ways we navigate in the world on a daily basis- the power player, the boss bitch, the all-knowing sorceress comes crashing down and you are 5 again, or 8, or 12 or 15 and all of the affirmations and burning rituals and screams in the forest in the dead of night can seem to be much smaller than the magic that the moment requires.
If you are ready, the trigger is the opportunity to consciously engage in healing. We do the workshops, the yoga, the seminars, the energy work, the crystal healing, the rituals as practice runs, consciously releasing the binds around our hearts. We practice being with and sitting with our ghosts so that when life brings them knocking down the front door, when it’s game time, we can dance in the heat of our own personal hells and and let that hellfire burn the lies off of the truth. This is the alchemy of choice- when we choose to respond in our truth, we transmute shit. This is the ritual of life, and It’s important to note that it doesn’t look the same for everybody. Sometimes it’s chanting “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” instead of letting that one person goad you into yet another pointless argument about something you don’t even care about. Sometimes it looks like saying fuck that, somebody getting cussed out in the middle of the family dinner instead of playing nice, because the nice is the lie. Sometimes it’s simply leaving the table altogether because love is no longer being served. Sometimes, you need to phone a friend. Mostly, it’s knowing the difference between the truth of who you are and the stories that have taken up residence in your head. Forgiveness is not passivity in the face of oppression or violence. When you have sat with your ghosts, you know what to do when they come knocking.
We call intergenerational trauma many things. We call it miasma, cellular memory, ancestral memory, generational curses, the ghosts of christmas’ past. In my family, one of the ways intergenerational trauma shows up is coddling men while the girls and women bear the brunt of their pain and anger through emotional, physical and sexual violence. It looks like women being offered a cup of poison and told to drink it in order to be accepted as family. I look at my nana, my mother, myself and my daughter and stretch myself open to the truth that I do not have to accept violence or diminish myself in order to be loved. I live in the truth that I deserve to love myself more than anybody else deserves my love. I live my life in truth to set myself free and let that freedom ripple forwards and backwards in time to my ancestors and forward to my ascendents. I live in the truth that the family that is bound together by love and devotion to the divine light within us and each other needs to take the front seat in what my idea of family is when my blood family is not able or actively refuses to be in loving relationship with me.
Does it hurt? Hell yeah, the shit hurts. Honestly though, nowhere near as much as the pain of being a perversion of myself, twisted in knots, walking somebody else’s path for me. It doesn’t define me- whether or not someone accepts the truth does not define truth. Life is a spiritual practice. The more we stand in our truth, our truths, our many multi-dimensional earth-shifting truths, the more the chains slide off. The more we dance in our hellfire, the more we know what it is to be free. Here’s to our liberation.
First published in Black Femme Witches Brew