Because imagine how hard it is to separate yourself from your identity. If I am abused because I am a woman or enslaved because of the color of my skin, then my freedom requires that I disassociate from that part of my self. We find freedom when we transcend identity but there is loss and fragmentation for a long while after that. It is almost as if we have become orphaned.
This is the great paradox of our search for freedom and our healing process.
We want to forget. We need to get outside ourselves to find strength and take action. These are the first steps as we release ourselves from being a victim.
For those who find themselves in the role of the oppressor by fact or by legacy, it is a similar tale. We want to forget. We hold fast to sadness and tears that prevent our own liberation, our own call to action. Sadness and tears are signs that we are a victim.
We are all victims of oppression if you believe we are all born with a soul.
Some express oppression through grief, others through shame, guilt, escapism, rage, denial. All of these emotions are normal but we cannot remain static in these emotions; they must be seen as processing emotions that have the power to liberate us because at least emotions penetrate our intellect. They are in communication with the soul.
This is the first, necessary step.
Disassociation follows. It is when we are aware of our own personal power and we recognize our emotions as being separate from our self. They flow and they change, but we are at the center. Who is this being that is constant? We ask.
We may say, I do not have to attach myself to that experience, that horror! I am separate from those human frailties. I can create my own destiny, my own reality.
This is another crucial step. But again, it is not static. It is another part of processing because total disassociation and fragmentation negates the totality of who we are as human. We cannot just cut out part of ourselves.
When we begin to feel the pressure of heightened awareness wear down, and we experience the loss of belonging (a symptom of fragmentation) we are faced with yet another choice. Do I move deeper into the work? What does it mean to come back into myself as a whole? How can I reunite my identity self to my transcendental awareness, allow “it” to participate in my life, as a defining color that belongs on my brilliant canvas?
Stepping into one’s whole self is scary indeed because we fear we will get lost in it again because that’s why we were vulnerable to subjugation and enslavement.
As a woman, to move into one’s womaness knowing it was the original cause of one’s pain is terrifying. As a Jew, leaning into one’s Jewishness is distressing. Embracing one’s Blackness, one’s Latinoness, one’s Native, Indigenous self—all of it is intimidating because we will feel vulnerable again.
Even when enlightened whites consider whether to engage in the real work of addressing and revealing white privilege, there is fear. By embracing this part of my whole, will I succumb to exerting power and control?
Am I my ancestors or am I me? We may ask.
And yet, all of this is necessary. There must be wholeness. A liberated individual will find communion with human identity if it is their purpose to reduce suffering. Your own healing cannot be static and alone. It is more like a homecoming. You must experience what it’s like to rejoice in the beauty of all your parts coming together, even those parts that have caused you pain.
This is my current understanding of healing and purpose. It is a continuous evolution, it is why we are alive.
Sensing and becoming aware, realizing and liberating, acting on behalf of oneself and others, embracing the wide spectrum of continuous, evolving emotions and states of grace.
What comes next?
Compassion, perhaps. Consciousness, perhaps. Willingness and Openness, perhaps. The journey continues into the unknown, I believe, for we as a whole people have not gotten there yet.
Therein lies the great mystery.