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 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. We want to release ourselves from being a victim.
Even 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. Getting lost in sadness and tears are signs that we are still 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 through change motion we have the power to liberate ourselves because in the very least, emotions penetrate our intellect. They are in communication with the soul. In education penetrating the intellect is important. We have been reduced to intellect alone.
This is a necessary step.
Disassociation follows. It is when we are aware of our own personal power and we recognize emotion as being separate from our self. If we can be aware of them, how they flow and change, then who is at the center of that awareness? Who is this being that remains a constant observer? We ask.
At this point, we may say– I do not have to attach myself to this emotion or that, to this experience or that, that horror! I am separate from human frailty. I can create my own destiny, my own reality. I am for myself. I am free.
This is another crucial step. But again, this too cannot remain static and fixed. Evolution is constantly accepting motion. Every part of our evolution is process, even disassociation is process because it results in fragmentation and negates the totality of our human experience. We cannot just cut out part of our whole-selves.
We might begin to feel the pressure of heightened awareness which will eventually wear us down. We may feel the loss of belonging as we face yet another choice. Do I move deeper into this work? What does it mean to come back into myself as a whole? How can I reunite all of my parts, to participate fully in my life, allowing even identity to act with grace as a color on my brilliant canvas?
Stepping into one’s whole self, one’s whole humanity is scary because we fear we will get lost again. When we were born too-human we were vulnerable to subjugation and enslavement.
A woman to move into one’s womaness knowing it is the cause of one’s pain is terrifying. A Jew to lean further into one’s Jewishness can be distressing. Embracing one’s Black roots, one’s Latinoness, one’s Native, Indigenous self-ness—all can be intimidating because we feel vulnerable again. This is the world we live in. But we can transmute it with our willingness.
Even when enlightened whites consider whether to engage in the work of addressing and revealing white privilege, there is fear. This embracing oneself, acknowledging oneself as being a part of one whole, including how that self may exert power and control–is scary business. Am I my ancestors or am I me? We may ask.
And yet, all of this undoing and doing is necessary for wholeness.
A liberated individual will always find communion with the totality of their human identity if it is their purpose to reduce suffering. Your own healing cannot be static, motionless and alone. It is more like an eternal homecoming. You will 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 our purpose as human beings. It is an awareness of our 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. Building a world where there is no more fear to just Be, where we embrace all shades of our humanity.
That journey continues to be unknown. Therein lies the great mystery.