The Path To Healing Must Go Through Truth
“I believe in reconciliation, multiple truths existing at once,
and moving tradition forward!”
~Jessica Eva Montoya
Earlier this month the city of Santa Fe celebrated Fiesta just as it has for the past 303 years, making it the longest running civic celebration in the United States.
Fiesta is a weekend of activities – masses, music, processions, historical re-enactments, and more – that commemorate the “peaceful re-occupation” (please take careful note of those quotation marks) of Santa Fe by Don Diego de Vargas in 1692, twelve years after the Pueblo Revolt.
This year, something very different happened at Fiesta.
A group of almost two dozen courageous activists – including Santa Fe native Jessica Montoya, quoted above – stood silently alongside the pageantry and held up signs. Some of these said:
- In 1693 Don Diego executed 70 warriors and enslaved hundreds of women and children
- “I was neither afraid nor humbled as they were confined, besieged, without water.” ~Don Diego
- “I would consume and destroy them all by fire and sword, holding nothing back.” ~Don Diego
With this action, they represented voices and words that have been left out of this story, a story that is more complex than the narrative usually offered. In fact, the activists wore black tape over their mouths, symbolizing the silencing that has been part of the ‘official’ Fiesta story for so very long.
I’ve gotten to know Jessica a little bit over this past year and have been inspired by her commitment to healing and to showing up for the truth, in all its forms. As one of the coordinators of One Billion Rising, she has been a powerful voice for the global movement to end violence against women and girls.
What is healing? To me, it means bringing back together parts of ourselves and our communities that have been left out.
Healing is a process of coming into relationship with that which we have ignored or actively pushed away– perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of pride, or for other reasons. Healing is about becoming whole, once again.
But how do we do that?
Over the past few years, I’ve been engaged in my own healing process through various means. I’ve found shamanic journeying (as taught to me by Luisa Kolker) to be a powerful vehicle for noticing parts of me that have gone missing and for inviting them back into the mandala of my life. My meditation practice, too, is an especially helpful way to become present to those aspects of myself, and to deepen a sense of loving self-acceptance.
These kinds of healing processes don’t mean that we allow the more difficult emotions such as fear or anger to dominate our lives, but it does mean that we come into a loving relationship with them, understanding more about why they exist and what they need from us.
In all of the individual and group work that I do, such as Waking Up to Your Life and the Day of Heartfulness I recently co-led with Katya Lesher here in Santa Fe, my aim is to create space for people to surface those voices that perhaps they haven’t heard before, or haven’t wanted to hear. Whether it’s with one person, a group, an organization or a business, this space for re-connection is an essential piece of the process of becoming ‘whole.’
To circle back to a community-oriented perspective on healing, I want to once again share words of wisdom from Jessica Montoya:
“Before Santa Fe can claim to be inclusive and celebrate 400 years of living in harmony and peace with multiple cultures our community needs to publicly acknowledge our complicity in colonialism and racism. Only then can we move forward for the sake of our youth and future generations. Their anger is our responsibility to unpack. We can change the story we currently live in; one that fosters our people feeling oppressed in public then returning home and taking out those feelings of anger and oppression on loved ones resulting in domestic violence and sexual abuse. The marginalized population is often imprisoned or plagued with drug and alcohol addiction resulting in high rates of suicide, homicide and more violence, often underpinned by cyclical poverty. By coming together and retelling these stories with truth and reconciliation we can move forward from perpetuating violence, racism and conquest to depicting the factual and multi-layered history of this land.”
I feel such a big “Yes” when I hear Jessica’s words.
Our communities are places of intersections and multiple truths, and so is our internal landscape. We can only truly celebrate the beauty of who we are when we create space for all aspects of ourselves to show up and be acknowledged. When we avoid that, we often end up unconsciously re-creating the hurts and traumas that we experienced and that we would never wish upon another.
Here are five steps to help open up space for these voices to be heard. These suggestions are offered in the context of integrating aspects of yourself, but the flow is similar if you are in a group, organization, or community.
1) Notice where your resistance is. This is likely a sign that something important is trying to get your attention.
2) “Turn into the skid.” This one is counterintuitive, but those of you who drive in snowy and icy weather will recognize it right away. Our default setting is usually to turn away from that which causes us discomfort. In this case, we need to lean into it.
3) Have a conversation with this part of you. For example, if anger is arising, get curious about it. Ask it where it comes from, and what it needs from you. And then listen.
4) Give this conversation some kind of external form, whether that’s writing about it in your journal or sharing it with another person who can act as a witness for you.
5) Even if you don’t feel that you are immediately getting “answers” around these questions, trust the process. Simply by acknowledging this aspect of yourself you are moving toward healing in ways that you may not understand right away.
The path to healing – and freedom – must always go through truth. It is not an easy road, but it’s the most rewarding journey I can imagine.
What are the voices inside yourself that you’re not letting yourself hear or tend to? How about in your community — whose voices are not being heard? What’s your definition of healing? I’d love to hear your thoughts… please leave a comment below.
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