this woman’s work


i once heard this story about a person who was unforgiving. the story is just one story among many that exist in the world of Indigenous people. how we live, exist, grieve, cope, and experience life in a settler colonial world that includes trauma, healing, and recovery.

as i listened to the story, for once, i began to see myself as the elder shared about a person who would not let the past go. you see, i too have been unforgiving, and in the process, even claimed i had forgiven people. the challenge was to actually practice what i preached (and claimed) in addition to moving on peacefully and not trying to get someone.

i mean, you saying “you got-got” tells me all i need to know.

in this case, as it was, for me, i struggled with understanding my own trauma of childhood abandonment and separation from my birth mother. while i was raised with strong cultural and family ties, i did not know, until much later, that birth mothers have a significant influence on children in utero where intergenerational trauma begins.

it was in ceremony, where i realized life lessons were also a part of parenting and the gift of story telling.

what we all heard post ceremony was a story so as to teach us about how a person was an unforgiving person. the moral of the story ended up also being about the person becoming sick with an illness.

the illness ended up being a form of cancer and an ailing body. as the elders were talking they shared holding onto bitterness is a sickness that leads to what essentially is known in Diné philosophy as being filled with darkness.

personally, the story made me think about self victimization in which i too had become stuck in a place of victimhood.

victimry made it easy for me to blame others without seeing how i ignored the signs that led to learning some hard life lessons.

that time on my life journey was a whole level of experience as i look back on it. i not only victimized myself, but others as well.

i told anyone and everyone what so and so did, how they behaved, and acted as if they were the only problem. unable to see the splinter in my eye. i claimed i forgave them, yet continued to harp on their behaviors as if it made things better.

i can look back now and see how i victimized myself and focused on the other party/parties. in that space of victimry, i was incapable of seeing how problematic and detrimental my own ego was to healing.

ego based energy always has to be right. the center of attention and needs to be heard, and demands to be seen. ego is the worst when it is offended, hurt, and unhealed. a destructive being.

today, i can see how my ego was living with unhealed pain, unresolved grief, childhood trauma, and generational soul wounds to name a few layers of loss that left no room for self reflection or accountability.

i had forgone any responsibility that began with healing unresolved childhood trauma and learning myself believing that i was the one who had been wronged. much later, i was able to self reflect and found my ego was on such a gross and shameless display.

yuck.

so as not to pathologize anyone, i want include how understanding the layers of loss we experienced as Indigenous people is what helped me learn about healing and recovery.

thus, it became equally important to understand the deep impacts of colonization on me and my family, and Indigenous people writ large.

for example, at present, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local health and law enforcement officials have reported an increase in reported domestic violence and child abuse cases. the reports will necessitate intervention and prevention support services post pandemic.

the reality is there continues to be residual and long term effects of colonialism. from the lack of funding to support tribal programs and research, the systemic oppression is indicative of a much larger issue that continues to plague Indigenous communities.

instead of creating opportunities for improved support services that can lead to healing, systemic oppression continues to problematize the generational cycles of abuse that persist, especially amid this pandemic.

not only has the system failed Indigenous people historically, it continues to maintain status quo and is replete with examples of poor support services and health conditions. with the lack of funding, despite its treaty trust responsibilities, Indigenous people across the country deserve more support services.

the realities of living with unhealed pain, not only had i been living with buried generational trauma and unhealthy coping mechanisms, i was headed down the same perpetual self destructive generational cycle of unresolved childhood trauma. in order to end that intergenerational cycle, i had to get to the core of my unhealed pain and go all the way back to childhood.

during the pandemic, i had a nightmare that shook me to my core. i woke up screaming, yelling, and crying and was reminded of a childhood nightmare where the spirit would stand in the darkness of my little moms closet.

only this time it didn’t just stare at me, this time, it emerged from the closet and dragged me out of bed into the dining area and tried to push me back into the void which was a hole in the wall.

the nightmare reminded of where i had come from and when my trauma began. not only did i fight the unhealed pain and trauma monster, i chose to confront and heal from the violence in witnessed related to alcohol and the patriarchal influences on my upbringing.

for me personally, i can honestly share i would not be where i am today if it weren’t for ceremony and prayers.

at the core of who i am as an Indigenous woman, i thank my Diné matrilineal roots that have kept me grounded throughout my healing journey. as the story went on, it was into the early wee hours of the morning star, when i came to self actualize my recovery was also an opportunity to tell my story.

it was in ceremony where i understood what was needed in order to heal the imbalance and find that place of unhealed pain and unresolved abandonment issues.

forgiving my parents for not knowing how to be parents and understanding i can not take away their agency has been huge for me. they had been dealt a intergenerational card and inherited unhealed and unresolved trauma from the previous generations without even knowing it.

for me, that awareness alone helped me to understand more about how forgiveness is liberation. much like compassion, it helps me to see life differently. from the aha moments of forgiving the self, to the release of letting go, i realize the healing journey is not linear.

forgiveness has shown me how peaceful life has become and happier i am, but also, makes me aware of what i do not want to pass down to my children.

i am showing my children i worked to heal the hurt and explain myself to them the way i used to pray to hinuuywat that my parents would do.

i share this part of my healing story because i worked to not become that unforgiving person.

i am not that person haunting anyone in their dreams. nor am i that salty person walking around pointing out how someone got-got.

instead, like the queen that i am, i rose from the ashes and licked my soul wounds into scars. as a direct descendant of a survivor of genocidal war on my biological fathers side, and a medicine healer on my maternal side, i see the sheen of my scars.

i was raised with the loyalty of wolves and ethics of an eagle, i know who i am.

i healed the generational cycle of unhealed pain that used to travel down my clan and ended with me.

today, when i meet a sucker who wants to use my past to hurt or haunt me, i remember the night i sat in ceremony with family and felt spirit pull the illness out of me like a string of dental floss.

i work daily on my healing. it isn’t always easy. if anything, it can be challenging.

i realize this woman’s work requires me to show up for myself with each new moon and to release on every full moon.

Categories Indigenous

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