Love, Loss and Learning to Listen while Healing
I’ve added this post to my “Love, Loss and …” series, because so far, the year 2020 has been a “big T” trauma. Our entire world is learning to live with grief and trauma on so many levels. And as I know, trauma healing begins with someone who will listen. Trauma healing also needs one to listen to one’s self and to self-reflect.
When this Facebook post hit my feed the other night, I wanted to hit “share,” add a heart emoticon, and send it into the virtual world. (link here)
Something stopped me. I felt I needed to say more, and I took a few days to realize that, yes, I needed to do more than just share. It took me a few days to gather my thoughts about this interview with Blake Hairston.
Let me introduce you to Blake. He is one of my son’s best friends. They have been friends for years. Blake is like another son to me, and like a brother to Dan’s siblings. Our families became friends because of the unbreakable bond of these boys – now young men.
When Blake is here, he is nourished, nurtured and loved, just as Dan is nourished, nurtured and loved at Blake’s home. And, sometimes they are both admonished. Like the day I shrieked out the window, “What the hell are you two doing?” They decided that tossing a brick back and forth to each other, right next to a giant picture window, was a great supplement to their football camp. I still laugh when I was met with, “But this is great strength-training!” and “We were being careful!” I’m sure their coach would agree with me that this was dangerous – just like Blake’s mom did – but I digress.
I never looked at Blake as “Dan’s black friend.” Just as I never said, “Kenya, Jacqui and Teresa are my black friends,” or “Jason is my gay friend,” or that “Jenny is my daughter’s deaf friend.” Why would I?
I’m not one for looking at the body, the “container” that these dear souls come in. I look at the souls that reside in these bodies, these containers.
My oldest daughter lovingly pointed out that raising her kids to not see color was a disservice. Of course, I asked why, because I look at the person, not their skin color. But as she astutely pointed out, people of color have a different reality. I had to really dig deep and self-reflect on that.
Having someone to listen to you when dealing with trauma is part of the healing. But, learning to listen to one’s self, and others, is important, too. I had to listen to what she was saying. I had to listen to my inner-voice, which allowed me to really listen to others.
The more I thought about that, the more self-reflection came over me. As a child and woman who has been sexually abused, harassed and coerced, my reality is different. How many times have I been seen just as a sum of parts, and not as a person? Painfully, too many times. How many times did I want to be seen and heard for what I had to offer, but my voice was disregarded? How many times did I have to change my behavior to fit in or be accepted? How many times did I have to f*cking protect myself because the container I arrived in this world happened to be female?
Using those questions, I substituted Blake’s name. How many times was he seen as a sum of his color? How many times was his voice disregarded? How many times did he have to change to fit in? Or f*cking protect himself because of his skin color?I started to cry. I love Blake like he’s my own son. I never thought that his reality was different than Dan’s. The momma bear in me started to rise. God help the person who hurts my sons – the ones I birthed or the ones I “adopted.” Click To Tweet
In my flower-power, rose-colored glasses way, I thought that just seeing and loving the soul was the right thing to do. But by not appreciating the container, I wasn’t seeing how that container may have been used, abused, judged and not loved, which affects the soul. If anyone should know that, most certainly it should be me.
When people are looked at and judged and harassed because of their skin color or body parts or features that may not be fully developed, their soul takes an injury. That creates trauma. And trauma creates grief.
When people have to overcompensate to prove their value or worth, because of their skin color or body parts or features that may not be fully developed, their soul takes an injury. That creates trauma. And trauma creates grief.
When people live in fear because of their skin color or body parts or features that may not be fully developed, their soul takes an injury. That creates trauma. And trauma creates grief.
So, while “not seeing the container” sounded great to me, I was only seeing people for half of who they are. It didn’t “click” that their color, gender, ethnicity and exterior experiences also contributed to their entire being. And it should have, because I know that I don’t like being viewed as half of who I am.
When you know better, you do better.
Not that I would ever refer to someone as “my black friend” or “my gay friend” or “my Irish friend.” But I will always remember that their experience includes their exterior container, as does mine. All of our containers can bring great experiences or great trauma.
In my flower-power, rose-colored glasses way, I hope the world will start to really appreciate the beauty of the container that our souls live in. Each container is so beautiful and unique. I hope when we open the container to see what’s inside, that we can appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of that soul, too.
I pulled a few quotes from Blake’s interview:
“I hope that my kids can grow up in a space [that] I don’t have to teach them they have to act differently around the police, [to] be aware to hide their blackness, or who they truly are because it could be seen as wrong to someone else…
… I want individuals to have pride in their heritage but also be open-minded and curious about people different from them.” – Blake Hairston
The soul is living with what the container has been through, and the container is living with what the soul has been through. And if we can see the whole package, we can appreciate what the beauty and experience has brought together. There is no judgement of the container, but there is an acknowledgement that the exterior of the container creates a different reality.
Maybe this is how we can heal trauma and grief.
Maybe this is how we can leave this world a better place, for our children, for Blake’s children, for everyone’s children.
© Lynne Cobb – 2020
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