“What’s the point of healing?” I’ve asked myself this question on many occasions over the past decade. I still find myself questioning my decision to dive into this whole “healing journey” thing. I question it most on the challenging days. I question it when I feel like the whole world is overwhelmed with pain.
Last summer I found myself in a conversation with a man at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis. We ended up talking for over an hour. We were both born in Minneapolis in 1986. As a Black man, Timothy has navigated life carefully and deliberately on account of his skin color. Admittedly, I won’t ever fully grasp the unique challenges he’s faced. Although our experiences are very different, as we shared our life stories we realized that we are both survivors of childhood trauma.
Given the location of our conversation, we acknowledged the importance of healing both individually and collectively. Timothy and I agreed that, while different, our healing is intertwined, and as survivors, we want our healing to have a positive impact on the world. We realized that healing reunites us with our sense of vitality and purpose. It gives us the power to alchemize our pain in order to create change.
My own decision to heal was born out of not knowing what to do with my pain. I didn’t know how to deal with it or what to do about it. I did know that I would need to face difficult truths and emotions in order to get to the other side. Timothy understood this dilemma. “The old way wasn’t working,” he chuckled with a knowing smirk. We swapped stories of failed relationships and unhealthy coping mechanisms. It comes to a point eventually when you realize that running isn’t a solution. “When problems are ignored, they build up until you deal with them,” he shared. “We can’t keep pushing things under the rug. Like what happened on this corner to George Floyd; Pandora’s box is open and there’s no closing it. You can’t unsee it.”
In his book My Grandmother’s Hands, Black psychotherapist and trauma specialist Resmaa Menakem says, “When we don’t address our trauma, we may pass it onto future generations.” His approach to healing both trauma and racial inequality begins with the physical body. We all react from subconscious messages from our bodies until we become aware of how our bodies respond to people and situations. Scientific research supports that trauma can be passed down physically through DNA. “When we heal and make more room for growth in our nervous systems, we have a better chance of spreading emotional health to our descendants, via healthy DNA expression,” Menakem explains.
Timothy went on to share his own experience with healing trauma. He saw it as essential to his experience of becoming a more conscious, embodied version of himself. “Hurt people hurt people,” he added. What we don’t know can hurt us. And it can hurt others, too. The implicit negative bias projected on Black and BIPOC people is at the heart of racial inequality in the United States. As we become conscious of our impact on one another we become the change that is necessary for progress.
Consciously healing and integrating our experiences gives us our energy back. We don’t get to choose what we go through in life. We don’t get to erase the pain or forget about it. Sometimes I wish it were that easy. Healing doesn’t mean not getting triggered. It doesn’t mean that we are exempt from pain. It means that we know our pain well but that it doesn’t get to hold us hostage for the rest of our lives. As survivors, we get our power back through processing and healing trauma.
The purpose of healing is to reclaim ourselves, our bodies and our lives. It means that those who have hurt us don’t get unlimited access to our energy. It means that we get to live more liberated lives and we can show up as better people for each other. Healing an opportunity to start again.
Of course, healing isn’t a one-and-done sort of thing; rather, it’s a way of life. As a white ally to the BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) community I am still learning. And, I am acutely aware that my healing doesn’t just affect me. It affects all of us. Healing becomes a collective movement toward creating a better world. We get to show up for our communities and take actionable steps to heal for the good of all people. It’s an opportunity to do better and to change the course of history one moment at a time.
Photo by Aron Blanco Tejedor.
Mary Gavin is is an intuitive activist, teacher and Certified Reiki Master. Her passion for healing is rooted in her own experience living with post traumatic stress and dissociation. As a trauma survivor, she feels proud to share her experiences as a source of inspiration for others. She aims to elevate marginalized voices and inspire healing by sharing bits of her soul through writing. marygavinintuitive.com
Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2021 issue.