I was so happy to be a part of a great team of people that organized this exhibit at Kehler Liddell Gallery in Westville. The work of Rhinold Ponder was shown for a month and I had the opportunity to facilitate the opening and closing discussions with the artist and community members. It was sponsored by the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund, organized by Kisha Zullo and included spoken word performances hosted by Hanifa Nia Washington and The Literary Happy Hour.
It was a joy to finish off this experience with a racially and generationally mixed group of community members laughing and sharing their thoughts of healing from the impact of white supremacy and violence. Great opportunities to address the healing needed that lingers behind the n-word.
I was honored to be asked to join a panel of young people and mental health and wellness professionals to discuss issues of mental health concerning black and brown teens. It was hosted by Jay Kemp on WYBC on March 17th. The Link on Facebook is here.
Greetings good people. Here is a record of some great work I did in Haiti/Ayiti between December 27th and January 3rd 2017.
It was super powerful and nourishing being a part of a delegation that engaged in positive community work in partnership with the community itself. So beautiful and enriching!
This morning I was on the Babz Rawls Ivy’s radio show, LoveBabz LoveTalk, on the New Haven Independent’s WNHH Community Radio program. Radio spot on Soundcloud
First, sorry for the HUGE lapse in time from my last post about ancestor work. I am carving out more intentional time to write so hopefully there will be more frequent posts. My challenge now is to communicate the importance and potential resources that we have access to, without it being so heady and dry nor too ethereal and abstract. So we shall see if I can balance this between the heart and head.
In the previous post I acknowledged the difficulty in connecting with our ancestors, especially when there is hurt in our past. It may have been caused by particular individuals that we knew when they were alive; a relative that abused us or those we love, one that suffered from addiction and was emotionally or physically unavailable, or one that expressed views that we abhor. It may have been a relative(s) that suffered as the victim of abuse. This may have been done to that individual enacted or upon a whole generation or generations of your lineage. Regardless of the manner of the pain, many of us living have no desire or intention to wade through it if possible. We have enough suffering and hurts in our present experience.
It is important to know that of the thousands and thousands of ancestors that we have, there are some that have struggled in the regular difficulties of life and been able to love, hope, live fully, care for themselves and others while in the midst of circumstances that were difficult. There are even those that may have experienced tragedies and horrors and still held out hope for their and others lives. At the very least we can draw upon that strength and wisdom to help us to navigate the difficulties of our current life circumstances. This is important, for it is this ability to connect with that which can support and nurture us which will enable us to deal appropriately with the pain, hurts and the desire to avoid who we are and where we come from.
You might be saying, “we just need to move on and forget about the past.” You can certainly do that. However, you are then cutting yourself off from a vast source of support that is 100% relevant to who you are and who you can become. We all come from cultures and peoples that believed and understood that the relationship with our family members does not end when they die. For some, that tradition is recent, for others it is very distant. But it is there all the same and is something we can also mourn as a cost of ‘civilization’. This is not a conceptual issue but a true and heart felt one. Just as we can feel the very real connection with those that we love who are living, yet not physically present, the same very real connection exists with those that have passed.
This may be easier to feel if you had a positive relationship with a family member before they died. If this is the case, then connecting with them and bringing your struggles, questions and concerns to them may be a bit easier. You get to simply talk with them,internally or out loud, about the support you need or the issues in your relationships (even with them) that you want to resolve or work on.
However, in my experience and the experience of others, this same bond exists even with those you did not personally know. This healing and growth work and relationships are not based on having to have known them when they lived. We have more ancestors that we do not know than those we do know. The connection is based on a relationship that simply is, not on having to create it, though we often have to find our way to it. This is because of the cultural norm of disconnection that many of us were raised in. In our current culture, when someone has died many are told that the relationship is over and they are simply “dead and gone.”
There are other views, practices and norms that we can connect with. Just like we can find and connect with a norm of equality instead of adopting the one of disconnection and oppression that we are raised in.
Now, back to the issue of pain in the lineage. Just as you get to decide who comes into your home, room, or into an intimate relationship with you, you get to decide who you invite into your ancestral, emotional and spiritual life. With words or heart felt intention you get to say in one way or another “Those that can come with love and support of my needs and purpose are welcome, those that cannot, are not welcome at this time.”
I often picture this ancestral pain or hurt as a literal wall or barrier. As people look into their ancestry and encounter this pain, the searching may stops. The pain stops them. If this were the totality of the possibilities then it makes sense to not pursue anything more. However, there are other ways to deal with this. So if we look at the reality of the pain we can see a number of options: 1) Avoidance, in regards to stopping all connection with ones ancestors, 2) Healing the ancestral pain, which involves engaging with it in a variety of ways, or 3) Bypassing that particular pain by stepping around the wall of pain and connecting deeper into ones heritage.
The first, well, is self evident and there is no opportunity for anything positive to come through as well. The fear may be too great at this stage. When you want to explore a different way, then your ancestors are always waiting and ready when you are. They are also patient and loving. The second option, is very effective, though requires a lot of healing and support to already be present to engage in that process. Certainly possible, just not a necessarily the best starting place. This third one allows for support and guidance to come through without being trapped by the pain or by believing that the pain is all that your ancestry has to offer you. You are not trapped and your ancestry does have more to offer. And by connecting in a positive way you can eventually find ways, if you want to, to heal the pain itself and resolve the trauma in your lineage.
In my view, healing and wholeness are super important. If I am going to live and be awake, then continuing to do those things that cultivates connecting to my purpose and wholeness are also important. There may be discomfort in this process. Sometimes being with the discomfort while engaged in this process is helpful and restorative. However, if there is too much discomfort and it is causing a reactive or triggering response than it may not actually be helpful or restorative. Its just hurtful.
I will give you this example. I am a cis gendered male therapist. If a client comes in wanting to address an abuse history that was done to them by a similar male as I am then there are some issues to address at the start. If that person is too triggered and reactive to sit with me in the same room due to their fear and trauma history. If they are simply re-experiencing the trauma and are unable to be emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually present with me then the healing cannot happen.
However, if that person can tolerate it, even if there is discomfort, if they are “comfortable enough” then not only can we address the healing that is needed but there may be additional layers that are resolved. It can be even more restorative than if they engaged in this healing with someone that did not have the identity of those that oppressed and hurt them. This is why sometimes having a therapist match your demographics can be helpful AND why it may not be as necessary as we typically think.
You are the best gauge of the most appropriate ways to engage in these ancestral relationships. Some may be too traumatic to directly address, some may be uncomfortable though will have great benefit to engage in them to resolve them. Some will be easily supportive and can even help with the difficulties of engaging with the ones that are difficult. I have found that as these relationships are cleared out, healed, limited, embraced, depending on your needs, the better. The better for your own healing, journey and wholeness. Being open and able to receive the love, blessings, gifts and support from your lineage is your birthright and is powerful. Protecting ourselves from the hurtful or negative is appropriate. However, shutting ourselves down and away from who we are is self limiting. There is little to be gained from such self limiting, and our lives are too precious to live that way.
Thank you for your interest.
I was interviewed by Tara Lyn Coppola, a nutritionist, personal trainer and life coach to discuss the inter-relatedness of our physical, emotional and spiritual selves and how they interact when we are trying to make healthful decisions. (Unfortunately the link to the podcast is no longer active)
“In this episode of TLC Talks, I talk with Enroue Halfkenny, MSW, about the various things that can effect us as we work towards life changing goals and how to work through them.
This was an amazing interview. I was blown away with the amount of information, Enroue gave to us. We discussed how our past experience and family history affect us while working toward our goals. Enroue explained how our resistance to change can be a deeper internal challenge for us to work through. We also talked about ways to work through these resistances and when to seek help.
Change is not easy and often times we focus on the superficial aspects of change only to yo-yo over and over again. In order to make lasting change in our world, we must take a deeper look into our internal dynamic and embrace all the aspects that make up our multidimensional selves. This interview will give you new insight into yourself and those around you as we walk our path to becoming stronger healthier beings.
Thank you for listening and if you think this information will help others, share it with the links below.
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Love and Happiness,
Tara Lyn Coppola”