We are wounded in relationship and we heal in relationship.
Shame says, “You are alone. Your problems are unique. You are broken. You are bad.”
As we sink beneath the surface explanations, the blame, the constant stories and analysis and begin to touch the heart of the pain and wound, we find a river feeding into the collective pain of our family, our communities, our larger circles.
As we claim and name this pain, we break the bindings of shame. We discover, “We are together. Our problems intersect. Our healing and freedom is bound together.”
We will not fully love ourselves so long as there are people we consider unlovable.
We will not find safety if we live in fear of others.
We will not feel security so long as there is hunger.
These thoughts might engender despair and anger, for how can we ever find happiness if the world must be made right first? It’s easy to feel not enough. And yet there is a flaw in this, the idea that happiness is a destination at which we arrive when the circumstances are right.
Happiness and joy arise from living what we value, accepting what arises. Our wounding leads to our work.
When I grow tired of making myself smaller and putting my “bad” parts in cages—when I find that bringing those parts to consciousness and finding what is beautiful and worthy about them feels so much more empowering—then I look out and wonder, why do we put people in cages?
As I uncage myself, I realize if I want to continue to grow, I must also work to uncage others. There is no single, correct way to do this, but it is the work.
Humans are strange creatures, not solitary like a turtle but not social like a bee, existing somewhere in the in-between of needing solitude and connection. We are interdependent, having our own private struggles and gifts but needing each other to fully do what is possible.
At a certain point, we get tired of nursing the private pain of being told we’re worthless, unattractive, and we realize the problem is not us but those forces that keep telling us these things. At a certain point, we notice that being divided from each other, made to compete with colleagues at work, allows our employers to keep heaping more work and expectations on us without resistance.
Being in community is hard and sometimes exhausting, particularly when the geographic and economic terrain of living seems so hostile to allowing the time and energy necessary to do that work effectively. Yet being in solidarity is a choice that helps us to transcend the shame and suffering of personal struggles. We experience a greater sense of power and love when we allow our struggles to interlock. We break out of the stifling sense of personal responsibility, that somehow I have to fix all the problems in the world.
Of course you feel you’re not enough for that task. It’s not meant to be a one-person job.