The image I hold for us both individually and collectively in regard to Collective Relational Trauma (CRT), is that of having a leash around our necks and the status quo (and those in power) holding the handle. The leash symbolizes our compliance and complicity, our unquestioning obedience, to our oppressive culture and those who are in power. The impact of wearing this leash is great and far reaching both within our own Self, as well as in our society.
To remove the leash, to become unleashed, is a process of both self actualization and social liberation. Because the trauma of wearing the leash is both personal and political, individual and collective, it is important for each of us to not only being doing our own inner work of unearthing, examining, dismantling and dislodging our implicit biases, internalized -isms, and cultural conditioning and training, but to also do the outer work of dismantling oppressive systems and structures while also creating new systems that offer justice and liberation for all peoples.
What does it look and feel like to be unleashed?
- Claim authority over own life
- claim and share confidently own knowledge, education, and experience.
- Claim space: physically by not trying to shrink their body; emotionally by allowing their emotions to be felt and processed; psychologically by speaking up when something doesn’t work for them; spiritually by having practices that feel right for them in connecting to the greater world, to nature, to the cosmic energy of the universe.
- Embrace and love their Whole Self, the “good” and the “bad,” unconditionally.
- Connect deeply with others, especially other women.
- Are self-aware
- Trust their intuition
- Feel good in their own skin
- Acknowledge and accept the ebb and flow of life
- Make and break the rules about their lives. They live life on their own terms and don’t compromise who they are to make others feel safe or comfortable.
- Take up space in their home, their work space, their entire world. They use their voice, dare to be heard and seen. They stand in their strength and power without apology.
- Accept their flaws and imperfections. They don’t pretend to “know it all” or “have it all together.” They make mistakes, but don’t beat themselves up for it; instead they apologize and make amends when necessary, learns from the experience, and then does differently in the future.
- See other women as comrades, as sisters. They respect other women’s boundaries and consent. They honor other women’s knowledge and experience. They support other women so all can find success in their own ways and on their own terms.
- Know who they are. They analyze them Self, their emotions, their actions and looks for deeper meaning for their reactions to things. They do not play the blame game and do take responsibility for their intentional and unintentional hurtful behaviors. They trust their intuition and listen to their body. They allow themselves to feel the bad times as well as the good, knowing that in time, regardless, this too shall pass.
Each and every one of us can become Unleashed.
How, you ask?
How we can dismantle and dislodge our Cultural Relational Trauma and become Unleashed
Our first steps towards becoming unleashed are connecting to our body: its physicality, its boundaries, its wisdom, its Truth. Through body-centered mindfulness and body claiming exercises, we come back down into our being, into our core; we become grounded, centered.
As we become more mindful, more connected, more grounded we also become more aware: aware of our body, our emotions, the stories that run through our minds and live in our bones and muscles and blood and sou. as well as how we react to these emotions and stories. We start to examine our stories of being too much and not enough and to see exactly where all this shame we carry is really coming from.
We begin to see the double binds and double standards that are part of daily life as a woman in our culture. We start to question the rules and the rule makers.
We begin to see the lies for what they are.
We begin the deep work of unraveling and dismantling all the lies and stories and un-truths that we have been told and taught and believed to be true and internalized.
We learn to see and then dance with our Shadows.
We start to use our voice. To find and connect to our sisterhoods and female lineage, both biological and cultural.
We begin to step in our power, in small ways at first, and then more and more and more.
We honor and respect our boundaries and expect others to do the same. And when they don’t, we defend our boundaries as sacred and holy. Because frankly, they are.
We see how we are all connected. How all oppression intersects. How all beings are interdependent. How nature nourishes and heals us. How, whether we believe in a god or goddess (or multiple gods and goddesses) or not, we know the power of the collective and the importance of spirituality and ritual to healing ourselves and the world.
It is a process, shifting from leashed to unleashed. It doesn’t happen over night. Or in a month. Or really even in a year. We peel the layers and in time begin to notice little and big changes within us and outside of us.
And always, as we do our inner work, we also do the work in the world to bring about greater change and freedom for all. We fight for liberation and justice for all peoples: all women, all people of color, all First Peoples, all people regardless or gender or sexual identity, all people regardless of physical or mental abilities. Justice for all.
This work, this unraveling and dismantling, this shifting from being Leashed to becoming Unleashed,, will be the work of the rest of our lives. It is work that has piled up on us for millennia. It won’t all shift and change in a moment, because we woke up one morning and declared it to be so. It is messy work and sometimes hard and more often than not, uncomfortable.
We will become frustrated and discouraged. With ourselves and with the world. We will learn compassion and patience and to have faith and trust, for ourselves and for others. We will find each other and be there to witness and support each other through the rough times and cheer each other on when we get in our stride.
In time, perhaps our daughters and nieces, sons and nephews generation or maybe our granddaughters and grandnieces, grandsons and grandnephews generation, we will all be Unleashed and the phenomena of the Cultural Relational Trauma will be one of history and myth and fairy tales.
Until then, we all have our work to do.