I’m about to tell you a story.  A true story.  I hope you stick it out and read to the end.  Because if we want to create a different world, we need to stop the cycle of pain. 

The Story

I thought I had dealt with it.  I thought it was nothing but a memory from my past.  A part of the past that made me who I was.  I was mistaken. 

When I saw the email that accused me of being a racist I almost cried in the parking lot I was sitting in.  When I saw the posts on my Facebook business page I almost cried.  When I saw the post on the page of the person that accused me of being a racist, I did. 

I then cried for days after that first post.  I pulled all my scheduled Facebook posts and went silent.  I felt silenced. 

The little girl whom I had worked so hard to heal, the little girl who I thought had dealt with her past was hurting.  She was hurting bad.  

The unconscious mind is powerful.  Really powerful.  One of the roles of our unconscious mind is to repress and suppress memories as necessary.  It also then evaluates and presents repressed memories for resolution when the time is right.  It seems that over time, I had hidden all my memories of being bullied.  I had hidden them deep.  I thought they weren’t part of my conscious mind, because I had dealt with the pain.   

I hadn’t dealt with it.  I had just hidden the emotions and many of the memories away.  However, suddenly, I was feeling all the same emotions from so long ago.  With the emotions came the memories.  The emotions overwhelmed me.  Consumed me.  Making it hard to separate the claim of cultural appropriation from bullying. 

The memories of moving to a small town from the big city in grade 7 came flooding back.  I knew no one and was rejected by everyone.  Very quickly, I was made fun of for the way I looked (apparently I must be related to Spock by my large ears – thank you grandfather!), to the way I dressed and for reasons I will never know.  What I do know is that as much as I tried to blend in with the outside walls (yes I mean walls… I would try to become one with the wall), tried to be invisible, tried to disappear – someone would always see me.  Someone would always find a reason to remind me of how small, insignificant and unwanted I was.  I felt powerless to stop the bullying.   

These feelings shaped me for years to come.  It wasn’t until grade 10 or 11, when I finally found a group of people that I would hang out with.  Although I always felt like an outsider.  Not their fault.  I just learned how to blend in with the group but would stay on the outskirts.  It’s where I felt safest.  It’s where I thought I belonged.  I was just happy not to be the brunt of mean words and sometimes even crueler actions. 

This is how I lived my life through college and even most of my professional career.  I always tried to blend in with my surroundings.  I only spoke if I really thought I had something to say (which wasn’t often).  I always felt small, insignificant and felt I had to earn my right to be there. 

I thought I had done the work to heal myself.   I got professional help with a therapist and even saw a hypnotherapist.  When I became an entrepreneur, I had to deal with many of these old limiting beliefs because they were holding me back.  So I did even more work.  I went through and learned how to deliver transformational, life-altering breakthroughs.  Layer of layer, I peeled back the stuff that held me back and needed to be healed.  

But then on February 26th the emails, the Facebook posts scratched the scab of emotions and memories from years ago.  Events that I thought I had dealt with, only to discover that my unconscious mind had repressed them.  Over the next four days, the memories and emotions came back.  Memories of standing by the wall trying to blend in with the bricks were vivid.  The panic at lunch of trying to find somewhere to be or something to do other than stand alone, dreading catching someone’s attention filled me. The feeling of being strangled on a bus felt like it was happening in real time. 

We have to break the cycle

Hurt people, hurt people. 

It is only because of the inner work that I’ve done, that I didn’t do what hurt people do despite being in pain.  I didn’t hurt back.  I was hurting.  I was feeling helpless, insignificant, and small.  I started to wonder if this meant I wasn’t supposed to share my genius with others.  I wondered if it meant I wasn’t to coach.  I wondered if this meant that I was to pack it all up and go.  I wanted to tell people that my intentions were good.  I was good.  Instead, I deleted my scheduled social media posts and went silent.  Instead, I learned about what I was accused of and managed the difficult emotions at the same time.  

I believe that it was because of the work I’ve done that I didn’t fall into old patterns.  I reached out for help.  I told people that I was in pain.  Those same people reminded me that hurt people, hurt people.  And the people hurting me were hurt.  They also offered me the safe space and tools we know helps clear the pain and hurt.  In days I went from puddles of tears to saying goodbye to my brand. 

The reason for the story

I do feel that the way I was told I had culturally appropriated was hurtful.  I believe in being approached with respect first.  I believe that those that brought it to my attention did so in a way that reminded me of the bullies I had so many of those painful experiences with growing up.  If the message had been delivered differently, it would’ve been a less traumatic experience.

We’re all carrying trauma.  Being an entrepreneur is traumatic!  And there are ways we can heal our trauma.  Ways that don’t require us to relive and rehash out all the pain over and over again.  Ways that are more powerful than you can imagine.   And if we want to make the hard changes we need to make – that we want to make, then we all have to take responsibility for our healing.  We all have to do our work to heal, to learn and to grow. 

Yehuda Berg was right when he said that “Hurt people, hurt people.  That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation.  Break the chain today.  Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion and cruelty with kindness.  Great grimaces with smiles.  Forgive and forget about finding fault.  Love is the weapon of the future.”   

This story was to raise awareness that our voice, our actions– they have power.  We can use that power to hurt or to love.  To love, we have to break the chains.  Those chains are strong and we all need help to break them.  I can help and I know other amazing people who can help. People who have answered the call to make a difference.  To help break the patterns of the generations past and to heal the trauma that we carry for a better future.  

My journey isn’t over.  I still have forgiveness to do.  To forgive those that bullied and harassed past and present.  I’m committed to doing the work.  I do it because I choose to break the chains.  I do it because I’ve made the commitment to do what I can to make a difference.  I do it, because my voice matters.  I matter.  And so do you. 

“Hurt people, hurt people. That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt and compassion and cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.”

Yehuda Berg