Can you meet me in Joy? Lessons on Joy with the Ancestors
For many years I bonded with people through shared hardship and trauma. Why? Because believe it or not, it was easy. For reasons that I still don't have clear language to explain, there were levels of comfort, a bypassing of deep layers of intimacy, a fast track for establishing unearned trust and detachment involved as I played out my stories of hardship and trauma both personal and ancestral. In this way of relating there was always a role I could assume and the armor of my stories served as a buffer between myself and others.
Forging bonds in this way felt as natural as breathing because it was the framework that had been modeled for me in my life experiences from a young age. In many ways, this had become unspoken protocol and a vital piece of social currency in building relationships. In order to belong and to be of value, I had to prove I had been through some shit ...show me your wounds and I'll show you mine were the silent reoccurring energies at play throughout many of my relationships.
These themes and stories were the foundation of many connections and so they were replayed throughout the course of the relationships that were built on them. Those relationships rarely lasted long and in the face of turbulence, the stories of hardship and pain were a convenient go-to for bypassing accountability & responsibility for harmful behavior on both ends. In my mind, the things that were out of my control like the hardships and traumas and conditions that created the possibility for them to actualize were to blame for the harmful behaviors, not an individual. This is what I told myself, this is what I was taught and this was my justification for why things never worked out.
On my path of personal and ancestral healing, I realized this tendency within myself to connect and relate solely through the lens of hardship and trauma. I recognized that I had no sense of personal responsibility & accountability-- it had never been modeled for me. What I did have in place of personal responsibility & accountability was a fine tuned reflex of displacing blame on external forces, circumstances and stories. In facing this truth head on, I also became very aware of the aspects of my identity that were rooted in my hardships both personal and ancestral. Within in the aspects of my identity rooted in hardship, there were levels of comfort and deep investments in those ways of being, of identifying myself and relating with others. It was hard medicine to swallow but it was even harder to continue living in those stories and patterns once they were clearly illuminated in the fullness of their dysfunctional glory.
The exploration of joy thus far has been both healing and challenging but alas, here I am, in this new chapter of being, living and relating. A chapter that has space for holding all the complexities of the hardship, traumas and most importantly the joys and sweetness of incarnate life from a personal and ancestral perspective. A chapter that is held within the deeper folds of vulnerability and intimacy of experiencing myself and others in fullness and in joy. This is providing valuable lessons on how to intentionally call in and build relationships in a slow and steady way, through trust that is cultivated and earned. It is impressing upon me the value of allowing my whole self to be present while holding a deep sense of belonging and asking the question "Can you meet me in joy"? I find myself holding this question not only for those that I am relating with but more importantly also for myself.
In the presence of my wise and loving ancestors, I’ve felt my capacity to hold more expand as I dig deep and illuminate the painful personal and ancestral narratives that I once held as truths. These narratives that told me I must hide my joy in order to protect it, that the presence of another’s joy diminishes my own, that there is simply not enough joy to go around, that through the lens of racism I am not afforded the luxury of joy and though a host of other -isms, another’s joy must proceed and or have priority over my own. My ancestors have helped me to lean into and dream into existence rituals of healing and repair around joy and new ways of relating with and experiencing myself, them (my ancestors) and other beings in relationship to Joy and for this I am forever grateful.
I’ll end this post with their wisdom that has been ever present with me as I bathe in the nourishment of my/ our joy, “Can you meet yourself and others in joy?”
Yes, the troubles of this world are real and so are the joys of being alive- My Ancestors.
In joy and gratitude,
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