Western culture doesn’t always show how conflict can be handled. More than ever, we are seeing a toxic “cancel culture” that goes beyond the fact that humans are meant to make mistakes to grow and into the idea that anything we say can be held against us as we unlearn harmful ideologies that divide us as humans.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t hold those in positions of power who create harm to folkx who are oppressed accountable. In fact, collective communal anger has done a lot to bring humanity together, and we have many people’s anger to thank for pushing the mold and recognizing the multiplicity of humans and life itself.
However, unlearning violent internalized systems (sexism, racism, heterosexim, classism, ableism, etc.) will take time. Unlearning will no doubt create harm in the process. But it’s not our mistakes that make us who we are; it’s our choice beyond those mistakes. And being in an unforgiving culture will perpetuate the shame that harms us all.
Rest assured, when conflict arises and shame is uninvited, repair IS possible and an expansion of love lives there.
Stillness creates opportunity. When we sit in our individual discomfort before we run to defend ourselves and project old stories and harmful internalized systems onto another, we find what is ours to grow from and what is theirs for us to accept as is – without running to fix it, fade it, or hide it. A full unconditional act of love.
When we go into our own unique discomfort, we find we CAN and from there, we build self-trust and trust the other in their own journey. It’s not up to us to decide the timing of their growth. It is not up to us to decide what a person’s story looks like. It’s up to us to honor own by befriending our discomfort and moving beyond the façade of fear of the self. And what do we find beyond the facade of fear of the self? A human. Experiencing.
As challenges resurface between us and another, we must continue to revisit the place of grounding down in who we are as we are and remain. Remain curious. Remain loving. Remain in our presence. And when another can join us while both of us remain in our own, repair begins and love grows.
Colleen Ladd (she/they) is an exiting intern at People House who (mostly) works with queer individuals of all ages. She enjoys reading cheesy thrillers, writing about her life, cooking vegan and vegetarian food, eating vegan and vegetarian food, traveling the world (when there’s not a pandemic), learning/expanding their scope, gazing at the stars, random dance parties, seizing opportunities of joy and weird, practicing presence, standing up with others in the fight for social equity, and making her friends and family laugh. They plan to continue private practice under the name Home Again Therapy for the state of Colorado.