I have become such an independent person, in part because I have so often found myself alone in the midst of deep pain. In those moments, I usually either crumble or swallow the pain down, and do what I have to do to survive. But that is isolating; it is an unhealthy way to be human.
In the wake of #Charlottesville, I have seen what healing can look like when instead of abandonment, you are seen and your pain is validated. What has been astonishing to me is how meaningful and helpful this small act of noticing has been.
The messages people from all over have sent, asking how we were doing, if I was safe, that they were thinking of us all, were surprisingly incredibly meaningful. I knew, however abstractly, that I wasn’t alone in my fear and trauma. But it wasn’t just abstractions. People came from out of town to provide trauma therapy, and gathered resources for our community to use in long-term healing. There have been community gatherings and pro-bono counseling and free massages and clergy and activists coming from out of town. Our church had an out-of-town church with an incredible jazz band come yesterday, solely to bless us and lift weary spirits.
I want healing to be something I can do on my own, because it can be so painful to rely on people for emotional support. But any time I have moved from broken to wholeness, it has been because other people were present, and witnesses to the hurt. They didn’t explain it away, or victim-blame; they just entered into it with me, and the reaction to August 12th was no different.
A wider community has been present to my city. They have borne witness to the pain, the fear, and the truth. They have held us up when so many have tried their best to slander our courage. We have been seen and validated, and I had no idea how emotionally powerful that kind of sight could be.
Healing a fractured community, both in the immediate and in the long-term systemic ways requires people coming together. We can’t be moved closer to wholeness without a community of some shape. We need each other.
When trauma strikes, reaching out matters. For the first time in a long time I have seen and felt what support looks like, and I have been reminded all over again of the power of the people.