My Own Path
I was asked how I was able to transcend what happened to me and come to a place of being open and vulnerable. I am not surprised this question is coming up. I have pondered some version of this question for years. It seems big and huge to me. While it seems pretty commonly accepted these days that people who act violently toward others were themselves previously traumatized and often abused, it is equally clear that not all those who are abused pass the violence on to others. If I understood fully what made it never appealing for me to inflict harm on others, not even in my fantasies, perhaps I could use this understanding in supporting others. Why is it that what was most painful for me was my inability to understand why anyone would treat me, or anyone else, the way I was treated? Much more painful than the actual experience of leaning against a tree all night and shivering. The more I am able to understand, the more calm there is in my heart.
My friend Aurora Levins-Morales, poet and writer extraordinaire, wrote in her book Medicine Stories about having been tortured as a child, and knowing that her only way to remain human was to resist the temptation to hate her torturers. She understood, even while it was happening, that hating them was the first step toward becoming like them. I feel fortunate never to have hated those who tormented me.