That is How We Know We Are Family: Because We Are All Broken

I will attempt to disclose next to nothing about myself in this blog series, though I feel moved to share the message from a woman in last night’s dream. She stood before her people, electric with the feeling of rallying together after centuries of oppression, and she shouted,
“Each of us is a branch broken from the Mother Tree and resown in the earth. That is how we know we are family: Because we are all broken.”

Pause. There are many ways to interpret this. The first way is reminiscent of a lyric from the Leonard Cohen song, Anthem: There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. We all share the original wound of separation, from our mothers, or from the Tree of Life, from some original state of unity. We all share this. It reminds me of a line from one of the ecstatic poems of the Sufi mystic poet, Rumi: ‘This longing you express is the return message.’ The grief you cry out from draws you toward union. Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup.” Or, the other Rumi line, The wound is the place where the light enters you.

Imagine this. Imagine that the part of you that hurts the most is the place where the light enters you; the place where you were broken off from the Tree of Life, the place that remembers unity the most. I do not mean to trivialize the particular kind of pain that any one reader may be in, I only mean to proffer this as a potentially redeeming idea, and as a radical shift in thinking about the parts of ourselves that we deem to be problematic, that we believe need to be fixed, or that we wish would just go away. Often our wounded parts function like splinter personalities, and are not amenable to shifting or healing in any manner until they are viewed, or the perspective is even slightly entertained, that in some way, they may be allies. Or that, in some way, they carry some important message or crucible for us. This may not always be the case, but I want to offer it in case it is a helpful idea.

Another way to interpret this is with reference to displacement, or dissociation from the land, the source of all life and nourishment. Nearly all of us, in modern times, suffer from some form of dissociation from the land. I believe we may not even be aware of how desperately we long to remember a feeling of home on the land, and intimacy with the land, and reverence for the land.

In pre-Christian Ireland, there were many stories that involved the Goddess of Sovereignty, in one form or another. She, in many ways, was one and the same as the land. Chieftains would undergo a ritual marriage to the land, or to the Goddess of Sovereignty, and it was said that there would be peace and prosperity in the land if She was honored, revered and heeded. If the chieftain chose to trump Her wishes and Her wisdom, there would be poverty and war, and the once fertile land would become a wasteland. You take care of the land, and it takes care of you in turn, right?

I believe we are dying for a remembrance of this sort: A remembrance of our heritage as denizens of the land, and also a remembrance of all the ways that we are much more alike, and connected, than we know.

Photo by Pixabay


Published by annaliseoatman

I am a heart-centered, trauma-focused, licensed therapist with five years of experience working with traumatized, system-involved children and youth, adults moving through addiction and recovery, and older adults in skilled nursing facilities with HIV/AIDS-related health struggles. I earned an Oxbridge Masters in Philosophy (Mental and Moral Sciences) at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and a Masters in Social Work, with a concentration on mental health and direct clinical practice, at the University of Southern California. I love empowering, and healing trauma, and doing soul work with passionate, free-thinking, creative women, or anyone who has ever identified as having the female experience. My approach is warm, empathic and grounded, and I integrate an attachment perspective with a somatic and depth approach to healing trauma.

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