Reconciliation, stepping out of the box

As a third generation settler, I’ve struggled to connect to truth and reconciliation efforts. While I support the cause, it has never felt applicable to my personal day to day life, until recently…

As I’ve started to awaken to who I am, separate from conditioning, I’m also awakening to the dehumanizing nature of the system we live and work in. This rigid, perfectionistic system is a living breathing result of colonization (establishing control over people/forcing assimilation to one way of being) and the truth is, I spend a good part of my day reinforcing it.

Colonization Hurts (everyone)

Ironically, I’ve spent years working on inner reconciliation, making peace with adversities from childhood, making amends with those I’ve wronged, and by updating old and unhelpful belief systems. No matter the inner work, I recognize that I walk around each day forcing myself into the neat little boxes prescribed to me from a young age. I don’t enjoy stepping into these boxes. They feel rigid, predictable, and lifeless. To fit inside, I must make myself small, quieting my inner voice so I can assimilate. Once inside the box, I don’t feel good. I feel oppressed, held down, ashamed because my real self does not feel welcome there. I must quiet my authentic self, instead taking on the ideal display prescribed to me. Inside this box, my emotions feel threatening because they tell me to get out, that it’s not safe, that I don’t fit there. I’m feeling threatened because I know these emotions are important messengers, telling me what needs to be done to heal, to self-actualize into my most authentic and best self, but, that box is all I’ve known for so many years, I’m too afraid to step out. What if I’m alone out there? What if I shed the walls around me, revealing my true self only to face rejection? And then, after ruminating on these thoughts, I freeze, immobilized from acting, and so I stay in the box. I retreat to a feeling of safety, clinging to the familiar walls, finding comfort in the predictability they bring.

In this individualist culture, we like our boxes. There is the box we work in, which we spend much of our lives serving feverishly, rewarded by extra letters that bolster the power and respect of our birth names. Then there are all the other boxes that we hop in and out of, the church box, the parent box, and the gotta look socially competent box.

I spend most of my day moving between boxes, wearing them like a well-insulated jacket and then removing it when it no longer serves it’s purpose. And what purpose is that? I want to be accepted and loved, I want to feel like I belong to something bigger than myself. Each box holds a promise of a sense of belonging and somehow, that deep primal need seems to justify putting my ‘real’ self to sleep. Waking up feels dangerous. I’ve served this colonized system for so long that I’m afraid to be free of it. I’m afraid that if I step outside of the walls, I …. I don’t know, and that not knowing terrifies me.

And then it happened…I found people like me, people that want to step out, be free, be seen and in that seeing, to love and be loved, sans boxes. Even more exciting is that this box burning work is infectious and sure enough, an entire community is emerging all around us.

It’s time to open our eyes to the consequences of colonization. We all carry trauma from this colonized system we live in. To genuinely reconcile with others, we must first face our truth, reconciling with who we are in this world and how in our sleepiness we continue to contribute to colonization.

I am coming to know that we are more than the boxes we hide in. We are so much more…