I spent this weekend volunteering at the final Truth and Reconciliation event. It was my job to register survivors and intergenerational survivors. We were instructed to smile and speak with our hearts, not our heads. I am a straight speaking from my ‘head’ person. It is who I am. It is how I score on personality tests, it is where I live. I wasn’t always a ‘head’ person. If you knew me when I was younger, you might of described me as overly sensitive and emotional. I even had the lovely label as a ‘crybaby’ for awhile, despite this, emotions were not encouraged while I was growing up. My mom a survivor of her own sorts, had instilled in us, never focus on what tears you down, always focus on getting back up. Emotions were irrelevant things that happened sometimes, and if focused on to closely, had the power to destroy you. So they were best left ignored and forgotten, and with them the memories that triggered them. I do not want to speak ill of my mother in anyway, she is the strongest woman I have ever met, and I look up to her courage and strength. She taught us how to survive, she gave us the tools we needed to brush ourselves off, choke our tears down and hold our heads high. Which is how I try to live.
Expressing and feeling emotions in my mothers world are a luxury. We were taught that having a past that was worth remembering was also a luxury, so be grateful for the good and forget about everything else. I have become very well versed in pushing painful memories out, on how to distract myself and move on until the past lives as illegible blurs, sitting like shadows in the back. My mother taught me how to do this. I feel like the code my mother lives by, is one many survivors live by and know. While I see my mother has worked her whole life to separate and not be defined by her past, I see and know the meaning of turning those illegible shadows and blurs, into clear fully focused pictures again. I know the great personal risk it would be to reconnect those dots. Remembering and speaking your past, becomes so much more, then just telling your story. It means the possibility and fear of a life long pattern of repressed emotions, coming to the surface and possibly redefining who you are. To know that this weekend many of these survivors, survived by my mothers code, thrived by my mothers code and took this extreme personal risk to came forward, so that Canadian citizens would know the truth, so that Canada could no longer hide this history. So that there maybe could be a reconciliation, if there was truth. To feel the gravity of that. When I was told to speak with my heart I had no words, there are no words to describe the immense gratitude, respect and love I felt or feel. Thank you.