My research in the D.R. is on how discrimination impacts mental health. I’ve been doing interviews for a few months now and, although it feels like an obvious statement, many things impact mental health. Respondents do talk about discrimination, but they also talk about poverty, job loss, family tensions, marital conflict, and the death of loved ones – things that connect people across the globe as fellow human beings.
In the wake of highly publicized police brutality, the past month has been an emotional one for many of us. People are deeply wounded and many feel betrayed by a system – a country – that is supposed to protect everyone’s right to life. There are so many necessary conversations, and I think a conversation about healing is one of them.
I shared a previous post on the tragic loss of our dear brother. I wrote that I wanted to bring my family back to this place “in search of healing”. And I’m realizing that maybe healing is not a destination. Maybe it is a continuum, a constant process. When I reflect on how far I’ve come, I no longer have nightmares and flashbacks about the day. I no longer feel broken, like my world was ripped from under my feet. I no longer feel bitter when someone refers to ocean sounds as “soothing”. But sometimes, I imagine the most tragic outcome possible when I’m away from loved ones. And I still have to swallow negative thoughts when I find myself anticipating the worst. And I still have to reign in my fears that joy is only temporary.
A fellow blogger and friend recently wrote about how motherhood changes your body and mind in a way that makes it impossible to be the person you were before. Not only that, it's an unrealistic expectation to think that you can go back to that person. That’s how I imagine healing to be. I will never be who I was before. Nor should I try to be. But I’m still healing.
The point is, it's a process. We may never know what it looks like to be "healed", and I imagine that there's variation in what people/communities need for their own healing. I needed to stare my tragedy in the face in order to begin my healing process. Maybe not everyone needs that. But I did.