Last night I dreamed of a cat that couldn't walk.
She was a fluffy silver tabby, much like my own Miss Pickles. When I first saw her she was sitting up, as cats do, with her front paws side by side in front of her. She looked like a perfectly normal and healthy cat. Except when she tried to walk.
She would start to take a step and she would just tip over and fall to the ground.
She'd sit up again.
And she'd try again.
And she'd fall again.
I watched this over and over, not understanding why it was happening.
I moved closer and this time when she moved I saw that she would pick up her front left leg to take a step and the moment her little paw touched the ground again, the leg would become smoke and vanish. And she would fall to the side again.
She would sit up and the leg appeared to be back.
I reached out to touch the vanishing leg and it disappeared. Where the leg would have been was a well healed stump with a scar faintly visible beneath her fur. I realized that whatever caused this kitty to lose her leg happened a very long time ago.
She looked down and licked the stump a few times.
I woke up shortly after.
The dream reminded me of how so many of us are unaware of our own
wounds, or how those wounds impact our ability to make our way in the
world. We may think that because the injury itself is in the past, that
its impacts are too. Or we may, like the cat in the dream, not even know
we were wounded; we just know that we seem unable to navigate the world
Even when we are aware and we decide to do the work of healing, we too often begin the process with the idea that that it will
lead to a restoration, as though the wound will be excised leaving no
trace of it ever existing. But we can't go back to exactly who we were before our traumas, some of us live with traumas that happened when we were so young, we don't remember who we were before, or we have been carrying it for so long that healing involves learning a completely new way of being in the world.
I feel like this is where our country and culture are at right now. There are many, many people who are only now becoming aware of how wounded we are as a culture, and there are many of those people who want to do something about that but feel stuck because the only way they, we, know to go is on the path we've been blindly walking all along. There are other paths but they are not as clearly marked and that is frightening. But we also know we can't go back, because what is behind is what caused the wound in the first place; many of our personal wounds are the result of this same wounded culture that continues to perpetuate the harm.
Healing our cultural wounds will require us to heal ourselves. 2020 brought the awareness, I hope that 2021 brings us the way forward.