Having had too much to drink, I once openly grieved the separation of young children from their mother and siblings, adding to that my heartache about the emotionally abusive treatment they were receiving in their new residence.
For this admission of vulnerability and empathy, I was mocked, publicly, at a table in a cocktail lounge at the restaurant I managed during my summer breaks from school.
“If you really cared about them, you would skip your semester abroad,” he said.
I considered legal proceedings. I considered dropping out of school and getting a job so that I could afford a house that would fit us all. But these thoughts, like my voice, were futile. I wasn’t in a democracy. I was in a family.
All over Facebook, friends are sharing their stories of separation–the lasting impact–from the Holocaust to asylum-seeking to summer camp.
Feeling our own pain, however large or small, is a radical act. It allows us to feel the pain of another, without making it our own, which only serves to immobilize us.
Self-connection is necessary. Self-connection allows us to stay attuned to the needs of others while remembering our response-ability to the life we inhabit, right in the moment.
Self-connection might look like a walk, or a nap, a therapist chair, a bodyworkers table, a cup of tea in the garden, a meditation on a hummingbird’s flight, a weekend retreat, anything that reminds us of our distinctness so that the connection we offer is whole.
We have each experienced the pain of separation.
May it bear fruit.