“You are damaged in direct proportion to how you were loved or not. If you did not get what you needed, you spend the rest of your life trying to figure that out and fill that up.”- Oprah Winfrey
When Cheryl Strayed, the author of Wild, came to Whistler-town, I was lucky enough to be in the audience. She mentioned the opportunity she had had two months ago, to be the guest festival director of the Telluride Mountain Film Festival, to which she brought her friend Oprah, as a guest speaker, to tackle the topic of Equity.
After their conversation, in which Oprah shares what she has been learning about trauma and mental fitness (“it’s a spectrum and we’re all on it”), the questions are turned over to the audience.
“Do you have any hope for Mississippi?” asks someone.
“No,” admits Oprah. There’s no healing until trauma is acknowledged. “You can’t heal from trauma that is not acknowledged, so there first has to be acknowledgement of the deed that was done.”
I don’t think she’s saying that individuals can’t begin their healing journey, even as their perpetrators are in denial about the impact of their actions. In fact, that’s obviously vital and courageous work. But societal and structural healing requires acknowledgement from us all.
(See: “Having a better relationship with each other, and a stronger community, requires acknowledgement.” https://thewellnessalmanac.com/2019/08/07/why-that-was-in-the-past-why-cant-indigenous-people-just-get-over-it-doesnt-really-work-as-a-healing-strategy/)
If you’re a fan of Oprah, and even if you’re not really, you might get something from this conversation.